Jason & Lisa McEwen

How to Get Around D.C. on a Budget

Jason & Lisa McEwen
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Duration:   2  mins

Washington, D.C. is full of great sites to see. If you plan to come to the heart of D.C. and wander around the monuments and museums, you need a transportation plan.

Big Bus Tours vs DC Circulator

The McEwen family recently went camping in D.C. and stayed at the Capitol KOA. While there, they had to figure out how to get around D.C. They looked at both Big Bus Tours and the D.C. Circulator.

The Big Bus Tour is a private tour where you can hop on and hop off at designated stops. It costs $48.60 per adult and $39.60 per child.

The D.C. Circulator is public transportation with stops throughout the national mall area. It costs $1 per person and if you transfer to another Circulator bus within two hours, the transfer is free.

The McEwens chose the D.C. Circulator. They parked at Union Station and hopped on the Circulator there. In total, they spent about $8 for the day and took the National Mall loop.

Get a map and download an app

You can download a map before you go or get one on the bus. The bus comes to each stop every 10 minutes. It’s a comfortable ride. Each bus is spacious, clean, and air conditioned. The drivers are all very helpful too.

To help you get around on the D.C. Circulator, download the Citymapper app. With the app, you can find the closest bus stops to your location, map out a walking route, and see how long it will take for the next bus to arrive at your stop.

A possible route

The National Mall route is a good choice. It hits all the must-see spots. The McEwens got off the Circulator at the National Archives to see the constitution and tour the outdoor art gallery. They rode the bus over to the Washington Monument and then walked the 45-minute path heading towards the Lincoln Monument.

They hopped on the bus to get closer to the White House, which was their last stop of the day. You do have to walk a few blocks to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave from the bus stop, but it’s worth the walk.

Then, they took the bus back to Union Station to wrap up their day. If you’re planning to take an RV trip with your kids to Washington D.C., the D.C. Circulator is a good way to see D.C. on a budget.

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