Hotels in the D.C. suburbs are typically less expensive than in downtown D.C.. The commute is longer, but the bus and metro system are fairly reliable and comfortable. I am only familiar with my tiny corner of the world — the area around Reston, VA.
Here are a few ideas about accommodations and transportation:
The Residence Inn by Marriott in Herndon, VA offers suites with full kitchens and a swimming pool A two room suite with 2 queen beds and a loft sleeps 5. As of today, it was available for $189 per night — reasonable if you share with friends and cook. Located nearby, there’s also a Spring Suites hotel and a Courtyard by Marriott (no kitchen at the Courtyard). Rooms here are less expensive ($65 – $75) , however, they don’t have kitchens. All of these hotels are about 15 minutes by car from Washington Dulles airport. They may offer a complimentary airport shuttle service (Spring Suites does for sure).
There are hotels near the Vienna metro station, however, that station’s parking lot tends to fill up by 7 – 7:30 am even in the summer. If you plan on staying in Vienna, make sure you can catch a bus to the metro.
All three hotels mentioned above in Herndon which is a few minutes away from a free commuter parking lot that always has spaces. From the lot, you can catch a Fairfax Connector bus to West Falls Church metro station. It’s a 20 minute ride on an air conditioned bus and it costs about $1.50. The metro from West Falls Church (Orange Line) to the Verizon Center (Gallery Place, Chinatown stop on the Red Line) takes about 30 minutes and costs about $4.00 depending on whether you travel at peak or off-peak hours. For more information about the D.C. metro system, visit the metro website.
Parking at East Falls Church, West Falls Church and Vienna (and other stations) costs $4.50 per day and must be paid on exit using a special card called a SmartTrip card. The cards are available for purchase in the station, so you have to remember to buy the card before you get in your car and try to exit! Parking at West Falls Church is a safe choice. East Falls Church has a very small lot.
HOV restrictions: if you’re driving into D.C., Route 66 East from Falls Church into the District has HOV restrictions from 6:30 am – 9:00 am. Cars must have at least 2 people.
RV and primitive tent camp sites are available at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, VA and at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax, VA. Tent camp sites cost $28 per night. There are other locations, but I’m not familiar with them. You could camp at Lake Fairfax and easily catch the bus and metro to D.C.. It’s a nice, wooded campground that doesn’t get a lot of use. It has a modern shower and rest room facility. There are restaurants within a 10 minute drive.
If I think of anything else, I’ll edit this post. Please feel free to share your ideas as well. Hope this is helpful.
Have a great trip!