A Family Trip to Washington, D.C., Part 8: Our Hotel Highlights

In case you missed the first few posts in this series, we will be chronicling our family trip to Washington D.C. over the course of the next couple months.  The first post in the series is here.  You can find the rest under the travel menu on our main page.  Last week I covered the process and criteria used to select our hotel accommodations for the road trip portion of our vacation.  This week I will go over some of the highlights of our lodging experiences.

hotel dc trip pool

Most of the nights on the way to Washington D.C. were typical stays in a hotel.  We had pools the first two nights because our daytime travel pitstops were not exhausting.  The hotels were clean, comfortable, and convenient, but there was nothing extraordinary about them.

The third night we stayed in a Comfort Suites outside Cincinnati, OH.  We spent almost the entire day at the Creation Museum so we were all tired from walking.  As a result, a pool was not on our hotel must have list.  The hotel was very nice.  It was clean, spacious, very quiet, and it was right on the river.  The breakfast area was well stocked with good food, and the view of the river flowing by was beautiful to watch as we ate.  It also gave the kids something to do as I packed the car.

Our last night on the road to D.C. was spent in the Appalachian Mountains.  The hotel was supposed to have a pool, but it was closed for repairs.  That turned out to be fine.  It took us longer than expected to eat dinner that night so we had very little time to play in the evening.

We scheduled the first two nights on our return trip to be in hotels without pools, expecting the kids to be exhausted from all the walking in D.C..  These nights were spent in two different Extended Stay America hotels.  We selected them because they have large rooms, are very affordable, and have free breakfast.  We had never lodged with this chain before, but we are glad we did.  The hotels were everything we expected.

While the Extended Stay hotels are intended for business travelers, we had no issues booking a room for a single night.  One hidden benefit to staying in a more business-oriented place is that it was quiet at bedtime.  I am pretty sure ours were the only kids in either hotel.  The rooms were gigantic and had plenty of room to spread out and relax.  This was nice after the kids were in bed.

One drawback to this chain is the limited breakfast selection.  It was sufficient for us, but if you have picky eaters, the food choices may not be enough.  If this is the case, there are kitchenettes in the rooms.  Having access to a fridge, a toaster, and a stove should allow you to pick up an inexpensive meal at the grocery store and prepare it in the room.

The last night we spent in a hotel was our water park surprise night.  We planned a short day of driving so we could spend a majority of the day playing.  The kids were exited to hit the water, and Melissa and I were glad to be out of the car for a while.  Only having one day of driving remaining made the experience even better.

We stayed at the Cranberry Country Lodge in Tomah, WI.  We chose this hotel for several reasons, and it did not disappoint on any of them.  It met all the criteria we listed in our last post, and even exceeded most of them.

Our room was a good size.  It had a separate bedroom for the kids, a small kitchenette, and a sitting area.  The included breakfast buffet was well stocked and tasty.  Most of the food was cooked from scratch on-site, some even cooked to order.  There was also always a water cooler in the lobby filled with fruit flavored water – a kid favorite.

The water park on site was small, but we knew that when we booked.  It was the perfect size for the few hours of free time we had in the early afternoon.  One perk included with the stay at Cranberry Country were passes to Three Bears Lodge a few miles down the road.  This is one of the reasons we picked this hotel for our water park fun day.

The water park at Three Bears is huge, and the kids had a blast.  They have a few different pools with play structures in them.  Each one is designed for a different age group of kids.  The lazy river was a fun and relaxing way to float around while regaining some energy.  The kids even enjoyed spending some time in the wave pool.  The kids’ favorite parts were the water slides.  All of them.  Especially the ones that required climbing three flights of stairs.  Over and over again.  For hours.  Even after walking in D.C. for a week, my legs were not prepared for all the climbing.  Needless to say, everyone slept well that night.

three bears slides dc trip

We took a chance when we booked all our hotel rooms online, but it worked out well for us.  We did not have a single bad experience.  Of course, this is not our first round of online hotel booking.  By carefully sticking to our criteria list, and using several different sources to answer all our questions, we were able to find lodging that fit our needs.

What tips and tricks do you have for choosing lodging online? Share them with us in an email or comment.