A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Washington vs. Columbus for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Washington or Columbus?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Washington and Columbus can help you decide which place is right for you.

Washington

Washington is a diverse, active, and monument-filled city. It's a large city with plenty of activites for visitors as well. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. This is a quaint and attractive place to visit, too. Other reasons to visit include shopping, museums, and theater.

Columbus

Columbus is a down-to-earth, authentic, and friendly city. Other reasons to visit include nightlife, shopping, and museums.

Washington and Columbus: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Numerous theater shows
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Washington or Columbus?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Washington than Columbus. While Columbus is larger than Washington, Washington has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Washington is more touristy than Columbus and is known for its reputation as the capital of the United States, but it's also known for its many monuments, memorials, and museums. It is also home to The Washington Monument and the White House. Columbus is popular for its youthful energy and its growing arts scene.

How is Washington different from Columbus?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Columbus and Washington. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Washington or Columbus?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a world-class destination for its museums and history. Also, Columbus is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Travelers visit Washington from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. The city has world class museums that are often free. The Smithsonian Museums are arguably some of the most impressive museums in the United States. The city also has a large collection of monuments that are dedicated to past presidents or historical events. Many are best experienced at night when the sun sets and the lights come on.

Columbus offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. Popular museums around town include the Center of Science and Technology, the Franklin Park Conservatory, the Columbus Museum of Art, and the Ohio History Center.


Is Washington or Columbus Better for Theater?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a very popular place for theatre. However, Columbus is not a theatre destination.

While in town, many visitors enjoy seeing a show in Washington. Theater is popular in the city. From major theaters like the Kennedy Center and Ford's Theater, to lesser known smaller venues, there are options for everyone.

Columbus is not a theatre destination.

Is the Food Better in Washington or Columbus? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a world-class destination for its restaurants. However, Columbus is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

For foodies, Washington is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. This city is among the most diverse in the country, so you can find restaurants from almost any cuisine here. It's worth exploring and stepping out of your comfort zone. There are popular neighborhoods for Ethiopian, Korean, Thai, Japanese, and Chinese food, among many others.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Columbus. Hearty and heavy comfort food is the mainstay in this town. There's pizza, casseroles, sausage, and milkshakes around town.

Is Washington or Columbus Better for Nightlife?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a very popular place for nightlife. Also, Columbus is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for nightlife and partying.

Washington has a large number of nightlife venues. Many visitors head straight to the museums and the National Mall, and don't realize what a livable and fun city this is. Some of the best nightlife is found in Dupont Circle, U Street, and even Arlington, VA. The city's young population ensures that there's never a dull moment.

Columbus has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. The live music scene is growing. There are also a growing number of breweries around town.


Is Washington or Columbus Better for Music?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a popular place for live music. However, Columbus is not a live music destination.

The music scene in Washington is active and vibrant. Notable live music venues include the 9:30 Club, the Anthem, and Union Stage.

Columbus is not a live music destination.

Is Washington or Columbus Better for Hiking?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a decent place to visit for its hiking trails. However, Columbus is not a hiking destination.

Washington has hiking trails if you want to get outside. Just outside of Washington DC you'll find plenty of places to go hiking. There's also an elaborate bike and walking trail system in the city. To enjoy a bit of nature, head to Teddy Roosevelt Island.

Columbus is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Washington or Columbus?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a very popular place for shopping. Also, Columbus is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its shopping opportunities.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Washington. Head to Georgetown and Dupont Circle for some of the city's best local shopping. There are name brand chains mixed in with local boutiques. You'll also find plenty of souvenir shops in the more touristy areas if you're looking to pick up some trinkets.

Columbus offers some nice shopping areas. In addition to the standard shopping malls and retail outlets, there are some interesting shops in the Short North Arts District, German Village, and Easton Town Center.


Is Washington or Columbus Better for Christmas?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a world-class destination for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Columbus does not offer Christmas activities.

Washington offers plenty of sights and activities around Christmas. With it's beautiful lights and holiday shows, Christmas is beautiful in the capital of the United States.

Columbus does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Washington or Columbus Better for Families?

Washington
Columbus

You'll find great kid-friendly activities in either Washington or Columbus.

Washington is a very family-friendly destination. It is a fun and educational destination where kids can explore world class museums and try unique foods from all around the world. The city has nationally recognized landmarks, monuments, and memorials and it's also home to some of the best (free) museums in the United States including the world class Smithsonian Institutions. Many schools visit Washington DC as a field trip, particularly during the Spring months, so you'll kids groups in colorful t-shirts running around the National Mall.

Columbus is a very kid-friendly city. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a highlight for many families. Right by it is the Zoombezi Bay Waterpark. For hands-on science-based activities check out the Center of Science and Industry. Kids will also love the Legoland Discovery Center or the Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory. There are also many outdoor parks, greenways, and playgrounds to visit.

Is Washington or Columbus Better for Couples?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a very popular place for romance. However, Columbus is lacking in good options for its romantic activities.

Washington makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The city lights up at night, so couples will enjoy wandering by the monuments in the evening or taking in a dinner and show. During the Spring months you'll find couples wandering through the Cherry Blossoms or along the waterfront.

Most people don't think of Columbus as a couple's destination. You'll find restaurants and music venues that make for a nice date night. There are also wine tours and other entertainment options.


Is Washington or Columbus Better for Students?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a world-class destination for its student-friendly activities. However, Columbus is not popular with students.

Many students frequent Washington. International students come from around the world to study, learn, intern, and work in the capital of the United States. There are many internships available through the federal government as well as NGOs and nonprofits.

Columbus is not popular with students.

Is Washington or Columbus Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a world-class destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Columbus is lacking in good options for its public transit.

With a huge network, the transit system in Washington can get you around easily. The metro system and the bus system are reliable and efficient ways to explore the city.

Public transit is generally limited in Columbus. While there's a bus system, you'll really want to have a vehicle to get around town efficiently.

Is Washington or Columbus a more walkable city?

Washington
Columbus

Washington is a world-class destination for its walkability. Also, Columbus is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its high level of walkability.

It's very easy to get around on foot in Washington. Many neighborhoods around the city are easy to explore on foot. Most tourists spend a lot of time in the Mall area, which is very pedestrian friendly.

Columbus is a somewhat walkable place. The older neighborhoods are the most walkable, but if you want to get around town, you'll need to have a car.


For even more information, also check out Is Washington Worth Visiting? and Is Columbus Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Columbus or Washington?

How long in Washington or Columbus?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Washington or Columbus to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Washington than Columbus because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Washington, and 1-2 days is enough time in Columbus.

Families should spend more time in Washington than Columbus. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Washington, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Washington than Columbus. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Washington that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Washington than Columbus if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Washington.


  • How many days in Washington or Columbus? Ideal Length of Stay
    Washington 3-7 
    Columbus 1-2

One day in Washington or Columbus?

Washington is a big city with plenty to do. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

With museums and nightlife around the down-to-earth city of Columbus, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Columbus, one day is sufficent for most.

A weekend in Washington or Columbus?

Washington is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

With nightlife and shopping around the destination of Columbus, there's plenty to do. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this city.

Five days in Washington or Columbus?

Washington is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Washington, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Columbus, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


A week in Washington or Columbus?

Washington is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Washington has to offer. This city offers something for everyone.

Columbus is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


Which place is cheaper, Columbus or Washington?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Washington is $198, while the average daily cost in Columbus is $158. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Washington and Columbus in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Washington $113
    Columbus $72
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Washington $226
    Columbus $144
Compare Hotels in Washington and Columbus

Looking for a hotel in Washington or Columbus? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Washington


Hotels in Columbus


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Washington Hotel Prices and Columbus Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Washington $47
    Columbus $50
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Washington

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Washington are as follows:


  • Metro Day Pass
    $9.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Washington

Also for Washington, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • private Ronald Reagan, Washington National Airport transfer: $150
  • Washington to Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) - Departure Private Transfer: $58
  • Washington to Washington Airport (IAD) Departure Private Transfer: $65
  • Washington to Washington Airport (DCA) Departure Private Transfer: $58
  • Washington to Newark Airport Departure Private Transfer: $189
  • Washington to NY Kennedy Airport(JFK)- Departure Private Transfer: $201
  • Washington to Baltimore Washington Airport (BWI) - Departure Private Transfer: $68
  • Washington to Baltimore Airport (BWI) Departure Private Transfer: $76
  • Washington R. Reagan Airport (DCA): Transfer to Washington: $175
  • Washington R. Reagan Airport (DCA) to Washington - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $106
  • Washington R. Reagan Airport (DCA) to Washington - Arrival Private Transfer: $53
  • Washington DC: Private Transfer to Airports or Baltimore: $160

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Columbus

Also for Columbus, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Columbus Ohio (CMH) Airport Arrival or Departure Private Transfer: $180
  • Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $132
  • Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus - Arrival Private Transfer: $66
  • Columbus to Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) - Departure Private Transfer: $66

Is it cheaper to fly into Washington or Columbus?

Prices for flights to both Columbus and Washington change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Washington $38
    Columbus $49
Typical Food Prices in Washington

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Washington:


  • Water
    $2.00
  • Snacks on Monuments Tour
    $6.15

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Washington

For Washington, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Little Ethiopia Food Tour: $67
  • Adams Morgan Food Tour: $74
  • Capitol Hill Food Tour: $75
  • Gastronomic Georgetown Food Tour: $80
  • Dupont Circle Food Tour: $80
  • Washington D.C.: Georgetown Guided Secret Food Tour: $83
  • Acquired Taste Food Tour in Georgetown: $85
  • Washington DC: Buffet Lunch or Dinner Cruise on the Spirit: $86
  • Washington DC Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $95
  • Washington, DC: African American History Tour with Dinner: $108
  • Washington DC:Gourmet Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey: $112
  • Washington DC Signature Dinner Cruise: $121

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Washington $24
    Columbus $46

Tours and Activities in Washington

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Washington.

  • 1.5 Hour Arlington Cemetery Guided Walking Tour with Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: $40
  • 2 For 1! DC Highlights & Arlington Cemetery Tour Bundle: $84
  • 2 Hour Guided Bike Tour of Capitol Hill: $55
  • 2 Hours Book Store Tour in Capitol Hill: $80
  • 2-Hour African American Heritage Tour in Washington DC: $25
  • 2-Hour Arlington Cemetery Guided Walking Tour : $75
  • 2-Hour National Mall Walking Tour from Washington DC: $25
  • 3 Hour Group Walking Tour of Arlington National Cemetery: $100
  • 3-Hour Private Customizable Washington DC City Tour by Luxury Van: $124
  • 3-Hour Small Group Memorial Tour in Washington, D.C.: $59
  • 4-Hour Small Group Guided National Mall Tour with 10 Top Attractions: $99
  • 90-Minute Walking Tour of the Ghosts of Washington DC: $25

Tours and Activities in Columbus

For Columbus, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Columbus Blue Jackets Ice Hockey Game Ticket at Nationwide Arena: $23
  • Columbus Scavenger Hunt Adventure : $21
  • 1-Hour Themed Escape Room Adventure & Narrative: $41
  • Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $44
  • Experience the season with a scavenger hunt in Columbus with Holly Jolly Hunt: $20
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus Ticket: $29
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Columbus by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • The Escape Game Epic 60-Minute Adventures: $41
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Columbus by Crazy Dash: $10

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Washington $19
    Columbus $20

Sample the Local Flavors in Washington

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Washington:

  • Epic Washington DC Bar Crawl: By Let’s Roam: $12
  • DC Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl By US Ghost Adventures: $35
  • Washington DC: Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • DC Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl By US Ghost Adventures: $42
  • Small-Group History Tour Pub Crawl of Washington, D.C.: $59
  • Washington, D.C.: History Tour Pub Crawl: $59
  • DC Signature Guided Brewery Tour: $105
  • DC: Guided Craft Brewery Tours with a Snack: $105
  • Full-Day Private Virginia Wine Tour Experience from Washington : $245
  • Private Washington DC Virginia Winery Wine Tasting Tour -Spirited: $255


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Washington and Columbus, we can see that Washington is more expensive. And not only is Columbus much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Columbus would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Columbus and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Washington would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Washington than you might in Columbus.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Washington Expensive? and Is Columbus Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Washington or Columbus?

Columbus has a larger population, and is about 33% larger than the population of Washington. When comparing the sizes of Washington and Columbus, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Washington or Columbus?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Washington or Columbus in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Washington and Columbus. Most visitors come to Washington for the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Furthermore, the summer months attract visitors to Columbus because of the family-friendly experiences.

Washington is around the same temperature as Columbus in the summer. The daily temperature in Washington averages around 79°F (26°C) in July, and Columbus fluctuates around 77°F (25°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Columbus this time of the year. In Washington, it's very sunny this time of the year. Washington usually receives more sunshine than Columbus during summer. Washington gets 278 hours of sunny skies, while Columbus receives 254 hours of full sun in the summer.

Columbus receives a lot of rain in the summer. In July, Washington usually receives less rain than Columbus. Washington gets 3.5 inches (88 mm) of rain, while Columbus receives 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Washington 79°F (26°C) 
    Columbus 77°F (25°C)

Should I visit Washington or Columbus in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Washington as well as Columbus. The autumn months attract visitors to Washington because of the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Additionally, the shopping scene are the main draw to Columbus this time of year.

In the autumn, Washington is around the same temperature as Columbus. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Washington in October average around 60°F (15°C), and Columbus averages at about 57°F (14°C).

In the autumn, Washington often gets more sunshine than Columbus. Washington gets 197 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbus receives 179 hours of full sun.

Washington usually gets more rain in October than Columbus. Washington gets 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain, while Columbus receives 2.2 inches (55 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Washington 60°F (15°C) 
    Columbus 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Washington or Columbus in the Winter?

Both Columbus and Washington are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine are the main draw to Washington this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Columbus for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Columbus. It's quite cold in Washington in the winter. In January, Washington is generally much warmer than Columbus. Daily temperatures in Washington average around 35°F (1°C), and Columbus fluctuates around 30°F (-1°C).

Washington usually receives more sunshine than Columbus during winter. Washington gets 139 hours of sunny skies, while Columbus receives 105 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Washington usually receives more rain than Columbus. Washington gets 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain, while Columbus receives 2.2 inches (56 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Washington 35°F (1°C) 
    Columbus 30°F (-1°C)

Should I visit Washington or Columbus in the Spring?

Both Columbus and Washington during the spring are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Washington for the activities around the city and the natural beauty.

Washington is a little warmer than Columbus in the spring. The daily temperature in Washington averages around 56°F (14°C) in April, and Columbus fluctuates around 54°F (12°C).

It's quite sunny in Washington. In the spring, Washington often gets more sunshine than Columbus. Washington gets 228 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbus receives 200 hours of full sun.

Washington usually gets less rain in April than Columbus. Washington gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Columbus receives 3.2 inches (81 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Washington 56°F (14°C) 
    Columbus 54°F (12°C)

Typical Weather for Columbus and Washington

Washington Columbus
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 35°F (1°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 30°F (-1°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)
Feb 37°F (3°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 33°F (1°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm)
Mar 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 45°F (7°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Apr 56°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
May 66°F (19°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 65°F (18°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm)
Jun 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 73°F (23°C) 4 inches (102 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 77°F (25°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (95 mm)
Sep 71°F (22°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 69°F (20°C) 3 inches (76 mm)
Oct 60°F (15°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm)
Nov 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Dec 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 35°F (2°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)