Best Things to Do in Washington DC

What to Do in Washington, DC

This post covers the best things to do in DC, including top attractions, museums, points of interest, kid-friendly activities, food, things to do at night and much more. 

 

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TOP 10 THINGS TO DO (ONLY IN DC)

Below is our list of the top 10 things to do in DC. In each listing, we add links for more in-depth looks at each choice and related items.  Read more »

Ghosts of georgetown tour

Washington DC Ghost Tours

This post is about ghost tours in Washington, DC, including our ghost and scandals tours, as well as adult-only walking tours.

 These three aren’t ghost tours, but they are great for a night out (adults only) for scandals, affairs, and murders!

 

 

For such a small city, Washington DC has a lot of ghost stories. In any of the historic neighborhoods, you’re bound to find an old house that has unexplained bumps in the night or otherworldly sightings of lost souls who suffered tragic ends. Read more »

The Best 8 Things To Do in DC in The Fall (2020)

We all love the summertime and can complain here and there about the winter but the fall season has a lot to love. And experiencing it in D.C. means that there’s no shortage of activities for anyone to enjoy. The nation’s capital and the surrounding area sees a high number of visitors from around the world, and as the leaves change colors and a crisp hits the air, they get a chance to really see the best of the city through all of these things to do. So with that in mind, read on for a robust list of things that you can do in D.C. in the fall.

Read more »

National Mall Tour

National Mall Tour

This post provides details for our National Mall walking tours, including where and when they start, sites that we visit or see, and other related content.

 

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This highly engaging National Mall tour will take you through the heart of the Mall, entertaining you and your family with stories, hidden secrets, and historical information.  

Testaments to the history and founders of the USA, these sites are more than just stone and mortar.

 

National Mall Tour, DC by Foot

 

The memorials tell about the lives of men and women from America’s past and present.

And our guides will share with you stories – from founding father George Washington to Rosie the Riveter during WWII.

Join Free by Foot as we tell the story of America’s journey from a collection of colonial New World outposts to world power. 

Our guides will share with you the history, symbolism, and a few hidden stories of these must-see sites.


SITES WE COVER ON THE NATIONAL MALL TOUR:

*Sights we cover from a distance as they are not on the National Mall.


TOUR INFORMATION

Reservations: Reservations are required to ensure your spot on the tour. Click here to reserve

Where: Meet your guide on the southwest corner of 15th St. and Constitution Ave. NW (the corner closest to the Washington Monument). Look for your guide with the DC by Foot logo!

Use our Google Maps link for directions to the tour starting point. Tour ends at the Lincoln Memorial (map).

 

National Mall Tour Meeting Point

 

Duration: Tour lasts approx. 2 hours. Total walking is just over one mile (1.6 km).

When: View our Calendar

  • Peak Season: From March through October, this tour runs almost daily with multiple start times from 830am to 830pm.
  • Off-Season: From November through February, this tour runs every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday with additional dates added during holidays.
  • You can take the tour at any time with our self-guided GPS-enabled option.

Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it’s done.

A pay-what-you-like tour is a tour for any budget.

Save even more money in Washington, DC with a discount tourist pass.

 


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GPS AUDIO TOUR OF THE NATIONAL MALL

If you can’t take our guided walks when they are offered, or you prefer to go it alone, then consider our GPS-led audio tour of the National Mall.

You can take this self-guided tour any time, day or night

Here is a sample of the tour.

Here is how it works:

  1. Download our free app on (iTunes) or (Android).
  2. Download any audio tour(s).
  3. Enjoy the tour(s).

In addition to the audio version of the National Mall Tour, we also have the following audio tours.

  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Historic Georgetown
  • Embassy Row
  • Old Town Alexandria

You could also visit our main DC audio tours page for more samples and information. 
 


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NATIONAL MALL SCAVENGER HUNT

We think our tours are great for all ages and our guides are engaging for even the youngest visitors, but if you want a tour geared specifically to your kids, we’ve created a highlight tour with scavenger hunts at each memorial.

(This tour does not run all year round but you can ALWAYS add on the scavenger hunt as a DIY option to our regular guided 2 hour National Mall tour. Just select it as an add on option when booking and we’ll email you the file for the kids to do on the tour!)

This shorter tour with less walking is perfect for short legs and shorter attention spans.

This tour is recommended for 10 years old and under.

This educational and entertaining tour visits the big four memorials on the National Mall:

  • WWII Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Korean Veterans Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial

And at each stop there will be a special activity for the kids to do or find on an activity sheet they get to take home! You’ll learn a lot along the way, too.

Tour information

Reservations: Reservations are required to ensure your spot on the tour. Click here to reserve

Where: We meet at the southeast corner of 17th and Constitution Ave NW (map), its the only corner that doesn’t have a building on it! Look for your guide with the DC by Foot logo!

Tour ends at the Lincoln Memorial (map).

NOTE THIS IS NOT THE SAME MEETING SPOT AS OUR REGULAR 2 HOUR TOUR

Purchase a guaranteed parking spot in advance near the tour’s starting point with SpotHero

Duration: Tour lasts approx. 80 min. Total walking is just under one mile (1.4 km).

When: View our Calendar This tour does not run November-March except select holiday weekends.

Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it’s done.

A pay-what-you-like tour is a tour for any budget.

Save even more money in Washington, DC with a discount tourist pass. And be sure to read our post on things to do with kids in DC.

 


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RELATED POSTS

 

Best DC Segway Tours

8 Best Segway Tours in Washington DC

This post details the 8 best Segway tours in Washington, DC, including ticket prices, rules, as well as what to expect on one of these outings.

 

 

Disclosure: We think you should consider our free tours, but we have also provided other options. While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

Overview

Segway tours are one of the most popular ways to see all of the sites in Washington DC. Read more »

Getting to DC from DCA Reagan National Airport

This post compares the different ways of reaching downtown Washington, DC from (DCA) – Reagan National Airport. 

 

 


METRO TO AND FROM DCA (Reagan National Airport)

The biggest advantage of landing at DCA (Reagan National Airport) is that it is centrally located and on the Metro system’s blue and yellow lines.

You can take either line into DC but if you’re headed downtown, the Yellow line is usually faster.

We have a guide on how to ride the Washington DC Metro, which includes tips on how to purchase a Metro Pass.

 

 

 

From Reagan National Airport station, it is only four stops on the Yellow Line to get to L’Enfant Plaza. It is 12 stops to get to the same station on the Blue Line.

Tip: If your aim is to get to a station on the Blue line that is past L’Enfant Plaza (such as Eastern Market or Stadium Armoury) it is faster to take a Yellow Line train from the airport to L’Enfant Plaza and then change to a Blue/Orange/Silver line. 

However, if you’re not in a rush and you have a lot of luggage- especially during rush hour- just get a Blue line train. It will be a longer journey but you won’t be trying to switch crowded train cars with a bunch of luggage.

Pros: Low cost and isn’t affected by traffic, particularly during rush hour. Depending on when and where you travel, you should spend somewhere between $2 and $3.85 per person (subject to higher fare during rush hour).

Cons: Not a great option if you have lots of luggage, but the subway cars are large and there are elevators at each station, though sometimes they are out of service due to maintenance.

 


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SHUTTLE SERVICE TO AND FROM DCA (Reagan National Airport)

There are a number of companies offering van service from Reagan National Airport to points in and around Washington, DC.

Most are shared services, so how long your journey will take will be dependent on the order of passenger destinations. Some offer direct service for an additional fee.

TIP: Some area hotels offer free shuttle service from the airport.


GO Airport Shuttle

GO Airport Shuttle offers 24/7 airport pick up and drop off with private cars and shared vans – you can even get a limousine!

With upfront pricing, you’ll know how much your trip will be when you book. You can also request a car seat or a kennel.

Pros: Door to door service.  Good choice for those with luggage or want direct service for a lower cost. Offers car seat or kennel if traveling with children and pets.

Cons: Can take a lot of time depending on traffic and how many others in the van get dropped off before you. 


Super ShuttleSuper Shuttle Washington DC

Super Shuttle offers rides from airports around the world. It’s difficult to say for sure what the fare will be, as it depends on where you are going to and how many people are in your party.  

On their website, fares into the city start at $16 for the first passenger. To get a better idea, you can use their fare estimator. They also offer a direct express service (1-3 people) for $46. This is a private vehicle for you and your family.

Pros: Door to door service.  Good choice for those with luggage or want direct service for a lower cost. They also offer an AAA discount.

Cons: Can take a lot of time depending on traffic and how many others in the van get dropped off before you.

TIP: If you are alone, then you might consider Viator, which offers single passenger tickets for Super Shuttle for as low as $17, but additional passengers have no discount unless purchased separately.

 


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TAXI TO AND FROM DCA (Reagan National Airport)

DCA is just across the river from Washington DC and just down the road from major hotel centers such as Crystal City or Pentagon City.

For this reason, Taxis and Ubers/Lyfts are a relatively inexpensive option.

Rates depend on which cab you take (both local DC cabs and local Virginia cabs operate from DCA but have different rates), as well as exactly where you’re going.

Some taxi companies charge an additional airport fee of around $3. There are also additional fees if baggage is handled by the driver.

Taxis operate out of official taxi stands at baggage claim. During busy times these lines can be excessively long.

There are no tricks to skipping the line but if you’re traveling with someone else, send them out to get in line while you wait for your bags.

Pros: Fastest and most convenient.

Cons: One of the most expensive options (if you are traveling solo). Lines can be excessively long.

TIP: If you are traveling solo, ask other waiting taxi passengers to share a cab.

Looking for a ride? Download the Lyft App and use Promo Code DCBFRIDES for $5 OFF your first ride with Lyft.


UBER/Lyft

Uber and Lyft are taxi alternatives that provide rides on demand through an app. It’s cashless so the ride is automatically charged to the card on file in the app, which is convenient especially when you’re trying to wrangle luggage.

There are many options within the app, uberX is the basic option, but they also have uberXL if your group is large or you have many bags, and uberBLACK which has high-end luxury sedans.

Generally, Uber/Lyft works out cheaper than a taxi, uberX into the city is estimated to be between $15-$25 (you can check an estimate for your specific trip here).

For more information on Uber, you can see our post here.

Pros: Convenient app, different options to suit you

Cons: Not a good option at rush hour. UberX/Lyft Line means some drivers are not as familiar with the city as taxi cabs.

Looking for a ride? Download the Lyft App and use Promo Code DCBFRIDES for $5 OFF your first ride with Lyft.


CAR SERVICE TO AND FROM DCA (Reagan National Airport)

If you are looking for peace of mind that you will be picked up from the airport on time and taken to your destination in a timely manner, DCAcar car service is an excellent choice.

You can make the reservation ahead of time, and give the company your flight information so they know whether you’ll be early or late. At DCA your driver will meet you at the baggage claim and help you with your luggage.

You can get a rate estimation and make a booking with this highly-rated car service company here.

Pros: Luxury personalized service

Cons: Costly – but DCByFoot guests get a 5% discount by using the promo code: dcbyfoot.

 


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RENTAL CARS DCA

Most of the major car rental companies operate out of DCA Airport. This is a great option if you are traveling with children in car seats, which can make using taxis or public transport challenging.

It also gives you the freedom to visit many sites around DC which are a little more difficult to reach by public transport, such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon or even a day trip to Gettysburg.

You can use  rentalcars.com to compare prices.

Pros: Gives you freedom for your trip, great if you have young children or are staying outside of the Metro area.

Cons: Navigation and parking can be difficult and expensive in downtown DC.

 


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Related Posts

 

Visiting the Air Force Memorial

This post is a guide to visiting the Air Force Memorial, including directions on how to get there and a self-guided tour.

 

For more information on the traditional bomb burst with missing man
that inspired the Air Force Memorial spires, read the design section below.

 


Overview

The Air Force Memorial honors the service and heritage of the men and women of the United States Air Force.

Read more »