Best Washington DC Tourist Attraction Passes

This post compares the different tourist attraction discount passes and ticket combos that are available in Washington, DC, with tips on choosing the right one for you.

 

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OVERVIEW

If you’re looking to save money on some of the most popular attractions in Washington DC, there are several tourist passes you can use to save anywhere from 20% to 50% off general admission prices – or more!

Most of these passes include admission to the following notable activities at a discounted rate:

  • Newseum
  • ARTECHOUSE
  • National Geographic Museum
  • International Spy Museum
  • National Building Museum
  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Potomac River Cruise
  • Madame Tussauds
  • The Capital Wheel

Whether you want to see everything possible or you just want to enjoy a few of these attractions, there are multiple opportunities to get a discount on tickets with Washington DC tourist passes.

That said, there are some factors you may want to consider before deciding which pass will best meet your needs. Read our Before You Buy section for more details.


Before You Buy

There are several different passes to choose from, and we have broken them down by type.  Just follow the links for more details, but here is a quick summary. 

There are passes, which we refer to as flex passes, that allow you to choose a set number of attractions and tours.

These passes usually give you the choice of 3, 4, 5 or more options from a large pool of activities and attractions. While you can save a lot of money with this type of pass, it’s best for the most expensive services.

Since you’re paying one flat price, it’s almost like paying the same low price for each individual activity. The only problem is that these passes also include activities that are already quite affordable.

If you were to use a flex pass for something cheap, you’d actually be paying more than necessary for admission. However, if you’re interested in some of the more expensive tours, these passes are a lifesaver!

Build Your Own Washington DCA build-your-own pass is even cheaper, allows more flexibility and certainty (think à la carte) but limits the savings even more.

Build Your Own Passes are best for those who are only sure about visiting a few paid attractions, as you only need to purchase 2 tickets to enjoy the savings.

Alternatively, you can also purchase an all-inclusive pass which includes admission to dozens of attractions for a specific amount of time (1, 2, or 3 days).

While this is a great way to save a lot of money, you really have to use it for as many activities as possible in order to get the best possible discount.

Much like the flex pass, you’ll save the most money by using this service for expensive activities. That said, if you can also fit cheaper attractions into your itinerary, it won’t cost you anything more!

Washington DC Explorer Pass BenefitsThe next option is a prepackaged pass, which is part combo package and part build your own pass.

This service starts with a specific set of included activities for one flat price, and it includes the option of either 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 additional attractions.

As with the build your own pass, this is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t want to get carried away or plan out too many activities while visiting Washington DC.

Finally, there are numerous hop-on-hop-off bus tour companies that offer their own combo deals.

It can be difficult to decide which, if any, is right for you. Therefore, we recommend deciding on what you want and have time to do first before choosing which pass you would like.


Remember Our Tours

Don’t forget about all of our “name your own price” walking tours of the city! You can save as much as you like on our tours.

 

 

For a full list of our tours offered, check out our calendar

 


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BUILD YOUR OWN DC PASS

If you know the places you want to visit and are looking for a discount, check out the Build Your Own Pass from Go Washington DC (think – à la carte).

Choose 2+ attractions and receive discounts of up to 20% on admission. 

Although your savings will be lower than other pass options, it’s worth noting that this is probably the best choice for anyone who doesn’t plan on doing too much while visiting DC.

Since you only have to purchase 2 tickets to get the discount, you won’t have to worry about using the pass for as many activities as possible to get the best possible deal.

 

Build Your Own Washington DC Pass

 

In many ways, this service could be better than a flex pass, as you’ll be paying $20 per attraction at the lowest possible cost and there are several locations in DC that are already cheaper than that.

Meanwhile, with the Build Your Own Pass, you’ll save 20% off no matter how affordable the attraction may be! Here are a few examples to show you what we mean:

  • National Building Museum | $10 $8
  • National Geographic Museum | $15 $12
  • The Capital Wheel | $16.50 $13.20
  • Washington Nationals Ballpark Tour | $15 $12
  • ARTECHOUSE | $17.50 $14
  • Buca di Beppo | $15 $12

Each of these attractions would cost $20 with the Explorer Pass no matter what, but you’ll save at least a few bucks on tickets by using the Build Your Own Pass!

Take a look at some of the other activities included with this pass:

  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour | $49 $39.20
  • Key to the City Museum Pass | $44 $35.20
  • Mount Vernon Cruise | $28 $22.40
  • Night Bus Tour | $45 $36
  • Bike and Roll Tour | $40 $32
  • Sites By Segway Tour | $64 $51.20

The Build Your Own Pass is valid for a total of 30 days, giving you a full month to explore the city at your own leisure and use the pass whenever and wherever you want.

This pass has a money-back guarantee, so if you buy it and don’t end up using it, you can return the pass within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.

Purchase the Build Your Own Pass or learn more.

 


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FLEX PASSES

This section will cover each of the flex pass options available in Washington DC, including details about how much money you can save and advice about the best way to use these services.


Explorer Pass

This service is offered by the same company that provides the build your own pass. Rather than offering a set discount of 20% off, this service allows you to pay one flat price for a set number of attractions (3, 4, or 5). 

 

 

While this is a great option to save money on some of the most expensive activities in Washington DC, you may want to consider another option for attractions that are already pretty affordable.

Depending on how you use this pass, you could save up to 57% off general admission prices, but it will be very important to consider how you use the service.

Before we get into that, let’s take a look at the prices for each pass option. The prices in red underneath each listing reflect the average cost per attraction.

  • 3 Attractions: $60/Adults | $40/Children
    • Price per attraction: $20/Adults | $13.33/Children
  • 4 Attractions: $80/Adults | $54/Children
    • Price per attraction: $20/Adults | $13.50/Children
  • 5 Attractions: $100/Adults | $67/Children
    • Price per attraction: $20/Adults | $13.40/Children

Purchase the Explorer Pass or learn more.

As you can see, no matter how many attractions you choose, you’ll be paying $20 per activity. 

This would be a great deal for activities that already cost $40 or more, but if the service in question is already less than $20, it’s not really a good deal.

If you want to see what we mean, please check our build your own pass section for additional information about attractions that would cost less with that option.

The main point we want to get across is that you should use this pass for the most expensive activities possible. Here are a few examples to consider:

  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour | $49
  • Key to the City Museum Pass | $44
  • Explore Capitol Hill Neighborhood Tour | $40
  • Washington Monuments Cruise | $28
  • Mount Vernon Cruise | $28
  • Night Bus Tour | $45

At $20 per attraction with the Explorer Pass, it’s easy to see how you could end up saving a lot of money on tickets.

Here’s an example of how you could save money with just the 3-Attraction pass:

  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour | $49
  • Key to the City Museum Pass | $44
  • Night Bus Tour | $45
    • Normal Price: $138
    • Price with Pass: $60
    • Savings: $78 (57% off)

You do not need to choose your attractions in advance (unless you choose the 3rd option), but once you visit a site, that counts as one attraction and you can only go once. You can stay as long as you want, however!  

You have 30 days to visit your 3-5 attractions and up to a year to begin your first visit. Some attractions require reservations.

Unused passes can be returned within 30 days of the initial purchase for a full refund if you decide not to use the service.


Washington DC Sightseeing Flex Pass

Choose a package with either 1, 2 and 4 Attractions from a list of 15 top attractions.  You have 7 days to visit the number of attractions you purchased.  

 

 

All passes include their One Day Express hop-on-hop-off double-decker bus tour and the opportunity to see sights such as the White House, Washington Monument, MLK Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and more.

Much like the Explorer Pass, this service will have you paying one flat price for a set number of activities, which means that each attraction will cost the same.

Here are the prices you can expect to pay with a breakdown of the cost per attraction in red:

  • Bus + 1 Attraction: $54/Adults | $44/Children
  • Bus + 2 Attractions: $64/Adults | $54/Children
    • Price per attraction: $32/Adults | $27/Children
  • Bus + 4 Attractions: $89/Adults | $79/Children
    • Price per attraction: $22.25/Adults | $19.75/Children

Purchase the Washington DC Sightseeing Flex Pass or learn more.

The main thing to keep in mind with this service is that the hop on hop off bus tour included with each pass normally costs about $45 per person.

When you factor that in, it’s easy to see how even the 1 Attraction option is a good deal, because that would mean you were paying only $9 more for the additional activity!

We’ll get a bit deeper into how much you could save with this pass, but first let’s get into some of the attractions included with this service:

  • Bike and Roll Monuments Tour | $44
  • Bike and Roll Capital Sites Tour | $44
  • Spirit of Mount Vernon Cruise | $48
  • Urban Adventures Capitol Hill Tour | $40
  • International Spy Museum | $26
  • Madame Tussauds | $22
  • Newseum | $25

While some of these attractions might not seem like a great deal when you consider that the lowest price per attraction is $22.50, you have to remember that the bus tour is included with each pass.

To give you an idea of what we mean, take a look at how much money you could save with a 4 Attraction Pass:

  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour | $45
  • Bike and Roll Monuments Tour | $44
  • Spirit of Mount Vernon Cruise | $48
  • Bike and Roll Capital Sites Tour | $44
  • Urban Adventures Capitol Hill Tour | $40
    • Normal Price: $221
    • Price with Pass: $89
    • Savings: $132 (60% off)

As you can see, you can actually save more money with this service than with the Explorer Pass! 

If that’s still not good enough, the prices for the 2 and 4-Attraction Flex Passes have a 20% discount applied to them. To get the discounts, use our exclusive promo code: FTBF.

The only catch is that the Sightseeing Pass does not include as many activities as their competitors, so it might not be the best option for you if it doesn’t have any attractions you find desirable.

Much like their competitors, this service is valid for 30 consecutive days from the time it is activated. Their refund policy is also very generous, as any unused passes purchased with insurance can be fully refunded for any reason.

 


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ALL-INCLUSIVE PASS

The following section will cover any all-inclusive passes available in Washington DC, including details about how much money you can save and advice on the best way to use these services.

Currently, there is only one all-inclusive pass in Washington DC, but that may change in the future!


Washington DC Sightseeing Pass

In addition to their flex pass, this company also offers an all-inclusive option which includes admission to all of their attractions and activities for a specific amount of time (1, 2, or 3 days).

The advantage to this pass is that you don’t have to pick only a handful of activities – you can literally enjoy every service included for one flat price!

 

 

Although we went over some of the attractions in our flex pass section, here are a few more locations and tours included:

  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon | $20
  • National Geographic Museum | $15
  • Potomac Riverboat Water Taxi | $30
  • Washington DC Scavenger Hunt | $20
  • Bike and Roll 3 Hr Bike Rental | $30
  • Buca di Beppo Discount | $15

While some of these might not be worth it with the flex pass, the only factor to consider with an all-inclusive pass is how much fun you can fit into a day!

The amount you save will depend entirely upon how much you use the service, and you’ll enjoy the biggest discount by purchasing the longest pass.

With that said, let’s take a look at the prices for this pass with the cost per day highlighted in red below:

  • 1 Day Pass: $89/Adults | $84/Children
  • 2 Day Pass: $149/Adults | $139/Children
    • Price per day: $74.50/Adults | $69.50/Children
  • 3 Day Pass: $199/Adults | $189/Children
    • Price per day: $66.33/Adults | $63/Children

Purchase the Washington DC Sightseeing Pass or learn more.

The lowest price per day is going to be about $66, and with multiple activities that cost more than $40, it’s not difficult to see how you could easily save money with this pass.

That said, let’s break things down a bit with a sample 3 day itinerary to give you a sense for just how much money you can save using this service:

Day 1

  • Big Bus Hop on Hop off Tour | $45
  • Bike and Roll Monuments Tour | $44
  • Buca di Beppo | $15
  • Newseum | $25

Day 2

  • Spirit of Mount Vernon Cruise | $48
  • Bike and Roll Capital Sites Tour | $44
  • International Spy Museum | $26
  • Madame Tussauds | $22

Day 3

  • Potomac Riverboat Water Taxi | $30
  • Urban Adventures Capitol Hill Tour | $40
  • Bike and Roll 3 Hr Bike Rental | $30
  • National Geographic Museum | $15
    • Normal Price: $384
    • Price with Pass: $199
    • Savings: $185 (48% off)

If you add a few activities on or change some of the attractions on this itinerary, you could easily save more than 50% off general admission prices.

 

Washington DC Sightseeing Pass

 

This pass is a great option if you plan to do as much as possible while visiting Washington DC. If you’re only interested in a few of the activities included, you may want to consider another option instead.

Unlike their flex pass, this option is only valid for the consecutive allotted time (1, 2, or 3 days). That said, they do offer the same money-back guarantee for any pass purchased with insurance!

 


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PREPACKAGED PASS

This section provides information about prepackaged tourist passes in Washington DC. There is currently only one option available in this city, but that could change in the coming years.


CitySights FreeStyle Pass DC

As the name implies, this is a tourist pass, but it functions more like a combo package than anything else.CitySights Washington DC Pass

With the FreeStyle Pass, you’ll pay one flat price for the following activities:

  • 2-Day Hop on Hop off Bus Tour | $54
    • w/ Madame Tussauds Admission
  • Water Taxi OR CEB Tower | $22-$30
  • Seasonal Walking Tour (May – Sept) | $5-$15
    • Potential Cost w/out Pass: $89
    • Lowest Pass Price: $66
    • Savings: $23 (25% off)

NOTE: Depending on when you visit Washington DC, you may not be able to take advantage of the free walking tour. Consider our pay-what-you-want walking tours instead!

In addition to these services, each pass comes with your choice of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 additional attractions from the following list:

  • Newseum | $25
  • International Spy Museum | $26
  • National Geographic Museum | $15
  • Bike and Roll Capital Sites Tour | $44
  • Bike and Roll Monuments Site Tour | $44
  • Bike and Roll 3 Hour Rental | $40
  • Buca di Beppo $15 Meal | $15

Here are the prices you can expect to pay for each variant of the FreeStyle Pass, including a breakdown of how much each additional attraction will cost in red.

  • FreeStyle Pass + 1 Attraction: $66/Adults | $51/Children
  • FreeStyle Pass + 2 Attractions: $76/Adults | $61/Children
    • $10 extra for additional attraction.
  • FreeStyle Pass + 3 Attractions: $91/Adults | $76/Children
    • $12.50 extra for each additional attraction.
  • FreeStyle Pass + 4 Attractions: $106/Adults | $91/Children
    • $13.33 extra for each additional attraction.
  • FreeStyle Pass + 5 Attractions: $121/Adults | $106/Children
    • $13.75 extra for each additional attraction.

Purchase the FreeStyle Pass or learn more.

As you can see, you’ll actually save more money on additional attractions by choosing one of the less expensive options. 

That said, each of these activities/services costs more than $13.75 on their own, so there’s no point at which you won’t be saving money with this combo package!

Here’s an example of how much money you can save with the FreeStyle Pass + 2 Attractions:

  • FreeStyle Bus + More Pass | $89 Value
  • Bike and Roll Capital Sites Tour | $44 Value
  • International Spy Museum | $26 Value
    • Total Value: $159
    • Total Price: $76
    • Savings: $83 (52% off)

Needless to say, this is a great way to save money on a variety of activities in the Washington DC area. It’s also a good option if you don’t want to get too carried away, because you’ll get to decide just how many additional attractions to add on!

 


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COMBO PACKAGES

Some of the hop-on-hop-off bus tour companies offer discounts if you purchase attractions alongside their bus tickets.

These packages usually include either a 24 or 48 hour bus ticket (though the CitySights pass below is good for 7 days) and give you access to their bus routes and then discounted or free admission to a number of DC attractions.

These all have live guides on the main bus routes and a night tour option.


Big Bus Tour 48 Hour Combo Pass 

Big Bus is an international hop-on-hop-off bus service that offers tours in Washington, DC.

 

 

There are four different loops, with live guides for the National Mall but prerecorded commentary for Georgetown, National Cathedral, and Pentagon. You can view the loop map here.

This company offers three combo deals you may want to consider:

Premium Ticket + Night Tour

  • 2-Day Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Washington DC Night Bus Tour
  • Madame Tussauds Admission
    • $83/Adults | $68/Children

Deluxe Ticket + Night Tour

  • 2-Day Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Washington DC Night Bus Tour
  • Madame Tussauds Admission
  • Potomac Riverboat Cruise
    • $93/Adults | $78/Children

Washington DC & New York City

  • 1-Day DC Hop on Hop off Bus Tour | Classic Ticket
  • 2-Day NYC Hop on Hop off Bus Tour | Premium Ticket
  • NYC Ticket includes:
    • Brooklyn Tour
    • Harlem Tour
    • Night Tour
    • Cruise
      • $99/Adults | $75/Children

Purchase combo packages or learn more.


Old Town Trolley

Much like their competitors, this company also offers hop on hop off service in Washington DC. What sets them apart is the fact that you don’t have to use your ticket on consecutive days.

 

 

Old Town Trolley also offers additional activities that aren’t included with other bus tours in the area.

Here are some of the more notable combo packages they provide:

Silver Pass + Monuments by Moonlight

  • 1-Day Hop on Hop off Trolley Tour
  • Shuttle to Arlington National Cemetery
  • Monuments by Moonlight Night Bus Tour
    • $84/Adults | $59.40/Children

Gold Pass + Monuments by Moonlight

  • 1-Day Hop on Hop off Trolley Tour
  • Shuttle to Arlington National Cemetery
  • Arlington National Cemetery Tour
  • Washington DC Area Cruise
  • Monuments by Moonlight Night Bus Tour
    • $94/Adults | $74/Children

Platinum Pass + Monuments by Moonlight

  • 2-Day Hop on Hop off Trolley Tour
  • Shuttle to Arlington National Cemetery
  • Arlington National Cemetery Tour
  • Washington DC Area Cruise
  • Monuments by Moonlight Night Bus Tour
    • $104/Adults | $84/Children

Monuments by Moonlight + Arlington Cemetery Tour

  • Monuments by Moonlight Night Bus Tour
  • Arlington National Cemetery Tour
    • $54.50/Adults | $35.75/Children

Purchase Old Town Trolley combo packages or learn more.

Old Town Trolley is the only option to tour inside Arlington National Cemetery by bus/trolley. You can buy single ANC Tram tickets at the ANC visitor center for $15 a person.


CitySights DC 

In addition to their FreeStyle Pass, this company also offers a few combo packages you may want to consider instead. These are great options if you don’t want to plan out too many activities.

 

 

Bus Tour + Madame Tussauds

  • 2-Day Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Madame Tussauds Admission
  • Seasonal Walking Tour (May – Sept)
    • $54/Adults | $45/Children

Bus Tour + Madame Tussauds + Cruise

  • 2-Day Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Madame Tussauds Admission
  • Seasonal Walking Tour (May – Sept)
  • Potomac Riverboat Cruise
    • $70/Adults | $60/Children

Bus Tour + 1 Attraction

  • 1-Day Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Admission to 1 of the following attractions:
    • Newseum
    • Madame Tussauds
    • International Spy Museum
    • National Geographic Museum
    • Bike and Roll Capital Sites OR Monuments Tour
    • Bike and Roll 3 Hour Rental
    • Buca di Beppo $15 Meal
      • $51/Adults | $37/Children

Purchase CitySights DC Combo Packages or learn more.

 


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About the author

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with three published books about the city. She has traveled extensively and lived in London, UK where she attended University College London for a Masters in History and in Seoul, South Korea where she taught English. While her family is now based in DC, she still explores the world. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts. She has been a part of the Free Tours by Foot team since 2011.

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