1, 2, & 3 Day Itinerary for Washington DC

Use our 1, 2, & 3 Day Itinerary for Washington, DC suggestions to help plan your quick trip to the city. It’s hard to see everything DC has to offer but you can make the most of a weekend trip with our suggestions below.

Check out our Guide to Things to Do in DC, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Washington DC attractions, including Free Things to Do in DC.

 


DC IN ONE DAY

Capitol Hill

Start your day with a tour of the Capitol Building and Library of Congress. During peak season it’s best to book reservations for the Capitol tour in advance. Visitors are also welcome to contact their congressperson about arranging a private tour. Afterward, take the underground tunnel over to the Library of Congress to enjoy one of the most stunning buildings in the city! No reservations required and free, docent led tours run every hour. (Note: We also offer a Capitol Hill Tour that includes tickets to the Capitol, as well as an interior tour of the Library of Congress, though it only runs in the afternoons).

Check our our guide to touring the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress.

 


Eastern Market

Afterward head toward Eastern Market, which is a short walk from the Library of Congress via Pennsylvania Avenue. Eastern Market is especially lively on weekends as part of the street is shut down for vendors to sell crafts and food. Regardless of which day you go, there are many great lunch spots in the area and the neighborhood is worth having a walk around.

 

 


Smithsonians

After lunch take the metro (blue line) to the Smithsonian Metro Station to spend time at a few of the many Smithsonian Museums. The most popular are the Air and Space, Natural History, and American History Museum, though some other options include the Hirshhorn Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Gallery of Art (not a Smithsonian but free and worth a visit!). Each is excellent and totally depends on your preference!

 

 


White House

Take the metro from Smithsonian Station to McPherson Station (blue line) and then exit toward Lafayette Square. In less than 5 minutes you will be at the White House and ready for photo ops! White House tours are hard to come by (but possible with advance planning). There are many restaurants in the area, though Old Ebbitt Grill — the oldest saloon in DC — is a classic and just a few minutes walk away.

Read How To Tour the White House as well as our self-guided tour of the area around the White House.

 


Memorials on the National Mall

Now it’s time to see the memorials illuminated in all their glory! We offer an evening pay-what-you-like walking tour of the National Mall, which includes all of the major memorials. Not your first time visiting Washington, DC? Or just plain tired of walking? We recommend taking a nighttime bus tour of DC and the memorials.

The Best Washington DC Bus Tours Reviewed post will help you decide which will be best, with a specific section on night bus tours..

 

 


DC IN TWO DAYS

If you are going to be in the city for a few days, a few of the bus tours offer great rates for multi day options – some include night tours, river cruises and free entrance to local attractions.

Arlington National Cemetery

The hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery should not be missed during your trip to DC. Popular sites include the Kennedy Memorials, Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and Arlington House. We offer a morning walking tour of the cemetery, as well as a self-guided tour for those who would prefer to explore on their own.

You can also take the cemetery’s Trolley Tour if you just want a quick highlight.

 

 

Museums off the National Mall 

There are many museums located just off the National Mall that are well worth a visit. Take the afternoon to visit one or two of these including the National Archives (not quite a museum but home to the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights!), Ford’s Theater and Peterson’s Boarding House, International Spy Museum, Newseum, or the Holocaust Museum. Each museum features a cafeteria or restaurant, so save time by dining there! You can also come face to face, literally, with the 44 presidents at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.

Lincoln Assassination or Neighborhood Tour

One of our most popular tours, the Lincoln Assassination Tour will transport you back in time to the night that Lincoln was murdered. If you are not in town when this tour is offered, check out one of our other popular evening tours such as the Dark Side of Dupont or one of Ghost Tours Need a break from tours? Consider visiting one of U Street’s historic jazz bars or seeing a show at the Kennedy Center.

 


3 day itineraries for Washington, DC

If you are going to be in the city for a few days, a few of the bus tours offer great rates for multi day options – some include night tours, river cruises and free entrance to local attractions.

Mount Vernon

Get out of the city for half a day with a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon! Visitors can get there by car, public transportation, or on a cruise down the Potomac. Mount Vernon Inn serves up some seriously delicious dishes, so be sure to stay for lunch!

Read our Visitors Guide to Mount Vernon

Georgetown

Georgetown is the oldest neighborhood in Washington, DC (and actually predates the city itself by about 50 years), and is a great place for shopping, eating, and site-seeing. We offer a late afternoon tour of Historic Georgetown for those keen on learning more about how the neighborhood developed and where former (and current) famous patrons reside. Georgetown also has many upscale shops and boutiques, as well as excellent restaurants. Martin’s Tavern is a particular favorite as it was also where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie. Conclude the evening with our Ghosts of Georgetown tour to see the darker side of the neighborhood, including the Exorcist steps! for shopping. Consider late afternoon historic tour or a ghost tour after dinner


FOR FOODIES

Historic Eateries

The city’s oldest saloon, Old Ebbitt Grill was founded in 1856. Though its location and ownership has changed many times, Old Ebbitt remains a DC staple and is a great spot for families. Ben’s Chili Bowl is probably the most famous restaurant in all of Washington, DC. Founded on U Street in 1958, it has been frequented by the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barak Obama. Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown was a favorite of President John F. Kennedy, who proposed to Jacquie Kennedy in what is now known as the proposal booth!

Sweet Tooth

Thanks to their hit show, Georgetown Cupcake is recognized across the country. For those interested in tasting a lesser known (and equally delicious) bakery located just down the street, check out Baked and Wired. Finally, if you’re looking for a throwback to your childhood, visit Ted’s Bulletin for homemade Pop-Tarts.

Critics’ Choice

There are many DC restaurants getting national attention. Rose’s Luxury was listed as Bon Appetit’s best restaurant in America in 2014. Founding Farmers and Toki Underground are also often listed as musts for foodies.

Local Hole in the Wall

Interested in some tasty yet cheap eats? Located on U Street, Oohs and Ahhs offers up the best soul food in town. Amsterdam Falafel is another popular spot for delicious food on the go.

Ethiopian Favorites

Washington, DC has a very large Ethiopian population and therefore (unsurprisingly) boasts a huge selection of Ethiopian restaurants. Two of our favorites are Keren Restaurant and Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant. Come hungry and ready to eat with your hands!


FOR FAMILIES

Traveling to Washington, DC with kids? We have an entire guide dedicated to families touring DC with children.

 

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