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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.

How Many Days to Spend in DC?

Ideally, you'd come to Washington DC for a whole week or more!

If that isn't feasible, we suggest that you need at least 3 days in Washington DC.

There is enough here to fill up your days with attractions, museums, and tours, as well as great food, music, and art.

Our suggested itineraries below get you through 3 days (or shorter if you must).

If you're staying for longer - 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.


If you're arriving in DC on the weekend, we recommend a DC brunch for breakfast.

A lot of restaurants offer unlimited food/drink options for brunch, giving you the most for your money.

Washington DC 1 day Itinerary

Our favorite is Ambar on 8th street near Eastern Market, which we suggest exploring afterward.

There are numerous restaurants and cafes in the area if you're looking for a lighter breakfast.

We offer a great Eastern Market History & Desserts tour so you can learn while you enjoy all the tasty treats!

To learn more about DC food tours, click here.

After exploring Eastern Market, head over to the U.S. Capitol Building, just a short walk away.

We offer a Capitol Hill tour, but you can also explore the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court on your own.

They're all free to go inside! 

Next, make your way west, just on the other side of the Capitol is the National Mall, home to our free Smithsonian Museums. Spend the afternoon exploring them.

The three most popular ones are:

Keep in mind, we have nearly 20 Smithsonian Museums in DC, including a number of art galleries, so check out our DC Museums posts to decide which ones you want to explore.

You can also hire a private guide to show you around the museums!

For lunch, we recommend eating at one of the many food trucks that are parked in the area. They're usually cheap and of great quality!

From there, you can either walk down or take the Metro to the White House. To learn how to get tickets to go inside.

We offer a number of White House tours, from the Secrets & Scandals of the White House to kid-friendly history tours.

If you didn't get tickets to go inside the White House, you can still learn more about it at the White House Visitor Center, a short walk away.

For dinner, we recommend making a reservation at Old Ebbitt Grill, the oldest saloon in DC. If it's too crowded, not far away is its sister restaurant, The Hamilton, which offers live music.

After dinner, we recommend exploring the memorials.

Our National Mall tour takes you to see the Washington Monument, WW2 Memorial, MLK Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.

If you're feeling tired, we recommend an evening bus tour to see the sights in comfort.

If you're in the mood to grab a drink after, U Street and 14th Street have a number of great bars and clubs to enjoy.

For more things to do in DC at night, check out our post.


Washington DC 2 day Itinerary

For day 2, we recommend waking up early and heading out to Arlington National Cemetery.

We offer a guided tour to show you the highlights of these sacred grounds, which includes seeing the Kennedy Grave and the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

There's also a trolley tour around the cemetery to take if walking up multiple hills is difficult for you.

If you want to explore at your own pace or if our guided tours aren't offered at a time that works for you, then we suggest downloading an audio tour and exploring our self-guided tours.


Just outside of Arlington National Cemetery is the Iwo Jima or Marine Corp Memorial, so be sure to check that out after.

For lunch, head over to Georgetown and check out Martin's Tavern, which was a favorite of President John F. Kennedy.

Rumor has it he allegedly proposed to Jacquie Kennedy in what is now known as the proposal booth!

Explore Georgetown, DC's oldest neighborhood, after lunch, where you can enjoy shopping and desserts. 

You can do these with a guide or on your own. You can also explore Georgetown University.

Self Guided tour of Georgetown University

From there, head to Chinatown.

Though small, it hides some cool stuff, like the National Portrait Gallery, which is free to explore and contains the largest collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House.

There's also Capital One Arena, home to some of our local sports teams, the Washington Capitals hockey team, and the Wizards basketball team.

For dinner, there are a number of great food options in Chinatown, including Daikaya for ramen.

You can also find Ford's Theater there, and go on a Lincoln Assassination tour after dinner to wrap up the evening.

There are a number of free evening tours to choose from, including one of Dupont Circle and a Georgetown ghost tour.


Start your last day in DC at Mount Vernon, the former home of George Washington, located in Alexandria. 

Washington DC 3 day Itinerary

For lunch, explore Old Town Alexandria, a great place for shopping and dining.

In the evening, head to the Kennedy Center for a performance. They host free nightly performances at the Millenium Stage at 6 pm.

Visitors Guide to Kennedy Center

Be sure to go up to the terrace before or after the show for an incredible view of DC and Virginia.

For more ideas of things to do in DC, look into getting a DC Tourist Discount Pass


About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: March 8th, 2023
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