Disclosure: In addition to our free night walks, we have also provided other night tour 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.
NIGHT WALKING TOURS OF DC
Washington DC is perhaps best experienced through walking tours.
Although bus and boat tours will give you a unique perspective of many historically important memorials, most of these attractions can only be accessed on foot.
All of our walking tours are pay-what-you-want, which means there’s no cost to join and you can pay whatever you want or could afford.
USA Guided Tours is one of the better-reviewed bus tour companies in DC.
The DC at Dusk Tour has both a driver and a tour guide.
Your tour guide will join you for guided strolls through each stop, which is helpful as sometimes the sights cannot be fully experienced from the road.
This is a premium service that uses shuttles rather than coach buses with a maximum of 30 guests per tour and thus reflected in the prices.
The tour stops at and includes guided walking tours at the following locations:
US Capitol Building
World War II Memorial
Martin Luther King Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Hotel Pick Up can be arranged via select hotels, otherwise, you can meet your tour at the Navy Memorial conveniently located downtown on Pennsylvania Ave NW – there is a Metro station right there on the Green/Yellow lines.
3-hour tour departing at 7:30 pm.
$54 for Adults (additional fee for hotel pick up)
$44 for Children (additional fee for hotel pick up)
NOTE: The night tour is included in the price for the 2 days all-inclusive ticket, which is just $20 more per adult. This combo pass also includes a free bike rental, free refreshments and free admission to Madame Tussauds.
Epic Evening Bus Tour – Discover all of the most significant locations in DC during the evening! There are a few good points for this tour.
First, it’s a small group (up to 11 people) tours.
Second, Bi-Partisan Tours is one of the highest-rated tour company.
Third, this night tour visits the Air Force Memorial, which most other companies don’t do, and this stop is a real treat at night.
However, this is a driver-guide only tour, so there is no tour guide to accompany you through the memorials which can be a negative if you have any questions while at the sites since many sites cannot be seen from the coach.
With that said, none of the reviewers seem to have any issues with this aspect and the guided bus portion seems to make up for it.
Seeing the sights from the water can be just as fun and educational as getting a closer look.
Some of these services are actually dinner cruises, and they will typically cost more than the other options on our list.
On average, the typical boat tour will cost between $25-$50, while a dinner cruise will run you about $90-$130.
Reviews indicate that these trips do not focus much on providing historical information about our nation’s capital.
Most of these excursions are only going to be available between March–November.
When it comes to dinner cruises in our nation’s capital, few names are as notable as Spirit Cruises.
This company is well known for providing excellent service, and they are one of the most popular choices for a nighttime cruise on the Potomac.
Unlike their competition, you’ll actually have access to a dinner buffet on this cruise. This company also provides DJ music and dancing for anyone who wants to finish the night off with a party. Most of the reviews for their dinner cruise are positive, but there are a few negative comments as well.
Complaints range from lack of service to poor food quality, but there are just as many customers who enjoyed their meal and the people who served them.
Several reviewers mentioned that their food was delicious and the crew was both helpful and polite. This seems to be a common thread among both happy and unhappy guests.
NOTE: Ticket prices fluctuate depending on how many seats remain open and other factors.
Ticket Price: $87.90-$99.90 per person
Music and dancing
Unlimited coffee and tea
Availability: This cruise is available pretty much year-round, but departures depend on whether or not Spirit Cruises has filled enough seats.
Tour Length: 2 ½ – 3 hours
This cruise company is actually owned by the same business that runs Spirit Cruises. Their dinner cruise offers fairly similar service, but it is intended as a much more upscale experience.
Odyssey Cruises offers live music and three-course plated dinners, ensuring a more romantic and intimate experience.
Enjoy a more traditional and professional dining experience as you float past some of the most notable monuments in Washington DC. As a result of offering a more opulent service, Odyssey enjoys an overall 4-star rating on TripAdvisor.
A majority of the reviews for this dinner cruise are positive, indicating that most people enjoyed their fine dining experience. Even those who took issue with the food quality admitted that the live music was excellent.
Most passengers were very impressed with the cruise, stating that both the staff and their meal were wonderful. Odyssey Cruises is particularly popular among couples due to its focus on a more romantic atmosphere. Washington DC Dinner Cruise
NOTE: As with Spirit Cruises, ticket prices fluctuate depending on remaining seats and other factors.
Ticket Price: $107.90-$127.90 per person
Three course plated dinner
Unlimited coffee and tea
Live band music
Availability: Odyssey’s dinner cruises are also available year round, but the boat won’t depart unless they receive enough guests. You will be informed if this is the case.
Tour Length: 2 ½ – 3 hours
If you’re looking for a more entertaining sightseeing experience, consider DC Cruises.
Although they don’t necessarily focus on providing a lot of information about our nation’s capital, their Monuments By Moonlight cruise will give you an opportunity to see the memorials and landmarks from the Potomac.
They offer panoramic windows, indoor and outdoor decks, and a full bar. This trip is definitely more about having fun and seeing the sights! With an overall rating of 3 stars on TripAdvisor, DC Cruises doesn’t exactly have the best reputation.
Ratings for their Moonlight cruise are mixed, with some customers complaining that the music on the boat is too loud and the trip is too short.
Other passengers knew what they were getting into and actually enjoyed their experience. If you’re looking for a more laid back cruise, reviews indicate that this may be an excellent service for that purpose.
Several tour companies provide combo packages and deals which allow you to save money on their services.
If you’re in the market to experience more than one attraction or activity in Washington DC, you might want to consider one of the following opportunities. There is also a tourist attraction discount card that allows a mix and match of different tours.
Some of the bus tours we listed above offer combo tickets which include their night tour for free.
Just like its competitors, this company also provides a free night tour with every 48-hour ticket. Prices are comparable to other bus tours and reviews for this service are very good.
This combo pass also includes a free bike rental, free refreshments and free admission to Madame Tussauds.
Ticket Price: $59 for Adults | $39 for Children
NOTE:This is only $20 more than the price of their night tour alone.
City Sights DC
Similar to Big Bus Tours, City Sights offers their night tour for free when you purchase a 2-Day ticket. However, they also offer a combo pass which includes everything you get with a 2-Day ticket plus admission for up to 5 different attractions.
2-Day + Night Tour: $49 for Adults | $39 for Children
2-Day + Night Tour + 1 attraction: $69 for Adults | $64 for Children
2-Day + Night Tour + 2 attractions: $79 for Adults | $65 for Children
2-Day + Night Tour + 3 attractions: $94 for Adults | $84 for Children
2-Day + Night Tour + 4 attractions: $104 for Adults | $94 for Children
2-Day + Night Tour + 5 attractions: $114 for Adults | $104 for Children
City Sights DC also offers a variety of discounts through Groupon. These will not always be available, but you should always check to see if your chosen tour is currently on sale.
Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 3 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 Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the host 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 25 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.