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How to Spend 1 Day in Washington DC

How to Spend 1 Day in Washington DC

Home to iconic monuments, famous government buildings, and the world’s largest museum complex, Washington DC offers a surfeit of must-see attractions. Even if you’re only visiting the nation’s capital for one day, introductory tours provide an efficient way to see the sights. Here’s how to plan your 1-day adventure.

Morning: Enjoy an Overview of the Landmarks

From the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, the White House to the US Capitol, DC is home to dozens of world-famous landmarks and monuments. Enjoy a speedy and stress-free way of sightseeing with a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Over the course of several hours, cruise past the city’s top attractions, and learn more about the District’s history from the audio narration. Multiple tour itineraries are available, depending on your interests, and some even include a stop at the Arlington National Cemetery, located across the border in Virginia.

Afternoon: Culture-Hopping at DC’s Museums

If Washington DC offers an abundance of open-air highlights, then its many museums are also essential sightseeing stops. After all, the city is host to the Smithsonian: The world’s largest museum complex, it comprises more than a dozen institutions across the city. Book guided tours of the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History, and more. Beyond the Smithsonian, you can also drop by other banner institutions, from the Newseum to the International Spy Museum.

Evening: Dinner Cruises and Skyline Viewing

Make the most of your limited amount of time in DC—and enjoy a relaxed dinner simultaneously—by booking tickets for a nighttime sightseeing cruise. Float along the Potomac River, see DC’s skyline and sights lit up at night, and dine as you go. Alternatively, evening Segway tours, bike tours, and photography tours all provide additional ways to get acquainted with the city’s after-dark charms.

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8 Tours and Activities | All Washington DC Tours

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Big Bus Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Big Bus Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

star-3.5
Discover the most popular sights in Washington, DC on this relaxing hop-on hop-off bus tour. Drive past many of the top attractions in the nation’s capital — including the White House, the Washington Monument, the National Mall, historic Georgetown, and Arlington National Cemetery, and choose where you want to get off and explore in more detail. Select a 1- or 2-day pass, then hop on at any of the stops on two different routes and get to know the city with an audio commentary. The 2-day option includes admission to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$44.10
From
$44.10
Taking safety measures

Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley + Arlington Nat'l Cemetery, Water Taxi Upgrade

Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley + Arlington Nat'l Cemetery, Water Taxi Upgrade

star-4
Take a hop-on hop-off Washington DC trolley tour to explore the nation’s capital at your own pace. The route encompasses the city’s top attractions, including the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery (if option is selected). This is the only tour to take you into the Arlington National Cemetery (if option is selected). Just hop off at any stop when you want to explore, and then hop back on the trolley to continue around the city. When booking, select a silver, gold, or platinum pass, depending upon your interests.
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  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$49.00
From
$49.00
Taking safety measures

The Smithsonian National Air Space Museum Private Guided Tour

The Smithsonian National Air Space Museum Private Guided Tour

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Get more from your visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on this 2.5-hour private tour. Follow your guide through one of the world’s largest collections of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. See items like Buzz Aldrin’s spacesuit, the Apollo 11 module, and real moon rocks brought back form a voyage to Earth’s natural satellite.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$79.50
Price varies by group size
From
$79.50
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Washington DC Sites at Night Bike Tour

Washington DC Sites at Night Bike Tour

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Experience the beauty of Washington, D.C. at night on this monuments at night bike tour of the city. Check out the Jefferson, Lincoln and WWII memorials once the sun goes down and explore the Vietnam War Memorial and the National Mall at night. This popular tour offers travelers the chance to explore on two wheels after dark when monuments are less crowded.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$51.00
From
$51.00

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Private Guided Tour

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Private Guided Tour

star-5
Step into the past and be amazed by the natural world on this a 2-hour private guided tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. See some of the over 126 million artifacts housed in the museum including the Hope Diamond, Egyptian mummies, and a living coral reef. Spend time immersing yourself in the fascinating stories and objects that make up our history and come away from the museum with new knowledge.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$79.50
Price varies by group size
From
$79.50
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Smithsonian Air & Space & American History Museum Tour- 8ppl Max

Smithsonian Air & Space & American History Museum Tour- 8ppl Max

star-5
Combine history and the future on this small-group Smithsonian tour that visits both the National Museum of American History and the Air and Space Museum. Travel with a small group during this 5-hour tour, which ensures personalized attention from your guide.
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  • 5 hours to 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$143.10
Price varies by group size
From
$143.10
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Spirit of Washington DC Sunset Dinner Cruise with Buffet

Spirit of Washington DC Sunset Dinner Cruise with Buffet

star-4
Take in the city skyline during sunset in Washington DC on an all-you-can-eat buffet cruise. Board a luxury boat for a sightseeing cruise on the Potomac River with dinner and dancing while a DJ spins your favorite tunes. Pass by illuminated landmarks such as the Washington Monument and feast on a variety of delicious dishes during the cruise.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$98.29
From
$98.29
Taking safety measures

DC Monuments at Night Photo Safari

DC Monuments at Night Photo Safari

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Capture unforgettable images of D.C.’s iconic sites at night on a 3-hour, ‘photo safari’ walking tour with a professional photographer. Get tips and advice on shooting in the dark, and learn to adjust your camera’s settings to create the most powerful photographs. Walk along the National Mall to the softly-lit Lincoln Memorial, and set up your tripod beside three of the city’s most moving war memorials. Improve your photography skills while exploring central Washington, D.C. with a group of fellow shutterbugs.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$86.58
From
$86.58