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Know Before You Go: Visiting Washington DC During Election Season

Know Before You Go: Visiting Washington DC During Election Season

Washington DC hums with excitement during the presidential election season—reaching its peak every four years beginning around October and culminating with Inauguration Day on January 20. With patience and advance planning, here’s how to make the most of a visit to the US capital during this momentous time.

Delve Into Presidential History with Themed Tours

Election season is a perfect opportunity to brush up on your knowledge of the US government. Explore the legacy behind monuments such as the US Capitol Building, White House, and Lincoln Memorial on a guided bus, trolley, or Segway tour that makes it easy to cover all the big sights in one day. Look for special election- or inauguration-themed tours that showcase the parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue and offer insight into election events.

Enjoy the Calm Before the Crowds

In the days leading up to Election Day in early November, candidates and their crews are generally out on the campaign trail or voting in their home districts, leaving the capital a fairly peaceful place to watch the results roll in. All the top DC attractions remain open throughout the month of November and much of December, so you can still pack in plenty of sightseeing amidst the anticipation.

Plan Ahead for Inauguration Day

If you want to witness the pomp and parades of Inauguration Day, book far in advance, as accommodations fill up quickly. While tickets to the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol building are free, they are difficult to secure and only available via local representatives and senators. If you can’t get your hands on tickets, the National Mall is a popular place to join in the action from afar. The ceremony itself is followed by a parade along Constitution Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, and 17th Street. Plan to arrive early; many viewers are on hand to stake out a spot as soon as public entrances open at 6:30am.

Keep an Eye on Closures

Inauguration Day is a federal holiday for employees in the DC area, so expect many businesses to be closed. Because of parade street closures and congestion, many guided tours may not operate on this day. Also, keep in mind that security will be amped up in and around DC, and the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro station will be closed, so be sure to pack patience and leave yourself plenty of time to get around.

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17 Tours and Activities

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DC At Dusk Guided Night Tour

DC At Dusk Guided Night Tour

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Ride a luxury mini-coach past major landmarks on this night bus tour of Washington DC. Gaze at floodlit memorials and monuments, such as the magnificent Lincoln Memorial and the glow of the Jefferson Memorial reflected in the Tidal Basin. After this sightseeing tour, you’ll understand why the nation’s capital is considered one of the world’s most beautiful cities at night.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$58.00
From
$58.00
Taking safety measures

Best of DC Tour - With Access to US Capitol Grounds & National Archives Building
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Best of DC Tour - With Access to US Capitol Grounds & National Archives Building

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1092
Beat the long entrance lines and experience some of the most popular attractions in Washington, DC like an insider on this full-day sightseeing tour. Enjoy priority entry into the United States Capitol, the home of Congress. Then visit the National Archives Building, where the original Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution are on display. In between, see the city’s most famous landmarks and monuments, like the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and more.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$99.00
From
$99.00
Taking safety measures

Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour

Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour

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921
Experience the sights and sounds of Washington, DC in one day on this guided walking and riding sightseeing tour around the nation’s capital. Visit the city’s historic, iconic landmarks and monuments, like the White House, the United States Capitol, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. See and learn about the memorials of famous American leaders who helped shape the United States, like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few. Includes a seasonal Potomac River cruise.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$79.00
From
$79.00
Taking safety measures

Big Bus Washington DC Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Big Bus Washington DC Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

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1896
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 Deluxe option includes a Night Tour.
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  • 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$44.10
From
$44.10
Taking safety measures

Capitol Hill and DC Monuments Tour by Electric Cart

Capitol Hill and DC Monuments Tour by Electric Cart

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861
Explore the famous monuments and war memorials of Washington, DC on this small-group sightseeing tour. Hop aboard a special eCruiser vehicle and enjoy an educational and entertaining narrated history of our nation’s capital. Get a glimpse of the White House and travel around and through Capitol Hill, the Smithsonian museum complex, plus a plethora of famous memorials and monuments — like the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument — and many other hotspots. This is a great way to see many of DC’s most famous landmarks.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$63.75
From
$63.75
Taking safety measures

Arlington National Cemetery Guided Walking Tour with Changing of the Guards

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Arlington National Cemetery Guided Walking Tour with Changing of the Guards

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See the moving Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns on a guided walking tour of Arlington National Cemetery. Be perfectly placed for good views of the moving ceremony, then continue to some of the cemetery's most important gravesites and memorials, including places dedicated to John F. Kennedy, the USS Maine, Second World War soldier Audie Murphy, and more, learning the fascinating history of the cemetery as you walk.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$35.10
$39.00
$3.90 savings
From
$35.10
$39.00
$3.90 savings
Taking safety measures

Washington DC Super Saver: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley + Monuments by Moonlight Tour

Washington DC Super Saver: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley + Monuments by Moonlight Tour

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Explore the best of Washington, DC on this narrated, hop-on hop-off trolley tour. Visit more than 100 points of interest among DC’s top attractions—like the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, to name just a few. Depending upon your interest, select a silver, gold, or platinum pass, then board at any of the stops and get to know the nation’s capital in customized fashion, with live onboard commentary from a professional tour conductor. A guided moonlight trolley tour to the same landmark locations, illuminated for the evening, is also included.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$94.00
From
$94.00
Taking safety measures

Washington DC Capital Sites Bike Tour

Washington DC Capital Sites Bike Tour

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Washington DC is full of historical sites and while it’s easy to explore on foot or by bus, this 2-wheel tour option gives travelers access to some of the city’s most popular landmarks. Check out the Lincoln Memorial, White House, Supreme Court and the Capitol on this Capital Sites Bike Tour. Your friendly guide shares plenty of history, facts, and city knowledge on this easy bike ride through the nation’s capital.
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  • 3 hours
From
$46.00
From
$46.00

Presidential Inauguration Preview Tour in Washington DC

Presidential Inauguration Preview Tour in Washington DC

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Walk in the footsteps of many US presidents on this tour of Washington DC. During this 3-hour experience, visit the essential locations in the inauguration process, including the parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue and the US Capitol building, where the new president takes the oath of office. At the White House, see where the president and presidential spouse host the Inaugural Ball, then continue to the Jefferson Memorial and listen to your guide tell historical anecdotes about inaugurations past. Visit the National Building Museum and the National Air and Space Museum to expand your understanding of the inaugural process.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$85.00
From
$85.00
Taking safety measures

Washington DC City Day Tour with Stops at 10 Top Attractions
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Washington DC City Day Tour with Stops at 10 Top Attractions

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Experience the history and culture of the nation’s capital on this comprehensive, half-day, small-group tour. Travel in a comfortable vehicle complete with phone chargers, umbrellas, and a flat-screen TV, and see Washington DC’s monuments, museums, and memorials with a guide. See the US Capitol building, the White House, the Mall and more. Avoid the hassles of driving, or navigating public transportation and leave the logistics to your guide.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$80.00
From
$80.00
Taking safety measures

Washington DC National Mall Night Tour - Stops at 10 Iconic Attractions!
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Washington DC National Mall Night Tour - Stops at 10 Iconic Attractions!

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Washington DC’s monuments and landmarks light up after dark, perfect for dramatic views and memorable photos of the capital city. Explore the sights from the National Mall to the White House and key memorials as your guide provides informative narration about each site. Hop off at select sights to get an up-close look with your small-group and guide. This tour includes transport between locations.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$80.00
From
$80.00
Taking safety measures

Capitol Hill Guided Walking Tour with Entry to US Capitol, Supreme Court & More

Capitol Hill Guided Walking Tour with Entry to US Capitol, Supreme Court & More

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Go to the heart of America's Legislative and Judicial branches of government on a small-group tour of Capitol Hill that explores the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court. This tour goes inside each destination for a guided tour, and highlights include reserved-entry at the U.S. Capitol and entry to the Supreme Court, with a guide to help bring Capitol Hill's fascinating politics and history to life.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$50.35
From
$50.35
Taking safety measures

Grand Washington DC Tour with Arlington National Cemetery Entry & Trolley Pass

Grand Washington DC Tour with Arlington National Cemetery Entry & Trolley Pass

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161
Visit Arlington National Cemetery and explore some of the most famous memorials around Washington, DC on this sightseeing tour. At Arlington National, witness the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, then stop at famous landmark locations like the Marine Corps War Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and more. Additionally, see the Lincoln Memorial, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and many more—even the White House, the United States Capitol and the National Mall.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$99.00
From
$99.00
Taking safety measures

Water Taxi from Wharf or National Harbor

Water Taxi from Wharf or National Harbor

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See the famous monuments of Washington, DC from an entirely new perspective on this narrated sightseeing cruise. Hop aboard a riverboat and enjoy the breathtaking view of our nation’s capital on an afternoon or evening excursion. Travel along the Potomac River to see the plethora of famous monuments and landmarks, with stunning reflective views of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Washington Monument, Arlington Memorial Bridge, and more. This is a truly unique look at the iconic monuments of Washington, DC.
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  • 2 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$21.00
From
$21.00
Taking safety measures

Washington DC Moonlit Tour of the National Mall with Pick-Up & Stops at 10 Sites

Washington DC Moonlit Tour of the National Mall with Pick-Up & Stops at 10 Sites

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See Washington DC’s best sites light up after dark on a 3-HourGuided Nighttime Tour of the National Mall and monuments. Listen to an entertaining narrated history of the capital city, then stop to explore the most important destinations, from moving tributes to America's 20th-century wars to inspiring presidential landmarks. Take in the White House and the U.S. Capitol building at their most picturesque and get the perfect orientation and overview of Washington, DC.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$56.00
From
$56.00
Taking safety measures

3-Hour Washington DC Morning Monuments Sightseeing Tour with Photo Stops

3-Hour Washington DC Morning Monuments Sightseeing Tour with Photo Stops

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See Washington, DC’s iconic monuments in a single morning on a 3-Hour Guided Morning Sightseeing Bus & Walking Tour with an experienced guide. Choose a tour that combines walking and travel by air-conditioned coach so you can cover lots of ground with time to see the DC sights up close. Pass by over 20+ sites including Washington Monument, National Archives, Freedom Plaza, Jefferson Memorial and stop for photos outside top locations including the White House, US Capitol, MLK Memorial, and more. Hear insider stories about DC’s politicians and historic figures as you explore their moving war memorials, Presidential sites and government buildings, and get the perfect introduction to America’s capital city.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$54.00
From
$54.00
Taking safety measures

Half-Day Grand Sightseeing Tour of Washington DC with Stops at 8 Top Sites

Half-Day Grand Sightseeing Tour of Washington DC with Stops at 8 Top Sites

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195
Get a panoramic look at Washington DC on this 4-hour Half Day sightseeing tour that provides a comprehensive introduction to the United States capital and its historical and cultural landmarks. Listen to live narration as you see dozens of attractions, such as Lincoln Memorial, the exterior of the White House, Washington Monument and the National Mall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Smithsonian buildings. Tour stops at 8 top Attractions including White House, US Capitol, Franklin Roosevelt Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and Nurses Memorial. Bonus: Upgrade option available at checkout for those who would like to extend their half-day city hour into an 8-hour full day guided city tour including a visit to George Washington's Mount Vernon.
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  • 3 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$59.00
From
$59.00
Taking safety measures