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Potomac River Tours

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Potomac River
From its source in West Virginia to where it empties out in Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River is rich in American history, so much so that it's often called "the Nation's River." George Washington, the first president of the United States, was born along the river, and all of Washington, DC, the nation's capital city, lies within the watershed.

The Basics
Visitors to the DC area can experience the Potomac River right from the surface of the water aboard a river cruise. Hop aboard a water taxi, a Washington monuments cruise, a sunset dinner cruise, a DC duck tour, or even a cherry blossom sail in springtime. Those who prefer to keep their feet on solid ground can still enjoy views of the waterway from the Mount Vernon Trail (great for cycling) and from the East and West Potomac parks (separated by the Tidal Basin). The latter is home to several popular monuments (the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial) and is a stop on many sightseeing tours of the nation's capital.
  • Well-timed visits will bring spectacular views of spring cherry blossoms and fall foliage.
  • Many boat tours are not wheelchair accessible; it's best double-check before you book.
  • Don't forget sunscreen and a hat when you're out on the water.
  • Keep in mind that some Potomac River activities are seasonal.

How to Get to the Potomac River
The Potomac River has many access points throughout the DC area, including in the East and West Potomac parks (both easily accessed on foot from the National Mall). For visitors riding the Washington Metro, the station nearest the river is Foggy Bottom/George Washington University. Various sightseeing cruises and boat tours on the river depart from the downtown waterfront, Georgetown, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon.

When to Get There
While the Potomac River is free to enjoy throughout the year, the views are arguably at their best during the spring cherry blossom season and in autumn when colorful leaves create a picturesque frame for the monuments on the shore. Expect temperatures in the upper 80s° F with high humidity from June to August.

Where to Get the Best Views of the Potomac
To get a feel for the Potomac, plan to see it from multiple locations. Besides downtown DC, the river flows through the National Zoological Park, Mount Vernon, and Great Falls, where the waterway cascades down a series of beautiful rapids. Public park land lines both sides of the river, offering ample places for a picnic.
Address: Washington D.C., USA
Admission: Free
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28 Tours and Activities to Experience Potomac River

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Washington DC Odyssey Dinner CruiseDay Cruises

Washington DC Odyssey Dinner Cruise

star-4
Enjoy delicious cuisine and live entertainment with a view of Washington, DC on this 2.5-3 hour dinner cruise along the Potomac River. On board the elegant Odyssey cruise ship, choose from one of three exquisitely decorated glass atrium dining rooms or head to the open-air observation deck to admire the view. Dine on a delicious 3-course meal, then dance the night away or see the famous sites of the nation’s capital — like the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Reagan National Airport and much more under a moonlit sky.
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  • 3 hours
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$92.97 
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  • 3 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

In the Footsteps of George Washington: Spirit Day Cruise to Mount VernonDay Cruises

In the Footsteps of George Washington: Spirit Day Cruise to Mount Vernon

star-4.5
Travel to George Washington's popular plantation home in Virginia and one of the nation’s most beloved historic sites for this private, guided cruise and tour. Travel along the Potomac River to Mount Vernon, a National Historic Landmark. Learn about Washington’s life as a founding father and first president of the United States. Explore his home of more than 40 years, including the 21-room mansion, the Colonial-era buildings, the beautiful gardens, a working distillery and gristmill and the museum and education center.
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  • 6 hours 30 minutes
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$55.26 
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  • 6 hours 30 minutes
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  • Free Cancellation

Best of DC Tour -With Access to US Capitol & National Archives BuildingsFull-day Tours

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

star-4.5
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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  • 8 hours
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$125.00 
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  • 8 hours
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Day Trip to Mount Vernon from Washington DCHalf-day Tours

Day Trip to Mount Vernon from Washington DC

star-4.5
Mt. Vernon is one of America's most historic and important sights, and this tour takes you right to the heart of the country estate that President George Washington called home. From Washington DC you'll cross the Potomac and enter the state of Virginia, and seemingly travel back in time as you wander the 18th Century mansion's spectacular rooms and gardens. In the comfort of a luxurious, climate controlled coach you'll also visit the boyhood home of General Robert E Lee, as well old town Alexandria where Washington worshiped and dined.
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
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$56.00 
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
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  • Free Cancellation

Spirit of Washington DC Scenic Lunch CruiseDay Cruises

Spirit of Washington DC Scenic Lunch Cruise

star-4.5
Enjoy food, fun, and entertainment with a view of Washington DC on this narrated lunch cruise along the Potomac River. Onboard the elegant Spirit of Washington, choose to cruise from three air-conditioned interior decks or the rooftop lounge. Either way, the view is spectacular, there’s a delicious buffet lunch to enjoy and a DJ is spinning the latest Top 40 hits on spacious dance floors. Look and listen as the captain points out DC’s fascinating history while drifting past the Washington Monument, Reagan National Airport and much more.
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  • 2 hours
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$77.01 
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  • 2 hours
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Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing TourHalf-day Tours

Washington DC in One Day: Guided Sightseeing Tour

star-4.5
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
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$74.00 
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  • 6 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Spirit of Washington DC Sunset Dinner Cruise with BuffetDay Cruises

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
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  • 3 hours
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Washington DC Night Tour with Hotel PickupHalf-day Tours

Washington DC Night Tour with Hotel Pickup

star-4.5
Explore the monuments, war memorials, and famous sites of Washington DC by the light of night on this guided small-group sightseeing tour. Enjoy an educational and entertaining narrated history of the US capital. Travel around and through the plethora of famous memorials and monuments, with stunning views of an illuminated Washington Monument, the White House and many other landmark locations.
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  • 4 hours
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$54.80 
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  • 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Mount Vernon and Old Town Alexandria Day Trip from Washington DCDay Trips

Mount Vernon and Old Town Alexandria Day Trip from Washington DC

star-4
Explore some of the most famous landmark locations around Washington, DC on this guided, half-day sightseeing tour. Travel to Mount Vernon, George Washington's popular plantation in Virginia and one of the nation’s most beloved historic sites. Learn about his life and tour his home of more than 40 years. Then enjoy a guided bus trip around Old Town Alexandria. See the many historic 17th- and 18th-century homes, hear colorful stories about this founding father and discover little known facts about all the monuments, statues and buildings in the area.
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  • 5 hours
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From  
$81.17 
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  • 5 hours
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Washington DC Odyssey Brunch CruiseDay Cruises

Washington DC Odyssey Brunch Cruise

star-4
Sip champagne onboard a luxurious yacht on a 2-hour brunch cruise along Washington DC’s scenic shoreline. Cast off from Gangplank Marina then enjoy live jazz and a sumptuous brunch buffet. Capture unforgettable images of the DC skyline while relaxing at your private table, then savor coffee or tea as you enjoy views of the capital city’s elegant cityscape.
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  • 2 hours
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  • 2 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Washington DC by Moonlight Night CruiseNight Cruises

Washington DC by Moonlight Night Cruise

star-3
Explore Washington, DC by the light of night on this sightseeing cruise. Hop aboard a modern cruise boat and enjoy the breathtaking nighttime view of our nation’s capital. Travel along the Potomac River and enjoy a truly unique look at the Washington, DC skyline by night.
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  • 1 hour
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  • 1 hour

Half-Day Grand Tour of Washington DCHalf-day Tours

Half-Day Grand Tour of Washington DC

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Get a panoramic look at Washington DC on this 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.
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  • 4 hours
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  • 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Visit Mount Vernon by Bike: Self-guided Ride with Optional Boat Cruise ReturnDay Trips

Visit Mount Vernon by Bike: Self-guided Ride with Optional Boat Cruise Return

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Experience the beauty of the Potomac River and Old Town Alexandria on this independent bike tour along the Mount Vernon Trail. Check out the historic estate, which was once home to George Washington, and wander through the grounds, galleries, and hallways of this stately mansion. Opt for a tour upgrade and kick back for your return trip on a narrated Potomac River cruise to Alexandria. This independent tour offers plenty of flexibility and is one of the best ways to explore Mount Vernon.
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  • 4 to 7 hours
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  • 4 to 7 hours

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour of Washington DC: Monuments, Landmarks and MemorialsBus Tours

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour of Washington DC: Monuments, Landmarks and Memorials

star-3
Explore the most popular sites in Washington, DC on this hop-on hop-off bus tour. Visit many of the top attractions in the nation’s capital — like the White House, Washington Monument, the National Mall, historic Georgetown, Arlington National Cemetery and more. Select a 1- or 2-day pass, for access to three separate routes and get to know the city in custom fashion, with live and recorded narration.
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  • 1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes
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$49.00 
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  • 1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes
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Arlington Cemetery Plus DC Monuments Tour & Washington Monument admissionFull-day Tours

Arlington Cemetery Plus DC Monuments Tour & Washington Monument admission

star-4
Visit Arlington National Cemetery and explore some of the most famous monuments and memorials around Washington, DC on this guided, full-day 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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  • 8 hours
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  • 8 hours

The Washington DC Sightseeing Day Pass: Save Big at 15+ Monumental AttractionsSightseeing Passes

The Washington DC Sightseeing Day Pass: Save Big at 15+ Monumental Attractions

star-5
Discover the highlights of DC with a sightseeing pass that includes convenient hop-on hop-off bus transportation and the chance to visit more than 15 different attractions. There is so much to see in DC, it can be hard for travelers who are short on time to fit it all in. However, with this pass, you can experience everything without worrying about wasting time getting from one place to the next.
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  • 1 to 3 days
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  • Free Cancellation
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$89.00 
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  • 1 to 3 days
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  • Free Cancellation

Private Tour of Washington DCBus Tours

Private Tour of Washington DC

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Crown Limo Service provide extensive tour of Washington DC at affordable rates. ​ Our professionally trained tour guides will take you to explore the beauty of DC. Experience the best tour service with exotic limos at lowest rates. We are #1 Rated tour operator in Washington DC.
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  • 3 to 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation
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$383.57 
per group
From  
$383.57 
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  • 3 to 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Washington DC After DarkHalf-day Tours

Washington DC After Dark

star-3.5
There's a certain magic to Washington DC that can only be experienced at night. It's a time when the powerful Lincoln Memorial is bathed in soft white light, and the Washington Monument, Capitol, and White House appear even more grandiose. Along with a knowledgeable local guide, take a tour of Washington DC well after the sun has gone down, and feel the buzz, magic, and pulse of America's capital by night.
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  • 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation
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$53.03 
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  • 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

The Washington DC Sightseeing Flex Pass: Capital Savings at 15+ AttractionsSightseeing Passes

The Washington DC Sightseeing Flex Pass: Capital Savings at 15+ Attractions

star-4
See Washington DC your own way with the Washington DC Sightseeing Pass, which lets you choose between 1, 2, or 4 attractions, museums, and tours that you can visit at your own pace over a 7-day period. The pass includes entrance to some of DC's top attractions such as the International Spy Museum, as well as access to niche tours (think ghost walks and historical tours), and discounts at DC restaurants.
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  • 30 days
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  • 30 days
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  • Free Cancellation

DC Monuments By Day Day Trips

DC Monuments By Day

star-4.5
Get to know the monuments of Washington DC on a sightseeing tour that provides the ideal introduction to the city--perfect for the start of your stay. You'll pass by top attractions such as Lincoln Memorial and the White House, plus, depending on the season of your visit, visit Georgetown or take a Potomac River cruise. This tour combines riding in a climate-controlled bus and walking around some areas, providing a comprehensive overview of the memorials and landmarks.
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  • 6 hours
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$65.00 
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$65.00 
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  • 6 hours

Historic Georgetown Architecture TourArchitecture Tours

Historic Georgetown Architecture Tour

star-5
With elegant mansions, churches, and a world class university, Georgetown is one of DC’s most fashionable neighborhoods. Get your bearings and explore Georgetown architecture on a 2-hour, small-group walking tour with a local guide, who will share Georgetown stories as you visit historic highlights and campus landmarks.
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  • 2 hours
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  • Free Cancellation
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$40.00 
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  • 2 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

DC & Arlington In A Day Full-day Tours

DC & Arlington In A Day

The DC & Arlington in a Day is the best way to see most of what the Nation’s Capital has to offer in just one day. You'll see famous sights as well as a few hidden gems in a fun, unforgettable, and jam-packed tour. Lasting 8 hours, the tour starts outside the Arlington National Cemetery Metro station by 7:45 am and ends by approximately 4:30 pm near the National Archives. In between, you’ll see the top monuments and memorials in DC, stop for lunch at either the Pentagon City Mall or Georgetown (seasonal) and take a cruise on the Potomac River or visit the Jefferson Memorial (also seasonal) with our top-rated tour team. Begin with a unique walking tour of Arlington National Cemetery led by our experienced and knowledgeable guide to see the JFK Grave Site and the Changing of the Guard. From there you'll travel on the climate-controlled bus between such key stops as the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Lincoln MLK, Iwo Jima, Air Force and Vietnam Memorials plus so much more.
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  • 8 hours
From  
$109.00 
From  
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  • 8 hours

Washington DC Photo Safari: Monuments and Memorials TourFull-day Tours

Washington DC Photo Safari: Monuments and Memorials Tour

star-5
Want to know how to take better pictures while traveling? Want to become more familiar with a camera that may seem rather intimidating at times? Fear not, the answers to both can be found while exploring the sites and sounds of Washington, DC on this guided, small-group photo tour. Choose from a half- or full-day excursion, then visit the famous memorials and monuments of the US' capital while a professional photographer provides instruction and tips for taking better pictures. Transportation between locations and instruction materials on travel photography included.
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  • 3 days 3 hours
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  • Free Cancellation
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  • 3 days 3 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Extended Monuments & Memorials TourHalf-day Tours

Extended Monuments & Memorials Tour

star-5
You can see all Washington DC Monuments and Memorials, the White House and the Capitol at your own pace, with no bus-filled crowding or walking — and no waiting. You'll be protected from the weather, including rain, snow and sun. Kid friendly and your dogs are most welcome! This is the best option for anyone with a mobility impairment. Our most popular tour is the Monuments and Memorials tour. We have done this tour 100+ different ways, depending on our guest's wishes. This is a tour of the entire National Mall on tricycle and includes the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, MLK Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean, Vietnam and WWII War Memorials, and the White House, as well as other memorials. We also conduct night tours, which usually include all the amazing lit-up sights (our favorites at night are The White House, World War II, Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelt and the Capitol).
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  • 4 hours 45 minutes
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  • Free Cancellation
From  
$780.28 
per group
From  
$780.28 
per group
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  • 4 hours 45 minutes
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  • Free Cancellation

Frequently Asked Questions

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What's the best way to experience Potomac River?

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