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.
7 Tours and Activities
- Washington DC Neighborhood Guide
- How to Experience Cherry Blossom Season in Washington DC
- Don't Miss These Must-Do Activities in Washington DC
- Washington DC Museum Guide
- Food Lover’s Guide to Washington DC
- How to Get Around in Washington DC
- Sightseeing on a Budget in Washington DC
- How to Spend 1 Day in Washington DC