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How to Spend 3 Days in Washington DC

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How to Spend 3 Days in Washington DC
From the grand sweep of the National Mall to the storied museums of the Smithsonian, Washington DC has so many top-notch monuments and attractions that seeing the city’s highlights is a daunting proposition. But this 3-day itinerary is a good place to start. Here’s how to plan an introduction to the nation’s capital (and beyond).

Day 1: Politics and History
DC has more than its fair share of world-famous landmarks. In addition to top government buildings like the White House and the Supreme Court, the nation’s capital also boasts the soaring spire of the Washington Monument, the hallowed halls of the Lincoln Memorial, the moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and much more. For an efficient way to sightsee, book a hop-on hop-off bus tour, which will whisk you past most of the city’s highlights. For a more intimate experience that still cover a lot of ground, opt for a bicycle or Segway tour. Meanwhile, walking tours immerse you in the history underlying DC’s must-see attractions. In the evening, relax during a sightseeing cruise, which will give you the chance to rest your feet and take in the after-dark sights as you float along the Potomac River.

Day 2: Museums and Culture
If you’re a museum lover, there are few better places to be than DC. For starters, it’s home to the world’s largest museum complex, the Smithsonian Institute, which includes more than a dozen different institutions. Depending on your interests, you can discover groundbreaking artworks at the National Portrait Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, or the American Art Museum. Or learn about important moments in history at the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of African American Culture and History, or the National Museum of the American Indian. You can even admire rockets and planes at the National Air and Space Museum. Book in advance to make logistics simple, or go on guided collection tours to really dig into the subjects at hand. In the evening, venture to one of the city’s arty neighborhoods—think 14th Street or Dupont Circle—for dinner and a different kind of cultural immersion.

Day 3: A History-Themed Virginia Getaway
While DC’s many diversions could occupy you for weeks on end, it’s worth using your trip to the nation’s capital as an excuse to explore other regional highlights. On your third day in town, cross the border into Virginia to discover the state’s many charms. Known as the “Mother of Presidents,” Virginia is where a number of the Founding Fathers spent their days. Venture to Mt. Vernon to follow in the footsteps of George Washington, or explore Monticello. Once home to Thomas Jefferson, the estate is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both historical residences are accessible by car from DC; guided tours provide an especially convenient way to explore. Of course, there’s also Colonial Williamsburg. A living-history museum, the town is full of costumed residents and traditional buildings that paint a picture of what daily life was like in the 18th century. 
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Washington DC Tours & Activities (8)
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African-American History Tour with Reserved Museum EntryHalf-day Tours

African-American History Tour with Reserved Museum Entry

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Immerse yourself in the history of African-American culture in the United States during this half-day history excursion in the Nation’s Capital. Follow the path of the first African-Americans at Jamestown through the Civil Rights movement, checking out key sites like the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, the vibrant U Street corridor, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the MLK Memorial, plus much more.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
US$91.44 
Price varies by group size
From  
US$91.44 
Price varies by group size
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Guided Tour - Private TourPrivate and Luxury

The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Guided Tour - Private Tour

star-5
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  
US$79.50 
Price varies by group size
From  
US$79.50 
Price varies by group size
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Capitol Hill Guided Small-Group Walking TourHalf-day Tours

Capitol Hill Guided Small-Group Walking Tour

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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  
US$50.35 
From  
US$50.35 
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Washington DC Monuments Bike TourMountain Bike Tours

Washington DC Monuments Bike Tour

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See the historical sights of Washington DC with an up-close view of significant monuments on a bike tour by comfortable cruiser. Ride an easy route over flat terrain from the National Mall to the Potomac Tidal Basin and view DC landmarks including the Washington Monument, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial as you explore the attractions with a knowledgeable guide.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$46.00 
From  
US$46.00 
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Day Trip to Mount Vernon from Washington DCHalf-day Tours

Day Trip to Mount Vernon from Washington DC

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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
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$56.00 
From  
US$56.00 
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation

Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Plus Night Tour With 2 Day PassMulti-day Tours

Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Plus Night Tour With 2 Day Pass

star-3.5
On this hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour through Washington DC, travelers can choose to see the city at their own pace. Linger longer at some sites while skipping others entirely. With several stops, you have access to the US Capitol Building, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, and more. Hear live narration, and choose between a 1-day pass or 2-day pass with a bonus night bus.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$42.00 
From  
US$42.00 
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Smithsonian Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum Tour - 8ppl MaxPrivate and Luxury

Smithsonian Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum Tour - 8ppl Max

Explore two of Washington D.C.’s beloved museums with an art historian on this guided tour. Enjoy a small, personalized experience—the tour will include no more than eight participants—while learning about the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. Discover the amazing history of the 19th century building where both museums are housed and the amazing works within it.
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  • 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
US$79.50 
Price varies by group size
From  
US$79.50 
Price varies by group size
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  • 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Dupont Circle and Embassy Row Architecture TourArchitecture Tours

Dupont Circle and Embassy Row Architecture Tour

star-5
Explore some of Washington DC’s grandest streets on a 2-hour, small-group walking tour of Dupont Circle and Embassy Row with a local guide. Hear stories about capital city scandals and history as you follow a 2-mile route past Gilded Age mansions, extravagant homes, embassies, and architectural landmarks.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
US$40.00 
From  
US$40.00 
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures


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