With an abundance of museums, art galleries, and monuments in the nation’s capital, the best way to ensure you’re getting the most out of your visit to Washington DC is by choosing from the wide variety of DC tours with a local expert.
There are tours for everyone and every season (you can decide when is best to visit by this month to month breakdown) including walking, hop on and hop off buses, and traditional trolleys. Day or night, there is a tour that is available with an engaging guide that will enrich your experience by sharing historical background information and unexpected details.
From museums to wineries, there are numerous options and price points that will help make your visit memorable! Make sure to book in advance and read up on these Washington DC tips before visiting the city.
DC Tours That Are Worth The Money!
Washington DC has some of the best museums in the world, and naturally your first inclination would be to take this 2.5-hour guided tour that will transport you from colonial times to the present at the National Museum of American History.
Highlights include iconic American artifacts such as the actual Star-Spangled Banner, Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” and many more historical pieces with the addition of delightful anecdotes from your expert guide.
Perhaps you are more interested in the natural world, if so, then a visit to the iconic Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is in order!
With a professional guide and a small group of no more than 12 people, you’ll explore a wide range of historical items.
Everything from treasures like the Hope Diamond to the evolutionary history of ancient hominins in the Human Origins exhibit. This visit wouldn’t be complete without viewing the T-Rex skeleton in Dino Hall. This is a must visit museum!
Are you an art lover or perhaps simply interested in increasing your art knowledge? You might appreciate art themed DC tours with a knowledgeable guide that can not only discuss the importance of famous works by Leonardo da Vinci, but will also dive deeper into the tales and techniques that influenced other pieces housed in the National Gallery of Art.
You’ll travel as far back to the Middle Ages viewing paintings by Degas, Van Gogh, Monet, and Raphael.
An excellent option is to view both museums with a small group of no more than eight people that includes the Museum of Natural History and National Gallery of Art.
Engaging tour guides will ensure that you experience the must-see pieces in any efficient way and you’ll get a break for lunch in between! Great for the visitor who wants to see it all, but may not know where to start.
Monument and Memorial Tours
If you’re short on time and feeling overwhelmed by all the options of things to do and see, then half-day DC tours are an excellent option.
These tours cover the major monuments in a logical way from the comfort of an air-conditioned bus. You’ll see major sites such as the Capitol Building and Lincoln Memorial, visit museums like the Air and Space, and revel in the unique architecture of downtown DC at the Archives building.
A fun and eco-friendly way to visit the monuments and memorials is to take a bike tour! This family friendly tour is great to stay active during your trip.
You’ll cover easy terrain over 4 miles where there will be time for photo opportunities and to get up close to various monuments. Visitors often find this to be the highlight of their trip, and is one of the best ways to view the monuments.
Another one of the most popular ways to view the monuments is from a hop-on hop-off Old Town Trolley.
You’ll explore America’s beautiful and historically rich attractions during one of the most picturesque DC tours. You can also opt to include either a shuttle or trolley tour of Arlington National Cemetery where you’ll visit memorials of some notable individuals who gave their lives for their country.
During March-December, you can also enjoy a round-trip boat cruise of the Potomac River!
If you decide to head to Arlington, you can also book the the hop on hop trolley specifically for Arlington National Cemetery which allows you take your time to visit the 6 main stops including a memorial to JFK. This 45-minute loop provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire cemetery.
Lastly, there is something very special about viewing the monuments at night. They are gloriously lit up in a way that offers a beautifully new perspective. Avoid the heat and crowds by taking moonlit DC tours for a unique view.
A walking tour is a great way to get outside and enjoy the National Mall and Memorials. Going with a guide allows you to learn more about American history and the stories behind some of the most iconic sites including the World War II and Korean War memorials which pay tribute to the men and women lost in defense of their country.
Another iconic American tribute, is Arlington National Cemetery which is the largest military burial place in the United States.
You can take a highly rated 2.5 hour tour that will help highlight the poignant historical background in this enduring dedicated space to America’s veterans. The cemetery is over 624-acres, the most efficient way to experience it is with a guide. If your timing is right, you might catch a glimpse of the Changing of the Guard.
For those interested in the rules that govern our society, simply seeing the Capitol Building isn’t enough.
To make the most of your trip to Capitol Hill, this walking tour will guide you through the complexities of the decision making process of the Supreme Court to visiting the Thomas Jefferson library. Docent led DC tours are notably excellent. They are led by passionate people who truly care about sharing knowledge.
Food & Wineries Tours
A wonderful way to get to know DC’s oldest neighborhood of Georgetown is through food!
A food tour will take you through time as you enjoy savory Southern comfort food and if you listen closely, you may even hear jazz from one of the oldest clubs in America. A portion of your ticket will be donated to a local charity called Bread for the City. You can feel good knowing that you are contributing to a reputable cause during your visit.
DC truly loves libations. Perhaps one of the most DC things you can do, is enjoy craft cocktails and visit speakeasies. Spend an evening trying a selection of unique craft cocktails at three of the best cocktail bars in the city while visiting enigmatic speakeasies and rum runners. All while learning about how Prohibition influenced the city. This is a new take on your average history lesson!
If perhaps wine is more your speed, you can enjoy a relaxing day trip to Virginia’s Bull Run region where you’ll sample the area’s local wines with fresh baguettes, cheeses, and chocolate. You’ll go home with your own wine glass as a memory of your trip to the picturesque Virginia countryside. There are many food and alcohol themed DC tours, so you’re bound to find something suited to your interests!
People really make the destination. They are the life and character of a place. If you’re passionate about meeting people when you travel, taking private local DC tours is an excellent way to get to know the unique neighborhoods and the people who live there.
A local guide can give you all the insider tips from the best restaurants and bars to how to get around using local transportation. This is a tour for people who wish to see the city through the eyes of a Washingtonian.
The history of African Americans is often lost when exploring American history. This themed tour will open your eyes to historic black communities from Howard University to the “U” street area which was a thriving African American community in the 1900’s. This tour includes museum entry into the highly rated African American History Museum. Get ready for an experience for all ages on this specially themed African American history tour.
You don’t have to wait until Halloween to get your thrills in during this family-friendly walking tour along the cobblestone streets in historic Georgetown. This beautiful town may seem picture perfect on the outside with its colorful row houses and inviting gardens.
There are few ghost-themed DC tours to choose from where you’ll hear tales of the dark past in this pre-revolutionary town and see the famous steps as featured in the classic horror movie “The Exorcist.”
You will undoubtedly leave with surprising insights into the history, culture, and architecture of the nation’s capital.
With some research, you can find a tour that is best suited for the type of authentic experience you wish to have. There is so much to do in Washington DC, so much to see even within each museum. Booking in advance is well encouraged so that you can guarantee you get the tours you want. One of the big mistakes visitors make is trying to just wing their vacation.
Choosing from the array of DC tours available with a local expert will assist you in making the most of your trip, taking the guesswork out of wondering what you should spend your time on. And when we return, you’ll impress your friends and family with the knowledge you gathered during your amazing trip to Washington DC!
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