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Fort Stevens, located at 13th and Quackenbos St. NW, was one of many forts built to fortify DC during the Civil War. In 1864, it was the site of a battle where President Lincoln briefly came under fire.
Fort Stevens, located at 13th and Quackenbos St. NW, was one of many forts built to fortify DC during the Civil War. In 1864, it was the site of a battle where President Lincoln briefly came under fire.
 

DC Itinerary: Civil War to Civil Rights in 3 Days

Highlights

  • Tour the museum at Ford’s Theatre and learn the story behind Lincoln’s fateful visit

  • Visit the graves of presidents and civil rights leaders at Arlington National Cemetery

  • Stroll Georgetown, home to Union and Confederate sympathizers during the war

  • PRINT
Day 1
  • Morning

    Begin your day with breakfast at the Willard InterContinental, where Lincoln stayed prior to his inauguration, and where Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech. Freedom Plaza, located opposite the hotel, honors King’s legacy.

    Afternoon

    Walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the National Archives. Scan records of Civil War soldiers and learn more about the establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau. It’s here that Alex Haley conducted the research that led to his landmark work, “Roots.”

    Evening

    From there, it’s a short walk to Ford’s Theatre. Tour the museum that tells the story behind Lincoln’s fateful visit in 1865, and listen in on a ranger-led interpretive program. Follow John Wilkes Booth’s escape route near 9th and F Streets. Have dinner at a DC classic like The Occidental or Old Ebbitt Grill, then hop a cab to the Kennedy Center, which memorializes the former president by celebrating his passion for the arts. End your day with a moonlight visit to the Lincoln Memorial.

  • Morning

    Start with a morning visit to Arlington National Cemetery. View the graves of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Medgar Evers, along with thousands of notable soldiers and statesmen. A memorial to Robert E. Lee is located inside his hilltop family home, Arlington House. The cemetery’s southern section was once known as Freedmen’s Village and served as a home for freed and fugitive slaves during and following the war.

    Afternoon

    Make your next stop the National Museum of American History. Among its fascinating treasures: Lincoln’s top hat, the Greensboro lunch counter made famous by sit-ins, and the chairs that Lee and Grant sat in during the surrender at Appomattox.

    Evening

    Head to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum for a light lunch in the courtyard café. It’s here the Lincoln hosted his second inaugural ball, and where the last photograph taken of him is on display. Take Metro to the Arts District/U Street/Shaw neighborhood. Near the U Street Metro station, you’ll discover the African American Civil War Memorial, honoring the members of the U.S. Colored Troops that fought for freedom. Duck in to Ben’s Chili Bowl for a chili half-smoke and join the diverse crowds to take in the nightlife on DC’s historic “Black Broadway.”

  • Morning

    Pay a visit to Cedar Hill, the historic home of abolitionist, statesman and Lincoln confidante Frederick Douglass, and enjoy the stunning views of the DC skyline. The nearby Anacostia Community Museum tells the story of this fascinating neighborhood.

    Afternoon

    Spend the afternoon at President Lincoln’s Cottage, the peaceful retreat where Lincoln spent the summers of 1862, 1863 and 1864, and where he penned pieces of the Emancipation Proclamation.

    Evening

    Take an evening stroll through Georgetown. DC’s oldest neighborhood, Georgetown was home to both Union and Confederate sympathizers during the war. Stop for a bite to eat at a sidewalk café or on the scenic waterfront.

Perhaps the most famous theater in the country, Ford's Theatre is the infamous site of President Lincoln's assassination. The theater and museum are open for public tours.
Perhaps the most famous theater in the country, Ford's Theatre is the infamous site of President Lincoln's assassination. The theater and museum are open for public tours. - Photo by Maxwell MacKenzie
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