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DC Itinerary: 3 Days in the Nation's Capital

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tour the museums of the National Mall to see everything from dinosaurs to flight simulators
  • Visit the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress and Supreme Court in Capitol Hill
  • Dive into neighborhood attractions like the Anacostia Community Museum

Day 1

 

Morning

The National Mall, home to many of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is a great place to start your day. See the magnificent jewels, dinosaurs and mammals on display at the National Museum of Natural History; the airplanes and interactive flight simulators at the National Air and Space Museum; and the stories, arts and crafts at the National Museum of the American Indian. And it's all free of charge. The museums also offer free tours to groups who reserve in advance.

Afternoon

The National Mall is home to a host of other museums, including the National Gallery of Art, where the U.S.'s only Leonardo Da Vinci painting hangs, while the National Archives, which houses the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence, is a must for any American history buff.

Evening

Start your evening with dinner at Union Station, where there are a number of sit-down and quick-service restaurants to sample. Plus, the glorious beaux-arts train station is the departure point for tours of the monuments at moonlight offered by Old Town Trolley.
For something a bit quirkier, Bike and RollBike the Big Capital and City Segway Tours (for ages 16 & up) also offer evening tours in season departing from other points in the city. Even if you've made the rounds at all the monuments and memorials by day, there's something extra-special and magical about a nighttime tour.

Day 2

Morning

Head to the Arts District/U Street/Shaw neighborhood for breakfast at a DC institution, Ben's Chili Bowl. Or, if you're visiting on a weekend, visit the colorful farmer's markets at Dupont Circle or Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. The blueberry buckwheat pancakes at Eastern Market are a local favorite.
After breakfast, tour the Capitol Hill neighborhood and explore the U.S. CapitolLibrary of Congress and Supreme Court. The neighborhood is also home to the Folger Shakespeare Library, which houses the largest collection of Shakespeare memorabilia outside of England.
For lunch, take Metro to the Downtown/Penn Quarter/Chinatown neighborhood, where you'll find an array of options on 7th Street, near the Verizon Center. Or feast on fresh noodles and flavorful soups in Chinatown. And don't forget to snap a photo of the ornate Friendship Arch that looms over H Street.

Afternoon

Go undercover at the International Spy Museum, where you can crack codes, take on covers and even lead a covert operation. Or stop by the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum to see portraits of some of the country's most famous historical figures. For a panoramic view of the city, head to the Old Post Office Pavilion. Free tours are given during the day, and you can peep the official bells of Washington, DC. Animal lovers may also wish to pay a visit to the National Zoo, home to our famous giant pandas, cheetahs, tigers and other exotic species.

Evening

Discover DC's theater scene. The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage offers free performances at 6:30 p.m. nightly, along with a host of ticketed performances from opera to musicals to jazz. Other theaters, such as the Shakespeare Theatre CompanyArena Stage, Warner Theatre and National Theatre, regularly present familiar classics. For something a bit more contemporary, catch a show at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company or Studio Theatre.

Day 3

Morning

Start your morning in one of DC's prized neighborhood attractions, like the Anacostia Community Museum, The Phillips Collection, Washington National Cathedral, Tudor Place or Hillwood Museum and Gardens, then head to Georgetown for fantastic shopping and sightseeing in a charming historic setting.

Afternoon

Sports fans can watch the Washington Nationals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, Washington Capitals or D.C. United in action at various venues around town. You can also get in on the action yourself with miles of trails in Rock Creek Park. In addition to trails, the public park has a planetarium, horseback riding and lovely spots for a picnic.

Evening

If your group is looking for nightlife, head to the Arts District/U Street/Shaw neighborhood for live jazz music or Adams Morgan to experience DC's eclectic, international scene. DC's up-and-coming nightlife area, the Atlas District, features a number of funky clubs and restaurants like The H Street Country Club and The Red Palace. For something slightly more low-key, DC boasts a number of wine bars, such as Proof and Cork.