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DC Itinerary: Civil War to Civil Rights in 1 Day

African American civil war memorial statue


  • Have breakfast at the Willard InterContinental, where Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote "I Have a Dream"
  • Learn about the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau at the National Archives
  • Make a moonlight visit to the inspiring Lincoln Memorial

Day 1


Use Cultural Tourism DC’s "Civil War to Civil Rights" downtown walking trail as a guide for a one-day visit. 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, honor’s King’s legacy.


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." 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 in Downtown/Penn Quarter/Chinatown neighborhood, 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.