Put on your flapper dresses and grab your dancing shoes. In this itinerary, you will journey back to the times of Prohibition when the city was full of jazz music and secret bars hidden in plain sight.
Start your Washington, DC vacation with an early morning city tour guided by a licensed tour guide to give you the best advice on getting around. Reach out to the Guild of Professional Tour Guides to find your perfect Prohibition tour leader. Use the beginning of your day to visit a Smithsonian Institution Museum that will give you the history behind Prohibition: the National Museum of American History’s exhibit on bootlegging is a perfect start.
From the National Mall, make your way to the International Spy Museum. The spirit of Prohibition is carried on inside the museum, paying tribute to the best spies in history. During Prohibition, people had to channel their inner spy to smuggle booze into the United States and into their secret underground bars called "speakeasies".
Speaking of a speakeasy – why not visit one while you are in town? Although no true speakeasies exist in the world anymore, many cities have bars that hide in plain sight to pay tribute to the concept. Visit two spots Downtown that are within walking distance of one another: Start at Allegory located inside Eaton DC, then after a few drinks and snacks, walk down the block to The Mirror and try some old-school cocktails to top off your night. For more speakeasy ideas, check out our latest guide.
Your second day discovering the Prohibition Era will take you through the governments' involvement in drafting and enforcing the legislation. Start inside the United States Capitol Building, where Prohibition was ratified and enacted. Continue with the United States Supreme Court, where the highest court of the land worked to enforce this new policy and heard from the American people as it was challenged. As you can imagine, Prohibition proved to be quite difficult to enforce and widely unpopular.
The Smithsonian Institution hosts a walking tour that will be an ideal way to continue your journey. Despite being the center of power for the nation, DC was one of the cities in the U.S. that saw the most protesting in response to the law. Spend some time learning about the more scandalizing side of the city with dark tours led by Off the Mall Tours, DC Insider or DC By Foot.
In the evening, celebrate that consuming alcohol is legal with a brewery tour led by a local guide with City Brew Tours or D.C. Crawling. These tours will take you through some of the best breweries in the city while entertaining you with the DC history of the craft.
Start your last day touring the Woodrow Wilson House. The Prohibition era began under his presidency. The house is a national historic landmark and contains an official museum. Learn about the 28th president and explore the house, a time capsule from 1924, through a one-hour guided tour.
Enjoy a cocktail-focused drive with USA Guided Tours’ Capitol Cocktails Tour for the rest of the day. The private excursion includes a tour of the sights in one of their glass-roofed buses and a cocktail-making class to end the tour. Once on board the bus you will take in famous sites along the National Mall like the WW1 memorial, the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building. An entertaining guide will fill you in on all the need-to-know info on these iconic landmarks. You’ll also pass by the Supreme Court and Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, before a final scenic drive through Embassy Row.
After that, you’ll end up at the quirky Board Room tavern, where your cocktail class begins. The one-hour session includes rousing games and activities, three full drinks and a discount on additional beverages and board games. The cocktails are rotated seasonally, while non-alcoholic mocktails can also be made.
Head into Northeast DC for a taste of the Whiskey Rebellion Trail. As Prohibition was enacted throughout the United States, its effects reached distilleries throughout the mid-Atlantic area. Ivy City, a small DC neighborhood that lies just north of Union Market, is home to many local distilleries that can be included in a one-day pass of tastings and tours.