Long exposure shot of the Washington D.C. skyline during a 3 day trip.

Washington, D.C. is a year-round destination. The only tricky part? Narrowing down your wish list if you only have a few days to visit. With all of the free museums, national monuments, and incredible restaurants and market halls, you’ll never run out of things to do. We took the guesswork out of it, and pulled together our favorite 3-day guide to Washington, D.C. so you won’t miss a thing!

DAY ONE

Morning: If you’ve never been to Washington, D.C., or if it has been awhile, the Hop-On, Hop-Off double decker bus is the perfect option to get acquainted with the capital city. You’ll get a good overview of the city’s top attractions, including more than 25 stops along the route. If you stay on board the whole ride, it’s about two hours. Or use the bus all day to hop off and on again and again.

Afternoon: Have lunch at one of the original market halls, Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. If you’re visiting during the warmer months, it’s time to get a little exercise along with some fresh air! Rent a bike down on the National Mall and pedal to explore the natural and architectural beauty of D.C. It’s a very bike-friendly city, so enjoy your self-paced tour! Make sure you ride over to the U.S. Botanic Garden, lock up your bikes, and take a walk inside, admiring the stunning flowers and plants that surround you. If it’s cold outside, the Botanic Garden is the perfect place to warm up! A visit to Rock Creek Park is a city favorite for cycling through a natural landscape (especially for experiencing fall colors!).

Evening: Keep the market hall theme going, and have dinner at Union Market. In addition to free museums, we found a complimentary tour that is a must-do! Sign on for the night-time, two-hour Lincoln Assassination Tour to experience the evening that changed the history of a nation forever. Join this family-friendly tour to meet characters, walk the streets, and see the buildings where this great drama played out. 

Amazing view of the U.S. Botanical Garden during a 3 day trip to Washington D.C.

DAY TWO

Admission to most museums in D.C. are free, so you’ll certainly want to get in your share of these incredible attractions.

Morning: Head over to the National Mall and enter into one of the most-visited of all the Smithsonian Institution museums, the National Air and Space Museum. Inside you’ll find a wide selection of interactive exhibits, collections of real items and artifacts from the history of flight, and an impressive collection of restored aircrafts. Don’t forget to buy a bag or two of freeze-dried ice cream that the astronauts eat in space, to enjoy outside on the Mall.

Afternoon: The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a must during your visit. Even if you are hungry before you go, suppress that hunger, and eat in the incredible museum cafe. The food in this museum is truly top notch with so many options! This is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.

Evening: D.C. is known for its iconic monumental architecture, and with the exception of the Washington Monument, memorials in D.C. are open 24 hours a day and are magical to enjoy at night. Enjoy the walk at twilight, as you will have the opportunity to see the memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial, Capitol Building, White House, and more under the glow of the stars. Enjoy a later dinner tonight, just three blocks west of the White House, Try the award-winning Founding Farmers, an urban farmhouse, where guests can gather and enjoy their meals in a variety of designed spaces.

Nighttime photo of the Lincoln Memorial during a 3 day trip to Washington D.C.

DAY THREE

Morning: Take a boat ride (or Metro) over to Old Town Alexandria for a relaxing day walking the cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks. Grab a coffee from Killer ESP (Espresso. Snacks. Pie) and head outside to take in this lovely city. This charming neighborhood is filled with boutique shops, restaurants and impressive historic buildings and monuments. Get yourself lost with your camera and enjoy walking back in time.

Street view of the historic Old Town Alexandria during a 3 day trip to Washington D.C.

Afternoon: Stay for lunch in Alexandria, and enjoy a cozy meal inside the Columbia Firehouse to admire the textures of wood and brick as you dine on a pound of Thai red curry mussels and a baguette. After lunch, visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. Built in 1918, this former naval munitions plant once created torpedoes during WWII before converting to storage for things like congressional documents, Smithsonian dinosaur bones, and WWII trial records. Now it’s home to the nation’s largest number of publicly accessible artists’ studios under one magnificent roof.

Evening: For dinner, head over to Washington’s next great meeting place – The District Wharf. The Wharf brings dazzling water views, hot new restaurants, year-round entertainment, and waterside style all together in one inspiring location. Before dinner, take your kids over to the over-sized games playground, including a massive Scrabble board. Or rent a kayak or paddleboard for a pre-dinner workout to admire the city views while in the water. For dinner, choose Kith and Kin for for a home cooked meal celebrating the Executive Chef’s heritage, including Nigeria, Jamaica, West Africa, the Caribbean, New Orleans, and New York. If you aren’t ready for bed yet, walk over to Pearl Street Warehouse for live entertainment on your final night in D.C.!

 

With so many sights, eats, and entertainment we hope you enjoy our 3-day guide to Washington, D.C. on your next adventure!

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