What to do in Washington DC

One Day in Washington DC – Travel Guide

One Day in Washington DC

How to Spend One Day in Washington D.C.

Washington DC, the capital of the United States, has far too much history to express in a single article. Honestly, a series of books would be needed to learn all the history associated with this iconic city. Thankfully this post isn’t going to be a series of books though, as we’re just trying to generate a one day itinerary for Washington DC. While that in itself is an endeavor, I’ve picked some of my (and others) favorites that can be fit into a one-day trip without too much rushing around.

Where to start in Washington DC

Before I go into the places to visit, I recommend renting a bicycle or getting accustomed to taking local transport unless you want to walk a lot (my preference) or plan on driving short distances multiple times. Also, for a general map of the area, see below!

Map of Washington DC

Map Legend:

Red – US Capitol Building

Green – National Air and Space Museum

Yellow – Washington Monument

Purple – The White House

Blue – Lincoln Memorial

United States Capitol Building

United States Capitol Building Washington DC

The place where so many great decisions are made is where we start our journey. Visitors can enter the capitol building through the visitor’s center to experience the inner workings of the United States. But if you don’t want to tour the inside you don’t have to, the buildings architecture alone is magnificent to see, and you can continue onto the next site!

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum Washington DC

A little over half a mile from the U.S. Capitol, the National Air and Space Museum is the next stop. There are plenty of sites to see along the national mall and some may be more your preference, but I can’t recommend this museum enough. There are so many interactive exhibits and fun things to do, including a flight simulator that the kids will enjoy if you’re traveling as a family!

As an added bonus, admission to the museum is free and will easily take up your morning with all there is to see.

Lunch Time!

By the time you finish up at the National Air and Space Museum, it’ll undoubtedly be time for some food. Just south of the museum (away from the national mall) are numerous eateries for local cuisine, or you can go with the easy and quick McDonalds trip.

Getting to the Washington Monument!

Washington Monument

In the center of the national mall, the Washington Monument stands tall and proud. If you’re having trouble navigating the center of the capital, then just look up and this well known landmark will help you get your bearing. As a memorial for George Washington, it’s a piece of Washington DC that every tourist ends up at. If you have the urge, you can also tour the inside of the monument! While I didn’t include it in this guide, the White House is directly north of the Washington Monument, so if it was a place you wanted to see then it’s only a short detour.

It won’t take long to thoroughly see the monument before heading to the next site!

Heading to the Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial Washington DC

We’re nearing the end of our day trip and sightseeing. The Lincoln Memorial is unsurprisingly there to memorialize one of the nations presidents, known for numerous things such as his role in stopping slavery in America. A short tour of the grounds and if you’re like me, you’ll want to head home. It’s been a long day and it’s time to eat and relax.

Dinner in Washington DC

A short ride north to K Street will show the many restaurants available in Washington DC to eat at. The street and it’s connecting avenues will have just about any cuisine you could crave to end a successful day of sightseeing. Hopefully this helped you decide on to spend your one day in Washington DC. If there are any suggestions, please comment below!

Looking For More?

Check out some of our other articles on outdoor things to do in the United States!

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