Visiting the US capital? A trip to Washington DC offers a lot more than just the White House and government buildings; there’s a plethora of activities, amazing cafes, and endless things to do. Here’s your 3 days in DC itinerary to help make the most of your weekend in the capital.
Washington DC Itinerary: Day 1
Museums & Monuments at the National Mall
Begin your first day by checking out the main monuments of Washington DC at the National Mall, locatednext to the Potomac River and Tidal Basin.
You’ll want to see the massive Lincoln Memorial and then walk along the iconic Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool which leads to the Washington Monument, honoring the first president.
If you then walk along Independence Avenue you can catch incredible views of the dome-shaped Thomas Jefferson Memorial. As you make your way across the avenue, stop at the Floral Library to see tulips and a variety of other flowers. It’s a great photo spot.
As you keep going through the park, you’ll stumble upon the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, which is totally worth a visit. This wonderful natural history museum offers dinosaur exhibits, rare gems, ancient creatures, artworks and so much more. Another great thing about the Smithsonian museum is that it’s free to visit!
You’ll likely be hungry after wandering around and visiting so many monuments at the National Mall. Luckily, there’s several cafes in the museum to have a snack, coffee, or even lunch. A favorite is the Ocean Terrace Cafe, serving up sustainable meals focused on grains and vegetables.
After a visit to the Natural History Museum, you can keep going through the park to see the Smithsonian Castle as well as any other museums that tickle your fancy. For example, there’s the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Hirshhorn Museum, and more. It’s truly a museum-lover’s paradise! However, you may only have time for one more museum after visiting the Natural History Museum, so choose carefully.
Pro tip: Instead of spending almost the entire day walking around the park, make the most of your limited 3 days in DC by renting a bike! There’s numerous companies offering rentals and there’s even the Capital Bikeshare, which has great rates. $2 for a single 30-minute trip (plus $2 for every additional 30 minutes), $8 for a day pass, or $17 for a 3-day pass. You can learn more about the DC CapitalBikeshare here.
After spending the day exploring all that the National Mall has to offer, unwind with drinks and dinner, and look forward to another day of sightseeing in DC. Dupont Circle is a great neighborhood for finding trendy eateries, bars, and nightclubs.
Washington DC Itinerary: Day 2
Day 2, head to the trendy Georgetown and start the morning off with coffee at Baked & Wired. It’s an artsy coffee shop with superb coffee, cupcakes, and morning pastries. It’s also right next to the canal which is definitely worth wandering along.
After coffee, take a walk through M Street for street art and shopping. Here you’ll find popular shops like Free People, Kate Spade, Urban Outfitters, and AllSaints.
Spend the rest of the day exploring the charm of Georgetown. There’s even an adorable cat cafe called Crumbs and Whiskers!
For those interested in old universities, visit the old and prestigious Georgetown University. It’s the oldest Catholic university in the US (though most students aren’t Catholic) and offers some gorgeous stone architecture.
Finish the day off with dinner in Georgetown or around your accommodation.
Washington DC Itinerary: Day 3
Begin your last morning in DC with another delicious coffee, this time from La Colombe Coffee Roasters in downtown DC. It’s located near The White House, which is our next stop!
After catching some views of The White House, take some time to walk or cycle around downtown DC to get a feel of the urban DC life. You can make your way towards Chinatown where you’ll stumble on a couple more museums like the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the National Portrait Museum.
Grab a delicious lunch in Chinatown, with plenty of Chinese and sushi options. After lunch, enjoy the rest of your time in DC by checking out local beer gardens and breweries before it’s time to say goodbye.
Looking for more US weekend guides? Check out our weekend guide to the Great Smoky Mountains!
Christa Adams is a writer, photographer, and sustainable traveler based in Barcelona. She’s been traveling solo since 2014 has a passion for the outdoors, coffee culture, and exploring quaint European towns. Follow her adventures at www.thespiritedexplorer.com