An Overview of Five Perfect Days in Washington, D.C. 2017
with Planning Links in “Before You Go” Section
below the 5-Day Overview Itinerary
DAY 1-Highlights: National Archives, National Gallery of Art, Overview Amphibious Duck Tour of City
9:30 am – 10:00 am – Make your way to the National Archives Museum on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW.
10:00 am – 10:15 am – Visit the Rotunda for Charters of Freedom at the National Archives Museum to see the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the United States Bill of Rights. The museum is open daily 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. except Thanksgiving Day and December 25. Admission is free.
10:15 – 10:30 am – Walk 0.3 mile to the National Gallery of Art, a Smithsonian Museum. To get there, exit the National Archives Museum onto Pennsylvania Avenue and turn right. Take the first right on 7th Street and the first left on Constitution Avenue. The National Gallery of Art will be on your right before 6th Street.
10:30 – 12:15 pm – Visit the National Gallery of Art. The museum is open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 11 am – 6 pm. It is closed December 25 and January 1. Admission is free. The West Building houses the European Masters’ paintings and sculptures including works by Degas, Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, and da Vinci. It also contains works by American artists painted prior to the 20th century. The newer, geometrical, and much more modern, East Building was designed by architect I. M. Pei. This building contains modern and contemporary art, including works by Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Calder.
12:15 pm – 1:45 pm – Walk to the famous Dubliner Pub for lunch for burgers, salads or traditional Irish food. Exit the National Gallery of Art onto Constitution Avenue and turn right (toward the U.S. Capitol). Veer left when the road splits to stay on Constitution Avenue and take the first left after that onto Louisiana Avenue. Turn left at North Capitol Street and left again on F Street. The Dubliner will be just on the left at 4 F Street NW. (It is 0.9 mile to walk from the National Gallery of Art to the Dubliner.)
1:45 – 2:00 pm – After lunch, walk five minutes (0.2 mile) to Union Station where you will meet your Duck Tour near Columbus Circle. From The Dubliner, turn right out onto F Street and take a quick left on North Capitol Street and then right (toward the U.S. Capitol). Veer left when the road splits to stay on Constitution Avenue and take the first left after that onto Louisiana Avenue. Turn left at North Capitol Street and left again on E Street. Union Station will be on your left and Columbus Circle will be to your right.
2:00 – 2:30 pm – Walk inside and check in at the Duck Tour desk just inside Union Station at Booth 254 on the Street Level. Be sure to take a look around Union Station, a restored train station, metro station, as well as a shopping and dining venue.
2:30 – 4:15 pm – Meet your Duck boat, a WWII era amphibious vehicle, in front of Union Station.
4:15 pm – 4:30 pm – After your Duck tour, for a nice option for drinks or dinner nearby, walk five minutes from Union Station to Bistro Bis Bar and Restaurant at 15 E Street NW. To get there after your Duck Tour, facing away from Union Station and toward the Capitol, veer right on E Street. The restaurant will be on your right after you cross North Capitol Street NW. (Total walk is 0.2 mile from Union Station to Bistro Bis.)
Day 2 – Highlights: The White House, National Museum of American History, National Museum of African American History
8:00 am – 9:00 am – On the day that you have arranged your White House tour in advance (see Before You Go) or when you will visit the White House Visitor Center, have breakfast in your hotel and make your way to the Old Ebbitt Grill to pick up these directions. Or, have breakfast at the Old Ebbitt Grill across from the White House at 675 15th Street NW.
9:00 am – 9:30 am – From the entrance of Old Ebbitt Grill, make your way to the White House, entering from the south side of East Executive Avenue. Exit to your right from Old Ebbitt Grill onto 15th Street NW toward New York Avenue. Take the first left on Pennsylvania Avenue and then the next left on East Executive Avenue NW. The entrance to the White House tours will be on your right. (Total walk is 0.1 mile from Old Ebbitt Grill to the entrance to the White House tour entrance.)
9:30 am – 11:30 am – Visit the White House (see Before You Go section for information) and/or the White House Visitor Center. Admission is free.
The White House Visitor Center located at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, at the southeast corner of 15th and E Streets. The Center is open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. (except for January 1st, Thanksgiving, and December 25th) and features many aspects of the White House, including its architecture, furnishings, first families, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders, as well as a 14-minute film, “White House: Reflections from Within.”
11:30 am – 11:45 am – After visiting the White House, make your way to the POV rooftop restaurant in the W Hotel at 515 15th Street NW for lunch. To get there from the White House tour entrance, walk back to Pennsylvania Avenue and turn right on 15th Street NW (toward the National Mall). Enter the W Hotel, just on your left after the Old Ebbitt Grill restaurant. Take the elevator to the top floor to the POV restaurant.
11:45 am – 12:45 pm – Have lunch at the POV restaurant overlooking the White House. Menus include salads, burgers, sandwiches, and pizza.
12:45 pm – 1:15 pm – After lunch at the POV restaurant, walk to the National Museum of American History, a Smithsonian Museum at 14th St and Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001. From the W Hotel, walk left on 15th Street toward the National Mall and turn left on Constitution Avenue. The museum will be on your right just after you cross over 14th Street. (Total walk is 0.6 mile from the W Hotel, POV restaurant.)
1:15 pm – 3:15 pm – Visit the National Museum of American History, a Smithsonian Museum. The museum is open 10 am – 5:30 pm daily, except December 25. Admission is free. If you are not visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture later this afternoon, you may want to stay longer than two hours. While the average visit is about two hours, there is plenty to enjoy at the National Museum of American History. The museum houses the First Ladies Gowns, the original Star Spangled Banner, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Thomas Jefferson’s desk, George Washington’s uniform, Edison’s light bulb, and many modern-era artifacts, as well.
3:15 pm – 3:30 pm – After visiting the National Museum of American History, if you are able to get free tickets, walk to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a Smithsonian Museum, at 1400 Constitution Avenue, NW. From the National Museum of American History and Culture, exit onto Constitution Avenue and walk one block toward the Washington Monument. The National Museum of African American History will be on the National Mall on your left between 14th and 15th Streets.
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm – Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a Smithsonian Museum. The museum is open 10 am – 5:30 pm daily, except December 25. Admission is free with your reserved tickets. (See Before You Go section.)
5:30 pm – 5:45 pm – After visiting the museum(s) walk to the Willard InterContinental Hotel at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue NW and visit the Round Robin Bar. From the National Museum of African American History and Culture or the National American History Museum: Exit on Constitution Avenue and walk north (away from the National Mall) on 14th Street NW. The Willard InterContinental will be on the left corner just after you cross over Pennsylvania Avenue. (Total walk is about 0.5 mile.)
5:45 pm – 6:45 pm – Have drinks at the famous Round Robin Bar at the Willard, a DC fixture since the days of Abraham Lincoln.
6:45 pm – 8:30 pm – Have dinner around the corner where you began your day at the Old Ebbitt Grill or at the Occidental Grill & Seafood next door to the Willard.
Day 3-Highlights: Air and Space Museum, Holocaust Museum, National Mall Monuments and Memorials
9:45 am – 10:00 am – Make your way to the Air and Space Museum in DC at 600 Independence Avenue, SW when it opens at 10:00 am to beat the crowds at this popular museum.
10 am – 11:30 am – Visit the Air and Space Museum in D.C., a Smithsonian Museum. The museum is open 10 am – 5:30 pm daily, except December 25. Admission is free. The museum contains the Wright Brothers’ 1903 Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, and a lunar rock you can touch.
11:30 am – 12:30 pm – Walk on the National Mall in the direction of the Washington Monument and enter the Smithsonian Castle Information Center, the original Smithsonian Museum, for lunch at the Castle Café at 1000 Jefferson Drive, SW. (Walk is 0.4 mile from the National Air and Space Museum.)
12:30 pm – 12:45 pm – Make your way to the Holocaust Museum at 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW. From the Smithsonian Castle Information Center, continue walking through the National Mall in the direction of the Washington Monument. Walk about 0.3 mile to 14th Street and turn left. The museum will be just on your right. (Total walk is 0.4 mile from the Smithsonian Castle.)
12:45 pm – 2:15 pm – Visit the Holocaust Museum. The museum is open 10 am – 5:00 pm daily, except Yom Kippur and December 25. Admission is free, but tickets are usually required from March 1 to August 31 to visit the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition due to popularity. (See “Before You Go” section.) The permanent exhibit tells the history of the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945.
2:15 pm – 2:30 pm – Make your way to the Paddle Boats at the Tidal Basin at 1501 Maine Avenue, SW. To get there from the Holocaust Museum, exit onto Raoul Wallenberg Place SW. Take the first slight right onto Maine Avenue. The boats will be slightly to your right on the Tidal Basin. (Total walk is 0.3 mile from the Holocaust Museum.)
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm – Enjoy the Paddle Boats at the Tidal Basin. As you walk around the basin or paddle around the Tidal Basin, you will see the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial from the water. You will also see the cherry blossoms in bloom if you are here in early to mid-April.
3:30 pm – 3:45 pm – After exploring the Tidal Basin, walk toward the Washington Monument and the National World War II Memorial.
3:45 pm – 4:15 pm – View the Washington Monument, as you walk toward the National World War II Memorial located at 17th Street and Independence Avenue. To get there from the paddle boats at the Tidal Basin, walk to your left with the Tidal Basin on your left to 17th Street. Facing the White House, the World War II Memorial is on the left-hand side of 17th Street, and the Washington Monument is on the right-hand side of 17th Street. (Total walk is 0.6 mile from the paddle boats.)
4:15 pm – 4:30 pm – Next, walk to the Lincoln Memorial alongside the Reflecting Pool. (Walk is 0.5 mile.)
4:30 pm – 4:45 pm – Pay your respects to the 16th President of the United States at the Lincoln Memorial.
4:45 pm – 5:00 pm – Walk to the left, with your back to the Lincoln Memorial, and follow the signs to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located north of the Lincoln Memorial near the intersection of 22nd St. and Constitution Ave. NW. (Walk is 0.2 mile.)
5:00 pm – 5:15 pm – Pay your respects at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
5:15 pm – 5:45 pm – After exiting the memorial area, walk north (away from the National Mall) to Constitution Avenue. Walk or take a taxi to The Prime Rib restaurant at 2020 K Street NW. To walk to the Prime Rib from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, keep walking away from the Lincoln Memorial and take the first left out of the park on 21st Street, crossing over Constitution Avenue. Continue on 21st Street for 0.8 mile to K Street. Turn right on K Street. The Prime Rib will be just on your right. (Total walk is 0.9 mile from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to The Prime Rib.)
5:45 pm – 7:45 pm – Enjoy dinner at The Prime Rib, ranked the #1 steakhouse in DC, by Zagat. They almost always have live piano music.
After dinner, walk, take a taxi, or take the Metro back to your hotel.
Day 4-Highlights; United States Capitol, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Ford’s Theatre
8:00 am – 8:30 am – Make your way to the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, entering from the underpass on First Street NE.
8:30 am – 11:45 am – Visit the U.S. Capitol. Admission is free.
Check in at the ticket desk at 8:30 am for your 8:40 am Capitol tour that you booked in advance. (See “Before You Go” section.) Tours begin at the orientation theater with a 13-minute film, “Out of Many, One,” about the United States’ struggle to establish the world’s first truly representative democracy. On the guided tour, you will see the Crypt of the Capitol, the Rotunda, and National Statuary Hall. All tours begin and end at the Capitol Visitor Center. In the Visitor Center, be sure to the Exhibition Hall. There are also gift shops and a restaurant.
After your tour, visit the House Gallery and/or the Senate Gallery using the passes that you obtained in advance. (See Before You Go section.)
11:45 am – 1:30 pm – Exit the Capitol, look across the street to see the Supreme Court Building, and walk to The Monocle restaurant for lunch. To get there from the Capitol Visitor’s Center, turn left out of the Capitol Building, walk about 0.3 mile, and turn right on D Street. The Monocle will be on your right at 107 D Street NE.
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm – Walk to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Walk back toward the National Mall on D Street. Turn left on Louisiana Avenue and then turn right on Constitution Avenue when you reach the National Mall. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History will be on your left at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Highlights include the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals – world’s largest emerald, Hope diamond, Star of Asia sapphire, and meteorites; the Hall of Human Origins – human-like apes including Neanderthal; the exhibit of The Last American Dinosaurs on the second floor of the museum; the Ocean Hall – whale skeleton, 1500-gallon aquarium, and giant squid; and a live butterfly pavilion.
4:00 pm – 6:45 pm – Walk to the Trump International Hotel and/or to Boss Shepherd’s Restaurant and Whiskey Bar. From the Museum of Natural History, exit on Constitution Avenue and walk away from the National Mall on 10th Street toward Pennsylvania Avenue. Turn left on Pennsylvania Avenue. The hotel will be on your left at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. (Total walk is 0.3 mile from the Museum of Natural History.) Take a look around the hotel, which is actually the renovated United States Post Office, on the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps have a drink at Benjamin’s Bar and Lounge in the Trump Hotel and/or dinner at BLT Prime Steakhouse.
Or, to get to Boss Shepherd’s Restaurant and Whiskey Bar, located at 513 13th Street NW, pass the Trump Hotel on your left and take the next right on 13th Street. Boss Shepherd’s will be about one block on your right. (Total walk is 0.5 mile from the Museum of Natural History.)
7:00 – 10:15 pm – After dinner, walk about five minutes to the Ford’s Theatre and see a play or a performance, usually at 7:30 pm. (See “Before You Go” section.) To get there, head west on Pennsylvania Ave NW from the Trump Hotel or head west on E Street from Shepherd’s and turn left onto 10th St NW. Ford’s Theatre will be on your right. (It is about 0.2 mile from either the Trump Hotel or Shepherd’s to Ford’s Theatre.) Ford’s Theatre is where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Lincoln’s box seat is draped off on the right as you face the stage. You can visit Ford’s Theatre during the day. It is open daily from 9 am – 4:30 pm. Admission is free. Explore exhibits on Lincoln’s presidency, Civil War milestones and the assassination conspiracy led by John Wilkes Booth.
Day 5-Highlights: National Air and Space Museum in Virginia, Georgetown Lunch Stop, Arlington National Cemetery, Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, Dinner Cruise
Note: You will need a car to visit most, if not all, of today’s sights.
9:30 – 10:30 am – Drive to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway in Chantilly, Virginia, located south of Washington Dulles International Airport along Route 28, about 1/2 mile north of the intersection of Routes 28 and 50, about 33 miles from Washington DC. Parking is $15 before 4 pm, no charge after 4 pm.
10:30 am – 12:30 pm – Visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum in Virginia, a Smithsonian Museum. Its two huge hangars display thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, and the Space Shuttle Discovery. The Center also offers the Airbus IMAX® Theater and the observation tower, with a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of Washington Dulles Airport and the surrounding area. Udvar-Hazy Center is also home to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar where preservation of the National Air and Space Museum’s collections takes place. A glassed-in mezzanine provides a view of restoration projects in progress. Admission is free. Open 10 am – 5:30 pm daily, except December 25.
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm – Drive back toward Washington DC, stopping at Clyde’s restaurant in Georgetown at 3236 M Street NW (26.2 miles)
2:00 pm – 2:15 pm – Next, drive to Arlington Cemetery at 1 Memorial Avenue, Fort Myer, Virginia (2.5 miles from Georgetown).
Note: The Blue Metro Line travels to Arlington and to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, so if you skip the Air and Space Museum and Clydes, it is still possible to visit Arlington and the 9/11 Memorial without a car. The Yellow Metro Line also travels to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.
2:15 – 3:15 pm – Visit Arlington Cemetery. The tomb of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is located in lot 45, Section 30. You will not be able to drive all the way to the gravesite. Walking is how the majority of visitors reach it. However, the site is one of 3 stops on the trams that ply the cemetery. Tram tickets can be purchased in the Visitor Center.
3:15 pm – 3:30 pm – From Arlington Cemetery, drive 1.7 miles to the Pentagon Memorial at 1 North Rotary Road, Arlington, Virginia.
3:30 – 4:00 pm – Visit the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial commemorating the sacrifice of those who died in the September 11, 2001, air crash into the Pentagon. While you are visiting, listen to the Pentagon Memorial Audio Tour on your phone by calling the phone number (202) 741-1004 at the entrance and the free audio will lead you on a tour to various points of interest throughout the park. While you are at the Pentagon, look in the sky across the expressway at the Air Force Memorial. The three memorial spires range from 201 feet (61 m) to 270 feet (82 m) high and appear to be soaring; its array of stainless steel arcs against the sky evoke the image of “contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they peel back in a precision ‘bomb burst’ maneuver.”
4:00 pm – 4:30 pm – Drive back about 2 miles to Washington, D.C.
6:30 pm – 7:00 pm – Walk, drive or take a taxi to Gangplank Marina at 600 Water Street SW, for a Spirit of Washington 3-hour dinner cruise with views of the Washington Monument, National Harbor and Old Town Alexandria. (See “Before You Go” section for ticket information.)
Before You Go:
- Contact your Senators and/or your House Representative. You will need to get your White House tickets and Senate and House Gallery visitor tickets in advance to (1) visit the White House, (2) visit the Senate Gallery inside the Capitol, and (3) visit the House Gallery inside the Capitol. You should ask both of your Senators and your Representative for White House tickets, because they are harder to get so you will hope someone comes through. Decide on the optimal day you would like to visit, but have an option or two in mind, and then contact both of your Senators’ offices and your U.S. Representative’s office to request tickets. You can locate contact information for Senators here:
and for Representatives here:
When you get in touch with your Senator(s) or Representative, you will need to provide the congressional staff with all visitors in your traveling party dates of birth and social security numbers. Requests for White House tour tickets are accepted up to six months in advance and NO LESS THAN 30 DAYS IN ADVANCE. Tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. A limited number of tours are available. All White House tours are free of charge. For the most current tour information, call the 24-hour line at 202-456-7041. White House tours are always subject to last minute cancellation. The latest White House information is available at this link:
- Get Duck Tour tickets. Note: Buy tickets for the Duck Tour in advance for a $4 discount and to reserve your time and date.
- Get tickets for a show at the Ford Theater.
- Get tickets for the U.S. Capitol tour:
- If you are traveling between March 1st and August 31st, get your Holocaust Museum tickets in advance.
- Get Swan Boat tickets.
- Get tickets for your choice of Dinner Boat Cruise on the Potomac.
- If possible, get tickets to visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the newest Smithsonian Museum and the most difficult to visit due to its popularity. If this is a definite must-see for you, it is recommended that your get these tickets first before you plan the rest of your visit. A free timed pass is necessary for admission. If you’re able to obtain passes, you can claim up to six. They’re timed at 15-minute intervals, and everyone – even infants – entering the museum will need a pass. Tickets are usually available on the first day of the month 90 days in advance for three months in the future.
- Make your lunch and dinner reservations.
- If you have the time and the energy, you may want to schedule a three-hour morning Segway Tour of the National Mall with the Smithsonian Institute. Tours depart from the Smithsonian Museum of American History’s Mall entrance daily. Call 202-384-8516 for reservations and information.
- Make your hotel reservations. Here are a few recommendations in a variety of price ranges within walking distance of central D.C.
Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol
W Washington D.C.
The Willard InterContinental Hotel
For much more information and details on each day with walking directions from point to point for Days 1-4 and driving directions for Day 5, see Amazon or Dr. Loe’s Amazon author page tab of this website to purchase the $8.99 paperback or the $5.99 Kindle book, One Perfect Trip to Washington, D.C. 2017 by Dr. Cindy Loe.