How to Spend a Weekend in Washington DC

April 4, 2019

When you only have one weekend in Washington DC, you need to make the most of your trip!

Maximize your time in our nation’s capital by following this easy itinerary and guide.

First, Book Your Hotel

Before you begin to plan out your daily activities, you need to reserve a hotel room. Hotels in Washington DC range from budget accommodations to luxurious suites and beyond. When researching hotel options, always consider:

  • What amenities you need
  • Where the hotel is located
  • If the rate fits your travel budget
  • Customer reviews

A few of the top hotels in DC include:

  • Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Washington DC
  • Courtyard by Marriott Largo Capital Beltway
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Washington DC/Downtown
  • Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/Georgetown Area
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites DC Metro Capitol Beltway
  • Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel

Many of these hotels offer amenities ranging from free WiFi to complimentary shuttle service to Washington DC’s public transportation stations.

guest room at Club Quarters Hotel White House with carpeted floor, sofa with black uphostery and bed with white sheets and flat sceen tv on wall in Washington DC, USA

photo credit: Club Quarters Hotel White House, Washington DC via Facebook

Day 1: Monuments, History, and Museums

Morning: Monuments and Memorials

On day one of your weekend in Washington DC, you’ll take a deep dive into our nation’s history by visiting the memorials, monuments, and landmarks throughout the city.

With so many monuments to visit, it’s best to select a few “must-see” landmarks and plan your morning around that. The most popular Washington DC monuments and memorials include:

  • The National Mall (Home to the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument)
  • The White House
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Many of these buildings and landmarks offer tours, exhibits, or other features. If you would like to participate in these activities, keep this in mind when organizing your itinerary for the day.

Or, if you’d rather maximize your day in DC (which I highly recommend), reserve your spot on a monuments tour instead! From bus tours to walking tours, you’ll see the sights while learning all about our nation’s history from a knowledgeable tour guide.

Some of the top Washington DC tours include:

view of lincoln memorial with reflection pool during sunny autumn fall day in Washington, D.C., USAAfternoon: Washington DC Museums

In the afternoon, select a Washington DC museum to visit. Fortunately for visitors, there are several museums and topics to choose from. Whether you’re interested in learning more about American history or art, there’s a museum for you.

Since many of these museums are quite extensive, you’ll likely only have time to visit one during your weekend in Washington DC. Once you’ve selected your museum, do your best to purchase tickets ahead of time, allowing you to skip the line and spend more time learning.

A few of Washington DC’s top museums include:

Wide shot of rows upon rows of white headstone marking the graves of soldiers on a sunny day with trees in the background at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, USA

photo credit: Arlington National Cemetery via Facebook

Day 2: Choose Your Own Adventure

On your last day in DC, choose between extreme thrills or extra fun. Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a good time in Washington DC.

Theme Parks

If you’re up for an adrenaline rush, get your tickets to a nearby theme park. The top two in the greater Washington DC area are Six Flags America and Kings Dominion.

Six Flags America is only 15 minutes away from Washington DC and is home to 10 insane roller coasters like Superman and The Wild One. If the weather cooperates, be sure to visit Hurricane Harbor for thrilling water slides and relaxing lazy rivers, too.

It wouldn’t be a weekend in Washington DC without a trip to Kings Dominion! This 400-acre park has 60+ rides, shows, attractions, and so much more, including the 20-acre water park. Adrenaline junkies love rides like WindSeeker and Intimidator 305. But, if you’re more into classic rides, you can’t miss the gorgeous Grand Carousel.

If you’re heading south to go home after a weekend in Washington DC, grab Busch Gardens Williamsburg tickets! The European-themed amusement park has everything from riveting shows to towering roller coasters such as the Griffon. However, while the rides are great, the food is even better! Sample your way through different cuisines representing various European cultures and countries.

Wide shot of a roller coaster at Busch Gardens with the sun setting behind it in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

photo credit: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Washington DC Attractions

If theme parks aren’t your thing, DC has plenty of other exciting attractions for you to explore. In fact, to make the most of your vacation, purchase a Washington DC Explorer Pass to use throughout your weekend in Washington DC.

This pass allows you to visit as many Washington DC museums, attractions, and things to do for one price. There’s no need to pay for tickets at each attraction, saving you up to 40% on admission!

Attractions available through the pass include:

  • International Spy Museum
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Washington DC: 1-Day Classic Patriot Tour
  • Madame Tussauds DC
  • Newseum
  • George Washington's Mount Vernon
  • Washington Monuments Cruise by Potomac Riverboat Company
  • Washington Nationals Ballpark Tour
  • Big Bus DC Panoramic Night Tour
  • National Geographic Museum
  • The Capital Wheel
  • Bike and Roll DC Bike Rentals
  • Washington Walks Walking Tours
  • National Building Museum
  • Round Trip Mount Vernon Cruise
  • Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Tour
  • $15 Toward Meal at Buca di Beppo
  • Key to the City Pass
  • Museum of the Bible
  • Observation Deck at CEB Tower
  • National Law Enforcement Museum
  • Free Tours by Foot - Choose 1 Tour
  • A-A One Hour Sightseeing Tour

Spend your final day in the capital taking advantage of all the city has to offer with the Explorer Pass!

Front view of visitors walking in front of White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Visitors at 1600 PA Avenue, the most famous residence in the United States.

Quick Tips for Spending the Weekend in Washington DC

Since a weekend can fly by, these tips will help you stretch your budget and your itinerary while in DC.

Bundle Your Hotel and Tickets
If your weekend trip has a strict travel budget, save money by bundling your Washington DC hotel and museum/attraction tickets for extra discounts. Use the money you saved on a hotel and tickets on other areas of your weekend such as transportation, food, and other entertainment.

Visit Local Shops and Restaurants
Much like any city, Washington DC is bursting with local businesses, including shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. But, the city also houses its fair share of chain retailers and establishments.

Panda lying on a benchTo really immerse yourself in the city over the course of a weekend, patron local businesses! You’ll get to taste and sip Washington DC’s best cuisine, strike up a conversation with business owners, and get to know the people along the way. You can’t do that at an Olive Garden!

Have a Transportation Plan
Although some cities fail at public transportation, Washington DC excels. The Metrorail and Metrobus are fantastic options to get anywhere in the city. Of course, options like Uber/Lyft and taxis are also a great mode of transportation.

If you’d rather have the convenience of your own vehicle, go ahead and rent a car for the weekend. Many parking lots and spots throughout the city use apps like ParkWhiz to pay for metered or hourly parking rates.

Buy Tickets in Advance
Whether you’re interested in seeing a show, going to a theme park, or learning more at a museum, ticket lines can be outrageous. Save time and money on your DC getaway by purchasing all of your activity and attraction tickets before you go! You’ll skip the ticket lines and spend more time enjoying your trip.

Enjoy Your Weekend in Washington DC!

Once you’ve got your hotel booked, tickets acquired, and tours reserved, you’re all set for a memorable DC weekend trip.

Have something to add? Post it here:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>