Walking Tours Washington DC – 10 Best Options for Your Visit

From the arresting display of the Cherry blossoms in the spring to the ruby slippers on display at the Smithsonian, there are untold wonders to be uncovered in Washington DC.

Whether you are hankering to stroll through the National Mall or capture the facade of the Capitol Building on camera, there are a diverse number of tours to choose from. So follow along as we spill the tea on the best walking tours of Washington, D.C.!

Celebrate the splendor of the United States capital with a steaming chili bowl, or linger over antique manuscripts at the Library of Congress.

However you choose to wander through D.C., walking tours offer a welcome way to absorb the Federal City’s culture, history, and searing sights.

Monuments and Memorials

Arlington National Cemetery Guided Walking Tour with Changing of the Guards

Pay your respects and dive into the fascinating history of the U.S.’ most renowned military cemetery when you join an Arlington National Cemetery Guided Walking Tour with Changing of the Guards. Once the home of Robert E. Lee, this massive plot of land now houses over 400,000 military graves.

Follow along with your engaging guide as you stop by ceremonial sites and plots belonging to John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and more. Set your eyes on the hallowed memorials of the USS Maine and the Second World War soldier Audie Murphy.

Lastly, round out your two-hour tour by witnessing the moving ceremony of Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. 

photo credit: Military.com

DC Morning Monuments Sightseeing Bus & Walking Tour with Guide and 10+ Stops

Rise and shine, early birds! See the Nation’s monuments in their full glory when you bypass the snooze button in favor of a piercing D.C. Morning Monuments Sightseeing Bus & Walking Tour. Spend three blissful hours checking D.C.’s most renowned sights off your bucket list.

Your hybrid tour combines both walking and bus travel to ensure you see the most of the Capital City. First, enjoy guided professional narration and stops at the Lincoln Memorial, Capitol Hill, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Then, listen up as you are regaled with scintillating stories regarding D.C.’s most notorious politicians and historical figures.

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Walkthrough war memorials, Presidential sites, government buildings, and more. A perfect introduction to the ‘District,’ this jam-packed tour includes photo opportunities and stops at the White House, the Washington Monument, Freedom Plaza, the Jefferson Memorial, and dozens of other iconic sites. 

D.C. National Mall & Memorials Guided Walking Tour – Semi-Private 8ppl Max

Are you dreaming about a more intimate D.C. experience? Then, cut down on the crowds when you reserve a semi-private D.C. National Mall & Memorials Guided Walking Tour. Private tours allow you and your group to absorb the undivided attention of your knowledgeable guide.

With a guarantee of no more than eight guests, this 2.5-hour walking tour is the ideal way to conquer the Capital’s highlights. So breathe in that fresh air as you meander through outdoor monuments such as the National Mall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Washington Monument.

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Keep that camera fully charged as you’ll definitely want to document stops at:

  • The White House
  • The sparkling Reflecting Pool
  • The National World War II Memorial

Pause for a moment to appreciate the sacrifice of the over 5 million Americans who served during the Korean American War. Or ponder the significance and symbolism of the larger-than-life Lincoln Memorial

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.

Tidal Basin Tour

Whether or not you are lucky enough to be stepping foot in Federal City during Cherry Blossom season, the Tidal Basin is well worth a visit. This serene man-made reservoir is located between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel.

The Tidal Basin covers over 100 acres of ground and is a focal point of the floral Cherry Blossom festivities each spring. This over two-hundred-year-old site is filled daily with millions of gallons of water from the Potomac River. Additionally, the Tidal Basin is also used to maintain water levels in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

Many moving monuments surround the basin, including the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the FDR Memorial. We highly encourage visitors to hit the streets and tackle the Tidal Basin Loop Trail. An easy loop of fewer than 2 miles, this trail makes the perfect jump-off for creating your very own walking tour. 

pink cherry blossoms with water and building in background during daytime
photo credit: Ridwan Meah via Unsplash

Museum Guided Tours

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Tour

Ancient mummies, sparkling diamonds, and stuffed giraffes, oh my! Gear up to discover the mystery and majesty of the natural world when you indulge in a semi-private Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Tour.

Wander through the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils, or gawk at a life-size North Atlantic Right Whale named Phoenix. Your 1.5-2 hour tour ensures you will cover the very best of the museum’s exhibits, artifacts, and more.

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Linger in the serene butterfly pavilion then delve into the story of human evolution. Or satisfy your craving for bling with a gander at the 46 karat Hope Diamond. This magnificent jewel was donated to the museum by Harry Winston and has intrigued royals from Louis XIV to Marie Antoinette. 

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Tour

Brush up on American History through the thrilling artifacts and mementos of our Nation’s past when you spend 2.5 hours on a semi-private tour. Your guided Smithsonian Nat’l Museum of American History Tour will take you on an immersive journey of America. From her rousing colonial origins through her ascent to world power.

See George Washington’s sword, appreciate the beauty of Dorthy’s sparkling ruby slippers, or snap a photo of the patriotic flag that inspired our national anthem. Then, listen as your expert guide leads you through segregation in Greensboro and explains how cars shaped America.

Fans of Jim Henson will want to keep their eyes peeled for furry sightings of everyone’s favorite Muppets, showcased in a series of pop-up displays. 

Library of Congress

Calling all bibliophiles! Lean into your bookish passions when you visit the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress. Home to millions of books, rare manuscripts, recordings, newspapers, maps, and more, this stately edifice is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.

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Founded in 1800, the Library is considered the oldest cultural institution in the Nation. Although guided tours are not available, you can still follow a digital guide and pathway. Make your way to the gallery that holds the Gutenberg bible, document the beauty of the Great Hall’s zodiac-inspired floor, or peek at Presidential scribbles.

Let your curiosity run wild as you appreciate the oldest written material in the library, a cuneiform tablet from 2040 B.C., or geek out on their impressive collection of comics. 

photo credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel via Unsplash

Ghosts, Food, and History Tours

Horror on the Hill

Like your sightseeing with a side of scary? Saddle up for some terrifying thrills when you take a Horror on the Hill tour. After dark, the Capital City truly comes to life! Wear those comfy shoes and charge that camera, as your 1.5 walking tour will leave you with stunning nighttime vistas of the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court.

Your enthusiastic guide will regale you with hair-raising stories and tall tales regarding D.C.’s most spirited locales. Hear spooky legends regarding the Capitol Building, presidential phantoms, the demon cat, and more.

From the Library of Congress to the Court, the District City is filled with supernatural sightings and rumors of the ghostly President’s past. 

Historic Georgetown Walking Tour

Take a break from the museums and monuments when you hightail it to Historic Georgetown for a two-hour walking tour. This centuries-old neighborhood is overflowing with charm, American history, and luscious greenery.

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Soak in the cobblestone streets and awe-inspiring homes, including the exquisite Federal-style architecture of the Tudor Place Mansion. Meander through the Mansion’s grounds and gardens and take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy a visit to one of the oldest buildings in the entire city, the Old Stone House.

Those looking to turn back time will appreciate the collegiate appeal of Georgetown University and the towering spires of the Patrick Healy building. While others yearning for some old-school ambiance will be dying to grab a drink at Martin’s Tavern, a Georgetown institution since 1933. 

photo credit: Georgetown, DC via Facebook

U Street: Food, History, and Street Art Tour

Decadent, delicious eats combined with real D.C. history? Yes, please! Treat your tummy and your brain to some intriguing bites when you book a tour of historic U Street.

This Washington DC walking tour will expose you to a side of the city that most tourists never see. Once known as ‘Black Broadway,’ U Street is now a mecca of exotic international cuisine. Indulge your taste buds in the diverse flavors of Ethiopian dishes, Ben’s famous chili, and more.

Your effervescent guide will take you to multiple unique local restaurants, each boasting a rich history and culinary prowess. Observe the Lincoln Theater and learn all about the infamous events that occurred here. Pay your respects at the African American Civil War Memorial outside the Civil War Museum. Come hungry as this fully packed tour includes lunch!

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From the tree-lined cobblestone streets of Georgetown to the obelisk grandeur of the Washington Monument, the Federal City is just overflowing with landmarks and locations of interest. But, to really get a taste of Washington DC’s history, culture, and heritage, it’s best to hit that pavement.

sunset behind the Washington Monument and reflecting pool in Washington D.C., USA
Washington Monument on the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. at dawn.

Walking tours provide the ultimate way to get up close with every point of interest, monument, and museum. Take a stroll around the tidal basin, snap a selfie at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, or step back in time with the fine fashions of the First Ladies at the Smithsonian. 

Whether you get fired up by cartography or can’t wait to sample the cuisines of U Street, a trip to D.C. will never disappoint!

Tell Us, What’s Your Favorite D.C. Walking Tour?

Leave us a comment on how you love to explore Washington below!

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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

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