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Washington Day Trip vs Weekend Trip from NYC

If you have some free time in New York and are thinking of taking advantage of it to make a getaway, Washington is an excellent option. I help you compare the one and two-day tours, so you can see which one is more convenient for you according to your plans.

Cecilia Gaitán

Cecilia Gaitán

7 min read

Washington Day Trip vs Weekend Trip from NYC

Thomas Jefferson Memorial | ©Ron Cogswell

Traveling to Washington is a plan that I recommend you to do, if you have time to visit the Big Apple. If, for example, your plan is to visit New York in 15 days this is one of the essential excursions to do from New York. You will be able to see first hand the places where the most important political decisions in the world are made. No more, no less.

My advice without hesitation is to hire a tour to Washington from New York. This will save you the hassle and logistics of traveling, focusing all your energy on enjoying American sightseeing.

To help you manage your trip from New York to Washington, here are the advantages of doing the tour in one day or two. Prices, sightseeing spots and key information so you can choose to have it all organized.

Do I need a day or two to see Washington?

Amish Community| ©Víctor Fitzpatrick
Amish Community| ©Víctor Fitzpatrick

To visit Washington you have several options. And if you opt for an organized trip, you will be able to choose between a day trip or if you prefer, you can also visit the city in two days. Both options will give you enough time to get a glimpse of the capital of the United States. But it is true that there are several differences between the one-day and the two-day tour of Washington. Mainly in the itinerary and the included visits.

In the one-day tour you will tour Washington exclusively and in the two-day trip, you will also visit the city of Philadelphia and get to know the Amish community from the inside. This means that, although it may seem contradictory, you will not necessarily see more on the longer tour.

Compare Washington tours

Top attractions you'll enjoy if you go for a day trip

The Obelisk standing on the National Mall| ©Jacob Creswick
The Obelisk standing on the National Mall| ©Jacob Creswick

If you decide to visit Washington in one day, you should know that the tours last about 15 hours. You will leave very early in the morning and arrive late in the afternoon, so you will have a full day to visit the U.S. capital between trips and sightseeing.

The most important visits and points of interest that you will see on the tour are:

  • Arlington Cemetery: The largest military cemetery in the United States and where the remains of veterans of major wars such as the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Civil War and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.
  • Iwo Jima Memorial: Monument representing the Marines on Mount Suribachi during World War II.
  • Jefferson Memorial: Iconic work of architecture dedicated to President Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the nation.
  • Lincoln Memorial: Famous marble statue immortalizing the figure of Abraham Lincoln.
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Monument honoring the men and women who gave their lives for the country in that history-making war.
  • Korean Veterans Memorial: Very close to the Lincoln Memorial is this work that names each and every one of the fallen in this conflict.
  • Washington Monument: It is the obelisk built in the name of Commander George Washington and first president.
  • White House: Official residence of the president of the United States and all presidents in history.
  • Martin Luther King Memorial: Monument inspired by the African-American leader and his struggle.
  • National Mall: The mythical park full of gardens that you have seen in countless movies.
  • World War II Memorial: Monument commemorating those who died and served in the conflict.
  • National Archives Museum: Home of the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. More than 15 billion records and documents are housed in this building.
  • Air and Space Museum: Museum dedicated to the history of aviation.
  • The Capitol: One of the most emblematic buildings of the city and seat of the Legislative Branch.

Book your Washington day trip

Top attractions you'll enjoy if you go for two days

Rocky statue in Philadelphia| ©Pierre Blaché
Rocky statue in Philadelphia| ©Pierre Blaché

If you have more time, two-day tours are an excellent option. Not only will you be able to see Washington, but they will also take you to Philadelphia. So you will have a two for one, plus the possibility in many cases, to visit on the way, the Amish community.

If you choose to hire a two-day excursion, some of the visits and points of interest that you will see are:


  • Liberty Bell: Historic area of the city and one of the symbols of the American War of Independence.
  • Rocky Statue: A work in honor of the boxer's movies and in front of the most famous steps of all the scenes.
  • Amish Country Tour: Tour in a typical Amish buggy to know in depth how this curious community lives.


  • Jefferson Memorial: Iconic work of architecture dedicated to President Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation's founders.
  • Arlington Cemetery: The largest military cemetery in the United States and home to the remains of veterans of major wars such as the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, the Civil War and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Capitol Hill: Scenic viewpoint and residential neighborhood overlooking the Capitol.
  • White House: Official residence of the President of the United States and all the presidents in history.

As you can see, the differences are in the purpose of the getaway. If your intention is to see and tour Washington in depth, I advise you to take a day trip. If instead you want to walk around and see as many attractions as possible, I recommend choosing a two-day tour in which you can also visit Philadelphia and the Amish community.

Book your two-day tour to Washington and Philadelphia

Washington by night, a spectacle you will enjoy if you go for two days

U.S. Capitol at night| ©John Brighenti
U.S. Capitol at night| ©John Brighenti

One of the advantages of opting for a two-day tour is the possibility of seeing and touring Washington by night. While most two-day tours departing from New York spend the first day in Philadelphia, you will arrive in Washington in the evening. There you will have free time to stroll, dine and experience the city when the lights come on.

I recommend this experience if you go as a couple or with friends, as you will get to see the other side of the city, its nighttime attractions and warm up for the next day's sightseeing.

But then... is it worth going to Washington if I only have one day?

Outdoor tourism| ©Elvert Barnes
Outdoor tourism| ©Elvert Barnes

Of course it's worth it! If your main interest is to get to know the city, its museums and monuments in order to become thoroughly immersed in the political history of the country, the two-day excursion may not be enough for you. I recommend a one-day excursion so that you don't leave out any of the points of interest.

If you are one of those who prefer to see less things but in depth and with more time, taking a day trip is ideal. It will give you a more complete idea of the cradle of American politics.

Travel to Washington with the convenience of the train

If you are traveling with your family or just like to ride the train, you also have the opportunity to reach the nation's capital by train. This excursion, which also includes a bus ride to see the city, lasts half a day and includes lunch at the Hard Rock Café.

Book your day trip to Washington from New York City by train

A comparative overview of the Washington day tour and two day tour

View of the Capitol in Washington DC| ©Jorge Alcala
View of the Capitol in Washington DC| ©Jorge Alcala

Price of Washington day tours and price of two day tours

A one-day trip to Washington is around 95 €, while a two-day trip costs around 300 €. If you feel like it, you can also calculate what it would cost you to do the trip on your own, my advice is that in this case, the numbers are not worth the logistics involved. Also, all tours generally have free cancellation, which allows you to have the freedom to regret it if you don't have the time or the money.

And here's a tip: Most of the museums and monuments you visit have free admission.

Washington day tour schedules vs. two day tour schedules

Departure times for the tours are very similar and leave from New York between 6:00 and 6:30 am. Very early, I know! But at those hours there is less traffic and you spend less time getting around. Plus, the buses are super comfortable, so you can sleep in and arrive refreshed and energized to enjoy the destination.

Services included in the Washington day tours vs. the two-day tours

The services and extras included in each excursion are according to the type of trip. In the case of a day trip, the idea is to make the most of the city of Washington and visit as many points of interest as possible.

To this end, the day trip to Washington, in general, offers:

  • Professional guide
  • Air-conditioned bus, bathroom and WiFi on board

The two-day tours to Washington and Philadelphia are longer and therefore usually include:

  • 1 night accommodation including taxes
  • Continental breakfast
  • Professional guide
  • Transfer by 15-passenger van or bus (with WiFi)
  • Sightseeing in Philadelphia and Washington DC
  • Amish farm buggy tour
  • Entrance fee - Jefferson Memorial

Sightseeing times on the one-day tours to Washington vs. the two-day tours

The White House| ©Jonathan Cutrer
The White House| ©Jonathan Cutrer

In general, the time you have to visit the attractions and points of interest, whether you are on a one or two day trip, is around 20 minutes. With the exception of specific visits to which you have to dedicate more time.

There are many places where you will only be passing through and will not be able to stop.

  • 1 day Washington excursion
  • From $96
  • 15 hours duration
  • Dalida between 6:00 and 6:30 hours
  • Includes transfer and guide
  • 2 day tour to Washington and Philadelphia
  • From 308 €.
  • 2 days duration
  • Departure between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.
  • Includes transfer, guide, accommodation with breakfast and entrance to the Jefferson Memorial