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Washington Day Trips from New York

Washington DC is undoubtedly one of the most interesting cities in the United States and you can visit it in just one day from New York.

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

10 min read

Washington Day Trips from New York

One of the main avenues in Washington, D.C. | ©Jorge Alcala

The illustrious city of Washington represents the spirit of the United States. Its streets and museums are presided over by the Capitol and, on a trip to Washington, you can see the White House or the Pentagon among other landmarks.

A day trip to Washington from New York is one of the best one-day experiences you can do from the Big Apple, and in fact, there are several types of tours to suit all budgets and trip lengths. Let me tell you about the best ones I have found:

My favourite
Day Trip: Washington DC (Includes National Air & Space Museum tickets)

The best option to discover Washington DC at an unbeatable price

At this price, this day trip is by far the most convenient way to explore DC from New York. An expert guide will make sure you get to see and learn about the most important landmarks of DC.

From $ 127 at Hellotickets

The best way to visit Washington from New York in one day, not miss anything of the city, and learn the history of each monument with an explanation of a professional guide is with an organized tour.

This tour is a full day tour (between 12 and 15 hours) with round trip transportation in an air-conditioned bus with WiFi. It takes about 4 hours to get to Washington from New York, and your group will consist of a maximum of about 50 people.

All admissions and tickets are included on this tour, and you will have free time at lunchtime (lunch is not included in the activity) to explore at your leisure and eat wherever you choose. If you'd like a few recommendations on where to eat in Washington, I'll leave a few at the end!

During the trip, your guide will make sure you don't miss any of the most relevant attractions of the city, like The White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Arlington National Cemetery, The Pentagon, the National Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam and Korean Veterans Memorial.

Why I like this day trip: in addition to its good value for money, I recommend this activity because it includes a very complete tour of Washington in which you will get to see most of the city.

Recommended if... you want to discover Washington DC without taking out too much time of your stay in New York. You won't have to deal with public transportation schedules or the hassle of renting a car.

Good value for money
2-Day Trip: Washington, Philadelphia and Amish Country (Hotel included)

Visit 2 cities at an unbeatable price

A great option to discover two of the most important cities of the East Coast of the US with an expert guide. Hotel is included in the price.

From $ 348 at Hellotickets

This is a more complete day trip and takes you to the main points of interest of both Washington and Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, you will see the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and you might recognize its stairs for the famous 'Rocky' scene.

In Washington DC you still will get to see the most relevant landmarks: your guide will take you to The White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Arlington National Cemetery, The Pentagon, the National Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial and the Vietnam and Korean Veterans Memorial

Why I like this day trip: this is a good way to make the most out of your trip to Washington and visit another of the main cities of the East Coast.

Recommended if... you prefer to get the best bang for your buck and combine two trips into one, the two-day Washington tour including a visit to Philadelphia can be perfect for you.

The most complete
4-Day Trip: Niagara Falls, Washington DC, and Philadelphia from New York (Hotel included)

Small group at an unbeatable price

In this 4-day trip you will discover the contrasts between the history, the architecture and the nature of the East Coast of the United States. Save time and money joining this organized tour with an expert guide.

From $ 728 at Hellotickets

If you have plenty of time to tour several points of interest on the East Coast of the United States, this trip is for you. In four days, you'll visit Washington, Philadelphia and Niagara Falls from New York, seeing the most important landmarks of each place. If you are only interested in going to Niagara Falls, in this link you will find about the best trips from New York along with some quite useful travel hacks.

If you have four extra days on your trip to New York, this is definitely the best way to make the most of them. This four-day trip will offer you a great contrast to the Big Apple: the wild, natural environment of Niagara Falls, the historic Philadelphia, and the stately spirit of Washington will give you a complete perspective of how diverse the United States can be.

  • The White House
  • U.S. Capitol
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • The Pentagon
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Korean Veterans Memorial
  • Martin Luther King Memorial
  • Liberty Bell
  • Rocky Statue
  • Amish Community
  • Watkins Glen State Park
  • She-Qua-Ga Falls
  • Niagara Falls State Park
  • Niagara Falls (full tour)
  • Crossings Premium Outlets

Why I like this trip: if you were to do this tour on your own, it would be nearly impossible to fit every visit into such a short time, so this seems to be the most efficient way to make the most of your trip.

Recommended if... you want to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience discovering two of the most important cities of the East Coast of the United States plus the unique landscape of the Niagara Falls.

Let's compare the three options

What to see in Washington

The White House | ©Rene Deanda
The White House | ©Rene Deanda

Seeing Washington's major monuments on a one-day trip is quite easy, as most are located inside the National Mall. As you might imagine, the main interest of these landmarks is related to the political history of the United States and its presidents. Most tours follow an itinerary similar to this:

National Mall

National Mall is the extension that contains the Capitol, the famous Obelisk, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian Institution Building, and other points of interest.

Capitol Hill and the Library of Congress

You will most likely start the day by visiting the iconic Capitol, home of the U.S. Congress, and the Library of Congress, which you are free to enter (and you should too, just wait to see its spectacular interior!).

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

You'll probably recognize this memorial statue as soon as you see it. It depicts American soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima, and if you're lucky you'll see a military parade passing in front of it.

Lincoln Memorial

Located at the west end of the National Mall, the memorial dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln has been the site of numerous historically significant speeches, including Martin Luther King's famous 1963 speech.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

To the southeast of the Lincoln Memorial, you will find a series of steel statues depicting a group of soldiers, arranged in a triangle shape in front of a wall with Korean War imagery.

The White House

A must-see if you take a trip to Washington. Even if you don't take a tour of the interior, you can see the unmistakable building from the outside fence (except on some occasions, such as official events).

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Built in 2011, the monument consists of a granite statue of the leader of the Civil Rights Movement quarried from a rock behind him, where a series of inscriptions related to Martin Luther King Jr. is located.

Arlington National Cemetery

This military cemetery is home to the remains of more than 14,000 veterans of wars as old as the American Civil War. Arlington National Cemetery is quite unique, with headstones rising above ground along a grove of trees.

Plan your trip to Washington from New York City

The Capitol | ©Caleb Perez
The Capitol | ©Caleb Perez

First of all, keep in mind that the round trip from New York City will take you about seven hours. If you're reading this, you know that discovering new places is always worthwhile, and the truth is that Washington is an interesting enough city overall to justify the long trip from New York.

That said, one day is enough to see the sights and buildings of interest in Washington, so some tours combine a visit to Washington with a Philadelphia trip.

Best day of the week to visit Washington from New York

American flag at the Department of Commerce | ©Brandon Mowinkel
American flag at the Department of Commerce | ©Brandon Mowinkel

As you might imagine, it's best to visit Washington during the week and avoid Saturdays and Sundays. Specifically, the best days to do this trip are Mondays and Wednesdays, and most landmarks are usually less crowded after 2:00 p.m. Many of the museums and monuments are closed on holidays, so try to avoid public holidays to avoid missing anything.

Best time of the year to take a trip to Washington from New York City

Lincoln Memorial | ©Ian Hutchinson
Lincoln Memorial | ©Ian Hutchinson

If you happen to be visiting New York in spring or fall, you will be able to take a tour to Washington at the best time of year. Winter in Washington is quite cold, and the problem with summer is that it usually rains at least once a week while being quite hot. Undoubtedly, the best time to visit Washington is spring, as you will have the opportunity to wander around the city during the stunningly beautiful cherry blossom season.

  • Winter
  • December - March
  • Weather: Occasional blizzards
  • High 7ºC
  • Low -7ºC
  • Spring
  • March - June
  • Climate: Shifting
  • High 25ºC
  • Low -2ºC
  • Summer
  • June - August
  • Climate: Hot
  • High 28ºC
  • Minimum 13ºC
  • Autumn
  • September - November
  • Weather: Sunny
  • High 23ºC
  • Low 1ºC

Where to eat on your trip to Washington from New York City

Gourmet Burgers | ©Peter Dawn
Gourmet Burgers | ©Peter Dawn

Beware of restaurants in the more touristy areas! A meal for two can easily run up to $50. If you're on a bit of a tight budget, it's best to pack food in your backpack or look for cheaper dining options, as most trips to Washington from New York do not include food.

Some of my recommendations:

  • Pho 75 - near Arlington National Cemetery you'll find this Vietnamese restaurant, which ranks #7 of 712 on TripAdvisor.
  • Five Guys, Swizzler Burger Truck, or Proper 21 - Washington is known for its all-American food and especially its burgers, so any of these options will delight any meat lover.
  • Lincoln's Waffle Shop - another option is to have a hearty, American-style breakfast and just skip lunch. If the combination of pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs makes your mouth water, this is the place for you.
  • Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken - if combining a doughnut with a piece of chicken sounds like your kind of thing, head here and take one (or more) of these treats to go.

What should I take to Washington?

One of the stops included in the trip to Washington DC | ©Zetong Li
One of the stops included in the trip to Washington DC | ©Zetong Li

As a general rule, I advise you to wear comfortable clothes and shoes suitable for walking for a whole day. Even if you take the bus you will have to walk a bit to visit each monument. Washington DC is a very elegant city and its inhabitants dress accordingly: outfits here are usually more smart than casual. You won't find too many people wearing flip-flops, shorts or a t-shirt, so if you don't want to be obviously spotted as a tourist it's best to avoid this type of clothing.

Check the weather before you travel

Bearing this in mind, if you visit the city in summer you will most likely wear an outfit as cool as possible since the temperatures are quite high. As you know, it usually rains, so it is a good idea to pack a raincoat or umbrella just in case. Winters are cold and it is rare for temperatures to go above 0º, so be prepared for some pretty extreme temperatures.

Alex's Traveler Tip

If you visit Washington during the hot season, Arlington Cemetery will be full of mosquitoes, so take a repellent spray with you if you don't want to be massacred!

Washington with kids

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

And if you are visiting with children, don't worry: it is very easy to get around the city using public transportation, which is safe and good quality. You won't have to walk too far and thanks to the abundance of parks and esplanades you can take a break from sightseeing when necessary.

Last tips

Vietnam War Veterans Memorial | ©Ian Hutchinson
Vietnam War Veterans Memorial | ©Ian Hutchinson

You'll love Washington if you're interested in American politics and history, if you enjoy walking through cities full of monuments, parks, and imposing squares, and if you're interested in architecture and urbanism as Washington has a somewhat unique floor plan. But if you think this might not quite suit your kind of trip, try some of the hundreds of tours of New York City that will show you the Big Apple like you have never seen it before.

Don't forget...

Some of the most useful tips I can give you before your trip is not to carry too much cash to avoid having it stolen or lost, but keep in mind that in some restaurants and local stores credit cards are not accepted (for example, in Pho 75, you can only pay in cash). For the same reason, avoid carrying valuable belongings and leave what is not essential in your hotel or apartment.

Remember to carry your passport at all times and be prepared to go through the occasional security check, especially at monuments and points of interest such as Arlington Cemetery. Washington DC takes security quite seriously, which is not very surprising given the political importance of the city.

Let's go visit Washington!

Frequently asked questions

  • What places can I visit in the Washington DC trip?

    You will visit the Arlington Cemetery, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Mall and you will drive through the Washington DC City Center.

  • Will there be a visit to the White House?

    For safety reasons, you won't enter the White House, but you will see its exterior. Depending on the day, you will be able to stop for a picture from outside the fence.

  • When is the best time to book a trip to Washington DC?

    While visiting Washington DC is worthwhile at any time of the year, you might want to book your visit during the Cherry Blossom Festival (between March and April) to enjoy some of the most stunning views of the city.