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Washington Day Trips from New York

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

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

11 min read

Washington Day Trips from New York

One of the main avenues in Washington DC. | ©Jorge Alcala

The illustrious city of Washington represents the spirit of the United States with its streets and museums presided over by the Capitol. On a trip to Washington you can see, among others, the White House or the Pentagon.

The tour to Washington from New York is one of the best tours you can do from the Big Apple, and in fact, there are several types of tours to suit all budgets and trip lengths. Here are the ones that for me, are the best:

The best option

Washington D.C. Day Trip From NYC

The best of Washington, in one day and at the best price

Perfect if you want to leave New York for a day to get to know Washington DC and its most popular attractions, such as the White House, the Capitol or the Lincoln Memorial.

Duration: 11 to 13 hours

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

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

During the city tour you will see the highlights of Washington, such as the White House, the U.S . Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, the National Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean Memorial.

Why I like this tour: in addition to its good value for money, I recommend this activity because it includes a very complete tour of Washington that will allow you to get the most out of the tour.

Recommended if... you want to visit Washington DC and see its main attractions but you don't want to spend too much time or budget.

Two days

Philadelphia and Washington DC 2-Day Trip from New York

The most complete getaway to Washington

If you are eager to see Washington DC but are afraid that one day will be too short, join this tour that also stops in Philadelphia. Lodging included.

Duration: 2 days

If you prefer to make the most of your time and combine two tours in one, the two-day Washington tour includes a visit to Philadelphia and is a good option. In Washington you will discover all the essential attractions such as The White House, the U.S. Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, The Pentagon, the National Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam and Korean Veterans Memorials.

On tours to Philadelphia from New York you will also tour an important part of U.S. history, going to see the Liberty Bell. You will also be taken to see the mythical 'Rocky' Statue and its famous stairs and visit a traditional Amish Community.

Why I like this tour: This is a more complete tour and takes you to the main points of interest, not only in Washington, but also in Philadelphia. There you will see the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the famous 'Rocky' scene was filmed. This is a good way to take advantage of your trip to Washington to get to know another of the main cities of the East Coast.

Recommended if... you feel like taking a getaway for a couple of days during your trip to New York and don't want to have to worry about organization, transportation or accommodation.

The most complete option

America 4-Day Tour from New York City (Niagara Falls, Washington and Phiiladelfia)

The best of the East Coast, in four days

The United States is much more than New York and with this tour to Washington, Philadelphia and Niagara Falls you will see the highlights of the East Coast. Lodging included.

Duration: 4 days

If you have plenty of time to tour various points of interest on the East Coast of the United States, this trip is for you. In four days, you can tour Washington, Philadelphia and Niagara Falls from New York, seeing the highlights of each place. You can read in our article on tours to Niagara Falls from New York all the options available to you if you are only interested in this part of the trip.

In Washington you will tour the city with a guide who will take you to see the White House, the Capitol, the symbolic Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, the National Air and Space Museum and the Lincoln Memorial, among many other things.

On your way through Philadelphia you will visit the Liberty Bell and the statue of Rocky, as well as the famous stairs where the mythical scene of his movie was filmed. You will also visit a traditional Amish community to see how the members of these traditional colonies still live.

Finally in Niagara, the wildest and most natural jewel of the East Coast, you will visit the National Park, Watkins Glen State Park and the She-Qua-Ga Falls. The guide will make sure you don't miss any of the best views. On the way back to New York you will stop to do some shopping at the Crossings Premium Outlets.

Recommended if... you have four extra days on your trip to New York, this is definitely the best way to make the most of it. First, because I think this four-day tour will offer you a great contrast to what you will have seen in the Big Apple. The nature of the Falls, the history of Philadelphia and the stately spirit of Washington will seem like another world.

Why I like this tour: If you were to do this tour on your own, it would be impossible to fit it into such a short time, so this seems to me to be the most efficient way to squeeze the most out of your time.

In summary, we compare the three options

What to see in Washington

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

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

National Mall

National Mall (also known as the National Mall) is the expanse that contains the Capitol, the famous Obelisk, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian Institution building, and other points of interest.

The Capitol and Library of Congress

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 if you feel like it and marvel at its spectacular interior.

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

You'll know this memorial statue when you see it. It depicts American soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima, and hopefully 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 speeches of historical significance, 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 images of the Korean War.

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

Inaugurated 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. are located.

Arlington National Cemetery

This military cemetery holds 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

Sunset over Washington DC| ©Casey Horner
Sunset over Washington DC| ©Casey Horner

First of all, it should be noted that the round trip 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 in general to justify the long trip from New York. Plus, with an organized tour you won't have to worry about how to get to Washington 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 tour of Philadelphia.

Best day of the week to tour Washington from New York City

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

As you might imagine, it is best to visit Washington during the week and avoid Saturdays and Sundays. Specifically, the best days to do this tour are Mondays and Wednesdays, and the sights are usually less crowded after 2 p.m. Many of the museums and monuments close for the day. Many of the museums and monuments are closed on holidays, so try to avoid holidays to see everything.

Best time of the year to tour Washington from New York City

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

If you happen to be visiting New York in the spring or fall, you will be lucky to be able to take a trip to Washington at the best time of the year. Winter in Washington is quite cold, and the problem with summer is that it usually rains at least once a week and is quite hot. Undoubtedly, the best time to visit Washington is spring, as you will have the opportunity to enjoy the city full of almond blossoms.

  • Winter
  • December - March
  • Weather: Occasional blizzards
  • High 7ºC
  • Low -7ºC
  • Spring
  • March - June
  • Weather: Changeable
  • High 25ºC
  • Low -2ºC
  • Summer
  • June - August
  • Weather: Blizzard
  • High 28ºC
  • Low 13ºC
  • Fall
  • 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 reach $50. If you're on a tight budget, it's best to pack food in your backpack or look for cheaper dining options, as most tours 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, ranked #7 of 712 on TripAdvisor.
  • Five Guys, Swizzler Burger Truck or Proper 21 - Washington is known for its typically 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. If the combination of pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs makes your mouth water, this is the place for you.
  • Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken - if doughnuts are your thing, head here and take one (or more) of these treats to go.

What should I take with me to Washington?

Another stop in Washington DC| ©Zetong Li
Another stop in Washington DC| ©Zetong Li

As a general rule, I advise you to wear comfortable clothes and shoes suitable for walking for a full day, as even if you take public transportation you will have to walk a bit to visit each monument. Washington DC is an elegant city and its inhabitants reflect this: the style of dress tends to be 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 look like a tourist it's best to avoid this type of clothing.

Check the weather before you travel

Taking this into account, it makes sense that if you visit the city in summer you should wear the coolest outfit possible since temperatures are quite high. As you know, it usually rains, so it is a good idea to bring a raincoat or umbrella just in case. Winters are cold and temperatures rarely go above 0º, so be prepared for extreme temperatures.

Alex's Traveler Tip

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

Final tips

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

You will love Washington if you are interested in American politics and history, if you enjoy walking through cities full of monuments, parks and imposing squares, and if you are interested in architecture and urban planning as Washington has a somewhat unique floor plan, if you find that this is not your style, since you are in New York, try some of the hundreds of tours of New York City that exist.

Washington with kids

And if you're visiting with kids, don't worry: it's very easy to get around the city using public transportation, which is also safe and 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 needed.

Don't forget

Some tips we 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 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, not least because of the political importance of the city.

Let's travel!

Frequently asked questions

  • What places can I visit in one day in Washington DC?

    You visit Arlington Cemetery, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Mall and pass through downtown Washington DC.

  • Will there be a visit to the White House?

    For security reasons, you will not enter the White House, but you will see the outside. Depending on the day, you may be able to take a picture from outside the fence.

  • What is the best time of year to visit Washington DC?

    A visit to Washington DC is worthwhile at any time of the year, but you might want to head to the city during the cherry blossom festival (between March and April) for some of the city's most unique sights.

  • How far is it from Washington, D.C. to New York?

    About 360 km, less than 4 hours by car.