What are some activities to do during a layover in Washington DC?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

Layover in Washington DC

Washington DC, the capital of the United States, is a popular layover destination for travelers. If you find yourself with a few hours or even a day to spare, there are plenty of activities to do in this vibrant city. From exploring historic landmarks to trying local cuisine, there’s something for everyone.

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the top activities to do during a layover in Washington DC. Whether you’re a history buff or a foodie, you’ll find plenty of options to make the most of your time in the nation’s capital.

Visit the Smithsonian Museums

One of the best things to do during a layover in Washington DC is to visit the Smithsonian museums. With 19 museums and galleries, there’s something for everyone. From the National Air and Space Museum to the National Museum of American History, you’ll find exhibits on everything from science and technology to art and culture.

The best part? Admission to all Smithsonian museums is free! So, even if you only have a few hours to spare, you can still explore some of the world-class exhibits and collections at these museums.

Take a Walk around the National Mall

The National Mall is a must-see attraction in Washington DC. It’s a long, open park that stretches from the US Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way, you’ll see iconic landmarks like the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Taking a walk around the National Mall is a great way to see some of the most famous sights in the city. Plus, it’s free and accessible to everyone. You can even bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing break in the park.

Explore the US Capitol Building

The US Capitol Building is one of the most recognizable buildings in Washington DC. It’s home to the US Congress and has served as a symbol of democracy since its completion in 1800. If you’re interested in politics or history, a visit to the US Capitol Building is a must.

You can take a guided tour of the building, which will take you through the Rotunda, the Crypt, and the National Statuary Hall. You’ll learn about the history and architecture of the building, as well as the role of Congress in the US government.

Visit the White House

No visit to Washington DC is complete without a visit to the White House. This iconic building has served as the residence of the US President since 1800. While you can’t go inside the White House without an invitation, you can still see it from the outside and take a tour of the surrounding area.

The White House Visitor Center has exhibits on the history and architecture of the building, as well as information on the current President and First Lady. You can also take a walk around the White House grounds and see the famous South Lawn.

Take a Tour of the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with over 170 million items in its collection. It’s also one of the most beautiful buildings in Washington DC, with stunning architecture and artwork throughout.

You can take a guided tour of the Library of Congress and see some of its most famous rooms, including the Main Reading Room and the Great Hall. You’ll also learn about the history and significance of the library, which serves as a research institution for Congress and the American people.

Discover the National Archives Museum

The National Archives Museum is home to some of the most important documents in American history, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. If you’re interested in US history and government, a visit to the National Archives is a must.

You can take a guided tour of the museum and see the original documents up close. There are also exhibits on the history and significance of these documents, as well as the role of the National Archives in preserving and protecting them.

Enjoy a Scenic Boat Ride on the Potomac River

The Potomac River runs through Washington DC and offers some of the best views of the city. You can take a scenic boat ride on the river and see landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Kennedy Center.

There are several boat tour companies that offer rides along the Potomac River, ranging from short sightseeing tours to longer dinner cruises. It’s a great way to see the city from a new perspective and relax on the water.

Go Shopping at the Eastern Market

The Eastern Market is a historic indoor/outdoor market that’s been in operation since 1873. It’s located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and offers a wide range of food, crafts, and other products.

You can browse the stalls and shops at the Eastern Market and try some of the local cuisine, like Chesapeake Bay crabs or half-smoke sausages. It’s a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts, as well as to experience the local culture.

Visit the Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is a somber but important attraction in Washington DC. It’s the final resting place of over 400,000 US service members, as well as several US Presidents and other notable figures.

You can take a guided tour of the cemetery and see some of its most famous landmarks, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Arlington House. You can also attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which takes place every hour on the hour.

Try Local Cuisine at the Union Market

The Union Market is a food hall located in the NoMa neighborhood of Washington DC. It offers a wide range of local and international cuisine, as well as shops and other businesses.

You can try some of the best food in the city at the Union Market, from artisanal cheeses to fresh seafood. There are also cooking demonstrations and other events that take place at the market, making it a fun and lively destination for foodies.

Wrap-up: Make the Most of Your Layover in DC

Washington DC is a vibrant city with plenty of activities to do during a layover. Whether you’re interested in history, politics, or food, you’ll find something to enjoy in this diverse and exciting destination.

From visiting the Smithsonian museums to trying local cuisine at the Union Market, there’s no shortage of things to do in Washington DC. So, if you find yourself with some free time during a layover, make the most of it and explore all that this city has to offer.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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