A 3-Day Itinerary for Your Trip to Washington, DC
Monuments, museums, history and culture bring tourists to Washington D.C. from all around the world. But, D.C. is full of so many attractions that planning an itinerary can be daunting if you only have a few days to visit. We want you to have the best trip possible, so we’ve created an itinerary for 3 perfect days in Washington D.C.
Day 1 of your 3-day trip to Washington D.C. brings you to Capitol Hill. On day two you’ll find yourself on the National Mall. And on day three you’ll explore some of the most well-known neighborhoods and attractions outside of downtown D.C.
Your official Washington D.C. 3-day itinerary includes:
- S. Capitol
- Library of Congress
- Supreme Court
- National Gallery of Art
- National Archives
- National Air and Space Museum
- Museum of Natural History
- Washington Monument
- Jefferson Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- Tidal Basin
- White House
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Old Town Alexandria
- National Harbor
Follow our guide for everything you must see in Washington D.C. In 3 days’ time, you’ll have enjoyed all the best our Nation’s Capital has to offer.
What to See on Day 1
Erected as a monument to the American people, The Capitol is the perfect place to start to your D.C. adventure. You can stop by the visitor galleries of both the House of Representatives and Senate. You’ll even be able observe Congress if it’s in session. Don’t miss the incredible architecture and history contained in the Crypt, Rotunda, and Statuary Hall. And of course take a stroll through Emancipation Hall to enjoy its exhibits and historical statues.
Library of Congress
Next up, the largest library in the world. The Library of Congress is home to millions of books, recordings, photographs, and manuscripts. It’s also the main research arm of Congress. Take a guided or self-guided tour though the Thomas Jefferson Building and experience any number of historical exhibits that bring the Library’s collection to life.
Supreme Court of the United States
Watch history in the making! In addition to the Courtroom, the ground and first floors of the Supreme Court building are open to the public. Usual hours are weekdays from 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, but always check the Today at the Court section of the Supreme Court’s homepage to make sure there’s nothing on the docket which may cause that to change.
National Gallery of Art
Over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints, and decorative pieces are housed at the National Gallery of Art. The Museum includes two buildings, a sculpture garden, and a memorial fountain. Admission is free and the Gallery is open 363 days/year.
With so much American History contained under one roof, you won’t want to miss this one. The National Archives houses documents deemed most important by the Federal Government, and they’re preserved and available for public viewing. You’ll find documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as well as the public records of everyday citizens.
National Air and Space Museum
A part of the Smithsonian Institute, this Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of aviation and space artifacts. In fact, the National Air and Space Museum is reportedly the most visited museum in the country. Don’t miss out on this extraordinary experience during your trip to D.C.!
Chinatown is an historic area located east of downtown and is part of the National Register of Historic Places. In its heyday, Chinatown was home to over 800 Chinese-Americans who established schools, clubs, entertainment venues, and community organizations. Today, the area is known for its nearly 20 restaurants owned by Asian-Americans, making Chinatown a fantastic spot to wind down and grab a bite on day one.
What to See on Day 2
Museum of Natural History
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History tells the incredible story of Planet Earth via exhibits, activities, artifacts, and more. It’s always free to the public and is open daily from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM.
The Tidal Basin is part of West Potomac Park, and is surrounded by many of the attractions you’ll be visiting today. It was built in the 1880’s and takes advantage of the natural tides of the Potomac River to flush silt and sediment from the area. The Tidal Basin Loop Trail is the location most associated with the annual Cherry Blossom Festival which takes place each spring.
This 555 foot marble monument was built to honor George Washington. The time between conceptualization and completion spanned more than five decades, and the Washington Monument has since undergone several restorations and modernizations. As a part of the National Park System, you can visit the Monument for free or opt to purchase advance tickets for $1/each.
Plans for the Lincoln Memorial were in the works less than two years after Lincoln’s death. The memorial includes inscriptions, murals, and of course the famous 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in contemplation. This is a must-see on your 3-day trip to Washington, D.C.
Erected to pay homage to one of America’s Founding Fathers and third president, this monument reflects the architecture of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, which was designed by Jefferson in 1822. It’s situated among the famous Cherry Blossoms, which means you can take in the beautiful views before entering the Jefferson Memorial for free, 24/7.
No trip to D.C. would be complete without a visit to the White House. Did you know you can take a tour? Tours typically occur on Friday and Saturday mornings and must be requested by contacting your Member of Congress. Space is limited, so get your request in early.
What to See on Day 3
This bustling neighborhood was established in the mid 1700’s as a shipping community and gained a reputation as the “fashionable quarter of the capital.” Most of Georgetown is occupied by residential homes which represent a variety of architectural styles dating to as early as 1765. Today, you’ll love to stroll the cobblestone sidewalks as you visit any number of fine retail establishments or stop for a bite at one of the delicious restaurants that call Georgetown home.
Arlington National Cemetery
The first military burial at Arlington National Cemetery took place in May of 1864, as Civil War casualties began to outnumber available gravesites in D.C. proper. It was established as an official cemetery less than a month later. Today, it’s the final resting place of over 400,000 Veterans and their family members. Use the ANC Explorer site or app to locate gravesites and other places of interest throughout the cemetery.
Old Town Alexandria
Just south of Washington, D.C. is another neighborhood chock full of charm – Old Town Alexandria, VA. It’s known for its beautiful brick sidewalks, well preserved historic buildings, and King Street lined with over 200 specialty shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Old Town is a lovely location to enjoy a slower pace towards the end of your three-day trip.
Washington D.C.’s National Harbor has something for everyone, making it the perfect spot to bring your mini-vacation to an end. The Waterfront District is full of boutique shops and culinary experiences. The MGM National Harbor offers a casino, nightlife, and live entertainment. Lush indoor gardens await at the Gaylord National. And the Tanger Outlets are home to over 160 brands for your shopping pleasure!
And there you have it. A Washington D.C. three-day itinerary that covers some major ground.
Stay at The Hotel at UMD During Your 3-Day Trip
Conveniently located near several major airports and interstates, and just four miles from the D.C. border, the Hotel at University of Maryland is the perfect home base for your visit. Easily fulfill your Washington D.C. 3-day itinerary by catching the Metro at the College Park Station, which is located less than a mile from our front door. When you’re ready to wind down, you can enjoy our full-service amenities before kicking back in your luxurious guest room. Check out our special offers and book your stay today!