A 3-Day Itinerary for Your Trip to Washington, DC
Learning how to plan a trip to Washington, D.C., even for a short trip, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. We’re dedicated to ensuring an unforgettable journey for you and your loved ones. Let us present an expertly curated itinerary for three wonderful days in Washington, D.C.!
Our 3-day itinerary includes the “must-sees” of Washington, D.C., and a few off-the-beaten-path local favorites — all in a mere three days (just a long weekend!). Embrace the best of our nation’s capital with friends, family, or on your own!
Example 3 Days In Washington, D.C. Itinerary
To help you make the most of your visit, we’ve crafted a (very) comprehensive 3-day itinerary that encapsulates the essence of Washington, D.C. This itinerary includes iconic landmarks, hidden gems and local favorites, ensuring a memorable experience that caters to a variety of interests.
Let’s dive into your three-day adventure in the heart of America!
Today you’ll start with some of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic sights and museums. See how the American government is run and take a peek behind the scenes of democracy at work.
- U.S. Capitol
- Library of Congress
- Supreme Court
- National Gallery of Art
- National Archives
- National Air and Space Museum
Begin your adventure at The Capitol, a sublime tribute to the American people. Step into the House of Representatives and Senate visitor galleries, where you can witness Congress in action (if it’s in session). Notice the architectural mastery and historical significance found within the Crypt, Rotunda and Statuary Hall.
Don’t forget to leave time to meander through Emancipation Hall, where exhibits and historical statues stand ready to immerse you in their compelling narratives. The U.S. Capitol is open to visitors with reservations from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Inauguration Day.
The Library of Congress houses an eclectic and robust collection of books, recordings, photographs and manuscripts. As the esteemed research arm of Congress, you may embark on a guided or self-guided exploration of the famous Thomas Jefferson Building. Engage with the library’s many historical exhibits that breathe life into the library’s remarkable treasures.
Take your time discovering this tribute to human intellect and creativity. Let the Library of Congress inspire your intellectual journey through the ages. The Library of Congress is closed on Sundays and Mondays but is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 PM and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 8:00 PM. Get a free timed entry pass before you go.
Witness history being made before your eyes! At the Supreme Court, you can take a self-guided tour of the Courtroom and the statues, portraits and busts on the ground and first floors. Plan your weekday visit between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM (excluding federal holidays), but consult the Today at the Court section on the Supreme Court’s homepage for any schedule updates.
Indulge your artistic side at the National Gallery of Art, where a collection of over 150,000 masterpieces await your perusal. Discover the diverse array of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints and decorative pieces showcased within its two magnificent buildings. Experience the tranquility of the sculpture garden (which includes benches for sitting) and the memorial fountain. Admission is free and the gallery welcomes visitors 363 days a year (they are closed December 25 and January 1) from 10:00 am to 5:00 PM.
History comes alive at the National Archives! Bear witness to the preservation of the founding documents of the United States of America, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Emancipation Proclamation. Gain a deeper understanding of the nation’s foundation through the recorded histories of everyday citizens. The Museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:30 PM every day except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission is free, and reservations are not required.
Prepare for takeoff at the National Air and Space Museum! Boasting the world’s most extensive collection of aviation and space travel artifacts, it is no surprise that this museum is popular among kids and adults alike. Be fascinated by the wonders of flight and cosmic exploration by exploring the original Apollo 11 command module, a 1909 Wright Military Flyer and Neil Armstrong’s space suit! The National Air and Space Museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 PM except for December 25. Reserve your free timed entry pass online.
Chinatown is a 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.
See the Friendship Archway, dedicated by the city of Washington, D.C., in 1986 to celebrate the friendship between the U.S. capital and her sister city, Beijing. Chinatown is a fantastic spot to wind down and grab a bite at the end of your first day in D.C.
Today you’ll explore some of the natural history of Washington, D.C., take a walk around a 107-acre basin, and visit three of America’s most beloved presidents.
- Museum of Natural History
- Washington Monument
- Jefferson Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- Tidal Basin
- White House
Learn about our planet at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. There are plenty of captivating exhibits and interactive activities to keep everyone fascinated and engaged. From ancient fossils to breathtaking gems, prepare to be immersed in a world of discovery and exploration. Don’t leave before visiting the world-famous 45.5-carat Hope Diamond! The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 PM except for December 25. Admission is free and no tickets are required.
Make your way to West Potomac Park, where the Tidal Basin awaits you. This historic basin, constructed in the 1880s, harnesses the natural tides of the Potomac River to cleanse the area of silt and sediment. The Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the George Mason Memorial, the John Paul Jones Memorial, the Floral Library, the Japanese Pagoda and Japanese Lantern and the site of the first cherry tree planting can all be viewed via the Tidal Basin Loop Trail, making this an exceptional way to see the city.
This awe-inspiring marble tribute to America’s first president stands at a height of 555 feet. Spanning over five decades from conception to completion, this iconic landmark has witnessed numerous restorations and modernizations throughout its storied history. As a cherished part of the National Park System, you have the opportunity to visit the monument free of charge. Go inside the monument — and climb up if you can! — by reserving your spot ahead of time for $1.
Conceived less than two years after Abraham Lincoln’s passing, this remarkable tribute to the “Savior of the Union” is adorned with inscriptions, murals and (of course) the instantly-recognizable 19-foot statue of Lincoln in deep contemplation. A visit to this historic site is an absolute must during your three-day excursion in Washington, D.C.
No trip to Washington, D.C.. is complete without a visit to this tribute to Thomas Jefferson, a revered Founding Father and the third President of the United States. This stunning monument draws architectural inspiration from the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, a design masterminded by Jefferson himself in 1822. The memorial looks like a pantheon and is situated on the river, surrounded by cherry blossoms.
It’s the most famous house in America! Make sure to secure a spot on the exclusive tour by contacting your Member of Congress for a request. Space is limited and spots are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, so submit your request at least 21 days in advance (but not more than 90 days in advance). Public tours are available from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, excluding Federal holidays or unless otherwise noted. Be prepared to show accepted forms of identification.
Wrap up your trip with four lesser-known but well-loved spots in and around Washington, D.C.:
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Old Town Alexandria
- National Harbor
Georgetown was founded in the 1700s as a bustling shipping community known as the “fashionable quarter of the capital.” Today, its charm lies in its diverse collection of residential homes, showcasing architectural styles dating back to 1765.
Take a leisurely stroll along cobblestone sidewalks, taking in the rich history and vibrant atmosphere of one of the city’s most attractive neighborhoods. Indulge in some retail therapy and treat yourself to a culinary adventure at one of the many restaurants that proudly call Georgetown home.
The first burial in Arlington National Cemetery was in May 1864 during the Civil War. Established as an official cemetery shortly thereafter, it now serves as the solemn resting place for over 400,000 Veterans and their loved ones. Explore the remarkable grounds and pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served our nation.
The ANC Explorer site and app provide valuable assistance if you’re looking for a specific grave or notable site. Use the app to pay respects to some graves of note, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Revolutionary War heroes and famous American women. Be sure to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before you leave.
Just south of Washington, D.C., you’ll discover Old Town Alexandria, one of the area’s most picturesque and historic neighborhoods. Take a walk down King Street, home to an impressive array of over 200 specialty shops, boutiques and restaurants. As your three-day trip draws to a close, savor the opportunity to embrace a more leisurely pace in the charming ambiance of Old Town Alexandria, creating lasting memories of your visit to this enchanting destination.
Conclude your trip with a visit to the diverse and vibrant National Harbor, just outside the city. Stop for a meal at the Waterfront District, a haven for boutique shops and culinary adventures. Enjoy live entertainment. Escape the weather while enjoying indoor gardens at the Gaylord National.
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 the 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 stop, located less than a mile from our front door.
When you’re ready to wind down at the end of your day, 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!