City Escapes

What To Do In Washington, D.C., In Just 3 Days

Museums, monuments and more

The Vacationeer
Pink cherry blossoms along the banks of the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., with the Washington Monument visible in the background

Washington, D.C., the United States’ capital, is a destination full of history, national monuments, free museums, art galleries and great food. The tricky part of planning your D.C. trip is deciding how to fit your bucket list into your itinerary.

Here’s a three-day itinerary jam-packed with D.C.’s best attractions and eats that will take you across The District.

Autumn foliage in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. 

Day 1


If this is your first time to Washington, D.C., or if it’s been a while, a tour on a double-decker Big Bus is the perfect way to get acquainted with the capital city. You’ll get a good overview of D.C.’s top attractions and be free to hop on and off the bus to explore stops along the route. You can also choose to use the bus all day as your transportation to and from attractions.     


Have lunch at Eastern Market, a Capitol Hill mainstay since 1873. Then rent a bike on the National Mall and pedal around the natural and architectural beauty of D.C.

It’s a bike-friendly city, so enjoy your self-paced cycle tour. Consider these two stops for a more scenic ride:

  1. Cycle to the U.S. Botanic Garden and admire the stunning flowers and plants.
  2. Visit Rock Creek Park and cruise on one of the park’s bike trails to admire the foliage and a beautiful stone bridge. If you have time, opt for an afternoon http:hike.


Keep the market hall theme going, and have dinner at Union Market before taking a nighttime walking tour to learn about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Join this family-friendly two-hour tour to walk the streets where American history was made.

The Washington Monument and reflecting pool on a sunny day with tourists in Washington, D.C. 

Day 2


Look to the museums for affordable things to do in Washington, D.C. Admission to most museums in D.C. is free, so get in your share of these incredible attractions.

Head to the National Mall and visit one of the most beloved Smithsonian Institution museums, the National Air and Space Museum. Enjoy interactive exhibits and marvel at an impressive collection of restored aircrafts.


The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a must during your visit. This 10-story museum documents African American life, history and culture. Book your free timed entry pass up to 30 days in advance.


D.C. is also known for its iconic monuments. The memorials are open 24 hours a day — except for the Washington Monument, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Enjoy a (robust) twilight walk to visit the Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. Capitol building, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the White House. After working up an appetite, visit DC’s oldest saloon, Old Ebbitt Grill.

Colorful houses in Alexandria, Virginia 

Day 3


Take the Metro to Old Town Alexandria for a relaxing day walking the cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks. Grab a coffee from Misha’s Coffee and take in this lovely city by foot or the free King Street Trolley.

The King Street Mile has plenty of boutique shops, restaurants and impressive historical buildings.


Stay for lunch in Alexandria at Virtue Feed and Grain. After lunch, visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center on the waterfront in Old Town. Built in 1918, this former naval munitions plant once created torpedoes during WWII. Now it’s home to the nation’s largest number of publicly accessible artists’ studios under one magnificent roof.


Head up the Potomac River to Washington’s next great meeting place: the Wharf. Learn about espionage and the history of spycraft at the interactive International Spy Museum. Or rent a paddle boat for a pre-dinner workout, admiring the city views from the water.

For dinner, choose Rappahannock Oyster Bar for fresh seafood and waterfront views. Then walk over to Pearl Street Warehouse for live entertainment on your final night in D.C.

Where to Stay

Whether you arrive by train, car or plane, tourists and locals recommend getting around D.C. via public transit, bike or foot. Stay close to the action at The District, a Hilton Club, less than a twenty-minute walk to the White House.

Read “10 Fun Things To Do In Washington, D.C., Your Kids Will Love” for more kid-friendly things to do.



The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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