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Austin (Texas)

Washington, DC

How many days do I need to visit Washington DC?

I'll be visiting the East Coast in the spring and also want to see DC for the very first time. At a minimum, how many days should I plan to visit all the must-see spots? Also, what are the must-see spots? :)

4 Answers

answered by
Lauren from St. Louis

I'd say 3 days at a minimum. The monuments and memorials are awesome to see, especially the Washington Monument (my favorite). Also, the city has awesome museums, including the International Spy Museum, Smithsonian, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Make sure to eat at the food trucks (all over downtown). Also, the white house is a must see. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Washington Monument (attraction)
  2. International Spy Museum (attraction)
  3. Smithsonian (attraction)
  4. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (attraction)
2 thanks

answered first by
Faheem from Washington, DC

It depends what you want to do. For the major museums I would say 3-4 hours. For the monuments, an hour each on the high end (walking time varies).  


Two days minimum I would say if you want to hit the major tourist places in the city.

2 thankscomments (1)

top answer by
Tiffany from Corvallis

If you want to hit the ground running and just get a brief view of DC, then you NEED at least two days. I outlined some sample itineraries/walking tours in this answer not long ago.

Basically, you need a half day to do the Monument/White House walk from the Washington Monument to the The White House, then back to the National World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial which is close to the Vietnam War Veteran's Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial then over to the Tidal Basin with its three monuments there. That relaxing walk if probably the most important DC walk. If your timing is right, you may be here for the Cherry Blossom Festival which brings crazy crowds, but the cherry blossoms in bloom around the Tidal Basin are just gorgeous.

In another half day, you can tour the United States Capitol and check out the Library of Congress' Jefferson building. It's my favorite building interior in DC, free, and totally worth stopping in to see it. You can easily take the tunnel from the Capitol to the Library too without even stepping outside. There are several decent restaurants behind the library on Pennsylvania Ave. I like We, The Pizza.

While you could easily spend an entire day in just ONE Smithsonian museum, if you're short on time, you can stop in 3-4 on the National Mall and get a taste of what they have. Don't miss the flag exhibit at National Museum of American History - it's right in front when you enter, will only take you 20-30 minutes to see and is amazing with the original flag that flew over Ft. Henry during the war. You may want to run upstairs to see the 1st Ladies dresses too. Run into the Museum of Natural History to see the Hope Diamond. Their gemology exhibit is huge, but my favorite. The National Museum of the American Indian has the best food on the mall and a really special museum as well. I'd check out the Smithsonian website ahead and see what's new and get a feel for what each museum has to offer, then prioritize and hit the ones you "need" to see.

If you do a half day at the mall, head over and spend a couple hours at Arlington National Cemetery. Walk to the Tomb of the Unknowns and see Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite and the Lee's House.

Those are the basics. IF you have more time (and you could easily fill a week+), then go hang out in Georgetown (Washington DC) and visit the Washington National Cathedral. The best paid museums are the Newseum (which has a huge piece of the Berlin wall and a radio tower from 9/11) and the International Spy Museum. An easy metro ride will get you to Alexandria (Virginia) which is also incredibly amazing, so if you have a third day, go there.

10 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Lincoln from Dallas, Texas

A fellow Texan! I'm from Garland, Tx and have been living/going to college in DC for the past couple of years. I think you should spend at least 3 days in the district. The monuments are pretty much all in the same area and easy to navigate. The Lincoln MemorialWashington Monument (I suggest getting tickets to visit the top early, along with the many other memorials and monuments in the area are must-sees. Also, visit the National Museum of American History (free), shop and eat in Georgetown (Washington DC) (great walking neighborhood), and visit the Newseum. I suggest downloading UBER while you're on the east coast if you don't use it already, great car service. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lincoln Memorial (attraction)
  2. Washington Monument (attraction)
  3. National Museum of American History (attraction)
  4. Georgetown (Washington DC) (neighborhood)
  5. Newseum (attraction)
1 thanks

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