12 Things to See on New York Day Trips to Washington DC| 2024 (with Photos)

Andreas Rukovski

Andreas Rukovski - Travel Writer

Published: July 31, 2023

Hey there! I'm Andreas, a travel enthusiast with a passion for exploring the vibrant city of New York and its incredible neighboring city, Washington DC. Join me as I share my personal recommendations and stunning photos of the top attractions you shouldn't miss on your day trips from New York to Washington DC in 2024.

Best New York Day Trips to Washington DC for an Exciting Adventure

Embark on a thrilling journey from New York City to the capital of the United States, Washington DC, on one of many memorable day trips.

Discover the incredible history, culture, and political significance of the nation's capital as you tour landmarks like the White House, Air and Space Museum, Arlington Cemetery, and the majestic Korean Memorial.

With convenient round-trip transportation, hotel pickup, and an organized tour schedule, you'll make the most of your time in the Big Apple before heading back for an early evening arrival.

So, pack your bag and book an incredible day trip from New York to Washington, D.C.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Visit the National Mall.

Top Choice Hotel

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Rose's Luxury

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife


Best Time to Visit

Spring or fall for mild weather and fewer tourists.

Average Temperature

Variable, ranging from hot and humid to cold.

Transportation Options

Metro, bus, bike, scooter, taxi, car rental, walking

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Washington, D.C., a vibrant and historic city, offers an array of unforgettable experiences. Start your day by exploring the iconic National Mall, where you can visit the majestic Lincoln Memorial and reflect upon its profound significance, all while admiring the stunning views of the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument. In the evening, treat yourself to a delightful stroll along the charming streets of Georgetown, indulging in its quaint shops and cozy cafes, before taking a serene boat tour along the Potomac River to witness the breathtaking sunset against the backdrop of the city's iconic landmarks.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Valid identification
  2. Comfortable walking shoes
  3. Weather-appropriate clothing
  4. Travel guidebook/map
  5. Camera/phone for capturing memories
  6. Reusable water bottle
  7. Cash/credit cards for expenses
  8. Snacks for long days of exploring
  9. Travel adapter for charging devices
  10. Any necessary medication or personal items.

What Not to Miss

  1. The National Mall and Memorial Parks: iconic landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
  2. Smithsonian Institution: a collection of world-class museums and galleries, including the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, and National Gallery of Art.
  3. The White House: the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States.
  4. U.S. Capitol and Capitol Hill: the home of the U.S. Congress, offering public tours and stunning views of the city from Capitol Hill.
  5. Georgetown: a historic neighborhood with cobblestone streets, boutique shops, and delicious dining options.
  6. The National Zoo: a zoo featuring a diverse range of animals, including the famous giant pandas.
  7. Arlington National Cemetery: a solemn and beautiful resting place for U.S. service members and notable figures.
  8. The Tidal Basin: a picturesque reservoir surrounded by cherry blossom trees, offering a stunning display of beauty during the spring.
  9. The National Gallery of Art: an art museum housing an extensive collection of European and American art.
  10. The Library of Congress: the largest library in the world, filled with books, manuscripts, and historical documents.

What to Avoid

  1. Overcrowded tourist areas
  2. Rush hour traffic
  3. Pickpockets in crowded places
  4. Flashing valuables in public
  5. Ignoring local customs and culture
  6. Engaging in political discussions
  7. Sticking to only popular tourist attractions
  8. Being unaware of local transportation options
  9. Disrespecting historical sites and monuments
  10. Overpacking and carrying heavy luggage.

1. Arlington National Cemetery: Honoring the Nation's Heroes

Arlington National Cemetery

Enter Arlington Cemetery, a solemn and inspiring destination on your Washington DC day trip, and pay your respects at the military cemetery that honors the nation's heroes.

Tour the Arlington National Cemetery, witnessing the Kennedy family's resting place, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and numerous memorials, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

As you explore Arlington National Cemetery, embrace the Kennedy family gravesite as well as the history and sacrifice of those who served in the US government and armed forces during your visit to the city.

2. Lincoln Memorial: A Symbol of Unity and Freedom

Lincoln Memorial

Experience the best of Washington, D.C. with an organized 2-stop tour that takes you to the renowned Lincoln Memorial, where you can immerse yourself in the rich history and significance of this tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President.

Then, for stop number two, you can visit Ford's Theatre, the theater in which Lincoln was fatally shot. 

Reflect on Lincoln's role during the American Civil War and his impact on the nation while gazing upon his impressive statue, surrounded by the words of his Gettysburg Address.

3. Capitol Hill Panoramic City Tour: Home of the Legislative Branch of Government

Capitol Hill Panoramic City Tour

Start your day with a panoramic city tour of Washington D.C., offered both as part of a bus tour or as a private tour. Your journey begins from Penn Station in New York and takes you straight to Union Station in the heart of the city.

Experience the grandeur of Capitol Hill, home to the Congress Building and the heart of the US legislative branch. With a professional tour guide, explore the beautiful architecture, history, and significance of this important district.

Take in the breathtaking views of the nation's capital as you learn about the workings of the US government, enhancing your day trip from New York to Washington D.C.

Don't miss the chance to explore the historic Union Station, with its impressive Beaux-Arts design and vibrant atmosphere, before you return to Penn Station in the Big Apple, concluding your memorable New York day trips to Washington trip.

4. White House: Iconic Residence of the US President

White House

No trip from New York to Washington D.C. would be complete without a stop at the White House. Located in the heart of the city, this iconic official residence of the US President stands as a symbol of American power and prestige and is often included in both bus and private tours.

Embark on a New York day trip to Washington trip to visit this historic landmark, showcasing its neoclassical design, stately columns, and impressive portico.

A tour of the White House will take you through the elegant Staterooms, where you'll witness remarkable works of art, furnishings, and a rich history reflecting the culture of our nation.

The famed Oval Office, with its imposing desk and significant role in the American government, is a definite highlight.

Visiting the White House when you tour Washington D.C. serves as a powerful reminder of the gravity of the office of the President and the immense weight of its responsibilities.

5. Washington Monument: A Tribute to America's First President

Washington Monument

The Washington D.C Monument is a towering tribute to our nation's first president, George Washington. The obelisk stands over 500 feet tall and can be seen from miles away.

A trip to the top offers stunning panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area. The Monument is located on the National Mall, surrounded by other important monuments and memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

A visit to the Washington Monument is a testament to the enduring legacy of our nation's founding fathers and their vision for a united and prosperous America.

6. National Mall: A Vast Open Space in the Heart of DC

National Mall

Embark on a New York day trip to Washington trip to the National Mall, the vast open space in the heart of Washington, DC, and experience the unique atmosphere of this symbol of American freedom and unity.

A comprehensive National Mall tour is a great way to get a taste of Washington DC As you stroll through the mall, take in the impressive monuments and memorials, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Surrounded by the city's landmarks, this iconic destination is a must-visit on your Washington DC tour, providing an opportunity to appreciate the city's history, culture, and breathtaking views.

7. Air and Space Museum: Exploring the Final Frontier

Add an extra layer of fascination to your New York to Washington D.C. day trip with a stop at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Available on select bus and private tours, this stop lets you explore the captivating world of aviation and space travel.

Discover the history and achievements of mankind's journey to the stars, with exhibits showcasing famous aircraft, spacecraft, and the heroes of the skies in one of the best Washington DC museums.

Marvel at the Apollo 11 command module, the Wright brother's flier, and the awe-inspiring space shuttle Discovery.

As part of your Washington DC day tour, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum offers an unforgettable experience that will inspire and educate visitors of all ages.

8. Capitol Building: The Seat of American Democracy

Capitol Building

Journey to the heart of American democracy with a New York day trip to Washington trip to the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

As the meeting place of the US Congress and the epicenter of the nation's legislative process, the Capitol Building is an essential stop in Washington DC.

Marvel at the stunning architecture, take a guided tour of the historic halls and chambers and learn about the pivotal events that have shaped America's past and present.

Don't miss the chance to witness firsthand the power and prestige of this iconic institution.

9. Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Honoring Those Who Served

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Embark on a day trip from New York to Washington D.C. and pay homage to the brave men and women who served in the Vietnam War with a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The tour includes a poignant and powerful tribute, located near the National Mall and the Korean War Memorial, which is a testament to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in the conflict.

Wander through the memorial on your full-day tour of Washington, tracing your fingers along the names of the more than 58,000 service members etched into the polished black granite wall.

Reflect on the impact of the war, the lives lost, and the sacrifices made as you honor their memory when you visit Washington from the Big Apple.

10. Georgetown: A Charming Historic Neighborhood


Embrace the unique opportunity of a bus tour, private tour, or an organized 2-stop tour from New York to Georgetown, Washington DC, a charming historic neighborhood renowned for its beautifully preserved 18th-century architecture.

As you traverse its picturesque streets, you can delight in upscale shopping opportunities and a range of gourmet dining options, all set against the backdrop of Georgetown's rich historical charm. Then, head into DC city center to see the main highlights, before returning back to NYC.

Georgetown is an ideal destination to immerse yourself in the tapestry of American history while enjoying modern conveniences.

11. Smithsonian National Museum: Discovering America's History and Culture

Smithsonian National Museum

Immerse yourself in America's rich history and culture with a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum on your Washington DC day trip.

Explore a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits spanning from natural history to art and science, all housed within the iconic Smithsonian Institution.

As you wander through the halls, marvel at the incredible achievements and stories of the American people, and be inspired by the nation's diverse heritage.

A visit to the Smithsonian National Museum is an essential stop on your tour of the nation's capital, offering a fascinating journey through time and a deeper understanding of America's identity.

12. Potomac River Cruise: A Scenic Round-Trip tour of the Capital

Potomac River Cruise

Set sail on a scenic Potomac River cruise and experience the city from a unique vantage point.

As you glide along the tranquil waters, take in the stunning views of Washington, DC's iconic landmarks, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the US Capitol.

Enjoy the refreshing breeze and gentle sway of the boat as your professional tour guide provides fascinating insights into the city's history, culture, and political significance.

A Potomac River cruise is a perfect addition to your Washington DC day trip, offering a relaxing and unforgettable way to see the city's breathtaking sights.

FAQs About Day Trips to Washington from NYC

We will now answer the most common questions that people who wish to visit Washington have.

Can you do a day trip from New York to Washington DC?

Yes, a day trip from New York City to Washington DC is not only possible but also an enjoyable experience.

With public transportation or joining an organized tour with professional tour guides, you can spend time and explore Washington DC and its iconic landmarks, such as the White House, Arlington Cemetery, the Amish Country, National Air and Space Museum, and Korean memorials.

Is a day trip to DC worth it?

A day trip to Washington DC is worth it, as it offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in American history and culture and visit some of the most iconic sights in the United States.

The capital city has so much to offer, and even a short visit can leave a lasting impression. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes if you want to visit as much of it as possible.

Is 1 day enough for Washington DC?

While one day may not be enough to explore everything Washington DC has to offer comprehensively, you can still make the most of your time by visiting the most iconic landmarks.

New York to Washington DC day trips are usually designed to help you maximize your time and cover key attractions efficiently. However, most of them have a break that allows you to go and have a bite to eat.

So, if you want to make sure that you see as much as possible, try to look for a tour without longer lunch breaks.

How long is a car ride from NY to Washington DC?

The car ride from New York City to Washington DC typically takes around 4 hours, depending on traffic conditions.

Keep in mind that factors like departure point, route, and traffic can affect the overall travel time.

However, if you opt for a day tour with hotel pickup and free cancellation options, you can enjoy a stress-free experience while exploring the city's many wonders.

Summing Up: Things to See on New York Day Trips to Washington DC

A day trip from New York City to Washington, DC offers an unforgettable journey through America's rich history and iconic landmarks.

From the awe-inspiring Arlington Cemetery to the fascinating Air and Space Museum, you'll leave with a deeper understanding of the capital and a collection of cherished memories.

With a convenient and well-planned itinerary, a Washington DC tour ensures you won't miss any of the city's must-see sights.

Don't wait, book your day trip from New York to Washington, D.C. today and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.