5 Tips for Your First Trip to Washington DC

The White House

Washington D.C. is an amazing city. As the capital of the United States, it is packed with buildings, monuments, and memorials of historic significance, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a great time here. However, it is often overwhelming when you visit a new city, so Gray Line DC has put together a helpful list of 5 tips for anyone who is visiting Washington DC for the first time! If 

1) Plan Your Visit to the White House FAR in Advance

If you’re visiting Washington D.C., chances are you have your heart set on visiting the White House. While you can certainly see it from afar, it is much harder and more exclusive to visitors than it used to be.  If you are a U.S. citizen, you will need to submit a request to visit the White House. Requests can be submitted up to 3 months in advance and no later that 21 days in advance. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you will need to consult with your embassy and the process will take much longer. Find out more about it on the National Park Service official page.

2) Take the Metro Around Washington DC 

Right at the start of your trip, you should make sure to take a self-guided tour of Washington on the Metro or by bus. This way, you can cover a large portion of Washington in one or two days. You can get off wherever you like and explore, and you can make a mental note to come back to one or two spots the next day. This is a great tactic if you don’t like to plan your trip way in advance and you want an easy mode of transport in which to explore the city.  

3) Take a Night Tour of Washington DC

Memorial Bridge, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument

When visiting any city, it’ important to get out and see what it’s like when the sun goes down. Washington DC has dozens of stunning monuments and memorials and they are all lit up beautifully at night. The city also has a different atmosphere at night and Gray Line DC’s Washington DC Night Tour is the best way to see everything over the course of 2 hours and 30 minutes. We also ensure that there’s plenty of time to stop for photographs.

4) Visit Washington DC’s Free Museums

There are a surprizing number of museums in Washington DC — over 200 — and it might surprise you to read that a large number of them are completely free! This is because many of the museums are part of the Smithsonian Institute, which has state and federal funding, which help ensure that many of their museums (but not all) remain completely free. We wrote a guide to which Washington DC museums are free if you’d like to do a little more research… 

5) Visit Washington DC in Spring 

Cherry blossom and the Jefferson Monument

This last point isn’t exactly an essential tip, but springtime in Washington DC is so special that we had to include it. There are countless pink and white cherry blossom scattered throughout the nation’s capital and they all bloom in late March to early April. There are so many incredible sights and landmarks in D.C., but everything is a little more impressive and dramatic when cherry blossom float through the air. Think of the incredible photo opportunities! If you take our 2-day Washington DC tour or our smaller Best-of-Washington DC tour, they’re just a little more special during cherry blossom season! 

That’s all we have time for today. We hope this guide will help new visitors to Washington DC make the most of their trip. If you have any questions about Gray Line DC’s tours, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Start planning your first trip to the nation’s capital with a little help from Gray Line DC!