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Washington DC Historic Sites

Old Town Trolley City Tour Pass

See The Best Of DC In 1 Day with Old Town Trolley Tours Silver Pass. We’ve carefully crafted our 90-minute tour route to maximize your time and get a great introduction to Washington, DC.

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What’s Open Right Now in Washington DC? 15+ Things to Do While Social Distancing

Our nation’s capital is one of those places every American must visit at least once in their lifetime. With today’s new normal, it’s important to find social distancing approved activities around the breathtaking city, worth exploring. Luckily, Washington DC has plenty of fun social distancing approved options available to enjoy. Whether it be visiting a historical landmark or strolling a lush garden, there’s a ton of social distancing approved activities worth discovering. Here are just a few of the exciting options around Washington DC that are open right now and practicing proper social distancing protocols.

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Madame Tussauds

When you visit Madame Tussauds, take a remarkable interactive journey through American history! You will be able to stand next to each of the US Presidents. From the shortest, President Madison to the tallest… President Lincoln and President L. B. Johnson.

Arlington National Cemetery Tours

Explore the Rich History from the Comfort of our Tour Vehicles. Arlington National Cemetery is an enduring tribute to those who’ve dedicated their lives to defending the ideals of our nation. A visit here will leave an indelible impression on your spirit. There are more than 624 acres of hallowed ground and they’re best explored aboard Arlington National Cemetery Tours.

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Ultimate 3 Day Washington D.C. Itinerary

Resting on the banks of the Potomac River, the iconic U.S. Capitol of Washington D.C. boasts a rich history, ornate architecture, and some of the best sights in the whole country. It truly is no surprise that it attracts countless tourists every year.

Despite being so compact, the streets buzz with countless activities. From marveling at its white, stone structures, to meandering around one of its impressive museums; relaxing in the urban green spaces to dining in high scale restaurants, Washington D.C. delights history buffs and avid sightseers alike.

It doesn’t matter if you’re here on a midweek getaway or a weekend escape – there’s something here for everyone.

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Top Romantic Things To Do in Washington DC

While government and business may initially come to mind when thinking of Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital also offers couples a wide range of romantic things to see and do. Historic buildings, famous monuments, scenic landscapes and idyllic moonlight views create a beautiful setting to kindle a romance or stoke passion in a long-term relationship. When you are looking for something more than just dinner and a movie, there are plenty of options for wooing that special someone in romantic DC. Consider the following romantic destinations and activities in Washington DC.

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Perfect Girls Weekend in DC

So you and the girls are setting off for a weekend in our nation’s capital? Grab this handy little guide for the very best of what to do and where to shop, eat, drink and stay. You’re guaranteed to have the perfect girl’s weekend in DC!

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Challenger and Columbia Memorials

Free

Just across the street from the Memorial Amphitheater are the memorials for the Space Shuttle Challenger and the Space Shuttle Columbia. The Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986 just a few seconds after takeoff. All seven crew members, including civilian teacher Christa McAuliffe, perished. The Columbia disintegrated during re-entry on February 1, 2003 killing all seven crew members.

A Brief History About the Nation’s Capital

Washington DC was founded in 1791 to become our nation’s capital. From the very beginning, it was a city that was steeped in history and created out of a need to establish a central location for the running of the government. And while not obvious to anyone walking the streets of this picturesque city today, it was not the first choice for the job. Instead, it was born out of a compromise between those in power during its earliest days.

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Things To Do Near Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial was opened on Memorial Day in 1922, 57 years after Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was assassinated.
The immense Greek Temple stands in front of a gleaming reflecting pool and is a stunning spectacle during the day and especially at night. The sculpture of Lincoln sitting inside is 19-feet tall and inscriptions related to his Presidency along with his Gettysburg Address adorn the walls that surround him.

An exquisite mural of an angel of truth freeing a slave, along with other depictions inside the memorial, are reminders of the significant changes with which Lincoln is credited . A place of inspiration and a symbol of the distinction of this extraordinary President, the Lincoln Memorial is one of the most visited sites in the area. It is also used as a gathering place for political rallies including the March of Washington in 1963, when Martin Luther King delivered his famous, “I have a dream” speech.

Approximate Time to Allow: 1 hour

Learn about things to do near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Korean War Memorial.

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Things To Do In The Fall

Fall has begun and with it comes cooler temperatures and the vibrant changing of the leaves. It’s a great time to visit our nation’s capital, as there are numerous fall activities and festivities, outdoor attractions, and natural scenery to enjoy. Here are some of the top picks for the best fall things to do in DC.

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Hidden Gems in Washington DC

While we all know of the popular monuments, museums and memorials that make Washington DC so famous, there are many less famous points of interest worth discovering. When you’re getting ready to visit our nation’s capital, here are a few of the city’s hidden gems you should consider including on your itinerary.

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Washington DC Attractions

Our complete list of Washington DC attractions with links to detailed guides. Learn about the sites you want to visit most during your hop on hop off DC tour experience.

Explore Washington DC attractions with Old Town Trolley Tours. Hop on and off at interesting places to visit and maximize your vacation time.

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Getting Around Washington DC

open all day

When heading to the nation’s capital, be ready to explore some of the most popular attractions, monuments, memorials and points of interest ever visited. Washington DC is one of the most interesting places in the world and offers an abundance of things to do and see. Plan ahead by making sure you know how you’re going to get around in the city. Read on for some of the top modes of transportation in DC.

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Best Monuments & Memorials in Washington DC

Free

A visit to Washington DC is a journey through American history. And visiting the monuments and memorials helps bring the passion of our forefathers, leaders and visionaries to life. Luckily, you can visit any of them anytime and for free. Many of them are located near each other in the National Mall, making your travels easy and convenient.

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Things to do in Georgetown

Free

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington DC, Georgetown is ideally situated on the Potomac River. In early colonial times, the port served as a major commercial center. Founded in 1751 by George Beall and George Gordon, the original name was the Town of George. Since both of the founders’ first names were George and the English king at the time as well, historians dispute the source of the name of the town

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Things To Do in Washington DC With Kids

Looking for things to do in Washington DC with kids? Look no further because we offer parents many tips. If you only have a few days to spend in DC with your family, you’ll want to make the most of your time in the city. America’s capital city is home to many memorials, museums and attractions to interest people of all ages. With these time crunch tips, you’ll be able to see the highlights, experience DC’s rich history and enjoy the most important things to do with family.

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Things To Do In The Summer

Our nation’s capital is one of those places every American must visit at least once in their lifetime. History abounds on every corner and an abundance of interesting attractions and sights offers something for people of all ages. Keep yourself and the family cool with this helpful list of things to do in DC during the summer.

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Things to Do in the Winter

When winter sets in, the city of Washington DC begins to sparkle with beautiful light displays, holiday cheer and an abundance of things to do and see. Read on for the top things to do in DC during the winter.

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Octagon House

open Thurs-Sat: 1pm - 4pm
Free

The Octagon House was built between 1798 and 1800 by the same architect who designed the U.S. Capitol. It was constructed for Colonel John Taylor, a wealthy plantation owner from Virginia. It was in this house that President Madison and his wife resided when the White House was burned by the British in 1814. It was also here that President Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent, which brought the War of 1812 to an end. The Octagon House’s architectural splendor is matched only by its historical significance to our country.

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National Cathedral

The National Cathedral welcomes people of all faiths from around the world to worship in its exquisite ambiance. It’s the sixth largest cathedral in the world and offers a dramatic spectacle to all who visit. The cathedral’s English Gothic architecture is complemented by wood carvings, gargoyles, mosaics and more than 200 stained glass windows. A listed monument on the National Register of Historic Places, the cathedral is also the designated House of Prayer of the United States.

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World War II Memorial

Free

Honoring the 16 million people who served in the United States Military during the war, the more than 400,000 who died and the countless others who supported our troops from home, the World War II Memorial is a stunning tribute to the sacrifices that were made.

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Korean War Memorial

Free

To remember those who fought in the Korean War, The United States Congress approved a Korean War Memorial to be constructed in the National Mall. The memorial has several interesting aspects to it including the “Field Of Service” which has 19, larger-than-life-size stainless steel statues of servicemen from all four of the armed forces. The men appear to be a squad on patrol and are dressed in full combat gear. 

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Free

Often referred to as the wall that heals, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial beckons visitors of all ages, races and nationalities. It was created to honor and remember the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and to help our country heal after the controversial, emotional conflict ended. The enormous black wall lists 58,209 names of those who are missing or were killed during the war.

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Lincoln Memorial – 30 Minute Stop

Free

The Lincoln Memorial was opened on Memorial Day in 1922, 57 years after Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was assassinated. 
The immense Greek Temple stands in front of a gleaming reflecting pool and is a stunning spectacle during the day and especially at night.

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Martin Luther King Junior Memorial

Free

Opened in August of 2011, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is located on four acres in the West Potomac Park and is part of the National Park Service. Its official address, 1964 Independence Avenue, is in reference to the year the Civil Rights Act became Law.

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FDR Memorial

Free

The FDR Memorial is located along the Western edge of the Tidal Basin, between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Built in 1997, the memorial is known for its unique design, its tribute to our 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and for the fact that it tells the story of America during the years of FDR’s Presidency. Four outdoor rooms portray the President’s terms in office, each with different statues and quotes. Beginning with a likeness of him riding in a car during his first inaugural speech and ending with him seated in a wheelchair, the memorial traces his twelve years of office as well as the many changes our country went through during that era.

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George Mason Memorial

Free

What many folks don’t know about George Mason, they can learn while visiting his memorial right next to the Jefferson Memorial. Known for his authorship of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, George Mason’s work and beliefs were a major influence into the writing of the United States Bill of Rights. He earned the nickname, the reluctant statesman, after refusing to sign the United States Constitution because it did not abolish slavery.

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Jefferson Memorial

Free

Tours in Washington DC are not complete without a stop at the Jefferson Memorial. A tribute to the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, the memorial is a recognized symbol of democracy and independence. As one of the founding fathers of our country and the author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s significant impact on the shaping of our government is known throughout the world.

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Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Free

See where millions of dollars are printed every day. Discover all of the steps to producing currency from the blank sheet of paper to a crisp bill. As the security printer for the US Government, the Bureau is responsible for the design, printing and engraving for all US currency.

Woodrow Wilson House

open Mar–Dec | Wed–Sun: 10am-4pm
Jan–Feb | Fri–Sun: 10am-4pm

Step inside the final home of Woodrow Wilson and feel the inspiration of one of our country’s greatest leaders. In this historic home, personal artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and items are on display for all to see and enjoy. Walk into the elegant dining room where Wilson and his wife enjoyed meals and hosted family, friends and world leaders. See the main bedrooms where items that belonged to the President and his wife are still in place.

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Old Post Office Pavilion & Bell Tower

For a spectacular view of the city and a journey back to the early 1900’s, the Old Post Office and Bell Tower is a must see. It was Washington’s first skyscraper, measuring in at around 300 feet from the ground. In its day, it was the largest and tallest government building in the city and was used as the post office for several years before plans for a newer, more modern facility were implemented. Thanks to the Great Depression, the classic building was saved from destruction and today visitors can enjoy an exhilarating ride in a glass elevator all the way to the top.

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Library of Congress

open Mon-Sat: 10am-5:30pm
Free

The Library of Congress is unlike any other library in the world. The world’s largest library, it is home to more than 100 million books, maps, recordings, manuscripts, films and photos including items from Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection. In fact, it was Jefferson who donated many items to the library after it was destroyed by a fire in 1814. The new building was properly named the Jefferson Building as a tribute to his generosity.

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U.S. Supreme Court

open 9am-4:30 pm
Free

Upon arrival at the Supreme Court, visitors are often struck by the imposing marble building. Architecturally magnificent, the neoclassical structure was built in 1935 to become the permanent home to the Supreme Court. Walking along the hallway towards the Courtroom, guests are greeted by busts of all the former Chief Justices. The Supreme Court is the highest judiciary authority in the United States and hears about 100 cases each year, although more than 7,000 are submitted before them. Visitors can tour the Supreme Court building, hear lectures on the history of the court and how it works, sit in on sessions on specified days and times and view various exhibits throughout the year.

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Washington Monument

Free

One of the most celebrated and spectacular sights on the National Mall, the Washington Monument, stands as a grand tribute to our nation’s first President, George Washington. The 555 foot obelisk is also one of the oldest and most recognizable memorials in the City. While construction began in 1848, the monument was not completed until 1884 because of financial difficulties during the Civil War.

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U.S. Capitol

open Mon-Sat
Free

A grand symbol of the United States Government, the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill is recognized across the world as one of our country’s most prominent icons of Democracy. The striking white dome acts as a focal point to the building which welcomes thousands of visitors every year. Both a working legislative building and a national monument, guided tours are offered all day long and provide an inside look into how our United States government works.

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Union Station

Free

Welcome to Washington DC! The spectacular Union Station was originally designed to be the gateway to the city and since it opened over 90 years ago, has become the most visited site in DC. Its unique architecture makes it popular for photos. Locals, tourists and even presidents make it a point to visit this magnificent historic mall and train station.

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U.S. Navy Memorial

open Mon-Sat: 9:30am-5pm

Free

The US Navy Memorial is a truly spectacular tribute to those who served or are currently serving in the nation’s sea services. A stunning plaza paved in granite forms a 100-foot diameter of the world. Fountains, pools, flags and historic panels surround the deck of the plaza tracing the achievements of the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. The famous Lone Sailor statue stands as a representation of the men who joined the service to fulfill their patriotic duty; a striking sight, it is perhaps one of the most well-known aspects of the memorial.

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National Gallery of Art

open Mon-Sat: 
10am-5pm
 | Sun: 11am-6pm
Free

The National Gallery of Art DC was created in 1937. Through the generosity of Andrew W. Mellon, a financier who was also a public servant, the Museum gained its first collection. Mellon had a passion for art and his large collection of old master paintings, sculpture and other works were intended for all of America to enjoy. After his death, Congress accepted his collection and thus the National Gallery was born.

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National Archives

Free

Journey back in time as you view the original founding documents of the United States written by the patriots who created a nation conceived in liberty. Established in 1934, the National Archives is the repository for the priceless documents that have shaped American history and defined our democracy. These include the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which are collectively known as the Charters of Freedom. The Archives also contain other treasured heirlooms like an original copy of the Magna Carta from 1297, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty signed by Napoleon Bonaparte and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

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Department of Treasury

Free

The Treasury Building took 33 years to build from 1836 – 1869. It was primarily designed by the same man, Robert Mills, who was the architect of the Washington Monument. At the time of its construction, the Treasury Building was one of the largest office buildings in the world. It served as a barracks during the Civil War and a temporary White House for President Andrew Johnson after President Lincoln’s assassination. Built in the Greek Revival style, Treasury was the first Departmental building in the nation’s capital thus influencing the design of many of the others.

The White House

Since 1800, the White House has been a symbol of the United States government, the president and the people of America. It has also served as the home of every U.S. president except George Washington. Remodeled and restored many times over the years, the White House is recognized around the world as an emblem of American democracy. For many, the most famous room in the residence is the Oval Office where the president conducts business and meets with his advisers. Maintaining a stately presence in the nation’s capital, the White House is one of most significant landmarks in Washington, D.C.

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Arlington National Cemetery – Departure Point

A lasting tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation, Arlington National Cemetery is visited by millions of people each year. These hallowed grounds are where more than 400,000 service men and women and their family members are laid to rest. There are nearly 30 funerals held each day, honoring those who have given their life to defend the values and ideals of America. If you’re planning a vacation to Washington DC, a visit to Arlington is something you must do.

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White House Visitors Center

open 7:30am-4pm
Free

At the White House Visitor Center, people from around the world can learn about the amazing history of the White House and the United States Presidency. Discover facts about the architecture and furnishings of the White House, the first families, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders. Visitors can also watch a 30-minute video, entitled “Where History Lives” and see six historical exhibits. A gift shop offers a variety of souvenirs and mementos related to the White House and Washington DC. Park ranger talks, military concerts, and special traveling exhibits are also of interest to guests and available at different times.

Tudor Place

Constructed for Thomas Peter and his wife, a granddaughter of Martha Washington, Tudor Place is a Federal-style mansion. Money bequeathed by George Washington was used to purchase the property, which encompasses a city block on the crest of Georgetown Heights. The manor home was built in 1815 by William Thornton who also worked on the U.S. Capitol. The Peters hosted the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824 during his tour of the U.S. Robert E. Lee stayed at the property during his last visit to Washington before his death. Located at 1644 31st Street, NW, the home is open to the public.

Oak Hill Cemetery

This historic 22-acre burial ground is a prime example of the 19th-century rural, or garden style, cemetery. It is the final resting place of numerous politicians, entrepreneurs, diplomats and military personnel, including Edwin Stanton, Katherine Graham, Dean Acheson and General Thomas Jessup. The cemetery grounds feature a number of Victorian style monuments including the Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel. The Gothic Revival chapel is the work of James Renwick who also designed the Smithsonian Castle. Sitting atop the cemetery’s highest ridge, it is built from black granite and trimmed with the same red Seneca sandstone used to construct the Castle.

Mount Zion Cemetery

In 1808, the Dumbarton Street Methodist Church acquired property at Mill Road and 26th Street, NW in Georgetown. The Mount Zion United Methodist congregation lease and later purchased the eastern section of the property as a burial ground. Initially interring the remains of both black and white citizens, it was used almost exclusively by the African-American population after 1849. The Female Union Band Society acquired the western section of the property in 1842 as a place to bury the remains of free African-Americans. Abandoned in 1950, the graveyards were combined as a single cemetery and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

House of Sweden

Housing the Swedish and Icelandic delegations to the U.S., the House of Sweden was designed by Gert Wingardh and Tomas Hansen. Featuring a glass front, the building incorporates numerous Swedish symbols, such as matching native Swedish maple and marble, which relate to the climate and culture of the Scandinavian country. Situated on the Potomac River, the contemporary Scandinavian design reflects Swedish values of openness and transparency. The embassy was dedicated by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia in 2006 and enabled the embassy staff to relocate from a rented space. The following year, Gert Wingardh was awarded the Kasper Salin Prize for his design work.

Exorcist Steps

Free

Built in 1895, the stairway connects Prospect and 36th Streets with M Street, NW in Georgetown. The 75 steps were featured in the scene from the hit 1973 horror movie “The Exorcist” in which the character Father Karras fell to his death down the steps from a nearby house. The steps were covered in foam padding to protect the stuntman who had to film the iconic sequence twice. A plaque recognizes the steps as a D.C. landmark and important piece of the city’s movie history.

Old Stone House

Free

Located at 3051 M Street, NW, the Old Stone House is the oldest building situated within in the District of Columbia still on its original foundation. Built in 1765 from locally quarried blue granite, it was initially preserved under the belief that George Washington once slept there. The building housed a car dealership when it was purchased by the federal government in 1953. A rare example of pre-Revolutionary War-era architecture, the National Park Service opened the home for public tours three years later. The furnishings on display include a clock manufactured by John Suter, Jr. who was one of the building’s early owners.

Petersen House

After a visit to Ford’s Theater, a stop at the Petersen House is most definitely in order. It is in this house that Abraham Lincoln died after frantic doctors worked to save him throughout the night. The house, now a National Historic Site, has been restored to its original condition and even the bed on which Lincoln passed away is much like the actual one. Now furnished with period pieces, guests can see the front parlor where Mary Todd Lincoln spent the night with her son, Robert and the back parlor where Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton held a cabinet meeting and questioned witnesses. Visitors can take self-guided tours to see the solemn, yet intriguing Petersen House.

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Ford’s Theatre

The chilling story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination comes to life in the very place he was mortally shot on April 14, 1865. After being closed for 103 years, Ford’s Theater was restored and reopened in 1968. Serving as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln and his love of the performing arts, the Theater is a live, working theater that plays host to a variety of plays by some of the country’s most talented playwrights, actors and artists. Ford’s Theater is also home to The Lincoln Museum, which gives visitors a look at the elaborate conspiracy planned by actor John Wilkes Booth, a supporter of the Confederate States of America, to assassinate the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State.

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