Washington D.C. is a family destination that offers so much to do and see. Regardless of the number of days you are in D.C. or the number of times you have visited the destination, there is always something new to explore.
The best feature of Washington D.C. is walkability. It has major sites and most famous attractions that are located close together on the National Mall. Additionally, it also has a number of neighborhoods joined together and they can be easily covered by foot. It has a unique food and arts scene that attracts many tourists throughout the year. Even if you are a local, try exploring the neighborhoods with self-guided tours or walking tours. Try to encourage your family and friends to plan their family getaway in Washington, DC.
Even if you spend time in one neighborhood, you will learn a lot about the city. One of the most fun activities with the family is to be a part of the famous D.C. walking tours. There are many walking tours available to make the most of this destination. And by the way, when booking a trip to Washington DC, make sure to do research first to avoid any mistakes.
There are various tours for you to choose from. Consider your priorities and make a choice. Whether you are into history and architecture or culture and food, there is something for you in it. The city has some of the most unique walking tours. There are day tours and night tours, food tours, self-guided tours and much more. It helps to plan well in advance and book a tour so as to make the most of the destination.
Table of Contents
Here are the top 10 walking tours in D.C.
D.C. By Foot
If you check out D.C. By Foot, you will find a walking tour specific to a subject. What makes it the most popular is that they are free or you can pay whatever you want to. This group is associated with licensed, independent tour guides that organize walking tours around the city with themes right from the top tourist attractions including Tidal Basin, National Mall, and Capitol Hill to the culture and history of the city.
If you have enough time, you can take different tours for different monuments. This way, you will not miss out on anything important in D.C.
There are tours that track the Lincoln assassination as well as the ghosts in Georgetown. You will find all the scandals and secrets of the country’s capital city and learn all about the neighborhood. D.C. By Foot also has food-centric tours that are specially designed for those with a sweet tooth.
There are guests from all over the world which means you get to enjoy different perspectives in the tour and there are many questions asked to the tour guides which contribute to your experience.
There are daily scheduled tours, weekly tours, and private tours. The daily tours include the National Mall, Lincoln Assassination, Capitol Hill and Library of Congress, Tidal Basic and National Mall, and Ghost and Scandals Tours.
The weekly tours include Embassy Row, Historic Georgetown, and Arlington National Cemetery. You can book the tour online. You can also opt for self-guided tours that are GPS-enabled audio tours but you will not have a live guide to answer the questions.
2. Cultural Tourism D.C.’s Neighborhood Heritage Trail
When it comes to exploring D.C., if you are a self-starter you should consider the cultural tourism D.C.’s neighborhood trail. It is for free and there are many walking tours across the city’s various neighborhoods.
It allows visitors and residents who are self-guided to get a good look into the heart and soul of the city. It is a great opportunity to spend family time and learn more about a new city. There are 17 heritage trails you can pick from. You can explore each neighborhood at your pace and make the most of every area.
The tours do not just focus on government buildings or monuments. All you have to do is follow all the signs in the neighborhood and learn more about what it would have been like to live there and what it is like to live here now.
You can hear all about the experiences of immigrants in Adams Morgan and explore the Civil War history in Brightwood. It will showcase the transition of the city from the civil war to an age of civil rights and you will notice a huge difference in the way the city was and what it is now. It can be a great learning experience for children.
They also offer African American Heritage Trail where you will be able to see sites and learn about African American history in different locations. They organize an annual event known as Passport DC which is a display of culture, food, art, music, and dance. More than 187 embassies and various cultural centers participate in it.
Besides the annual event, there are BikingTown DC and WalkingTown DC tours which is a two-week program of free walking and biking tours of the neighborhoods.
3. National Park Service Ranger Tours
There is no better tour guide than the National Park Service Ranger. You can find them at most memorials and monuments downtown. It is one of the top dc walking tours. You will not only be a part of the talks at the sites but you can also enjoy the free guided walking tours of the National Mall and Memorial Parks in the day as well as in the evening.
They customize their tours and cover the popular memorials. You will find extra tours of the Tidal Basin and the memorials during the cherry blossom season. The time and dates of the tour vary seasonally. Their programs include talks, tours, and junior ranger activities.
4. D.C.Metro Food Tours
If you are someone who loves to learn about the city’s food scene by tasting all of its food, you should start from D.C.Metro Food Tours. It is the perfect place to begin to know all about the restaurant scene in Washington. The best thing about the tour is that it is on foot and you can work off the carbs and calories you will consume at the various restaurants you will be stopping on the way.
The itinerary will be based on the neighborhood including Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, and U Street. You will find tours that focus on the delicious Ethiopian food that D.C. is famous for.
There is also a tour of the culinary offerings at the Eastern Market. The restaurants in each tour will vary but they will certainly give a different perspective of the heritage of the city through the culinary traditions.
Their food tours are available for groups, private tours, and corporate events. You can choose from the Old Town Alexandria food tour, U Street food tour, Georgetown food tour, Dupont Circle food tour, Capitol Hill food tour, Little Ethiopia food tour, Leesburg food tour, Eastern Market food tour, and Adams Morgan food tour.
Each tour is unique with exquisite offerings. There will be different restaurants and menus that reflect the unique history and regional products of the area. You will be able to learn all about the history, food, and culture of the area in the food tour.
If you are someone who enjoys clubbing and wants to explore the nightlife, they also have a pub crawl where you explore the neighborhood area of your choice in the dark. The guided tour will stop at great pubs and local bars where you can enjoy games, drinks, and trivia at each stop.
5. Washington Walks
If you want to explore Washington like a local, you have to take the tour offered by Washington Walks. There is no need to make a reservation to be a part of Washington Walks. It costs $20 and the company is one of the leaders in walking tours since 1999.
They have a team of experienced guides who will take you through the best areas of a neighborhood. Washington Walks offers one of the top walking tours in D.C. You will get an opportunity to explore the high society of Embassy Row, the haunted history of Lafayette Park, and the fashion scene of Georgetown, right across the White House.
There are special tours organized in cherry blossom, there is a tour of routes for memorials by the night and weekend morning tours that include the rotation of neighborhoods like Woodley Park, Bloomingdale, National Cathedral, and Foggy Bottom.
They have 12 tours and they last for about two hours and you can decide where to meet the tour. They have virtual tours considering the current situation of Covid. You can make online registration for the tour and explore the beautiful neighborhoods like a local.
6. National Mall Tour
On the National Mall tour, you can walk the National Mall while visiting the memorials located there. It includes the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. It will last for about two hours and is one mile long with many places to rest on the way.
If you do not have enough time to take any other tours, choose this one tour. It will cover the most important and popular monuments in D.C. The tour will give you an insight into the history and culture of the destination.
7. All in One Tour
The All in One Tour includes several popular parks and DC monuments. There is so much involved in the tour that it is about four hours long and will cover two miles of walking. You will find many places for refreshments along the way.
It is an ideal choice for those who are short on time and want to check out the most important places. It might not be a detailed tour but it will certainly give you insights into the culture and history of the area.
8. Old Town Alexandria
For those who like historic settings and old houses, this is the best tour for you. It will take you on the old streets of Alexandria and lasts about two hours. You will be able to walk in the locations where your forefathers lived. If you want to visit the grand old places in the capital, then choose this tour.
Established in 1749, this area is filled with several historic sites that you can explore through the walking tours. You can take self-guided walking tours or a guided tour.
9. D.C. Design Tours
Enjoy an insider’s look at the design of the District with DC Design Tours. Get an opportunity to see the architectural marvels and hear about the conflicts and controversies involved in the development of the Capital City.
You will learn about everything Neo-Classical to Brutalist, and get details about the history behind the buildings on the design-focused tours. They conduct a total of eight walking tours in different neighborhoods in Washington D.C. You can also enjoy driving, private walking, bus tours, and virtual tours with them.
10. Arlington National Cemetery Guided Walking Tour
At the Arlington National Cemetery, you can make the most of the Changing of Guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The walking tour is ideal for the whole family and it will give great views of the moving ceremony. Post the ceremony, you can continue to some of the most important memorials and gravesites of the cemetery which include places that are dedicated to the USS Maine, John. F. Kennedy and Audie Murphy.
It is an opportunity to learn more about the history of the cemetery. This walking tour will give you information about the politicians and war heroes that are an important part of the history of D.C.
The next time you plan to visit Washington D.C., do not miss out on these tours. Even if you are a resident, you can explore the neighborhood areas with a guided tour that will give insights into the history, culture, art, and food scene of the area.
The tours are a lot of fun for the family and they give an opportunity to meet the locals and learn about their culture. You will also be able to make friends with different people during the walking tour. Walking tours are considered an ideal way to explore a new destination.