Cherry Blossoms in DC

One Day Walking Tour of Washington DC

Julie United States 10 Comments

Having lived in Maryland most of our lives, we are lucky to be in such close proximity to our nation’s capital. Washington DC is a place that we visit frequently. With so many museums and historical sights, this city makes an excellent travel destination in the USA. For one day, we acted like tourists, scouting out the perfect walking tour for first-timers to Washington DC.

About this Walking Tour

Distance: 5 miles of walking

See the best of Washington DC: The White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian Museum, The National Mall, The Newseum, The World War II Memorial (and more!)

Dine at some of DC’s most famous spots: The Old Ebbitt Grill, the Willard Hotel, and The Capital Grille

Walking Tour of Washington DC

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the walking route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.

If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

The Newseum

This museum is awesome. It’s one of our favorites in the world. The Newseum is a museum promoting and explaining the free expression of speech and the First Amendment. See a piece of the Berlin Wall, the headlines after 9/11, exhibits documenting the freedom of speech, Pulitzer Prize photographs, and the twisted broadcast antenna that once stood on the World Trade Center. Take a step back in time, viewing the newspaper headlines from the last 100 years. Or, take a step into the future and visit the Virtual Reality Lab.

One of our favorite spots: Today’s Front Pages…a wall filled with the front page of newspapers from the US and from around the world. We were here on Black Friday, so today’s headlines, at least in the US, were all about holiday shopping.

Newseum

Berlin Wall Newseum

Newseum Exhibit

Newspapers Newseum

Step outside onto the terrace for a great view of the Capitol building.

Newseum terrace

You could easily spend at least half a day here. Most people tour the museum in two to three hours.

Entrance Fee: It’s a little pricey to enter the Newseum, but it’s worth it. Ticket prices are $24.95 per adult and $14.95 per child. For updated ticket prices and hours visit the Newseum website.

Lunch at The Capital Grille

Across the street from the Newseum is The Capital Grille. The food is delicious, with options like French onion soup, steak, seafood, and sandwiches. Having lunch here is nice break before walking the National Mall.

A meal here can be expensive. If it is out of your budget, you can skip The Capital Grille and buy lunch at one of the many food trucks that line The National Mall.

Capital Grille DC

Capital Grille

Stroll down the National Mall

From The Capital Grille, walk over to the National Mall. The National Mall is a national park that stretches almost two miles from the Capitol Building in the east to the Lincoln Memorial in the west. Today’s walk will cover most of this distance.

As you stroll down the Mall, enjoy the views. This is iconic Washington DC. As you make your way to the Washington Monument, you will pass the museums of the Smithsonian Institute. You can visit one of these today or come back another day if you have more time in DC. We recommend the Air & Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, or the National Archives Building.

Walking on the mall

Earth Trekkers

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is the world’s tallest obelisk, standing at 555 feet tall. When construction was completed in 1888, it was the world’s tallest structure for an entire year until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889.

The Washington Monument is closed to visitors until August 2019 while a new elevator system is being added.

Walking on the mall in DC

The World War II Memorial

Sitting between the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool is the World War II Memorial. This is a free, quick visit with a cool view down the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial.

World War 2 Memorial DC

World War 2 Memorial

Martin Luther King Memorial

From the World War II Memorial, you will walk out to the Tidal Basin to the Martin Luther King Memorial. If the cherry blossoms are blooming, you are in for a treat because the Tidal Basin is the prettiest spot to visit in Washington DC at the end of March into early April.

The Martin Luther King Memorial is one of the newer monuments in Washington DC, opened in 2011. See the 30-foot statue of Martin Luther King and read 14 of his most inspirational quotes that are inscribed on the granite walls.

Martin Luther King Memorial

Martin Luther King

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Head back towards the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial, stopping briefly at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

Korean War Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

Say hello to Honest Abe at the Lincoln Memorial. This is a popular spot so expect large crowds midday. From the top of the steps you have one of the best views of the National Mall and Washington DC.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial November

Washington DC

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

From the Lincoln Memorial, walk the short distance to The Three Soldiers. This is a bronze statue commemorating the Vietnam War.

The Three Soldiers

Just beyond The Three Soldiers is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. On the Memorial Wall are the names of the servicemen who were killed or missing in action in the Vietnam War. The names were added in chronological order starting in 1959.

Vietnam War Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Constitution Gardens

This is another quick, scenic stop. Within the Gardens is a memorial to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. See the engraved signatures of John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.

John Hancock

The White House

From Constitution Gardens, leave the National Mall and walk briefly along Constitution Avenue. Walk on the Ellipse, a large park that separates the White House from the National Monument. For an up close view of the White House, you can see it from the pedestrian street, Pennsylvania Avenue.

White House

Inside the White House

Inside the White House

Earth Trekkers White House

Blue Room

It is possible to arrange a tour of the White House. Click here to learn more.

Dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill

Only one block away from the White House is Old Ebbitt Grill. The Old Ebbitt Grill is the oldest saloon in Washington DC, dating back to 1856. This saloon has been visited by Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt. The location of the grill has moved several times but it has been in its present location since the early 1900’s.

Now the Old Ebbitt Grill is a restaurant owned by Clyde’s. Dine on traditional American food. We recommend the raw oysters…they were the best dish we tried while eating dinner here.

Old Ebbitt Grill

End your day with a cocktail at the Willard Hotel

This is a very historic spot in Washington DC. Martin Luther King finished writing his “I Have a Dream” speech while staying here. The Willard has hosted almost every President since 1853. Abraham Lincoln had his inaugural luncheon here. And Mark Twain and Alexander Graham Bell were guests here.

End your day with a drink at the famous Round Robin bar.

Willard Bar

Where to Park for this Walking Tour

The best way to get around Washington DC is by metro, but if you have a car, there are plenty of parking garages to choose from. We parked in a parking garage at 600 D St NW (labeled on the map) which is near the Newseum. After dinner, it was a short walk to get back to our car. There are many parking garages located between the Newseum and the Old Ebbitt Grill. 

If you use the metro, the station closest to the Newseum is Archives – Navy Memorial – Penn Quarter Station.

With More Time in Washington DC

Here are some ideas of things to do if you have more than one day in Washington DC:

  • Visit the Smithsonian Museums
  • Tour the Capitol Building (learn more here)
  • Tour the White House (learn more here)
  • See the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin in April
  • Visit the International Spy Museum
  • Spend a day in Georgetown
  • Visit the National Zoo
  • Tour the US Holocaust Museum
  • Visit the Arlington National Cemetery
  • Visit the Washington National Cathedral
  • Take a day trip out to Mount Vernon
  • See the Library of Congress

Seeing the Cherry Blossoms

The average time of the cherry blossoms peak bloom is April 4. However, in recent years, the trees have bloomed as early as March 20 and as late as April 10. In 2019, peak bloom was on April 1.

The blooms last roughly 10 to 14 days, depending on the weather (if it’s windy, they don’t last long). So, if you are coming from out of town, you will need a little luck in seeing the cherry blossoms at their peak.

The best place to see the cherry blossoms is at the Tidal Basin. There are also cherry trees at nearby monuments and memorials.

On a weekend during peak bloom, expect HUGE crowds. We visited DC on April 6, 2019, a Saturday, to tour the White House, and walked down to the Tidal Basin to see the blossoms. This was the most crowded we have ever seen Washington DC. If you can, visit on a weekday and try to get here in the morning, before the crowds arrive, for the most peaceful experience.

Tidal Basin Crowds

Cherry Blossom Crowds


Comments 10

  1. Good Morning,
    Thanks for sharing such valuable information. This will help us navigate around Washington , DC with ease when we visit soon. I just want to ask what would be the best area to stay. We want to stay close enough where we could walk to parks and monuments and enjoy the beautiful sights this city has to offer. We wil be there the weekend before Thanksgiving.

    Thanks again,
    Vanessa Durodola

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      Author

      Hello Vanessa. If you want to be within walking distance of the monuments, stay near the National Mall. There are lots of hotels located just north and south of the National Mall, and from here, you can walk to most places, or ride the metro. If you want to stay in a cool neighborhood, Georgetown is an option. You can’t walk to main sights from here, but you can ride the metro. Even if you don’t stay in Georgetown, it’s worth the visit during your stay. This is one of my favorite spots in DC, with shops and restaurants. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hey, Do you know the Newseum has entry fee of 2 years old child or not? Actually I am travelling to washington so I am planning to visit it so can you please revert me about it?

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      Author
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      Author

      When we did this, we parked here. At the end of the day, Tim walked to the garage and then drove back to the Willard to pick us up. Alternatively, you could take an Uber back to the parking garage. Also, there are lots of parking garages located between the Newseum and the Willard Hotel, so you could park near the Willard, and then walk or Uber to the Newseum, and then your car is near the last spot of the day. Cheers, Julie

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