10 Best Things To Do Alone In Washington DC

things to do alone in washington dc
| 5 min read

Washington D.C. is the capital city of the United States, and hardly needs introduction. It has been the seat of government since 1791, and named after George Washington, the first President of the United States. Over a million people go to work in the city during a weekday, and transportation options include bus, the metro subway, and cabs. The city is home to some of the most iconic sites in the country, including the White House, Congress building, and the Washington Monument. But those are not all the sites to visit, so we’ve selected other great historical sites for you to visit when you are traveling all by yourself! If you’re wondering where to stay during your vacation, the city offers a wonderful array of famous hotels and luxury rentals for you. Read below for the top things to do alone in Washington D.C. so you can plan your next trip to this brilliant city.

1. Bike through East Potomac Park (from USD 65.0)

This bike tour in Washington D.C. celebrates the famous National Cherry Blossom Festival, which is well known in the country. Cycle through Potomac Park while watching these majestic plants bloom, while your guide explains the history of this beloved festival. You can view the famous sights here, like the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Take as many photos as you like of this memorable two-hour ride around the capital city’s park.

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Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival Guided Bike Tour

Duration: 2 hours

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2. Stroll along the Tidal Basin

Tidal Basin
Source: Photo by Flickr user angela n. used under CC BY 2.0

The Tidal Basin is a partially man-made reservoir that has an area of 107 acres (43.3 hectares) and is surrounded by many cherry blossom trees. It is the center of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which happens during April. There are many national monuments that surround the basin, like the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the Roosevelt Memorial. There is also a floral garden and Japanese lantern you can view. You can also rent a paddleboat during the non-winter months, so you can fully enjoy the sights around this iconic lake.

Tidal Basin

Address: E Basin Drive NW, Ohio Drive NW, Washington DC, DC 20003

Website: Tidal Basin

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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3. Visit Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial At Dusk 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joe Ravi used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Housing a 19-feet (5.8 meters) tall statue of the writer of the Declaration of Independence, the Jefferson Memorial is a circular marble structure that immortalizes the legacy of Thomas Jefferson. It was built to enshrine the freedoms the country enjoys today. It was even designed to be visible all the way from the White House to remind the President of this significant ideal. Inside, the statue dominates the view, and inscriptions narrate Jefferson’s life and works. This structure is one of the most recognizable in the city and is a must-visit.

Jefferson Memorial

Address: 900 Ohio Drive SW Washington , DC 20024

Website: Jefferson Memorial

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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4. Head to the Smithsonian museums

Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alex Proimos used under CC BY 2.0

The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum complex. It is composed of nineteen different museums, seventeen of them in Washington D.C., and two in New York, along with the National Zoo. It has one of the most comprehensive collections of art and knowledge anywhere. You can check out the history of flight in the Air and Space Museum, the works at the American Art Museum, or the Natural History Museum, to name a few places to visit. All seventeen DC museums and the National Zoo are free admissions, making the Smithsonian is a must-visit place.

The Smithsonian

Address: Washington D.C.

Website: The Smithsonian

Opening hours: 10am - 5:30pm (daily; times may vary; closed on Dec 25)

Price: Free

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With museums offering everything from the Hope Diamond to spacecraft, and art to culture, you can find something appealing to everyone you are traveling with! Whether they want to see the recently remodeled dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum or the original Star-Spangled Banner at the American History Museum, seeing both and more is easy even if everyone wants to visit different museums. Since most of the museums and galleries are on the National Mall and in close walking distance of each other, it is well worth splitting up the group so that everyone can see the exhibits they are most interested in! Don't forget to set a meeting place and time. Maybe the cafeteria at the National Museum of the American Indian which offers amazing traditional dishes from around the country.

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Washington Tour Guide

Annie Leguennec

Annie Leguennec

My name is Annie. I am a local Tour guide based in Philadelphia enjoying fully what the city has to offer with its deep history, street arts, murals, architecture, traditional food, black history, Farmer Markets, green space, a melting pot of neighborhoods and its great locals. I am looking for to welcome you and show you this incredible city where you will gain a better understanding of the city's rich heritage and its continuing legacy as the birthplace of the United States of America. Book my tour. Explore and learn about this unique city where you will walk on the footsteps of our America's founding Fathers. My tours are conducted in English, French and Italian.

Tours by Annie

Washington Tour Guide

Stephanie Eley

Stephanie Eley

I'm a graduate of ITMI, International Tour Management Institute and 17 years as a licensed Tour Director and Program Director. My expertise began in NYC and Washington, DC where I'm a licensed guide and has expanded to Europe, South America, Cuba and the Western / Southwestern National Parks of the US. I'd love to introduce you for a day or a week to Denver, Colorado and the 4 corners region of the US: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona! Let's GO!! stepheley@gmail.com

Tours by Stephanie

5. Check out contemporary art at the National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art - West Building
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AgnosticPreachersKid used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The National Gallery of Art is one of the largest art collections in the world. It is composed of the East and West Buildings, The West building houses a large collection of European masterpieces from the 19th century and earlier, with pieces by van Eyck, Titian, and Rembrandt. The East Building serves as a function hall, and also houses the contemporary collections, from artists like Picasso, Pollock, and Andy Warhol. The two buildings are connected by an underground walkway called the Concourse and are adorned with a large LED installation called Multiverse. Lastly, you can visit the Sculpture Garden, which houses many sculptures and native plant.

National Gallery of Art

Address: Constitution Avenue (between 3rd and 9th Streets) NW Washington, DC 20001

Website: National Gallery of Art

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sunday: 11am - 6pm

Price: Free

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6. Enjoy the city views from Old Post Office Pavilion

Old Post Office and Clock Tower-7
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Almonroth used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Old Post Office pavilion has been a staple of the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site and is a Richardsonian Romanesque structure that once housed the city’s main post office. The clock tower is the third highest structure (excluding radio towers) in the city, after famous buildings like the Washington Monument and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Today, this structure serves as a luxury hotel, though the clock tower still remains accessible to the public. The tower houses the “Bells of Congress”, and provides great panoramic views of the entire of Washington, DC.

Old Post Office Pavillion

Address: 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004

Website: Old Post Office Pavillion

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7. Go to the Freedom Plaza

Freedom Plaza (27728660301)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tony Hisgett used under CC BY 2.0

Named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., this Modernist plaza was built on a raised terrace platform, surrounded by a series of steps that connect it with the road. Inscribed on much of the floor is the L'Enfant plan, an urban blueprint for Washington DC in 1791. Floor plans for the White House and Congress Building are also inscribed on the floor. The plaza is a site for protests and has been the subject of criticism at one point. The park is surrounded by other historic sites, like the John A. Wilson Building, the National Theater, and Pershing Park.

Freedom Plaza

Address: 1320 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC

Website: Freedom Plaza

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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8. Watch science come to life at the National Geographic Museum

Spinosaurus at the National Geographic Museum in DC
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ryan Somma used under CC BY 2.0

The National Geographic Museum showcases exhibits about ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling, and education. With many engaging and dynamic exhibits made by many brave and creative people, the museum always brings a new experience all year round. You can see the history and works of National Geographic conservationists, photographers, and scientists over the years, even some behind the scenes work are presented. Even kids are welcome here, as science recognizes no age limit.

National Geographic Museum

Address: 1145 17th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036

Website: National Geographic Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 15 USD (adults)

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9. Tour the Honest Abe’s summer home

things to do alone in washington dc | tour the honest abe’s summer home
Source: instagram

Every now and then, President Abraham Lincoln would go to this house just outside the city center to escape the stressful schedule in the White House. There are four permanent exhibits that show the history of Lincoln and this house A tour around here also brings you to the adjacent Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center, where more exhibits run. You’ll want to book your tickets in advance because tours are small and sell out quite easily. Also, note that the cottage is located inside an army retirement home, so you will need an ID to enter the premises

President Lincoln's Cottage

Address: 140 Rock Creek Church Road NW, Washington DC 20011

Website: President Lincoln’s Cottage

Opening hours: 9:30am - 4:30pm (daily)

Price: 5 - 15 USD

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10. Catch a traditional dance performance at Dukem Restaurant

Ethiopian injera, wot and tibs
Source: Photo by Flickr user T.Tseng used under CC BY 2.0

Dukem Restaurant is more than just an Ethiopian dining spot, it is also a hot spot for Ethiopian culture. You can choose from breakfast selections like nashif and chechebsa, or their entrees like kulwa, goden tibs, or their Dukem Special. Don’t worry if you’re not too familiar with the names, the locals will attest to the great taste of these dishes. There are also traditional Ethiopian performances on some nights. The store also sells Ethiopian magazines, music tapes and CDs, videos, their Ambasha, and Defo Dabo bread, and the native teas, so you can engage yourself a lot better with Ethiopia, even while in Washington D.C.

Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant

Address: 1114 - 1118 U Street Washington D.C. 20009

Website: Dukem Restaurant

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 9am - 2am; Fri - Sat: 9am - 3am

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Washington D.C., an icon of history

The city is known all over the world as the center of the U.S. government, and many of the buildings here are historical, some dating back over a century. There are also many shops and diners here, should you want some memorabilia. Visitors will find various things to do and local places to eat. A trip to Washington D.C. is easily on any traveler’s list, so why not plan a trip here?

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Jes is a passionate traveler with a love for great food. When not on the road, Jes divides time between being a part-time toy collector, a student, and a part-time worker. Always on the lookout for...Read more

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