My first trip to Washington DC was a busy one. I had meetings and conference activities to attend with minimal downtime for sightseeing. It was exciting to see the city for the first time, but I found it difficult with such a limited schedule. I decided to share some of my findings and tips on sightseeing in Washington DC with limited time.

Big Bus Tour Washington DC USA

Tips on Sightseeing in Washington DC with Limited Time

There are many things you can do with just a few hours to spare in between business appointments. Some depend on the location of your hotel or meeting, and others rely on the blocks of time you have between appointments.

Conference Attendees – Best Hotel Choice

In my opinion, the best hotel for those attending conferences in the Washington Conference Center is the Marriott Marquis. Located just steps from the centre it made it easy to jump back to the hotel, drop off business bags and change quickly to get out and explore the city. It was about a 25-minute walk to the National Mall and Washington Monument and steps from City Center DC an upscale shopping neighbourhood filled with great restaurants. A full look at this hotel can be found in my post here. See our review: Marriott Marquis Washington is the Best Conference Hotel in DC

White Housed viewed on Big Bus Tour Washington DC USA

Take a Big Bus Tour of the City

Often when I first get to a city, I find the best way to get oriented and see as much as possible is with a city bus tour. Big Bus tours are ideal, in that they cover many regions in the city and also outside the city in nearby Arlington, Virginia. There are three bus routes offered by the tour company:

  • Red Loop – Best of DC with stops along the National Mall, Smithsonian museums, and many monuments and memorials.
  • Blue Loop – Heads across the Potomac River with stops at Arlington Cemetary and the Pentagon Memorial
  • Yellow Loop – Heads to Georgetown

If you have 1.5 or two hours (during heavy traffic) to spare, then I recommend the red loop which will take you around the main attractions in the city. See our post: Arlington Virginia Might Surprise You with its Charm for some ideas when travelling the Blue Loop.

Big Bus Tour Washington DC USA

Walk The National Mall

I couldn’t walk all of it, as it covers a vast area, but I did make it down to the Washington monument and walk through the National Mall parks towards the Capitol building.

Weekend Food Trucks: If you happen to be in the city during the weekend, be sure to catch the hundreds of food trucks lined up in front of the Washington Monument as around the National Mall. There are many culinary experiences to choose from including Mexican, Middle Eastern, hot dogs and hamburgers to Ice Cream trucks. Even if you are not hungry, it was quite a site to see.

Big Bus Tour Washington DC USA

Explore a Museum

Washington is an ideal city to visit if you are a museum lover. Most of its museums are free to enter, and the most difficult task you will have is choosing which ones you have time to visit. Some museums with an entry fee which I found very interesting included the spy museum where you can undergo training and the Newseum which showcased the history of media from the first ever printed newspapers to current media outlets today. The 911 memorial inside the Newseum took my breath away.

Big Bus Tour Washington DC USA

Visit the National Harbour MD

A twenty dollar Uber ride will take you into neighbouring Maryland and the National Harbour. This is particularly appealing in the evening as there is entertainment on the outdoor stage, some restaurants and the grand sky wheel which offers a great view of the harbour.

Visiting Washington DC on business or for a conference? We put together a list of tips for sightseeing in Washington DC with limited time. | Washington | DC | Sightseeing | tours | attractions | travel | tourism |

Big Bus Tour Washington DC USA

For those interested in shopping the Tanger Outlet Mall is located nearby and offers some great discount shopping.

Night time on main street in Virginia's Old Town Alexandria

Visit Alexandria Virginia

Across the Potomac those looking to walk the streets of the historic village of Alexandria will find it filled with boutique shopping, cafes and restaurants. A great place to visit with a few hours to spare or for dining options in the evening. See our post Dream Getaway in Virginia’s Old Town Alexandria for more inspiration.

Big Bus Tour Washington DC USA

Plan Your Trip to Washington DC

Some helpful pages to browse in planning your trip to Washington DC include:

Visiting Washington DC on business or for a conference? We put together a list of tips for sightseeing in Washington DC with limited time. | Washington | DC | Sightseeing | tours | attractions | travel | tourism |

Travel assistance provided by the U.S. Travel Corporation and Brand USA however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.