Yes, It’s Okay to Be A D.C. Tourist

Lately, there’s been a major push in the travel world encouraging out-of-towners to explore “like a local,” eschewing the major sites in favor of neighborhood spots. And while we’re major proponents of experiencing a destination’s insider gems, we feel that travelers should follow their hearts when visiting Washington, DC. If you’ve never been to the capital, why should you skip the best known attractions in town? In a day and age where so much emphasis is placed on the unique, we wanted to bring it back and celebrate our city’s wonderful collection of tourist attractions. 

In praise of being a tourist in Washington, DC, we created this guide to visiting some of the city’s most iconic attractions with some of its best tour services. 

Old Town Trolley Tours

The hop-on, hop-off style of Old Town Trolley tours allows you to get out and get lost in your favorite attractions. The bus you were on will leave at some point, but another one will come within the hour to take you to the next location. 

One of the many touring options with Old Town Trolley Tours is the Silver Pass, which features unlimited re-boarding for one day, and its busses loop around Downtown DC, the Waterfront, and the National Mall. There are more specialized options as well, like the highly sought after Monuments by Moonlight Tour, which takes an evening journey past breathtaking landmarks like the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. 

Exploring The National Mall

Whether you discover the National Mall on an official tour or have a walk around yourself—this is a can’t-miss element of tourism in Washington, DC. It’s easy enough to walk from one end of the large greenway to the other, and soak up the awe that is the procession of iconic landmarks including the U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument, White House, and various Smithsonian museums along the way.

If you’re looking for some structure and historical insights, then you can enjoy a number of guided tours of the National Mall with educated guides, handy pamphlets, and secrets about all of the famous attractions included. A great option for this is Free Tours By Foot, which hits the big, aforementioned sites as well as other important memorials like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  

Can’t Miss DC Attractions

In addition to all of the magnificent sights on The National Mall, Washington, DC has a healthy roster of other can’t-miss attractions. You can take organized tours, or go out on your own to explore well-known areas like West and East Potomac Parks, The National Portrait Gallery, Georgetown, Ford’s Theatre, and The Yards Park. 

Another marvelous way to explore the city of Washington, DC is to step a bit outside of it and hop on one of the many tour boats exploring the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. Check out coastal attractions like The Kennedy Center with a cocktail and a guide by taking a tour put on by Capitol River Cruises, or the Potomac Riverboat Company.

Restaurant Tours of DC 

Washington, DC is one of the most highly rated restaurant cities in the United States, so it’s important to satisfy your palate and tummy when visiting. If you want to take your own restaurant tour of Washington, DC, you might want to start by exploring some posts from The St. Gregory Hotel Blog like The Most Romantic Restaurants in DC, and Where To Eat Now in Dupont Circle


Our nation’s capital is one of the world’s leading cultural destinations. Discover more of our favorite recommendations, from dining hotspots to insider museum exhibitions, on the St. Gregory’s blog.