Five days is the perfect amount of time to soak up Washington DC. Museums alone could fill that but having a longer visit leaves room for day trips and taking your time. DC has plenty to offer from historical sites and buildings to restaurants and shopping. Regardless of your interests, there's something for everyone. Having spent quite some time in DC, I've put together an itinerary for a 5-day trip that includes everything from sightseeing to day trips. Grab a pen for notes, and keep reading!
DAY ONE: Settle In + Sight Seeing
Get checked in to your hotel and take whatever you have left of the day to walk around the city or take a sightseeing tour. Washington DC is absolutely gorgeous. Getting the highlights in the first day allows more time for what you’re most interested the rest of the trip. There are a lot of different options you could take from bike tours to trolley rides to duck tours. There are general tours of the city and also themed tours like movie set tours, historical tours, ones for specific events in history, plus more. Do a little digging on the great tool that Google is and find one that fits your budget and your interests. I recommend one that goes past all the sights so the first thing you do in DC is soaking in all the things. It also helps get rid of FOMO because you'll be able to say you saw everything.
DAY TWO: History!
Make your first full day in the city all about history. Choose what historical moments or landmarks you want to spend the most time exploring and make them the focus of this day. If the assassination of Abe Lincoln is something you were always interested in tour the Ford Theater and visit Peterson’s Boarding House. If you’re a fan of the Revolutionary War and George Washington, a trip out to Mount Vernon might be something you’re more interested in. The National Archives are a great for any historical period and The Library of Congress has Thomas Jefferson’s personal library. This library took his entire lifetime to cultivate and is one of the most notable collections in the world.
DAY THREE: Museums
I’m naming Washington DC the city of museums because there are so many it’s hard to choose which ones to visit and which ones to save for another time. The answer to that question lies in personal preferences. Personally, I love art and history. The National Museum of American History and the National Gallery of Art would be at the top of my list. The Spy Museum is a fun twist and if you love all things espionage, you’ll appreciate it. The US Holocaust Museum is sobering but insightful. It’s not an experience I’m eager to repeat but it’s one I’m glad I've had. The perk about visiting museums is that most of them (at least the national ones) are free admission which makes this a particularly budget-friendly day.
DAY FOUR: Georgetown
I have this obsession with Georgetown for some reason. Some people don’t see what the big deal is but to me, I see all kinds of gorgeous architecture and history. There’s plenty to do in the neighborhood including the C&O Canal and touring the Georgetown University campus grounds. Shopping down M Street or Wisconsin Ave and dining at one of the many cafes are a few things to do. It's also a great opportunity to take lots of Instagram worthy photos. It’s not necessary to dedicate an entire day to exploring Georgetown but if it’s workable, you can take your time and enjoy it more.
DAY FIVE: National Mall + Head Home
It might seem counterintuitive to put the National Mall last since it has about half of the destinations in Washington DC located on dor around it. Let’s be honest though. When you’re making your way to the next destination, like you did for days two and three, you weren’t paying attention to the Mall itself and it deserves your full attention. The National Mall, by coincidence, ended up as one of the last things I explored during my first trip and I’m glad it was! By this time, I knew I was heading home soon and I wanted to casually take in what was left of my time there. All I did was stroll through the grounds with my camera in hand and look at everything. I went later in the afternoon and stayed past sunset. It was one of my favorite moments in the ten days I spent there. I left the next morning and I felt content with my trip even though I had worked for the better part of it.