20 fun and unique things to do in Washington

From river cruises to foodie tours, discover a whole new way to experience Washington with these 20 fun things to do.

Unravel the story of American history in Washington, DC, a city brimming with iconic landmarks, vibrant neighborhoods, and engaging cultural experiences. While the monuments make Washington special, this city is also packed with cool things to do that will make you re-think the US capital.

Go beyond Washington’s classic museums and dive into an immersive, multi-media experience at the ARTECHOUSE. See the city from a different perspective on a river cruise. Savor more flavors from international cuisines and American classics with a foodie tour in Georgetown or U Street. Or grab a beer and a hot dog at the ballpark as you cheer on the Washington Nationals.Whether you’re exploring with your partner, kids, or on your own, read on to find more fun things to do in Washington.

Fun things to do in Washington as a couple

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1. Glide through the Historic Splendors of Washington on a Segway

The concrete expanses of Washington offer a vibrant palette for modern explorations. The sightseeing Segway tour stands apart among the unique things to do in the city. Hop on these motorized two-wheeled vehicles and feel the city's pulse as you whizz around its architectural marvels.

Highlights:

Take a Sightseeing Segway Tour to uncover hidden destinations that provide an authentic taste of local life in Washington.

Meeting point:

998 Maine Avenue SW, on the corner of Blair Avenue SW and Maine Avenue SW. Start times vary.

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2. Laugh and marvel at illusions at Washington's top comedy magic show

In the historic Mayflower Hotel, the Comedy Magic Show sparkles as two world-class magicians compete for the audience's admiration. The stage brims with mystery and mirth as sleight of hand and comic escapades provide a memorable evening.

Highlights:

With a Comedy Magic Show ticket, you get entry to Washington's highest-rated magic show, plus you can take part in deciding the winner of the Golden Wand. This experience is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Washington.

Address and Opening Hours:

1127 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States. Performance times vary.

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3. Immerse yourself in a technicolor dream at the ARTECHOUSE Immersive Art Experience

Creativity meets technology at ARTECHOUSE, where art comes alive. This multi-sensory innovative art destination is a haven for modern artists, scientists, and technologists. Step into a different world, with exhibits spanning various genres.

Highlights:

An ARTECHOUSE Immersive Art Experience Ticket includes an unexpected twist: the Extended Reality Bar offers unique cocktails inspired by the art on display, making this one of the unique things to do in Washington.

Address and Opening Hours:

1238 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States. Open daily 10:00 AM-10:00 PM.

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4. Witness iconic monuments under the moonlit sky on a nighttime trolley tour

As dusk settles, Washington transforms into a mystical landscape. The Nighttime Trolley Tour offers a unique opportunity to witness majestic landmarks bathed in soft moonlight, including the powerful Jefferson Memorial, the towering Washington Monument, and the revered White House.

Highlights:

The Monuments by Moonlight Nighttime Trolley Tour allows for exploration stops at notable sites like the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Roosevelt Memorial, and the Iwo Jima Memorial.

Meeting point:

1001 E St NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States. Start times vary.

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5. Float through Washington's history with a Full-Day Tour and a Scenic River Cruise

Embark on a comprehensive journey through Washington's historical riches with this full-day tour. From the comfort of a convertible bus, enjoy unobstructed views of enduring symbols of power and democracy, including the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Highlights:

Depending on the season, a Full-Day Tour with a Scenic River Cruise might include a scenic boat ride through Georgetown or a visit to the Pentagon.

Meeting point:

701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States. Start times vary.

Fun things to do in Washington with kids

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6. Decode mysteries in Georgetown's Escape Room Adventure

Plunge into an exciting world of puzzles and riddles in Georgetown's Escape Room Adventure. Embark on a thrilling journey through immersive themed rooms. Hidden clues in every corner wait to be deciphered as a ticking clock intensifies your riveting escapade.

Highlights:

Choose from 5 thrilling quests, like hunting for a pirate's lost gold or finding the elixir of life, on a Georgetown Escape Room Adventure.

Address:

3333 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States. Start times vary.

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7. Spread your wings at the Smithsonian National Museum of Air and Space

Explore the cosmos and the history of flight at the Smithsonian National Museum of Air & Space. Discover stories of the pioneers who dared to conquer the skies and the vast expanse of space, guided by a local expert who will relate fascinating tales and astonishing facts.

Highlights:

Witness legendary aircraft like the 1903 Wright Brothers plane and Apollo 11's Command Module on your guided tour.

Address and Opening Hours:

600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, United States. Start times vary.

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8. Experience the world's natural wonders at the Museum of Natural History

Unearth the intriguing treasures of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History with a private guided tour. From ancient civilizations to vibrant ecosystems, dive into a stunning array of exhibits that cover the breadth and depth of our planet's fascinating history.

Highlights:

Customize your experience on the Museum of Natural History Private Guided Tour with activities including close encounters with creepy crawlies at the insect zoo and exploring the colossal Dinosaur Hall.

Meeting point:

Corner of 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW Washington, DC 20560, United States. Start times vary.

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9. Explore the rich tapestry of African American heritage

Discover the profound influence of African American culture on shaping the nation with an African American History Museum Private Tour. Stroll through the National Mall, learning about its history intertwined with enslaved Africans.

Highlights:

Designed to keep children engaged and interested, the private tour reveals how global influences have shaped the history and culture of African Americans.

Meeting point:

1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560, United States. Start times vary.

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10. Cheer for the Washington Nationals at a live baseball game

Feel the exhilarating energy of a live Washington Nationals baseball game. Cheer for the home team with a beer and a hot dog as you experience America’s national pastime.

Highlights:

Cheer for popular players and upcoming stars, and join in traditional fan chants and the heart-thumping excitement of each play with Washington Nationals Baseball Game ticket.

Address and Opening Hours:

1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States. Game times vary.

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11. Uncover stories carved in stone at the National Mall

Embark on a private walking tour around the National Mall. Discover the historical significance woven into the monuments and memorials. This interactive, family-friendly tour is one of the cool things to do in Washington.

Highlights:

On the Private National Mall Walking Tour, see the National Stage, renowned for historic events like Martin Luther King Jr's 'I Have a Dream' speech and the AIDS Quilt display.

Meeting point:

Northeast corner of Independence Avenue SW and 3rd Street SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States. Start times vary.

Fun things to do in Washington on your own

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12. Embark on a nighttime odyssey through Washington's glittering landmarks

Experience the awe-inspiring transformation of Washington's celebrated landmarks under the night sky. This tour takes in some of the city's renowned structures, from the Capitol to the White House, illuminated in a radiant glow.

Highlights:

On a Night Under the Stars Bus and Walking Tour, venture to iconic sites, including the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, World War II Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.

Meeting point:

800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States. Start times vary.

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13. Experience a solemn journey through Arlington National Cemetery's sacred grounds

Embark on a poignant journey through history and sacrifice with a tour of the Arlington National Cemetery. Explore the historic grounds, once owned by George Washington Parke Custis, stepson to President George Washington.

Highlights:

Discover the final resting place of John F. Kennedy and pay homage at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, among other notable sites, on an Arlington National Cemetery Ticket and Tram Tour.

Address:

1 Memorial Ave, Fort Myer, VA 22211, United States. Start times vary.

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14. Encounter the genesis of the United States at the National Archives

Unearth the bedrock of America's past with a guided tour of the National Archives. Within its vaults lie national treasures such as pivotal war correspondence and seminal presidential proclamations, along with internationally significant documents like the Magna Carta.

Highlights:

On the National Archives Guided Museum Tour, explore the National Archives Rotunda and learn about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Address and Opening Hours:

701 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20408, United States. Start times vary.

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15. Trace the ascent of a nation at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Witness the incredible journey of a nation with a guided tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. This tour offers a deep dive into the history of the United States, weaving together a story of culture, science, politics, and technology, making it one of the more educational and fun things to do in Washington.

Highlights:

During your guided tour, marvel at the actual Star-Spangled Banner that inspired the country's national anthem.

Address and Opening Hours:

1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560, United States. Start times vary.

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16. Uncover George Washington's legacy at Mount Vernon and Old Town Alexandria

Discover George Washington's timeless residence at Mount Vernon and wander through the colorful historic district of Old Town Alexandria. This guided day trip takes you from Washington, along the scenic Potomac River, to the roots of the nation's first president.

Highlights:

During your Mount Vernon and Old Town Alexandria Tour, delve into George Washington's life with an exploration of his mansion and a vivid, interactive portrayal of his remarkable journey.

Meeting point:

701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States. Start times vary.

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17. Marvel at Georgetown's architectural wonders on a walking tour

Embark on a guided exploration of Georgetown's architectural grandeur and historical evolution. This tour showcases standout buildings such as Georgetown Preparatory School and Healy Hall, the charming Yellow Tavern, and the picturesque pastel houses on Pomander Walk.

Highlights:

The Georgetown architecture walking tour visits Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory, which served as a hub for revolutionary communication technology development and a dedicated research center for deafness.

Meeting point:

1054 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States. Start times vary.

Fun things to do in Washington if you like food and drink

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18. Savor diverse cuisines on a Georgetown food journey

Explore Georgetown's culinary landscape, rich with diverse flavors and historical roots, on this Taste of Georgetown walking food tour. Sample iconic bites as the guide unravels the area's fascinating evolution from a bustling port city to an eclectic food paradise.

Highlights:

During your tour, you'll relish delicious tarts near a historic canal and taste VPN-style pizza that entices celebrities worldwide.

Meeting point:

3210 Grace St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States. Start times vary.

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19. Explore the rich culinary and cultural heritage of the U Street Neighborhood

Plunge into the heart of a local landmark that genuinely reflects DC life. Immerse yourself in the U Street neighborhood's multifaceted food scene, from savoring quintessential DC flavors to experiencing the culinary innovations that are still evolving.

Highlights:

On the U Street neighborhood food tour, savor the flavors that enrich the neighborhood's character as you gain insight into the impact of the Civil Rights riots.

Meeting point:

Ben's Chili Bowl, 1213 U Street NW, Washington DC, 20009, United States. Start times vary.

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20. Indulge in a donut-filled adventure

Embark on a delicious journey through Washington, discovering the city's history and food culture through its thriving donut scene. Starting from Lafayette Square, the tour offers historical insights and tantalizing treats, making it one of the scrumptiously fun things to do in Washington.

Highlights:

On the Underground Donut Tour with Tastings, you get to sample fresh donuts at Astro Doughnuts and Chicken and savor Italian Bomboloni (donuts) in Palmer Alley.

Meeting point:

1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006, United States. Start times vary.

FAQs

What are some fun things to do in Washington at night?

Experience vibrant nightlife in Washington, DC, with activities such as performances at the Kennedy Center, monument visits, fine dining, or Capitol Hill ghost tours.

Are there any fun day trips from Washington that I should consider?

Consider day trips from Washington to George Washington's historic Mount Vernon, Maryland's historic Annapolis, or Virginia's Shenandoah National Park.

What are some popular festivals or events in Washington?

Noteworthy DC festivals include the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

What are some family-friendly fun activities to do in Washington?

Families can enjoy the National Zoo, National Air and Space Museum, Tidal Basin paddleboat rides, and International Spy Museum exhibits.

What are some fun outdoor activities to do in Washington?

Outdoor enthusiasts can bike the National Mall, paddleboard on the Potomac River, hike in Rock Creek Park, or picnic in Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.