Lately, everyone wants to be a traveler, not a tourist. Skip the Eiffel Tower. Sprint by the Empire State Building. Here at Capitol Hill Hotel, we understand the desire to avoid the crowds. But we’re also all about seeing what’s there to be seen—and, sometimes, especially for first-time visitors to a destination. 

That being said, we think it’s important to be honest in pursuing DC attractions that interest you, regardless of whether or not they’re considered touristy. In an age where finding the hidden gem is most coveted, we thought we’d complement that trend by praising some of DC’s tried-and-true attractions that every first-time visitor really shouldn’t miss. 

In praise of being a Washington, DC tourist, we’re highlighting some of the best attractions and tours present in our nation’s capital today. 

The National Mall 

Head to the iconic National Mall, just a brief five-minute walk from The Capitol Hill Hotel, and expose yourself to the tourism center of the United States. If you want to tour it without a guide,, just mosey down the large greenway and happen across breathtaking landmarks like the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the White House, and a number of Smithsonian museums. 

There are also a number of guided tours throughout the National Mall that come with well-informed guides, literature, and hidden secrets about the monuments and memorials. One of our favorite examples of such tours is run by Free Tours By Foot, and it covers sites like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Lincoln Reflecting Pool. 

Old Town Trolley Tours

Old Town Trolley Tours is one of the most seasoned and well-curated tour companies running through Washington, DC. It offers a number of options for hop-on hop-off busses, duck boats, and specific tours of nearby landmarks like Arlington National Cemetery. 

There are different tiers of touring options like the Silver Pass, which includes one day of unlimited re-boarding of a buss that loops around attractions like the National Mall, Downtown DC, and the Waterfront. Old Trolley Tours also has more unique options like the Monuments by Moonlight tour, which shows the city at night, and stops off at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and other breathtaking landmarks. 

Other Quintessential DC Tourist Attractions

In addition to the landmarks that cover The National Mall, Washington, DC is home to even more destinations worth touring on your own, or in a more official capacity. Some such locations include West and East Potomac Parks, The Yards Park, The National Portrait Gallery, Ford’s Theatre, and the National Building Museum. 

Most of these quintessential DC tourist attractions organize tours for travelers, while also opening for those who like to visit at their own speed. To tour the city as a whole, and enjoy sweeping views of its most recognizable sites and attractions, check out one of the many touring boat rides on the Potomac River. We enjoy those put on by Capitol River Cruises, and the Potomac Riverboat Company

Restaurant Tours of DC

Washington, DC is undoubtedly a foodie haven, and we encourage hungry tourists to take themselves on a trip through the area’s most notable flavors and restaurants. You can get started by exploring Where To Eat Near The National Mall, and, for a fine-dining affair, check out DC’s Best Tasting Menus

Diners looking for a bit more guidance on their culinary exploration of DC should try an organized experience like those offered by Mangia DC Food Tours. The company offers specialized excursions in some of the city’s tastiest neighborhoods. You can indulge in fresh deli on the Georgetown Foodie Tour, and enjoy fresh pasta on the Italian Food Tour of Dupont Circle. 

Discover More of Capitol Hill

Get the insider’s guide to Capitol Hill DC—from the best places to eat to the must-know shops—on our DC destination blog!