Short getaways in Washington D.C. – two days of American history

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Step out from your Washington hotel with this handy itinerary for a short getaway in Washington and be sure to see the city’s best.

Washington short getaway day one, morning

Leave your Washington hotel early to pick up free tickets to the Washington Monument. Visitors ascend the 550-foot marble obelisk in an elevator for sweeping views of the National Mall and its memorials. Stroll the Mall to see the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial beyond the Reflecting Pool. Wander past the White House, home to every American president since 1800. The National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution, sits nearby. Inside, icons of American history include Lincoln’s stovepipe hat and Elvis’s musical recordings.

Start: Washington Monument
Nearest Metro Smithsonian


Take a quick Metro ride to the National Cathedral, site of state celebrations and funerals since 1912. The white Gothic building frequently hosts concerts and holds some hidden surprises, including a lunar rock and a sculpture of Star Wars character Darth Vader. It’s a short walk from the cathedral to the National Zoological Park. The zoo houses thousands of exotic animals. The pandas are a perennial favorite.

Start: National Cathedral
Nearest Metro Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan


It’s a pleasant walk from the Metro to Georgetown, a stately neighborhood of colonial brick row houses, dating back to the 1750s, and stylish shops. Enjoy dinner or drinks at Martin’s Tavern, a DC mainstay since 1933. Polished wood paneling and Tiffany lamps give the restaurant a warm feel. Washington’s power brokers are frequent visitors.

Start: Martin’s Tavern
Nearest Metro Foggy Bottom-GWU 

Washington short getaway day two, morning

Begin day two of your short getaway in Washington in Arlington and Arlington National Cemetery. The setting is striking for the thousands of white grave markers marching across 200 acres of rolling lawns. Primarily a military cemetery, Arlington also marks the graves of numerous dignitaries, including President Kennedy and the astronauts killed in the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. 

Start: Arlington National Cemetery 
Nearest Metro Arlington Cemetery 


It’s an easy Metro ride to the National Archives on the National Mall. The archives preserve America’s most important national treasures like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Cross Constitution Avenue to the National Gallery of Art. The museum holds a large collection of European masters and American art. The romantic New World landscapes of William James Bennett, Mary Cassatt’s impressionist images of children and the bold, abstract splashes of Jackson Pollock all cry out for attention. 

Start: National Archives 
Nearest Metro Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter 


President Teddy Roosevelt loved steak dinners at the Old Ebbitt Grill in the early 1900s, and his presence is visible throughout this restaurant. The Beaux-Arts building’s walls are hung with dozens of exotic animals, including the head of a walrus said to be shot by the president himself. Political insiders, celebrities, journalists and theatre-goers still frequent the Ebbitt, just steps away from the White House. The restaurant’s oyster bar is hailed by many as the best in Washington. 

Start: Old Ebbitt Grill 
Nearest Metro Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter