Washington DC Vacations
Your Washington, DC vacation
Constantly reinventing itself through centuries of presidents, senators and political hopefuls, Washington, DC prizes her refineries, not her extremes. Capture a slice of America from the White House and US Capitol to the Washington Monument and the Library of Congress. See the star-spangled streets during Fourth of July, and stroll through the Smithsonian's metropolis of museums. Walk along the National Mall where Martin Luther King Jr shared his dream, and kayak through Georgetown. Bring the kids to the Bald Eagle Refuge where they'll learn about the country's symbol.
Whatever you elect on your Washington, DC vacation, let Orbitz cast a ballot on your itinerary. Our DC insiders dish the best time to go and top 10 attractions, plus reveal a declassified dossier of to-dos.
Best time to take a vacation to Washington DC
In a vibrant city like Washington, D.C., vacations are ideal any time of year. The city is abuzz during Cherry Blossom Festival (spring), 4th of July, and when Congress is in session (mid-September through Thanksgiving, and mid-January to June).For fewer crowds and lower hotel rates, travel between late August and early September, or after Thanksgiving into mid-January.
Weather-wise, winters can be erratic (flurries, ice storms), while falls are warm, crisp and colorful. Summers are hot and humid, but hotel rates are low from early July (after the 4th) through August. Spring showers are common, but come May D.C. comes alive with sunshine and greenery.
Insider tips for Washington DC travel
Capitol City Brewing Co.
Drink seasonal beers and snack of pretzels with Capitol Hill staffers. The crowd is lively and the American dishes are delish.
Segway, bike or kayak the sites
Put a little muscle into your sightseeing. Pedal past the monuments, rent tandem bikes, or a take a Segway tour. Kayak through Georgetown under bridges and around Roosevelt Island – better yet, book an evening paddle on the 4th of July.
The unassuming front door is easily missed, but this high-end consignment shop shouldn’t be. Climb the stairs to get to two rooms full of Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Chanel and more.
Dupont Circle Freshfarm Market
Shop for farm-fresh goodies on Sundays, rain or shine. Farmers and producers sell everything from the usual suspects (fruit, veggies, breads, flowers) to fish, fruit pies, soaps and herbal products.
National Museum of Crime and Punishment
Learn about the history of crime and what happens to the bad guys at this police station exhibit. Get fingerprinted, stand in a police lineup and try to pass the lie detector test. Participate in the simulated shooting range and high-speed police-chase.
More on Washington DC from the Orbitz Blog
Washington DC Vacation Packages
Hotel with rooftop pool on Embassy Row near Dupont CircleThe Embassy Row is a half-block from Dupont Circle in the midst of Embassy Row. Georgetown, the White House, and downtown D.C. are nearby. The Dupont Circle Metro is a half-block away. Guests won't lack... More
Upscale hotel for business or pleasure in the heart of DCLocated in DC's hip Penn quarter, the Grand Hyatt Washington is an elegant option for both business and leisure travelers. Five excellent restaurants and bars offer guests a host of dining options. A full-service... More
A modern hotel with a landscaped outdoor pool, meeting space The Washington Plaza Hotel offers a convenient location between the White House and bustling Dupont Circle for both leisure and business travelers. The hotel has a large, landscaped outdoor pool. ... More
Free shoeshine close to the White House at stylish Washington hotelThe State Plaza Hotel is situated on a leafy street just a short stroll from the Foggy Bottom Metro Station. The hotel's location near the international and federal business districts makes it ideal for... More
Budget-friendly airport lodging in Arlington with airport shuttle The Best Western Pentagon Hotel - Reagan Airport is a convenient hotel for travelers to Arlington, Va., and D.C. tourists looking for an out-of-the-city stay. Guests wake up to a complimentary buffet... More
Contemporary renovated boutique hotel in the heart of Washington DC Situated within walking distance of many Washington DC attractions, the Carlyle Suites Hotel is also close to DC's Metro Red Line, making navigating the city and surrounding areas very easy.... More
Airport hotel with free shuttle to Reagan National and rooftop poolThe Hyatt Regency Crystal City is right next to the Reagan National Airport and is convenient for travelers who want to be near the airport or travelers visiting Arlington. Shuttle service takes guests to... More
The Inn of Rosslyn is a silver dollars throw from the sights in Washington/ DC - less than a mile. The Inn of Rosslyn is the clean/ comfortable/ and affordable option only a few blocks from the Rosslyn Metro Station/ Iwo Jima Memorial/ Arlington Cemetery and just minutes... More
Budget-friendly Arlington hotel with on-site pizza restaurant and bar The budget-friendly Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima is just outside of D.C., in Arlington, Va., a few blocks from the Rosslyn Metro station. The hotel is just over the Key Bridge from Georgetown.... More
Friendly and comfortable hotel located in the heart of Washington DCThe independently owned and operated Capitol Skyline Hotel offers everything a guest could need for a relaxing stay. Located close to the attractions that Washington DC has to offer, Capitol Skyline Hotel... More
Washington DC highlights
Natural History Museum
Learn about bugs, bones, blue whales, jewels and more. Ogle the bling in the Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, home of the 45.5-carat Hope diamond. The freeze-action dioramas in the renovated Behring Family Hall of Mammals depict how animals adapt and evolve. African Voices uses personal accounts, proverbs, folk tales and hundreds of objects to convey African culture. Top off your visit at the O. Orkin Insect Zoo where your kids can feed the tarantula her meal of crickets.
View the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Search for documents recounting the Titanic and Challenger disasters, even the Watergate burglary. Read angry letters from college students protesting the Vietnam War, view declassified war plans, and create your own Oval Office seal.
Arlington National Cemetery
This massive shrine honors US heroes and veterans, buried on green hills overlooking the capital. Witness a 24-hour honor guard watch over the Tomb of the Unknowns. Walk uphill to the Arlington House, built by George Washington's grandson, near the gravesites of John F. Kennedy and Pierre Charles L'Enfant.
National Air and Space Museum
Experience the evolution of flight, chronicled through exhibits and interactive displays. See the original 1903 Wright Flyer, and let space suits, lunar vehicles and the 1,650-pound back-up mirror to the Hubble Space telescope explain the challenges and triumphs of technology. Don't miss the moon rock or the IMAX films, including "To Fly" where you'll feel like you're cruising over the planet.
Learn about the leaders that shaped the Congress, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. View hundreds of artworks and sculptures inside the Rotunda and National Statuary Hall. Visit the Crypt, or the Senate and House Galleries when either body is in session.
The White House
Queue up for a public tour to see the where the president entertains (Gold-and-White East Room), Jefferson's dining room (the Green Room), the setting of the White House Christmas tree (the Blue Room), the State Dining Room and more. Contact your Congressperson one to six months in advance for a special group tour.
American History Museum
A menagerie of cultural icons, you'll see the flag memorialized in "The Star-Spangled Banner," a Model-T Ford, Dorothy's ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz, Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet and a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth. Allow time for the Hands-On Science Center, where families perform their own experiments.
The International Spy Museum
Real life whodunits are the subject of this espionage museum. Learn about fictional cloak-and-dagger characters and unlikely American spy heroes like cooks who parlayed fame into fact-finding for the government. Test your mettle by discovering audio bugs as discreet as a strand of hair. Check the schedule for KidSpy Overnights, suited for kids 9 to 15 accompanied by an adult.
American Indian Museum
Discover Native American culture from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. Nations tell their stories through dazzling gold shields, feathered regalia and pottery. Cultural interpreters present discovery carts with arrowheads, moccasins and more. Free tickets are available for timed entry -- a great way to avoid the long lines.
Take photos of the Court's East or West Pediment, or check out the media frenzy on the plaza's southwest corner. Want to go inside? You can attend high court debates from April to October, or bench sittings from mid-May to June.