There are so many fun tours and experiences in Washington, DC. The options can sometimes feel overwhelming. You might wonder: are free tours any good? Is it worth it to splurge on a private tour? What’s the best mode of transportation to see the monuments? What’s the deal with foodie tours? In this episode we tackle all of these questions (and more) so you can pick out the best Washington DC tours when you visit. Check out our recommended list of local tour companies to get started.
Travel industry veteran and world traveler Shane Whaley joins Rob for this conversation. Shane hosts Tourpreneur, a podcast that deep dives into the journey of the tour business owner. He also hosts Spybrary, a Spy Podcast for fans of spy books and movies; as well as Radio GDR, a podcast in English all about the life and times of East Germany.
The best Washington, DC tours are operated by small locally-owned businesses. If you’re a seasoned traveler this won’t come as any surprise. You know the best slice of pizza in New York City isn’t Pizza Hut and the best tacos in Los Angeles aren’t Taco Bell. Similarly, you wouldn’t expect the best tours to come from a big national chain.
One of the best things about visiting Washington, DC is that there are tours and experiences to fit every traveler’s interest. Here’s a roundup of five locally-owned DC tour companies we wholeheartedly recommend! Check them out on your next visit to the Nation’s Capital.
Do you watch Jeopardy? Enjoy games of Trivial Pursuit? Or just like to compete with family and friends? The Trip Hacks DC Trivia Tour combines a classic Washington DC monuments tour with an interactive trivia game. Over the course of three hours you’ll get to experience all of the major monuments on the National Mall. Not only do you visit all the sites up close, but you’ll compete with fellow travelers to win prizes.
Maybe it was your dream to become an architect, or maybe you just love beautiful buildings. Either way, come experience Washington’s architectural marvels and best kept secrets, while hearing about the conflicts, controversies, and personalities involved in the development of our capital. DC Design Tours leads tours of the Federal sites, as well as tours of neighborhood gems, like Georgetown and Embassy Row. From Neoclassical to Brutalist designs, hear the stories behind the brick and mortar!
A Tour of Her Own is the first tourism company in Washington, DC focused exclusively on women’s history. Their mission is to elevate women’s stories into a more prominent place in American history. And their vision is to create a sustainable culture of women’s tourism in DC and beyond. Check out their lineup of upcoming events to see if any are scheduled during your trip. Or become a Tour of Her Own member to get access to live tours, virtual events, and other educational services.
If you want to take in the story of our Nation, sign up for a tour from a company founded by two self-proclaimed professional history nerds! Historic America delivers their experiences through dynamic, multi-sensory storytelling that are fun for the whole family. Join a walk through the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery – America’s largest and most famous military burial ground. Or book the Millionaires, Mansions & Moonshine tour and learn about a time when rivers of illegal booze flowed through some of DC’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
For those who love to “eat their way through a city” – a food tour is a must! Blue Fern takes you off the National Mall and into the neighborhoods where real Washingtonians live, work and most importantly, eat! On the U Street tour you’ll get a chance to sample diverse cuisines of cultures that call DC home. On the Georgetown tour you’ll experience DC’s oldest neighborhood and taste everything from handmade doughnuts to socially-conscious street food that helps feed refugees. If you want to make a day-trip to Old Town Alexandria they’ve got you covered there too.
If you’re looking for Washington, DC hotel tips you are in the right place! In this podcast episode you’ll learn about a great areas to stay (and avoid) on your DC trip. Plus what to look for in a hotel, how to do your research, and a few tips for finding the best hotel deals.
Covid-19 has significantly disrupted the 2021 inauguration. Unfortunately that means the excited crowds, the parade and parties from past inaugurations won’t really happen this year. Instead, we rounded up some of our favorite stories from past presidential inaugurations to give you a sense of what a more typical inauguration is like. Some of these stories are pretty wild!
In this episode Rob is joined by Aaron Killian from Historic America. Check out the Historic America website and see the multi-sensory DC tours that they offer. Aaron also hosts Dead, White and Blue, a YouTube show about the final resting places of prominent Americans. And he is the host of A Place in Time, a podcast which places you in a historic American location at a remarkable moment in time and brings it all together with a compelling true story.
After months of closures and restrictions, some travelers are starting to get back out and explore. Washington, DC is slowly but surely reopening tourist sites and attractions. However, it’s extremely important to set realistic expectations and research every detail of your trip. You don’t want to be disappointed or caught of guard once you arrive the nation’s capital.
In this episode Rob is joined by Mark and Jocelyn Wolters. They are half of the Wolters World traveling family. Keep up with their travels on YouTube, Facebook and their website. Or follow Jocelyn and Mark on Instagram. Pick up some cool merch (including face masks) at the Wolters World store.
2020 is a rough year for the travel industry. Halfway through the year, it’s clear that Washington, DC tourism is not going to be the same because of Covid-19. As a result, it’s time to discuss the future of Trip Hacks DC.
In this episode Rob takes the mic for a solo podcast. He gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what the decline in tour revenue has meant for the company. And what the future holds for the Trip Hacks DC podcast, YouTube channel, and tour company.
We want you to have fun on our tours; we also are serious about the importance of keeping your family and our staff safe. Fortunately, outdoor walking tours are one of the safest activities that you can participate in right now. We are following guidance from both national and local authorities to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
Specifically, here’s what to expect on a Trip Hacks DC tour in 2020:
Tours are Completely Contactless
Sign up and pay online.
We will check you in digitally at the meeting spot.
As much as we are happy to welcome you on the tour, handshakes and fist bumps are suspended for now.
You are welcome to take as many photos as you’d like, but for everyone’s safety we won’t be able to take photos on your own phone.
Face Coverings Keep Everyone Safe
Your guide will have a face mask for the tour.
Washington, DC now requires everyone 2 years and older to wear a face mask outside of the home.
Whether you’re looking for something to watch during the 2020 quarantine or trying to get inspired for an upcoming trip, these Washington, DC movies will provide hours of entertainment. Washington, DC doesn’t have nearly as many movies set here as New York or Los Angeles, but there are still plenty of gems.
What is Washington, DC tourism going to look like post COVID-19? We don’t know! No one does. Rather than guess about the future we thought it would be more useful to look back for lessons from how things changed over the past few decades. How did 9/11, government shutdowns, new sports venues and Uber change the way that visitors experience Washington, DC?
The Washington, DC tourism industry is upended because of Coronavirus. In fact, that’s true every where in the world as there is currently nowhere that safe for travel. There were many hints that a crisis was coming, but the damage happened quickly and painfully.
In this episode Rob takes the mic for a solo podcast. He describes the first three months of 2020 from the perspective of a small tour company owner. He also talks about what happens next and what COVID-19 means for your own trip to Washington, DC.
Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation's Capital.
Everyone wants to get the most out of travel experience; we know that planning a trip can be fun but sometimes stressful. The tips and travel hacks offered here will help you make the most of your trip and avoid missing out on the best things the city has to offer. Our trip planning e-book is the perfect resource for every first-time Washington, DC visitor.
If you're looking for a guided experience once you arrive, Trip Hacks DC specializes in private tours; but has public tours options as well. Visit the Guided Tours section to learn about some of the suggested tours and the trip planning resources section for help preparing for your trip. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!