Five Ways to See Washington, D.C. Attractions Without a Car

In a city with so many sights to see, Washington, D.C. has a myriad of transportation options that don’t involve the hassle of renting a car. If you’re planning a family vacation to our nation’s capital, consider relying on some of the transportation options listed below. Even if you plan to visit destinations outside the of the city itself like Arlington or Old Town Alexandria, there are mass transit options that can take you there without navigating the crowded D.C. highways and spending the extra cash for car rental, fuel and parking.

On our recent trip to Washington, D.C., we found the transportation to be part of the fun of exploring the city. Here are some of the easy, economical and green ways to see Washington, D.C. attractions without renting a car:

The D.C. Metro is incredibly accessible, clean, and easy to use, and provides access to most parts of D.C. Popular Georgetown does not have a Metro stop, but the closest station is about a 25 minute walk or passengers can take a bus transfer to that part of town.

The Metro station in Old Town Alexandria is incredibly convenient to Hilton Alexandria Old Town where we stayed. We used the Metro everyday and never waited longer than 10 minutes for a train. Calling the Metro “fun” might be a stretch for adults, but my kids were thrilled to show they knew how to operate the turnstiles and interpret the maps. Riding the Metro is a great opportunity to learn navigation and orientation.

See our tips for navigating public transportation with kids.

Bike Rental
There are several bike rental options in D.C. Visitors can opt to rent bikes for a specific block of time (2 to 24 hours). We chose Bike and Roll DC to do a two-hour, self-guided tour of the monuments around the Mall. No matter how old your kids are, they have a type of bike for their ages and abilities, even trailers. They also provide a safety check, helmets and bike locks. Note that the monuments are fairly spread apart, so little legs can become tired quickly when trying to walk to all of the monuments. A bike ride is easier for kids, not to mention great exercise.

There is also Capital Bike Share, which offers access to 1,800 bikes all around the D.C. area at more than 200 stations. This is a great economical option for families who plan to make frequent stops around the city and use bikes as their primary source of transportation. Just know that children need to be age 16 or older to use the bike share.

Segway Tours
Our kids aren’t quite old enough yet for Segways, but I bet teenagers would love this mode of transportation! D.C. law requires Segway drivers to be 16 years of age, and every driver is given training and an opportunity to practice before departure. There are several Segway tour operators in the DC area, including SegsintheCity (which I like for its clever reference to one of my favorite shows). They also provide guided tours where a leader has a microphone and the riders wear headphones. It looks like a lot of fun and great way to learn more about the city’s attractions.

Our girls were struck by the novelty of the pedicabs, which seemed to always be waiting for us as we emerged from the museums and monuments in hopes of relieving tired tourists. It probably was more expensive than taking a taxi, but it was definitely more fun! Our pedicab driver took us to the entrance of Chinatown where we were headed for dinner.

We enjoyed seeing the city in the open air and paying for clean energy transportation! Note that all drivers are obligated to tell you the fee up-front for your destination, so you can decide if it’s “worth it.” Our ride to Chinatown was definitely worth the fee, and our girls loved the experience.

Visiting Washington DC attractions by pedicab
After a day of touring D.C. museums, we were relieved there was a pedicab to take us to Chinatown for dinner.

Hop-on, Hop-off Tour Buses
Normally, these hop-on, hop-off tour buses are a standard part of our vacation to a new city. They are typically clean, well-run, include entertaining commentary while taking us to the places we want to see. In inclement weather or with young ones in tow, Gray Line would be a convenient choice. They offer one-and two-day tickets, travel to all the main sights (50 stops total) in D.C and even the Arlington National Cemetery. Departures occur every 15 to 30 minutes.

five ways to see Washington D.C. attractions without a car
Hop-on, hop-off tour buses are a convenient way to see all of the Washington, D.C. attractions.

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Know Before You Go

  • Many of the monuments and memorials surrounding the National Mall are open 24 hours a day!
  • Driving through the city isn’t recommended – walking or taking the Washington Metro are great ways to navigate the city.
  • Be prepared for numerous security checks if you are visiting any government buildings!

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Erin M. Are you interested in traveling to Washington DC? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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