Best options for DC tours
November 2, 2013 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Family members are coming to visit the D.C. area soon. They want to check out the monuments and museums but don't have a high tolerance for walking all day. What are the best tour options (bus, trolley, etc) to accommodate this?

My aunt, cousin and cousin's 8-year old daughter are coming to visit Baltimore and DC in a few weeks. While I love trekking around DC for hours at a time, I don't think they'll enjoy walking everywhere and being on their feet that much. And while the Metro is great, it's not so helpful when you're solely attempting to traverse the Mall. I think they will primarily want to explore the monuments and museums along the Mall, but I don't think they'll want to trek on foot to get everywhere (i.e. walking from the Washington Memorial around the Tidal Basin up to Lincoln would be exhausting to them).

So, I'm trying to find reasonably priced tour options, ideally where we can hop on/off buses or trolleys and explore at our own pace. I'd love to hear what has/hasn't worked well for anyone else in the city. (Thus far, the Old Town Trolley Tour is looking like our best bet, so if you have experience with them, I'd love to hear what you thought).
posted by JannaK to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if this is an option with an eight year old but I'm in D.C. and my husband's company met a goal so they took a segway tour and loved it. Then my in-laws visited for his birthday so we all did a segway tour and we all loved it. I reallythought it was a great way to get around.

Also, the exhausting thing with traveling, IMO, is that I need breaks for the bathroom, food, coffee, just sitting, etc. So maybe break it up into small parts and do a status check with everyone like every half hour - hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Need a bathroom break? And keep track of where those things are on the Mall. There are tons of bathrooms but the indoor ones are cleaner. A lot of the museums have cafes but some are better than others. Keep granola bars and bottled water on hand. And have fun!
posted by kat518 at 10:39 AM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have heard that the Duck tour is fun. For vehicle-based tours, something to be aware of is the tour's scope may be restricted by big events downtown. Just check event calendars. Segway tours are less hindered by such things (and can do neat things like roll past the White House), but they are lots of standing.

Perhaps find out what they want to see and pick a vehicle tour (if they want that) and only a few places/museums to see up close/inside... Then only do a couple of these things per day, going directly there and back by cab or by public transit if it's direct (3 people by metro can be nearly the same price as a cab). DC museums are generally large and if you are not a walker they are also tiring, even when inside with access to benches.

Honestly, the way my family handles this is to drive people directly to monuments/museums and drop them off.
posted by zennie at 11:14 AM on November 2, 2013

The hop-on/hop-off tour bus company I know of (or at least see the most) is Big Bus Tours. They have quite a few stops (50 or so, all over the place), and their prices are around that of Old Town Trolley.

Another possible tour is the DC Ducks but I don't think they are hop-on/hop-off.
posted by Fortran at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2013

Grey Line has been doing DC tours for over 100 years, and has a lot of options available. If they just want to see the mall / monuments / official DC, Grey Line should have them covered.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:45 AM on November 2, 2013

1. Segway Tours
2. Capitol Bike Share
3. DC Ducks
4 DC Big Bus
posted by matty at 6:35 PM on November 2, 2013

Best answer: You should sign up for the DC Hometown Pass if you will be accompanying them. That will get you free admission to DC Ducks, Old Town Trolley, and Monuments by Moonlight tours along with a paid admission. You just have to live within 50 miles of the city to qualify, and you have to buy the tickets in person at a booth (not online).
posted by candyland at 7:19 PM on November 2, 2013

Another option for sightseeing from a novel perspective would be to take the "Monuments Cruise" with the Potomac Riverboat Company, leaving from Alexandria, which runs up the Potomac as far as the Watergate. I have not done it, but I've taken the water taxi they operate between Alexandria and National Harbor, and it seemed like a very professional outfit. They also run a boat to Mount Vernon.
posted by itstheclamsname at 4:27 AM on November 3, 2013

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