Essential Things to Do Outdoors in Washington DC

toursforhumanity Travel

There’s no better time to explore Washington DC outside in the sunshine! Whether you’re here for business or pleasure, here are the top five outdoor experiences you must try.

1. Arlington House: This house is eloquently perched atop of the rolling hills in Arlington National Cemetery. From this vantage point, you can grab a birds-eye view of the entire city. The scenes will leave you breathless and so will the history. Arlington House was built by George Washington’s grandson and eventually inhabited by General Robert E. Lee. The hill directly overlooks JFK’s eternal flame and grave. JFK was buried below the very spot he stood on the hill and exclaimed, “I could stay here forever.” After visiting Arlington House, a visit to the less frequented tomb of President Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, is a must. His gravesite sits on a scenic knoll overlooking his father’s memorial across the Potomac River.

Top Things to do in Washington, D.C.

View of Washington, D.C. from Arlington House

2. Lincoln Memorial: A trip to the National Mall is not complete without gazing across the reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument. As you climb the memorial stairs, keep an eye out for an engraved step marking the exact location where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Stand in the spot that changed America!

Washington Monument

View of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial

3. Theodore Roosevelt Island: President Roosevelt doesn’t just have a memorial, he has an entire island! This island features a boardwalk through the woods and a domineering statue of the 26th president. Escape the city and explore DC’s nature. It’s the Teddy way. After all, Teddy went on a Smithsonian expedition in Africa to relax after his presidency. Make sure to walk the 1 ½ mile Swamp trail, which includes a boardwalk over cattail marsh. On the north side this trail, we dare you to get a little risky and trek through the woods towards the river for a spectacular view of Georgetown waterfront and the Kennedy Center.

Theodore Roosevelt Island Swamp Trail

Theodore Roosevelt Island Swamp Trail

4. National Cathedral: After you are finished gawking over the stained glass and impeccable architecture, take a stroll through the rose garden or picnic on the lawn using the cathedral as your backdrop. If you’re interested in taking your picnic to the next level, sign up for the Tour and Tea experience, an in-depth Cathedral tour followed by traditional English tea with sandwiches, scones, and a scenic view of Washington. Before you leave, use your binoculars to try to find the Darth Vader gargoyle on the west tower.

National Cathedral

National Cathedral at sunset

5. Mount Vernon: Roughly 15 miles south of Washington, D.C. is Mount Vernon, President Washington’s estate. Skip the car or bus and schedule a boat trip for a laid back scenic route down the Potomac. When touring Mount Vernon, lookout for the Bastille key hanging on the stairwell wall. The keys were a gift to President Washington by Marquis de Lafayette after the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution. After the tour, take a break on the back porch to soak in the Potomac river vista. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a bald eagle flying overhead! On your way back to the city, stop and grab a bite to eat amongst Alexandria’s cobblestone streets for a glimpse into D.C’s original old town.

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon


Want to learn about the history behind the sights? Join Tours for Humanity on one of our walking tours around D.C., including the National Mall, the Lincoln Assassination, the Tidal Basin, and the Arlington Cemetery tour. We donate a portion of profits to charities fighting ignorance, poverty, and disease. Our walking tours won’t save the world, but they are a step in the right direction.