Washington, D.C., After Dark Tours

Washington, D.C., After Dark Tours
The National Mall, between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, has a magical quality after dark. Crowds drift away. Noise fades. Lights sparkle in the Reflecting Pool. Floodlights illuminate memorials and other historic sites. A night tour of Washington, D.C., is likely to be a highlight of your visit. You can walk, cycle, stand on a Segway personal transporter or ride a trolley, double-decker bus or motorcoach.

By Foot

"Memorials by Moonlight," a walking tour from Washington Walks, visits Washington, D.C.'s memorials, including those to Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Korean War veterans, Vietnam veterans and World War II. Tourists gain historical insights, hear funny anecdotes, see neoclassical architecture and modern sculpture and listen to haunting remembrances of war. As darkness descends, they stroll along the Reflecting Pool and watch the lights come on in the city.

This three-hour tour begins at 6:30 p.m., four evenings a week, between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Washington Walks offers another evening tour, "The Most Haunted Houses." Over the years Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue Plaza from the White House, has seen violent quarrels, attacks, murders and suicides. During this eerie walk, tourists ponder the origins of the ghosts and spirits of Lafayette Park. The tour ends at a house some believe the most haunted in the city: the Octagon.

This two-hour walk does not include visits inside featured buildings. It starts at 7:30 p.m., two to four evenings per week, April through October.

Washington Walks
819 G St. SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 484-1565 (for messages)


By Bicycle

Bike and Roll Washington, DC offers "Monument Sites @ Night," taking bicycle enthusiasts to the National Mall and the Potomac Tidal Basin when the monuments are freer of clouds and the views are magnificent.

This tour runs selected evenings, except Wednesdays, April through October. Before tours begin, riders don reflective vests and safety lights. The three-hour tour covers four miles and has a rating of "easy."

On another tour from Bike and Roll Washington, DC, "Capital Sites @ Night," cyclists roll past many of the city's memorials, the White House and museums of the Smithsonian Institution. As night falls, they get an amazing illuminated view.

This tour runs selected evenings, except Wednesdays, June through August. Before the tour begins, riders don reflective vests and safety lights. The three-hour tour covers seven to eight miles and has a rating of "easy."

Bike and Roll Washington, DC
The Old Post Office Pavilion, Rear Plaza, Kiosk
1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 842-BIKE

By Segway Personal Transporter

The night Segway personal transporter tour offers a different but no less beautiful approach to covering Washington's historic attractions, including the White House, Capitol, Washington Monument, Supreme Court, National Archives, National Gallery of Art and museums of the Smithsonian Institution. Tour participants, even D.C. locals, are likely to come away with new facts and stories about the city. Touring via Segway PT is, for most, a new and interesting way to see the capital city.

This tour starts at 6 p.m. daily by City Segway Tours, the first company in the world to use Segway PTs for tourist transportation. The company believes Segway PTs are easier to learn to ride than bicycles. Before each tour, City Segway Tours holds a 30-minute Segway PT orientation. Segway PTs are appropriate for most who are 16 and older and weigh at least 100 pounds, except those pregnant. No one suspected of being under the influence of alcohol will be permitted to ride.

City Segway Tours
624 9th St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
(877) SEG-TOUR or (202) 626-0017

By Trolley

When the sun goes down, Washington, D.C., turns into a different city. Enjoy an evening of moonlight merriment with the "Monuments by Moonlight" tour from Old Town Trolley. The trolley stops at the Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, Iwo Jima and FDR Memorials, allowing visitors a close-up view of the architecture and an opportunity to take photographs and make videos. Participants also get to see the Capitol, White House and more. Professional guides share amusing anecdotes, historical facts and even spooky stories about ghostly sightings in the city.

Tours depart at 7:30 each evening from Union Station and last 2.5 hours. Old Town Trolley started going green in the 1980s: It has converted 90 percent of its fleet to clean-burning propane to preserve and protect the environment.

Historic Tours of America
201 Front St.
Key West, FL 33040
(800) 868-7482. (202) 832-9800

By Double-Decker Bus

After the sun sets, Washington is even more beautiful. Open Top Sightseeing, using red double-decker buses and giving upper-deck passengers unobstructed views of the attractions in Washington, D.C., offers a fully narrated "Moonlight Tour" of historical memorials plus the White House. The bus makes stops to allow shutterbugs to get off and take photographs and make videos at the White House and several memorials, including Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Iwo Jima.

Tours depart at 7 each evening from Union Station and last about three hours.

Open Top Sightseeing
5500 Tuxedo Road
Hyattsville, MD 20781
(877) 332-8689

By Motorcoach

Martz Goldline and Gray Line DC offers its "DC After Dark" tours via state-of-the-art clean, comfortable and air-conditioned motorcoaches. No sights in Washington are more awe inspiring than the nighttime views of national monuments and federal buildings flooded in lights, from the illuminated dome of the U.S. Capitol to the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Supreme Court, House and Senate Office Buildings, Pennsylvania Avenue, White House, Capitol Reflecting Pool and Georgetown, and the Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Iwo Jima, World War II, Korean Veterans and Vietnam Veterans memorials. There are five stops for photographers and videographers.

The three-hour tour departs daily at 7 p.m., except for New Year's Eve, New Year's Night, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Night.

Martz Goldline/Gray Line DC/Trailways
5500 Tuxedo Road
Hyattsville, MD 20781
(800) 862-1400. (301) 386-8300


Most parking garages in Washington close relatively early, many by 9 p.m. Check signs for closing time information before leaving your car at a garage late in the afternoon or evenings.

Temporary parking restrictions are common in the Washington, central business district. Check the dates on any temporary "No Parking" signs before parking.


Article Written By Barbara Conn

Based in Washington, DC, award-winning editor Barbara Conn has been writing about science, technology, small business, and general interest topics since 1984. Her articles have appeared in the Capital PC User Group “Monitor.” She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Bucknell University.