One Day Itinerary in Washington, DC

Discover the top places to eat and see during your one day itinerary in Washington, D.C.

For the longest time I have been wanting to visit DC so you can bet I was ecstatic whenever I found out I was going for business. On my last day in DC, I booked a later flight so I could have a little time to explore the area. Needless to say, if you plan to do the same, and would like to explore Washington for the day, below is a one day itinerary that could help plan your day of exploration.

Top Places to Eat Breakfast in Washington, DC

one day itinerary washington

I ended up eating at Le Bon Café. It was walking distance from my hotel so it was perfect because it was also located on the way to the U.S. Capitol, which was the first must-see. (I ended up booking my stay at Courtyard by Marriott Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard because it was close to where I needed to be for my business travel plans.)

That said, below is a roundup of the top places to eat breakfast in Washington, DC:

  1. Le Bon Café, 210 2nd St SE, Washington, DC 20003 – Perfect to grab a quick bite! Again, loved how close it was to my first stop – the U.S. Capitol.
  2. A Baked Joint, 430 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001 – Known for delicious and made from scratch biscuits! In fact, next time I’m in the area, this is where I would go to grab a quick breakfast bite.
  3. Founding Farmers DC, 1924 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006
  4. Ted’s Bulletin, 1818 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
  5. Unconventional Diner, 1207 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
  6. Farmers & Distillers, 600 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
  7. The Market Lunch, 225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

Must-Sees in Washington, DC (For the First-Timer)

Kickoff your one day itinerary however you want. But I will say this, I’ve listed the below must-sees in the order that makes the most sense to maximize your time. I hope you find the below list helpful 🙂

1. U.S. Capitol

united states capitol

You cannot leave DC without visiting the U.S. Capitol. I was blown away by its intricate architecture, it is a beautiful sight to admire. I was surprised at how close you can get to it too. It is surrounded by green pastures so if you feel compelled to rest, and admire its beauty, this is the perfect place to do so. Because you are in the vicinity of the Capitol, you’ll be awfully close to the below listed places in case you’re curious to see what these places look like:

  • Supreme Court of the U.S.
  • Library of Congress
  • Summerhouse
  • Peace Monument
  • Ulysses S. Grant Memorial
  • Garfield Monument
  • U.S. Botanic Garden
  • Union Square

2. National Mall

national mall area map

The National Mall is a long stretch of historic and iconic places to visit, or simply admire from the exterior. This includes museums, art galleries, monuments, parks, gardens, and so much more. Honestly, you could spend the entire day exploring this area because it covers so much ground.

In the photo above, highlighted in yellow, you can see the National Mall area stretches from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, hence, the reason why I listed the must-sees in the order presented on this one day itinerary. 😉

I tried so hard to walk through this area BUT it was closed due to a concert that was bound to happen that weekend. If I ever go back, I would totally visit at least one of the museums. I think this would be great for those who appreciate a history lesson, or two.

If you have the ability to walk down the National Mall area, I highly encourage you to do so. You’ll have the chance to see the below listed places – depending on which street you decide to walk on.

  • If you walk down Madison Dr. NW, you’ll see the:
    1. National Gallery of Art – East Building
    2. National Gallery of Art
    3. National Gallery of Art – Sculpture Garden
    4. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
    5. Smithsonian National Museum of American History
    6. National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • If you walk down Jefferson Dr. SW, you’ll see the:
    1. National Museum of the American Indian
    2. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
    3. Hirshhorn Museum
    4. Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
    5. Smithsonian Castle
    6. National Museum of Asian Art

3. Washington Monument

After you make your way down the National Mall, you will see the Washington Monument. Because I didn’t have access to walk through the National Mall, I skipped the Washington Monument and instead saw it from a distance during my Uber ride to the Lincoln Memorial. Once you reach the monument, you will have an easy walking distance to the:

  • World War II Memorial
  • Signers’ Memorial
  • Constitution Gardens
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial

4. Lincoln Memorial

lincoln memorial

I must admit, I was so excited to see the Lincoln Memorial. After all, I’ve only seen it through photos taken by my flight attendant friend. And guess what? It didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed appreciating the art of work the Lincoln Memorial had to offer. Not to mention, the view you get from standing at the top of the stairs is pretty darn incredible. I didn’t have the luxury to walk from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial because of time constraints, but I can imagine what it would have been like to walk past the reflection pool.

5. The White House

the white house

Last, but certainly not least, during your one day itinerary in Washington, you must include The White House. It wouldn’t have felt right leaving DC without seeing The White House in person, even if it meant almost missing my flight, which ended up being delayed.

Top Places to Eat Dinner in Washington, DC

After visiting all the iconic places you must-see during your first time in DC, and you have time to eat dinner, below is a roundup of the best places to dine at.

  1. Osteria Morini, Italian, 301 Water St SE, Washington, DC 20003 – We had dinner here on our first night and loved it! It is located at The Yards, which is a neat area to explore at night because of the nightlights.
  2. Old Ebbitt Grill, American, 675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 – With almost 13K positive reviews on Google, this is THE place for a late night dinner, or snack. It is known for its friendly and welcoming environment too.
  3. Le Diplomate, French, 1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
  4. The Lafayette, American, 800 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
  5. The Capital Grille, American Fine Dining, 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004

Final Thoughts

And that’s a wrap for today! Please note that although this is an exhaustive list of must-sees, I didn’t include everything Washington, DC has to offer. (There is SO much to see like the cherry blossoms during the spring.) Anyway, I hope you took away something valuable to help you plan your own one day itinerary in Washington, DC. If you have any questions about anything mentioned here, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would be happy to help! You can email me at or send a message on Instagram.

Also, are you planning a trip this summer?!? Check out my travel section on the blog to see if anything catches your eye. I’ve written sooo many travel guides, along with travel tips, and more.

As always, thank you for your readership and continued support.

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