If you’re going to Washington DC, you’ve got to see the major monuments. You can tour them on your own. However, unless you plan to read up on each monument, I think a guided tour is the way to go.
There are lots of options for guided tours of the Washington monuments… bike or bus…day or night… So, which one should you choose? We opted for 2 tours: a bus tour at night and a bike tour by day. Here are my thoughts on each type of tour.
The Washington Monuments Bike Tour by Day
We selected the Bike and Roll Monuments Bike Tour. This tour is rated as easy and great for families, and I agree that it is. On this tour, we got to see the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, MLK Jr. Memorial, WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Monument.
There were several pros of touring the Washington monuments via bicycle. They are spread out enough that walking would not be practical, and it is the perfect distance for a bicycle tour. The terrain is also flat which is a big plus in my book!
This tour is very comprehensive in that we stopped at a LOT of monuments. At each monument, we stopped and had plenty of time to walk around and take pictures. Our guide gave us info about the monument and then stayed with our bicycles while we explored, so we didn’t have to worry about our stuff.
Aside from the effort required in riding a bicycle, there was really only 1 con to this method of touring the Washington monuments. Pedestrians. As the day went on and the crowds grew around the monuments, it became harder to navigate the bicycle around all of the people. At one point, a dog on a leash ended up on one side of my bicycle with his owner on the other. Don’t worry… I averted disaster with my mad bicycling skills. If you want to take a bike tour, I suggest choosing the earlier tour on the least crowded day of your visit.
The Washington Monuments Bus Tour by Night
We selected the Monuments by Moonlight tour. We were picked up at our hotel and transported to Union Station where the tour began. The tour was about 2.5 hours long, and it routed by all of the major Washington Monuments. There were 3 stops along the tour: the Lincoln/Korean War/Vietnam Memorials, the FDR & MLK Memorials, and the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial. At each stop, we had time to explore and take photos.
We did a lot of walking on our trip to Washington DC…. and I mean a LOT of walking. By the time our bus tour rolled around, I thought might feet might fall off! So, I enjoyed being able to sit in a seat while we covered so much ground!
Several of the Washington monuments were well lit and stunning at night. Also, they were much less crowded at night than during the day which was a big plus. I also really enjoyed the various facts the guide shared along the way.
There were really only 2 cons to the monuments at night bus tour. There were some elements of the Washington monuments which didn’t show up as well at night. For example, the FDR monument contained many details which were more visible during the day.
The next issue is the weather! It was so incredibly hot and humid during our September visit and the bus was open air. The result – we sweated profusely! The temperature was only in high 80’s (after dark) but the humidity was so high that it was really uncomfortable. To clarify, I’m from the South and am accustomed to high humidity, but I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything like this at night. My advice? This option would be better in cooler weather or on an air conditioned bus.
Why Not Both?
I don’t regret doing both Washington monument tours. The tours were very different experiences and each mode of transport had it’s advantages. I felt like each of our tours offered a different perspective. So, if you have time, don’t hesitate to do both!
Want more information on Washington DC? Check out 15 Things to Do in Washington DC