As the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. is the political heart of America, housing instantly recognizable government buildings and monuments. It’s no wonder it has become a favorite student travel destination. Not only is the city bursting with the country’s political past and current governing offices, but it is also full of modern and entertaining attractions for all to enjoy. Student travelers will want to experience everything Washington, D.C. has to offer.
Check Out the Sites: Washington, D.C Student Attractions
With a landmark around every corner, and free admission to all major monuments, Washington seems to be the ideal location for a student travel group, especially one that’s on a budget. The only problem your group will have is trying to figure out what to do first.
There are numerous museums in the D.C. area, but you’ll never worry about your student tour group getting bored. Each museum offers something unique and entertaining. The National Mall houses museums of the Smithsonian Institution, including the National Air and Space Museum, which features huge planes and flight simulators, and the National Museum of Natural History, where dinosaurs and mammals are on display. If you reserve in advance, the museums will give your group a free tour. The National Building Museum is a favorite among youth groups due to hands-on activities like arch building, bridge design and egg-drop competitions.
For something completely different, take your student tour group to the Newseum, a contemporary museum with an emphasis on modern communication and media. Students can deliver a newscast or weather report in front of a green screen or snap photos of a breaking news story. The International Spy Museum also is a hit with student travel groups. The museum focuses on the history of espionage, and groups get the chance to take part in secret missions, scavenger hunts and spy operations.
Move away from the museum scene and gather your student tour group at Capitol Hill. Here you can see the U.S. Capitol, but tours need to be reserved in advance; otherwise you’ll be standing in a long line. The Library of Congress, the biggest library in the U.S., has tours every half hour that show students such fascinating artifacts as the Wright Brothers’ flight logs and Harry Houdini’s catalog of magic tricks. Head over to the White House, your group can grab a classic photo op in front of the president’s home.
If you hadn’t noticed already, monuments are sprinkled all over the city. Catch a glimpse of two monuments at once when you visit the Lincoln Memorial. The massive structure houses the 19-foot marble statue of the 16th president. The monument overlooks the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument, the tallest monument in the city. Student tours can take a ride to the top for lovely views. However, it is said that the best view can be seen from the top of the Old Post Office Pavilion clock tower. Other popular monuments are the Jefferson Memorial, housed in a marble rotunda, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial, whose black granite walls are etched with names of 58,209 Americans who died or went missing during the war. The FDR Memorial has a 7.5-acre park dedicated to the influential president and events of the Depression and World War II.
A trip to Washington D.C wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 285,000 honored dead have been laid to rest. This is also where John F. Kennedy’s grave and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier can be seen by student travelers.
Student Sightseeing Tours in Washington, D.C.
Washington Walks offers tours of neighborhoods as well as attractions like the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and more. Tourmobile has hop-on, hop-off shuttle bus tours that drop passengers off at major attractions. Old Town Trolley and Open Top Sightseeing also feature free reboarding at various sites.
Capitol River Cruises starts on the Georgetown waterfront and offers an hour-long tour along the Potomac River. But if your student tour group is looking for something out of the ordinary, look no further than C&O Canal Boat Rides. Students enjoy an hour-long tour on a replica canal boat pulled by mules as a costumed guide narrates about each historic site.
Student Performance Venues in Washington, D.C.
The city hosts numerous festivals and concerts throughout the year, and your student performance could be one of them. Put on a show at the Old Post Office Pavilion, where free concerts are a daily occurrence, or have your student travel group showcase their talents at the National Mall. Constitution Gardens, located between the Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial, is a popular area for people to relax and watch a concert. Your student group also can perform at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals baseball team.
Student Dining Options in Washington, D.C.
The Capital City boasts a diverse dining scene, varying from classic and casual eateries to ethnic international fare. Depending on what neighborhood you find yourself in, there is a restaurant perfectly suited to your student group. The first stop, no matter where you are, should be Ben’s Chili Bowl, a staple in the city. This modest establishment has been cooking up the same food and serving it at the same counter for 51 years. For hearty Italian fare, try Buca di Beppo, a hit with student groups.
In the Capitol Hill area, head over to The Monocle, where you can get JFK’s favorite roast beef sandwich. The Eastern Market is a popular place to gather, and you student travelers certainly shouldn’t miss out on their “bluebucks,” blueberry buckwheat pancakes. Over in Dupont Circle, your student travel group can sample fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay at Hank’s Oyster Bar.
Around the National Mall are plenty of quick-serve options where student tour groups can grab a quick bite. A winner with any group is Clyde’s, which serves up burgers, fries and sandwiches.
Student Accommodations in Washington, D.C.
There are over 500 hotels in the D.C. area, more than enough to accommodate your student tour group. No matter what neighborhood you opt to stay in, you’re sure to find a pleasant hotel close to the attractions or to a Metro station that will take you there. The city center has many of the top luxury hotels, so it may be better to look in the surrounding areas. For economy, consider a hotel in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs that border D.C., such as Howard Johnson Cheverly or Comfort Inn DC Gateway.
Our nation’s capital provides everything for a fun and educational student trip. History, culture and politics permeate the city, creating numerous activities for your youth group. Washington, D.C. is the model for a great student travel destination, so hurry up and book your trip—the Capital City awaits.