Four Interesting Driving Tours around Washington, D.C.

From sports to history to music, the Washington, D.C. area has a ton of attractions and sight-seeing opportunities.

The capital district itself has a wealth of hotspots, and it’s within driving distance of numerous other big cities and small towns up and down the east coast.

Whether you’re a history buff, art lover or concert junkie, these driving tours of Washington DC will let you visit several highlights in your favorite niche.

driving tours in Washington dc

NOTE: If you’d rather not drive, consider the 4-hour Grand Tour of Washington DC, an organized guided group tour. Or the DC Monuments Bike Tour, which sees the highlights via bicycle.

If you’re ok with driving, then read on for some suggestions.

Washington DC Driving Tour #1: Civil War Battlefields

From Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania to Appomattox in southern Virginia, much of the Civil War took place in the greater D.C. region.

The National Park Service has a great map to some of the most noteworthy forts in the area, but you can go well beyond those into neighboring states to see old battlefields.

Visiting the exact spot where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address or where Generals Lee and Grant negotiated the end of the war is a great way to relive history.

Driving Tour #2: Sports Stadiums

Start at RFK Stadium, which served as the home of the city’s NFL team for 36 years. It’s scheduled for demolition, so this is your glance to see it. 

The stadium continued to host home games of the D.C. United Soccer Club through 2017, but has been out of use since then.

Head next to Chinatown to see Capital One Arena, home of the Wizards and Capitals. You’ll also want to stop by Nationals Park to see where DC’s baseball team plays its home games.

But for the real MLB highlight of this drive, take the hour-long drive to Baltimore to visit Camden Yards. Opened in 1992, Camden ushered in the retro-ballpark craze of the ’90s and ’00s and is still regarded as one of the sport’s top venues.

Driving Tour #3: Museums

Museums are a big part of the best driving tours of Washington DC.

The nation’s capital has some of its most famous museums, such as the Smithsonian, the National Space and Air Museum, and the Newseum (UPDATE: The Newseum has sadly closed.)

Don’t forget to check out some of the lesser-known DC museums, like the National Postal Museum, the Museum of the American Indian (try the buffalo chili in the cafe!) and the Museum of African Art.

Most of the museums mentioned above are near the National Mall, so you won’t have to drive to see them. When you’re done there, jump in the car and venture outside D.C. to the American Civil War Museum in Richmond.

Other good options include the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore and the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Delaware.

DC Tour #4: Music Venues

Concert lovers have a wealth of options near Washington DC. Start with 9:30 Club, an iconic nightclub that has hosted small shows for more than 35 years.

Legends of all genres from Nirvana to Public Enemy to Tony Bennett have played the venue.

Black Cat and Gypsy Sally’s are also worth visiting in the city.

Then, head down to Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, which includes the historic American Theatre in Hampton and the Carter Family Fold, a traditional bluegrass venue in Hiltons where Johnny Cash often played.

While you’re in the District of Columbia, of course you’ll want to check out the famous monuments and memorials dedicated to great Americans from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King.

And on occasion, you can take a tour of the White House Garden. Just be ready for heavy security and police everywhere!

Do you have a favorite driving tour in Washington DC?

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