Washington, D.C. is the perfect place for a history-focused school trip, regardless of your students’ grade level. Countless attractions filled with rich history among hundreds of acres of beautiful scenery and architecture make for an unforgettable experience for your students, whether you’re here for one day or for an overnight trip.
When you’re planning a school trip to D.C., costs can quickly add up. Free admission to over 70 local government-owned attractions can help to offset these costs, but when you factor in prices for your group’s hotel accommodations, food, and transportation, planning your trip can become even more stressful.
Ally Charter Bus aims to alleviate some of this stress with personalized bus accommodations handled by our experienced reservation specialists. We’ll find the best possible price for your bus rental and ensure that all of your students, teachers, and chaperones are accommodated for on a spacious and comfortable motorcoach. With a variety of sizes designed for small field trips with a few students or large overnight class trips with multiple students, we’re always able to find exactly what your group needs.
Below, you’ll find some more information about D.C.’s must-see attractions for traveling school groups, plus a few tips on how to plan your stops. These attractions are not only iconic, but they’re also sure to educate your students about America’s history while helping to create lasting memories. All are perfect for D.C. newcomers of any age.
Since many attractions in the city are grouped and tend to be within walking distance of one another, we’ve listed out stops that are located near each other to help streamline your travels throughout the city.
A nearly 2-mile stretch of green space, memorials, and opportunities to relax and bond, the National Mall is the quintessential destination in D.C. Running from Capitol Hill to the Lincoln Memorial, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon learning about American history.
While it makes for a scenic walk and while every destination is certainly worth seeing, walking the entire stretch can be tiring. The local Department of Transportation has listed some drop-off points for buses, so you can decide where your group would like to start or end your journey through the National Mall. Whatever you choose, your personal driver will be there when it’s time to load up your bus and head to your next stop!
Be sure to include these museums and memorials on your school trip, all of which are on or near the National Mall:
The National Archives
Address: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408
Home to iconic historic documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the over 700-year-old Magna Carta, the National Archives is a fascinating look at America’s history. See these expertly-preserved documents while you peruse 3 floors of exhibits filled with records created by all branches of the U.S. government.
Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle NW, Washington, DC 20037
Phone: (202) 426-6841
This iconic memorial, the image of which can be found on the back of the American penny, honors Abraham Lincoln and features inscriptions of quotes from his Gettysburg Address and Inaugural Addresses.
Address: 2 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20024
Phone: (202) 426-6841
The Washington Monument, built to honor the country’s first president, George Washington, is the world’s tallest stone structure and tallest obelisk at 554 feet. Visitors can take a rest from walking the National Mall and admire the structure while enjoying a clear view of the rest of the city.
National Museum of American History
Address: 1300 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560
Phone: (202) 633-1000
This Smithsonian museum is dedicated to collecting, caring for, studying, and interpreting objects that represent the American people. Four floors of exhibits include a display dedicated entirely to lunchboxes, a look into the personal lives of past presidents, and the original Star-Spangled Banner.
National Museum of Natural History
Address: 10th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560
Phone: (202) 633-1000
As the most-visited natural history museum in the United States, the National Museum of Natural History has plenty to offer visitors of all ages and fields of interest. Exhibits include the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, which houses the Hope Diamond; the Hall of Human Origins; hands-on activity areas; and more featuring history from all areas of the world.
National Air and Space Museum
Address: 600 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560
Phone: (202) 633-2214
Another member of the famed Smithsonian museums, the National Air and Space Museum is home to research efforts into aviation, spaceflight, planetary science, and geology and geophysics as well as a museum featuring findings from each of these fields.
National Museum of African-American History and Culture
Address: 1400 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560
Phone: (202) 633-1000
One of D.C.’s newer museum additions, the NMAAHC houses over 37,000 objects related to themes such as community, family, the arts, civil rights, segregation, and slavery. The museum houses 12 exhibitions, with notable pieces including a segregated drinking fountain from the Jim Crow era, a cape and jumpsuit owned by James Brown, and Barack Obama’s campaign office from Falls Church, Virginia.
Other notable monuments along or near the National Mall include the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and many more.
While the National Mall is iconic and certainly full of educational opportunities, here are a few other educational destinations in the city that your students are sure to love:
Address: 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 292-6100
The 7-level Newseum is a museum dedicated to showcasing journalism, the evolution of communication, and the importance of our individual freedom of speech when it comes to major events in America’s history. Exhibits featuring the history of the internet, TV, and radio are also on display throughout the museum.
Address: 511 10th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 347-4833
As the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, there are few theatres in the United States with a more intriguing history than Ford’s Theatre. After years of being used for various purposes, the site is now a functioning theatre once again complete with a museum beneath the main theatre.
International Spy Museum
Address: 800 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 393-7798
The fascinating International Spy Museum is home to the largest collection of international espionage artifacts on public display. Visitors are immersed in the “spy” experience when they adopt a cover identity upon entry. The museum’s exhibits allow your students to explore spy training, the history of spring, and the challenges that spies face in today’s world.
Library of Congress
Address: 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540
Phone: (202) 707-8000
The Library of Congress is one of the world’s largest libraries, with over 164 million items in its catalog. It is also the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States, originating in the year 1800. Guided tours are given for a variety of the museum’s exhibitions, covering topics such as World War I, the performing arts, American history, and more.
Arlington National Cemetery & Iwo Jima Memorial
Address: Arlington, VA 22211
Teach your students about those who have lost their lives defending our nation and those who dedicated their lives to making our country better. Tour the cemetery, witness the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and view the iconic Iwo Jima Memorial (just a short walk from the cemetery) all in one stop.
35-45 minute drive from DC; near Alexandria
Address: 3200 Mount Vernon Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22121
Phone: (703) 780-2000
If you’ve got time for a day trip in your itinerary, Mount Vernon is a great option. George Washington’s former home is on display 365 days a year, including Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, in accordance with Washington’s wishes, making it easy to plan a quick trip out to this historic landmark. Take a tour of the estate and explore the mansion, a distillery & gristmill, and a museum.
Whether you’re staying in D.C. or venturing out to Alexandria or Arlington, Ally Charter Bus has you covered. We’re here to make sure that your school trip progresses smoothly and stress-free so that students can enjoy an unforgettable educational trip. Call us today at 703-286-7418 to learn more about how we can help with all of your school travels!