If America is the most powerful nation in the world, then Washington DC, its purpose-built capital, is its most powerful city. This tour is perfect for students of politics and modern history.
- 5 days
- Approx. 6 hrs
- US Capitol Building
- White House (exterior)
- National Mall
For the latest travel advice, including passport and visa information, visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website
All our itineraries can be fully customised to meet your learning objectives, budget and required trip length
Day 1 - Fly to Washington DC
Arrive in DC and transfer to your hotel. Your first glimpse of the Capitol will be the Washington Monument in the distance and with so much to see in the city, even a transfer to the hotel is a sightseeing tour. This is a good opportunity to get yourself orientated with the city - DC's streets are easy to understand and run numerically north and south and alphabetically east and west with grand boulevards named after States running diagonally. If you know the intersection you're going to, it's hard to get lost in DC.
The Smithsonians are a superb collection of free museums largely dotted around the National Mall area which require no advance booking and can be visited during your tour. Of particular interest to students are the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Day 2 - US Capitol tour
The main focus today will be a guided tour of the US Capitol, home of the US Congress since 1800, prior to which Congress moved around to different cities including New York and Philadelphia.
Begin in the large underground Capitol Visitor Center – make your own mind up as to whether this is an example of huge Congressional overspend ($600m!) or a necessity. The short 12 minute video at the start of the tour is incredibly useful for British students in getting a good overview of how representative democracy works in the US. Students should take note of the now-outgrown rooms e.g. the old Supreme Court room and the old Congressional chambers, because it indicates the huge growth in the US and its need for ever larger government offices.
Learn first-hand about the operation of the Supreme Court on a walk through the courtrooms and building – it is often possible to watch Supreme Court cases being heard. The Supreme Court is often regarded as the place where the US’s power is enhanced or curtailed.
Then visit the Library of Congress, the national library. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt approved plans for all of the papers of the Founding Fathers to be transferred into the Library. Today, there are over 32m books and 61m manuscripts, including over 1m US government publications. A specific item of interest for students is the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. It is possible to have a highly personalised visit to the Library – keep an eye out before you go for new, specialist tours.
Day 3 - Memorials tour
Today take a walking tour through the thought-provoking Memorials dotted around near the National Mall. Depending on your period of study, Memorials of particular interest include the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, the DC War Memorial (commemorating those who died in WW1), the F.D. Roosevelt Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial (surrounded by inscriptions of key passages from the Declaration of Independence), the Lincoln Memorial (surrounded by inscriptions from his famous Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address), the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the WW2 Memorial, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Washington Monument where you can take the lift to the top for stunning views (at one time this was the tallest structure in the world!)
You can then cross the Potomac on Memorial Bridge into Arlington National Cemetery, established during the Civil War, once other local and smaller cemeteries were full, using land on the Arlington Estate that had been owned by a Confederate leader. You can spot differences in the headstones of Confederate soldiers as they have a peaked rather than rounded top. The Cemetery has expanded following WW2, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Take a look for the graves of President J.F. Kennedy, and numerous astronauts from the ‘space race’ era.
Day 4 - Choice of activity, fly home
Our Washington DC tours are all customised and flexible, no one tour is alike. Your last day's activities will depend on what you have managed to fit in elsewhere and whether there are any Smithsonians you still need to visit!
It is possible to visit the Pentagon on a short tour (weekdays only) led by a member of the US military. The Pentagon is a real symbol of American international clout, although for obvious security reasons, most of the interesting activity is not on display.
Ford's Theater is a super museum-in-a-theatre focusing on the life of Abraham Lincoln up to his presidency and assassination in the Presidential Box, as well as the Civil War.
The Newseum focuses on promoting the message of the First Amendment of the Constitution – the freedom of speech and expression. There is something in here for students of any historical era – being able to see how news was presented contemporarily provides excellent primary source material.
You will be able to see the iconic White House from across the lawn, but it is extremely difficult for students to gain entry into the actual building itself. Instead, it is possible to go to the White House Visitor Center, where students can enjoy a virtual interactive tour of the home of the US President, watch a short film about the role of the White House in the Presidency, and see important artefacts.
Later on, transfer to the airport for your overnight transatlantic flight.
Day 5 - Arrive home
Arrive home in the morning with some unforgettable memories of a fantastic school tour to Washington DC.
Full TCBC support from the moment you book until you return home
Full itinerary flexibility to ensure the perfect tour for your students
We'll source the best available flights based on your school's location
You'll have all our necessary contact details to hand should the need arise
Knowledgeable TCBC guide ready to bring your walking tours to life
Detailed itinerary, with all entrance fees included, no hidden costs
Return flights, 1 piece of hold luggage per person, airport taxes and security charges and ATOL Protection Contribution
Airport transfers upon arrival and departure. We can also arrange your UK airport transfers if you wish
Experienced local TCBC guide in Washington DC for your included walking tours
3 nights' hotel or hostel accommodation, with multi rooms for students and single rooms for teachers
Breakfasts daily and dinner on arrival day at accommodation
Two guided walking tours - the US Capitol, Supreme Court and the Library of Congress and the National Mall and Memorials
Advance bookings made for any additional pre arranged museum entries, meals at local restaurants or sporting events
There will be no hidden costs on tour, everything will be clearly explained before departure
24 hour emergency contact details of TCBC's office and your local guide's mobile number
The normal free staff place ratio is 1:10 but this is flexible and we'll work to whichever ratio you require
Free to download tour app to take with you on tour, providing you and group with important tour info
We support the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund and make a small contribution to their organisation from each tour that travels with us
Please check at school to ensure you are covered by an adequate travel insurance policy which we will need to see a copy of. We can help you source cover if you need
We generally don't include lunches unless requested. We prefer to let the students explore the local options and choose for themselves
If you feel you have received excellent service, then our local guides and drivers will appreciate being tipped. Guidelines will be outlined in your quote
Event availability isn't usually known at the time of booking. We will inform you of options and ticket prices closer to departure
Local public transportation
Whether you teach History, Politics or Art, we can design a US itinerary to suit your curriculum requirements.
Together with our Education Advisor Ruth Tarrant, we have compiled useful links that show how the sights visited on your tour specifically relate to your students' studies. These will be very helpful when you come to submit the tour for approval at school.
It's important that your tour meets your learning objectives. Please feel free to download our handy introduction describing all the ways a trip to America can be linked to the curriculum.
We have also prepared much more detailed specifications relating to particular modules. Simply enter your name and email address, select the module you'd like and we'll send it over.
The properties we use in Washington DC are used to working with our school groups and meet our high standards
Capitol Skyline Hotel
The Capitol Skyline is a newly renovated, modern boutique hotel, located just over a mile from the National Mall and five blocks from the U.S Capitol. Guest rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, desks, digital safety deposit boxes, free WiFi and air conditioning.
The hotel also offers a seasonal rooftop pool and recreational sports campus across the street, featuring tennis courts, a playground, football pitch and a baseball field.
Days Inn Hotel
The Days Inn Hotel is a modern, no frills hotel offering sophistication and comfort on a budget, making it an ideal choice for school groups.
Located just 3 miles from downtown DC, there are convenient transportation links nearby, such as the Van Ness/UDC Red Line Metro Station which is only a block away. Guest rooms include free WiFi, HDTV, complimentary coffee service and air conditioning.
Despite being slightly dated, the Harrington Hotel offers clean rooms and an unbeatable location. It is situated just half a block from Pennsylvania Avenue, between the Capitol and the White House, and is in the heart of the tourist district and the metro station is only two blocks away.
As well as a gift shop and 3 onsite restaurants, the hotel has 242 guest rooms equipped with cable TV, refrigerators, air-conditioning and free WiFi.
Hostelling International offers a friendly and inexpensive base for travellers in a safe, clean and fun environment. Located in the heart of downtown DC, this eco-friendly hostel is situated just 8 blocks from the White House and the National Mall.
Its large communal areas are fantastic for school groups who can enjoy a range of facilities such as a common room with comfortable sofas, TV room with a big screen, pool table, books, puzzles and an outside seating area.
Other amenities include a 24 hour front desk and security service, a fully equipped self-service kitchen and free WiFi. All rooms have air-conditioning, heating, lockers, linen and towels.
Help with your visa application
We'll help you with the ESTA application process to make things as simple as possible
Excellent guides, superb organisation, good hotels, a great mixture of fun and high-quality learning experiences for the students. A fantastic trip to America, thank you!