Travel Guide | Washington DC

The Bicycle Sightseeing Guide to Washington D.C.

Explore the capital of the United States while staying in shape, helping the environment and getting there faster

This year Washington D.C. was declared the fittest city in the US on the American Fitness Index. And indeed, when I was visiting my friend Rafael in the U.S. Capital for the 4th of July weekend I got a taste of what that means.

Navigating your way by bike

There is a convenient app called Spotcycle. It uses Google Maps as a basis so you can use it to navigate, find out where the nearest bikeshare station is and see how many bikes and docks are available.

washington d.c. capital bikeshare

Alternative to Spotcycle: have a friend who knows their way around

Biking from the Airport

I arrived at Ronald Reagan National Airport on Friday afternoon and Rafael immediately whisked me away to one of the nearby Capital Bikeshare stations in Crystal City. I got a three day membership for $15, one day costs $7 and there are also monthly and yearly rates. After paying the fee rides up to 30 minutes are covered. For each following half hour there are additional fees. However, it’s almost always cheaper than taking the metro. The trip from the airport to Rafael’s neighborhood, the centrally located Foggy Bottom, would have taken just under half an hour but my general unfitness and the 4th of July crowds hindered us from making the trip in time, so we each paid an additional $1.50.

White House – National Mall – Smithsonian(s) of your choice – United States Capitol: 2.6 miles

United States Capitol Building Washington D.C.

The United States Capitol Building

Once you get from where you are staying to the White House, there are several bikeshare stations around, the closest at New York Avenue & 15th Street NW. Take some pictures of America’s favorite piece of architecture and have some fun watching the other tourists and the protestors who will likely be there.

Take a ride along the National Mall where a lot of the Smithsonian Museums are located. I went to the Smithsonians from American History, Air and Space, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Archives and can recommend all of them. For more D.C. sightseeing tips, check out Student Guide to Washington D.C.

After you’ve gotten your museum fix, continue along the National Mall to the Capitol. Take some pictures, go on a tour or just hang out in the park in front of the building.

Here’s a map for the tour.

Memorial Tour: 3.9 miles

Lincoln Memorial Washington Monument Washington D.C.

The view from the Lincoln Memorial towards the Washington Monument

This tour is almost a round trip. You start at the Lincoln Memorial and it will lead you past the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the World War II Memorial. It goes along the Tidal Basin which makes the tour extra beautiful.

Jefferson Memorial Tidal Basin sunset Washington D.C.

The Jefferson Memorial from across the Tidal Basin

Here’s a map for the tour.

Watergate Complex – Georgetown – Potomac Riverside: 3 – 6 miles

Georgetown University Washington D.C.

Georgetown University

By now you might be tired of the sights and the tourists in the city. Make your way to Georgetown along the waterfront (view on the Watergate complex included) and stroll through one of Washington D.C.’s oldest and most exclusive neighborhoods. There is a bikeshare station at the Georgetown University Campus. When you are done looking at things you can’t afford continue down to the Potomac River and the Ohio Canal. There is a beautiful bike trail that you can follow towards Maryland called the Capital Crescent Trail but beware that there are no Bikeshare Stations on it after Georgetown. On the other side of the Potomac, the George Washington Memorial Parkway leads further into the city.

Here’s a map for the tour.

Capital Crescent Trail along the Potomac Washington D.C.

The Capital Crescent Trail along the Ohio Canal

Just in case you are still not convinced that biking is the way to get around D.C. here’s a map that will help you determine which method of transportation will get you around the city fastest.

However you choose to explore the city – be safe, mind the traffic and have fun!

A Bicycle Site Seeing Guide to DC

Julia Rabe

Universität Leipzig | 9 stories

Julia is an American Studies major at Leipzig University in Germany. Currently she is studying abroad at Ohio University. This summer she will be traveling through the United States and Canada before returning home to Germany in the fall. In addition to travel, Julia is passionate about video-making, her internet addiction and trying not to fall off her pennyboard.


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