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Washington D.C.

Discover Washington, D.C.: The Best of the Capital

Program No. 2833RJ
Discover D.C. through expert-led explorations of Capitol Hill, the memorials and topical issues. Plus, enjoy visits to historical institutions and a live show at a local theater!

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
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Mar 31 - Apr 5, 2024
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2,249
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Apr 7 - Apr 12, 2024
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Apr 21 - Apr 26, 2024
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May 5 - May 10, 2024
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Itinerary Note

In place of a visit to Washington National Cathedral, we will have a guided visit of President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home U.S. Military Asylum. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln's cottage is where the President resided during the months of June to November, 1862-1864. His last visit to the house was day before his assassination. Lincoln strategized war efforts at the retreat and also brainstormed his ideas about emancipation.

May 19 - May 24, 2024
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May 26 - May 31, 2024
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2,249
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Sep 8 - Sep 13, 2024
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Sep 22 - Sep 27, 2024
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Oct 13 - Oct 18, 2024
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Oct 27 - Nov 1, 2024
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2,249
Apr 6 - Apr 11, 2025
Starting at
2,449
Apr 20 - Apr 25, 2025
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2,449
Apr 27 - May 2, 2025
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2,449
May 4 - May 9, 2025
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2,449
May 18 - May 23, 2025
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2,449
Sep 7 - Sep 12, 2025
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2,449
Sep 21 - Sep 26, 2025
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2,449
Oct 12 - Oct 17, 2025
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2,449
Oct 26 - Oct 31, 2025
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2,449
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Filling Fast!
Mar 31 - Apr 5, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Filling Fast!
Apr 7 - Apr 12, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Filling Fast!
Apr 21 - Apr 26, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Filling Fast!
May 5 - May 10, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Itinerary Note

In place of a visit to Washington National Cathedral, we will have a guided visit of President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home U.S. Military Asylum. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln's cottage is where the President resided during the months of June to November, 1862-1864. His last visit to the house was day before his assassination. Lincoln strategized war efforts at the retreat and also brainstormed his ideas about emancipation.

May 19 - May 24, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Filling Fast!
May 26 - May 31, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Sep 8 - Sep 13, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Sep 22 - Sep 27, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Filling Fast!
Oct 13 - Oct 18, 2024
Starting at
2,859
Filling Fast!
Oct 27 - Nov 1, 2024
Starting at
2,859
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Apr 6 - Apr 11, 2025
Starting at
3,089
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Apr 20 - Apr 25, 2025
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3,089
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Apr 27 - May 2, 2025
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3,089
Filling Fast!
May 4 - May 9, 2025
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3,089
Filling Fast!
May 18 - May 23, 2025
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3,089
Filling Fast!
Sep 7 - Sep 12, 2025
Starting at
3,089
Filling Fast!
Sep 21 - Sep 26, 2025
Starting at
3,089
Filling Fast!
Oct 12 - Oct 17, 2025
Starting at
3,089
Filling Fast!
Oct 26 - Oct 31, 2025
Starting at
3,089

At a Glance

Experience the invigorating environment of America’s capital city as knowledgeable instructors immerse you in a wide-ranging exploration of Washington D.C.’s iconic memorials, eclectic neighborhoods and topical conversations. During lectures with D.C. experts, discuss policy issues, explore vital history, and learn about famous figures throughout the capital. Delight in an introduction to Washington’s vibrant cultural institutions as you venture into the Smithsonian Museums, Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, National Cathedral and attend a live performance at a local theater.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking 1-4 miles per day, including to/from motor coaches; some standing.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Gain historical insights while visiting Washington’s most treasured monuments and its newest memorials.
  • Explore America’s unique political system with expert lectures and visits to the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress, and the White House.
  • Go behind the scenes at the Kennedy Center, learn about the many extraordinary gifts from the governments of more than 60 countries that make this a truly international destination.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Ann McClellan
Ann McClellan is author of “The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration,” and “Cherry Blossoms, The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.” She has held executive positions at the Smithsonian Institution, World Wildlife Fund, the American Lung Association, the American Association of Museums, and the George Washington University Law School. Ann has viewed cherry blossoms in Japan, giving her even more of an appreciation for Washington’s sublime blooming season.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Ann McClellan
Ann McClellan View biography
Ann McClellan is author of “The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration,” and “Cherry Blossoms, The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.” She has held executive positions at the Smithsonian Institution, World Wildlife Fund, the American Lung Association, the American Association of Museums, and the George Washington University Law School. Ann has viewed cherry blossoms in Japan, giving her even more of an appreciation for Washington’s sublime blooming season.
Profile Image of Lynde Vespoli
Lynde Vespoli View biography
Lynde Vespoli has been leading groups since 2006 and has worked for Road Scholar since 2012. She has certificates in travel and tourism, as well as hospitality and tourism management. A native Midwesterner, she has led programs in that region as well as Washington, D.C., New York, Canada, Cuba, and Italy. In her free time, Lynde enjoys traveling with her family and spoiling her granddaughters.
Profile Image of Gayle Felix
Gayle Felix View biography
Gayle Felix has been a Road Scholar group leader since 2015. She grew up and raised her family outside of Boston and now resides in Hingham, Massachusetts. With a history/American studies degree from Boston University, she enjoys sharing the history of Boston and surrounding areas. Gayle has led programs in New England; Washington, DC; and other areas in the United States. Gayle enjoys being with her family and friends, biking, kayaking, golfing, and hiking. She especially enjoys traveling and meeting new people.
Profile Image of Karen Warnecke
Karen Warnecke View biography
Karen Warnecke attended the University of Buffalo. After college, she made her way to San Diego, California, where she met her husband. His 30-year naval flight career led them to raise four sons all over the country. In Charlottesville, Karen continued her career with the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine as a course coordinator for first-year medical students. She retired several years ago to allow more opportunities to travel, visit family and friends, work in her garden, read, and enjoy the local area.
Profile Image of Christi Pancoast
Christi Pancoast View biography
Christi Pancoast is originally from Ohio and has been a teacher in Richmond, Virginia for over two decades. She is a self-proclaimed travel junkie, lifelong learner, and people enthusiast. In her free time, she enjoys Zumba, yoga, and being with her friends.
Profile Image of Lili Murad
Lili Murad View biography
Lili Murad knows firsthand the unique, life-changing moments that only travel can provide, whether it be building houses with Habit for Humanity in New Zealand, working at an eco-lodge in Costa Rica, or participating in a Bald Eagle field study project in Alaska. She made her first solo trip at the tender age of 9, and has since visited 30 countries and 29 U.S. states. In between adventures, she has put down deep roots in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Boston.
Profile Image of Steve Flynn
Steve Flynn View biography
Steve Flynn was raised in Oregon. He pursued graduate work in intercultural studies and has extensive experience leading educational groups for students and adults both within and outside the U.S. A current resident of Washington, D.C., he has spent his professional career working in international student exchange programs for the University of North Carolina system.
Profile Image of Raymond Batvinis
Raymond Batvinis View biography
Dr. Raymond J. Batvinis is the Historian for the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For 25 years, he was a Special FBI Agent concentrating on counterintelligence and counterterrorism. Dr. Batvinis operates fbistudies.com, a website focused on the FBI. In addition to authoring scholarly articles, he has contributed to the Oxford History of Intelligence and has produced two books on the history of the FBI’s counterintelligence program: "The Origins of FBI Counterintelligence" and "Hoover’s Secret War Against Axis Spies."
Profile Image of Donald Daniel
Donald Daniel View biography
Donald C.F. Daniel is Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University and Milton E. Miles Professor Emeritus at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He was Special Assistant to the Chairman, US Intelligence Council in Washington; Ford Foundation Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington; Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London; researcher-in-residence for the UN Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva; and Associate Fellow at the Swedish National Defense College, Stockholm. He has directed political-military simulations involving participants worldwide.
Profile Image of Gautham Rao
Gautham Rao View biography
Gautham Rao, Associate Professor of History at American University, is Editor-in-Chief of “Law and History Review.” He did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Chicago and has been a fellow at the New York University School of Law and the University of Wisconsin Law School. His first book was “National Duties: Custom Houses and the Making of the American State” with the University of Chicago Press. His current book is “Slavery's Leviathan: Fugitive Slaves and the Making of the American Police State.”
Profile Image of Eric Arnesen
Eric Arnesen View biography
Eric Arnesen is the Teamsters Professor of History at George Washington University. He earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University and an M.A. in African-American Studies and a Ph.D. in history from Yale University. A specialist in the history of race, labor, politics, and civil rights, he has written two award-winning books: “Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality” (2001) and “Waterfront Workers of New Orleans: Race, Class, and Politics, 1863-1923” (1991). He has written, edited, or co-edited five other books.
Profile Image of Ella Schiralli
Ella Schiralli View biography
Ella Schiralli is a certified D.C. group leader with a passion for sharing the culture, history, and modern vibrancy of our nation’s capital. She graduated from George Washington University with a B.B.A. and E.M.B.A. Ella values diversity and is passionate about leadership. She has had the opportunity to work and volunteer in organizations that range from advanced homeland security solutions and public policy advocacy, to women’s military achievements, the performing arts, and children’s advocacy.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Washington National Mall
by Peter R. Penczer
The Washington National Mall" is the first general history of America's greatest urban park. Learn the fascinating stories behind the monuments and museums, from the best known to the most obscure. The Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial are all here, as are forgotten landmarks such as the Fish Commission, the Redwood Tree House, and Braddock's Rock. This amply illustrated volume has more than 100 archival photographs, many never before published, as well as recent color photographs of the monuments and museums. A detailed two-page map of the Mall and the surrounding area serve as a handy reference guide for visitors.
Washington
by Meg Greenfield
An instant classic on the way Washington works-and a witty, provocative portrayal of the tribes that run it-by a revered Washington writer and editor. Meg Greenfield, the illustrious long-time editorial page editor of the Washington Post, has written an instant classic that is as wise as it is wry. Greenfield came to Washington in 1961 at the beginning of the Kennedy administration and joined the Washington Post in 1968. Her editorials at the Post and her columns in Newsweek were universally admired in Washington for their insight and style. Here Greenfield provides a portrait of the United States capital at the end of the American century. Washington is an eccentric, tribal, provincial place where the primary currency is power. For all the scandal and politics of Washington, its real culture is surprisingly little known, and Meg Greenfield explains the place with an insider's knowledge and an observer's cool perspective.
The Houses and Collections of Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Joy of It
by Kate Markert
A celebration of philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post’s passions for her residences and personal collections, reflecting centuries of some of the finest treasures in the world.
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Virginia
D
Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Your program materials will be sent to you a few days before the program, digitally, through your roadscholar.org account. This includes your program itinerary, any related handouts, and restaurant/free time suggestions. Please plan to print them out and bring along to the program, utilize the hotel's business center to access them, or view them on your own personal electronic device. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Tidal Basin, Kennedy Center, Monuments & Memorials
Virginia
B,L,D
Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport

Activity note: Walking up to 4 miles on paved surfaces and tiled floors. Getting on/off a motorcoach.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will hear from a local expert and author on Washington, D.C.’s most popular floral attraction, the cherry blossoms. We will hear about the history of the blossoms, a gift and a sign of peace between the U.S. and Japan. We will then board our motorcoach with our expert and head out to the Tidal Basin. We will see some of D.C.’s most well-known spots for Japanese horticulture, and our expert will enlighten us on the history of diplomatic efforts of sharing flora and fauna across nations.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we will spend more time at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on the banks of the Potomac River. The Kennedy Center annually presents some 3,000 events in all areas of the performing arts for an audience of more than 2 million people. The genesis of a national cultural center goes back to 1958. The finished complex was named as a living memorial to President Kennedy, its greatest advocate, after his death in 1963. We will have an expert-led exploration, learn how our national cultural center developed, and see an interactive exhibit on the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy. Following our visit, we will make our way over to what is locally known as the Big 3. We’ll explore Abraham Lincoln's life, principles and Civil War presidency at the Lincoln Memorial on the west end of the National Mall. We will also examine America's Cold War history through the prism of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and reflect on the tragic consequences of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: After reboarding the motorcoach, we will visit the exterior of the White House and learn about the executive mansion and its surrounding neighborhood from the Group Leader or a local expert. (Please note, interior White House tours must be scheduled personally through your Member of Congress. Requests must be made no less than 21 days prior to arrival.)

DAY
3
Hillwood Estates, National Cathedral, Embassy Row
Virginia
B,L,D
Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking about 0.5 miles, approximately 1 hour at Hillwood Estates; chairs/benches available throughout; handrails and elevator in mansion.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will start the day with a lecture from a local expert; possible topics include the media, international relations, current issues and the judiciary. We will then board the motorcoach and head out for a field trip to the Hillwood Estates. On a docent-led exploration, we will get an opportunity to see the acres of gardens meticulously maintained along with private access to the Estate & Museum's history.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Heading back out on the motorcoach, we’ll ride to Washington National Cathedral for an expert-led field trip. We will see Woodrow Wilson's Tomb, marvel at the ironwork, and learn the history behind the country’s “National House of Prayer.” Pierre L’Enfant, the architect President George Washington commissioned in 1791 to create a master plan for the nation’s capital, envisioned it. The cathedral’s “birth certificate” authorizing construction was signed in 1893, but the cornerstone was not laid until 1907. It was officially completed in 1990 and is recognized today as one of the great achievements of ecclesiastical architecture. Next, we will go for a motorcoach exploration through our nation’s capital with expert commentary on-board as we drive through and learn about the history of “Embassy Row”— in and around a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue — and more. There are more than 170 foreign embassies in Washington.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Library of Congress, U.S. Capitol Building
Virginia
B,L
Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport

Activity note: Short walk to DC Metro subway; in the event escalators are out of service, there will be 2-3 flights of stairs to climb. Walking about 1.5 miles throughout the day. Extra security screening is in place at the U.S. Capitol. The Group Leader will advise what can and cannot be brought into the building prior to our field trip. Capitol visit involves lots of standing on marble floors for about 2 hours with limited seating. Please wear comfortable shoes this day.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: To begin our day, we will walk from the hotel to the Metro subway and head to the Library of Congress (LOC) for a self-led exploration; detailed brochures are available from Information Desks in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The LOC is America’s oldest federal cultural institution, established in 1800 by an Act of Congress. When the British burned the original collection housed in the Capitol building in 1814, Thomas Jefferson replaced it with his own personal library. The LOC has grown to become the largest library in the world with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps, manuscripts, and other resources. The main Reading Room is one of the most magnificent spaces in Washington.

Lunch: At a local café.

Afternoon: Next, walk to the United States Capitol Visitor Center where we’ll see a short film that traces the development of our democracy and introduces the amazing building that houses our Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. We’ll see the Crypt, Statuary Hall, and the Rotunda with a representative from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. “The Capitol is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world. The Senate and the House of Representatives have met here for more than two centuries. Begun in 1793, the Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored; today, it stands as a monument not only to its builders but also to the American people and their government.” (https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/)

Dinner: Dinner is on your own this evening to explore and sample the city's numerous dining options. Your group leader will be happy to offer suggestions

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Counterintelligence, Ford's Theater, Free Time, Performance
Virginia
B,D
Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport

Activity note: Short walk to DC Metro subway; in the event that escalators are out of service, there will be 2-3 flights of stairs to climb. Getting on/off a motorcoach to dinner, performance, and hotel in the evening. Walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be joined by the historian for the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who will review opening moments of American counterintelligence and examine some of the “lessons learned” — and perhaps forgotten — that impact U.S. abilities to thwart adversaries in the 21st century. Next, we will take the Metro downtown to Ford's Theater, still a working professional theater. We will explore Ford's Theater and experience One Destiny, a short performance that traces the events leading up to Lincoln's assassination on April 14th, 1865.

Lunch: On your own. Eateries are available in the Smithsonian Museums.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most at the Smithsonian Institution museums. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We will enjoy a performance at one of D.C.'s historic theaters on our final night in the nation's capital. Performance schedules and the particular theater location will be announced at a later date. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Lecture, Program Concludes
Virginia
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will hear one last lecture this morning at our hotel, followed by closing remarks from our Group Leader. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.