Old Town Trolley Tours – The Best Way to Experience Washington DC

Old Town Trolley Tour DC

**Disclosure: My family received tickets for the Old Town Trolley Tour at no charge in order to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

Washington DC is a big city. It may not look like it on tv, but trust me, there is a lot of walking involved when you visit DC. I spent a lot of time down there growing up because I have family in Bethesda, MD, so I am very familiar with the area, but to give you an example: if you want to walk from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial, plan on at least a 30 minute walk. It may not sound like a lot, but it all adds up. Especially if you’re planning on stopping at some of the monuments & memorials (or even museums) along the way.

So when I had a chance to go on the Old Town Trolley Tour, which is a hop-on hop-off trolley with more than 20 stops all over the city – it was kind of a no-brainer.

The Old Town Trolley Tour is a guided tour in which you can sit back and enjoy a fun trolley ride as well as historical information provided by the driver. All of the drivers we had the day we toured were phenomenal by the way. They shared so much history, trivia and lots of behind-the-scenes details about presidential inaugurations and how they are celebrated in DC. My boys, who are 7 & 10, were never bored once. My oldest was truly interested in listening to the guides and learning about what he was seeing.

boys old town trolley

So, like I mentioned, this is a hop-on hop-off trolley tour, which means you can get on and off at your leisure throughout the day at any of the 20 locations they stop at. That way you can get off of the trolley and explore whatever it is you want to see – for as long as you want. When you’re ready to move to the next attraction, you can re-board the next trolley, which will come by every 30 minutes or so, and off you’ll go.

Each Loop takes about 90 minutes if you do not get off the trolley. The trolley route has 3 convenient and continuous loops – Orange, Red & Green*.

1. The National Mall and Downtown – Orange Loop
The Orange line traverses the National Mall with stops at all the Smithsonian Museum buildings, as well as the National Monuments and Memorials – Lincoln, FDR, Washington, Jefferson and the United States Capitol and Supreme Court buildings.

2. The Arlington National Cemetery Shuttle** – Red Loop (10-15 minute ride)
The Arlington Cemetery line shuttles between the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Cemetery.

3. The National Cathedral, Uptown and Georgetown – Green* Loop
The Green* line travels uptown to visit the National Zoo and Washington National Cathedral; then it takes you through “Embassy Row” on its way to historic Georgetown – Washington’s oldest neighborhood and a mecca for shopping and dining. Finally the green* line stops at the White House and then makes its way to our Welcome Center.

Your tour ticket includes all day on and off privileges on the orange and red loops; And for only $6 more, you can take the extended trolley tour which also includes the green* loop. You can easily transfer from one loop to another at one of the transfer stops.

Our family only rode the orange loop this time. We originally boarded at Union Station and then exited at the Jefferson Memorial. Once we were done there, we then got back onto the trolley to our next stop. We didn’t exit the trolley at each stop -only the ones that had places we were interested in seeing that day. Since it was our 4th day into our vacation, we had already seen a lot, so we just sat back and relaxed on the trolley for a while and listened to the tour guides stories, jokes and fun facts.

Old Town Trolley Tour

Their primary ticketing locations are at the Washington Welcome Center (stop #1), at the corner of 10th St. and E. St., NW, and at Union Station, where the booth is located INSIDE in the front of the Main Hall. You can also purchase your tickets online at a 10% discount. In addition, many hotels in the city sell tickets, so check with the concierge if you are planning on going on a tour before you leave the hotel. Tickets are $39 (adult) and $29 (kids 0-12) at Union Station, but if you get your tickets online, they are $35.10 (adults) and $26.10 (kids).

Union Station

Union Station

Day Tours begin at 9:00 am and run approximately every half-hour until 5:00 pm. The last Re-Boarding Time is at 5:00 pm. Tours run seven days a week throughout the year. As long as you have a ticket, you may board the trolley and begin your tour at any one of their stops.
At 9 am, the Orange and Green Loop leave from stop #1: The Washington Welcome Center and the Orange Loop departs from stop #4: Union Station.
At 9:30 am, the Green Loop starts boarding at stop #18: Georgetown.

Again, trolleys board approximately every 30 minutes and the last re-boarding is at 5:00 pm.

Don’t worry, the spots where you catch the trolleys are clearly marked – and if they’re not, the driver will tell you where to go to find the next trolley before you disembark.

trolley stops

Throughout the day, I saw a lot of families with little ones in strollers on the trolleys. There was room for folding strollers and folding wheelchairs up at the front of the trolleys, so don’t hesitate about taking the tour if you have littles in tow.

About Taylor Nikaci


  1. Rachel

    Looks like a fun outing. I like that you can get off and on the trolly so you can get up close to things you really want to see.

  2. MomMaven

    That sounds like a great way to see our nation’s capitol. I haven’t been there in over 30 years. I think it may be time for another visit.

  3. loisaltermark

    My son went to college at Georgetown. It’s such a great city.

  4. Liz Mays

    I’m such a big fan of hop on/hop off tours like that. It’s super convenient as it’s on your own schedule.

  5. Janine Huldie

    Looked like so much fun and can you believe I have never been to Washington DC?!

  6. Shabby Chic Boho (@terrishutterbug)

    That looks like it would be so much fun. We don’t have anything like that around here but I’ve been having a fit to go to DC and when I do, I’m going to hop on a trolley car for a tour.

  7. Pam

    I’ve been wanting to take the family to DC for vacation. A trolley tour would be so much fun.

  8. Qoftwignberry (@Qoftwignberry)

    There is a ton of walking in Washington DC so using a trolley sounds like a great idea. It is popular among Chicagoland tourists as well.Amandahttp://www.queenofthelandoftwigsnberries.com

  9. crystal

    I’ve got family in Maryland, so we’ve toured DC a few times. I’ve never taken the trolley though. That sounds so much better than dragging kids around & listening to them whine about sore feet.

  10. fashiongrailjasmine

    Ive got a cousin who lives in DC and whenever we visit we just put on our sneaks and walk around. Its so much fun!

  11. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    That looks like so much fun! I love riding on trolleys! Yay!

  12. Jamie

    Trolley tours look like such a fun way to experience a city! I will have to remember this when my family visits DC!

  13. Heather

    That would be so fun! I’ll have to keep this in mind whenever I’m in the DC area.

  14. erin

    We went to DC over the summer. It is so much fun! A lot of walking. We all lost weight with the walking. Lol. A trolley would have been a good idea.

  15. crystal

    Ohhh but maybe then I don’t need the trolley! A little weight loss couldn’t hurt, right? Well, the kiddos would prefer the trolley. That’s for sure!

  16. Heather

    D.C. is on our list for when the kids are a bit older. I will check out this tour then!

  17. Norah Salazar

    Sounds like you guys had a great trip. DC is probably one of my top five USA cities and a must see for everyone!

  18. Joyce

    I love to visit DC. We haven’t been since my daughter graduated the University of Maryland and moved on.http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2015/04/ww-have-you-seen-shounda.html

  19. Ai Sakura

    What a great way to explore the city!Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  20. Patty Leonard Woodland

    They have something similar in New Orleans and it’s a great way to see a city. It just makes getting around so easy. I haven’t been in DC in a hundred and four years.

  21. upliftingfam

    This looks like a super fun outing. I haven’t been to Washington DC yet and hope that I can make it out there one day.

  22. mommiesquietplace: 22qmandy

    I have not traveled very much but going on a trolly in Washington Dc sounds like it would be a ton of fun.

  23. savingcmncents

    This looks like a fabulous family adventure! I’ve been to DC (decades ago) and you are so right…there is a ton of walking involved if you are looking to see historical monuments and buildings. Going by Trolley Tour is brilliant. We plan to take our kids in the next year or two and I’ll remember this for our trip!

  24. Jess C

    I am not the biggest fan of walking so I LOVEE hop on hop off tours… Such a great way to explore a city!

  25. rsrote

    Visiting DC is on my bucket list–I’ll have to do it this way-sounds like a BLAST!

  26. milenabarrett

    We used this when were in DC. The kids loved it and when they were tired we just rode around to check out the sites!

  27. Alli

    I love the fact that you can jump off and grab another trolley later if you’d like more time to explore. I hate those tours where you’re stuck all day in the same bus with the same people. This one looks like loads of fun! And who doesn’t like a trolley ride?

  28. crystal

    That is one of my favorite features, too. It really does let you have whatever kind of experience you want.

  29. Roz K. Walker - Goodbye Boss Hello Kids

    It’s been a while since I’ve visted DC, but we did take a few trolley rides there. We did the self-tour, but the trolley tour sounds like a good idea.

  30. Jeannette

    I used to live in DC and this looks like it hits all the high points of the city. I love trolly tours because you can see all the sights without having to walk which you have to do tons of any way in DC!

  31. @SensiblySara

    30 minutes to walk from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial?! That’s crazy!! I like that you can jump on and off the trolley.

  32. Carrie

    I’ve never been to DC but I love the Trolly idea, so much less stressful than trying to park

  33. Avry

    This idea is awesome! So many to choose from and they are educational tours too. I will keep this in mind if we ever make it to DC.

  34. tiarasandtantrums

    yes, i agree — Washington DC is HUGE!! tons of walking – everywhere. The trolley sounds heavenly to feet whilst visiting there

  35. Jennifer Williams

    Your trip is reminding me of the vacation we took there and we did take that tour. It was so much fun and I agree a great way to see DC.

  36. Carol Cassara (@ccassara)

    This is a really good deal and a fun thing to do.

  37. Jeanine

    How fun! I would love to explore Washington! I loved looking at all your photos! The trolley looks like a perfect way to sightsee!

  38. lisa

    This sounds fun! I’ve always wanted to check out DC so this would be a great way to do it!

  39. Nancy @ Whispered Inspirations

    This looks like so much fun! I would love to go to Washington.

  40. Catherine S

    This looks like a great tour. I will make sure we check it out when we go visit DC.

  41. franckxethee

    This is a fast and scenic way to explore Washington. You get to have a much slower view of the place.

  42. Nancy @ Whispered Inspirations

    I love trolleys. The only time I’ve been on one is in San Francisco and here in town for a food tour.

  43. Elayne

    What a fun trip! My kids would love this, perhaps we’ll try it next time.

  44. Stevie

    Oh I love trolly rides! Personally, anytime I see a city having a trolly- I use it. It’s such a great way to take a look at the city without completely getting tired out!

  45. Travis

    I haven’t been to Washington, D.C. since I was a kid. I would really love to go back now that I’m older.

  46. Cathy Herard (@CathyIsReal)

    This sounds like a perfect way to get around the city! Hopefully we’ll take a family trip to DC at some point and I love to walk, but I like the idea of a trolley, too.

  47. medictom

    Oh my goodness, I am so jealous, I would love to do this! So planning a trip there soon! I want to see the Smithsonian so bad, but I think I need at least 5 days to see them all!

  48. Dee Mauser

    Oh how cool. I want to take a ride! I wish our city had those. I think they would be fun.

  49. Pam Stultz

    I SO want to do this with my family! We’re only about 50 minutes from DC. Great pictures from a great day.

  50. Olivia Schwab

    I haven’t been to DC since my 8th grade trip but I loved it! I’m glad you guys had a great trip!

  51. loisaltermark

    I love taking trolley tours. They’re such a great way to get to know a city.

  52. rachellemama

    Oh I love riding the trolly in my town, but sadly that quit offering them! I’ll have to catch this one next time we are in DC!

  53. Cassie

    I’ve never actually been to Washington, D.C. before. I would love the chance to go and see all of the big monuments.

  54. toxict15

    wow! Super stunning and what a great historical trip for your kids

  55. Amber C.

    How awesome is that! We are going to be visiting family up that way and I can’t wait to get back to DC and see everything again! I will have to check out the trolley tours for sure!

  56. Ourfamilyworld (@OurFamilyWorld)

    It is good that trolley spots are marked because I would be lost. It looks like you had a great time

  57. lydiaf1963

    Sounds like a fun way to see the city without having to worry about getting lost. We’re in the Washington once or twice a year, but it’s been a long time since we’ve visited as tourists. Glad you had fun!

  58. thelesleyshow

    I have yet to go to Washington D.C. but I really want too! You made it look so fun with your pictures! I would love riding the trolley, that would be just as exciting as visiting some of the cool sights there are too see.

  59. Michelle F.

    That looks like so much fun. Looks like you got to see everything.

  60. Chubskulit Rose

    You have handsome little men right there. This is a fun family activity, my son would love this.

  61. Chubskulit Rose

    I qwould lo]=ve to experience this with my ki-ds, looks so much fun for the whole family.

  62. tammi

    I love trolley tours, i’d go on these for sure. It’s a cool way to see everything you want to when travelling!

  63. Christi

    I love the idea of a trolley tour – you don’t have to worry about how you’re getting around, and you’re being shown key sights around the city. How fun! I’ve never been to DC, but when I finally do make it I’ll have to take an Old Town Trolley tour.

  64. maria @ close to home

    How fun we live 90 miles away and have been twice in the last 6 months, Did not notice those trolley signs, guess i need to be more observant.

  65. mrenkema79

    That looks like a blast! Our boys would LOVE that!

  66. Britney Thompson Mills

    Oh man that looked like a really good time!! I bet it was a blast!

  67. Carolann

    I love the pics! What a great way to see our Capital. I love trolley tours too. We’ve taken a few and they are always fun especially for the kids!

  68. Vera Sweeney

    What a fun way to get to see D.C. I love that you don’t have to worry about driving around and they hit all the great spots to visit!

  69. Rosey

    I wish we would have done this last time we were there! We walked and believe you me, there was a LOT of walking, lol. It was fun though. I can’t wait to go back.

  70. Amanda

    I’ve never been to Washington DC, but it is on my list of places that I want to take our kids. I would love to take them on a Trolley tour, it looks like so much fun!

  71. Danielle

    I think all cities worth touring should have these trolley tours. This sounds so much better than walking around all day. I imagine while walking, at some point I would give in and say that’s enough, and then miss the rest of the sights I wanted to see.

  72. Rebecca Swenor

    The Old Town Trolley tour sounds and looks like an awesome time for the family indeed. Hopeful I will get there some day. Thanks for sharing.

  73. Kelly Hutchinson

    This could not have come at a better time! My daughter is going to be visiting DC this summer with her robotics team.

  74. Marcie W.

    I was just speaking to my husband about how I would love to visit DC! A trolley tour looks like so much fun and an interesting way to see the popular spots.

  75. meagan

    I LOVE DC. My husband and I visited a few years ago and absolutely fell in love. Can’t wait to go back one day.

  76. AJ @ Roaming Family

    I can’t wait to take my kids to Washington DC! So many fun things to see and do!

  77. martinkadelux

    Your DC trip is making me miss living in Alexandria… it was a past life, but man it was awesome! I love DC and all its glory! Have so much fun and keep posting!!!!

  78. Pam

    I love trolley tours. They’re the best way to see a historic city.

  79. Kristen from The Road to Domestication

    Ah! We are planning a trip to DC next year – I will definitely include this tour!

  80. Bri

    I never thought of experiencing DC by trolley. Thanks for sharing.

  81. lisa @bitesforbabies

    This looks like it would be so much fun for the kids! I can’t remember the last time, I myself, have done something like this!

  82. Charise

    This is so good to know about because we plan to do a DC trip with the kids in the next year or two!

  83. Allie D.

    I have never taken a trolley before, but it looks fun. It’s great that you can stop at all those different places.

  84. Theresa

    Sounds like the perfect way to get around. Jason went with Mariah a few years back, but it was on a school trip and I don’t think they used the trolly. If we ever go as a family, we definitely will!

  85. Ann Bacciaglia

    The Old Town Trolley Tour sounds like a fantastic way to see parts of Washington. I am hoping to get to visit Washington DC this year.

  86. Stacey- Travel Blogger

    This sounds like so much fun! I love riding on trolleys!

  87. Jenny Temcio

    I love Washington DC! I haven’t been there in a long time sadly.

  88. Kristina

    What a a fun trip! I have always wanted to visit Washington D.C.

  89. Amanda

    I love the idea of using a trolley to tour! How convenient. I’ve never been to DC, but one day it will happen.

  90. Crystal From Tidbits of Experience

    This looks like a really fun adventure to take as a family. I have always wanted to go to Washington, DC. I hope to one day make it happen for my kids and I at least. Hopefully, my husband will get well enough to travel again one day.

  91. M from The Stay-at-Home Life

    I lived in DC for years, yet never did the trolley. It looks fun.

  92. Autumn @Mamachallenge

    Looks like you had a lot of fun! I would love to take my family there to visit!

  93. Aubrey

    That looks like so much fun. I would love to tour Washington.

  94. Elizabeth O.

    It seems like a lot of fun. And you get to walk around and ride.

  95. Michele

    Yes, I have been to Washington DC and walked my feet off every time! Not sure if they had that Trolley when I was there but if I go back you know I am going to invest in a ticket!!

  96. katrinagehman

    wow, looks like everyone had a great time! we love DC, always something to see.

  97. traceyzimmer

    This looks like a great tour and very educational. I will keep this in mind if I ever visit DC!

  98. Kira

    I have been to DC many time but sadly haven’t visited any of these places. Would love to do this on our next trip though, thanks for the list.

  99. alexisakamom0616

    So fun! I watched on FB so wanting to do that with the kids!

  100. Caitlin

    I’ve never been to DC, but this definitely looks like the way I would like to do it!

  101. Erica (@Erica's Recipes)

    We’ve got family in DC so we travel there regularly. We’ve done walking tours, which are exhausting, but I didn’t know there are trolley tours! Sounds fun – will be looking into this for sure next trip.

  102. Shanéy Vijendranath

    Now I really want to visit the USA! You giving me the itchy feet. Hopefully one day I will get to see your country.

  103. krystaprice

    Being from NJ, my class trips were always to DC or Philly and I have to say I have always thought it was a great city. LOADS of educational things to do and see and lots of great eateries also!

  104. Jacqui Odell

    It has been forever since I have been to DC! I would love to take my kids to visit and I think this trolley ride would be a great way to tour it.

  105. JessicaACassidy (@wifetoalineman)

    This tour looks so much fun. My family never been to Washington D.C, hope someday. Thank you for sharing. I will keep this suggestions.

  106. Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas

    I’ve always wanted to ride a real trolley! They remind of so much of some of the toys I had as a kid.

  107. Amy Desrosiers

    My kids would love to go on a trolley ride too! Looks like you had a real blast in DC!

  108. roselynn787

    I love all your photos, it looks like you had such a great time with the family. I’ve only been to DC once and it was a long time ago when I was in my teens.

  109. toughcookiemommy

    I’m glad that this option is available in Washington D.C. I’ve heard that finding parking there when you are sightseeing is next to impossible.

  110. mburbage

    What a fun way to explore! Looks like everyone had a blast too, I’ll be sure to tour the place just like this. Kids would love it

  111. Bonnie @ wemake7

    I’ve never been on a Trolley car before. It’s one thing I hope we can do someday.

  112. Jaime

    This is a tour I want to do! My brother is currently stationed in No. Carolina and I am going to go see him and his family and taking a trip to DC!

  113. Lisa Rios

    Sounds like so much of fun. Trolley tours are really a fun and great experience, a great way to explore a city. I like your family pic so much. I have added Washington DC in my list.

  114. Danielle Wells

    I have close family members who are moving to DC and I’m so excited about being able to visit and sightsee! Looks like this is a great idea!

  115. Janell @ Saving You Dinero

    I have always wanted to visit DC. This is a great resource!

  116. Amanda Love

    I’ve never been to Washington DC and would love to visit and those trolley tours would have to be a must for me.

  117. Carly Anderson (Lipgloss and Crayons)

    A trolley tour looks and sounds like so much fun! I’m really impressed with the prices of the tickets, as well. I can’t wait to visit Washington D.C. sometime.

  118. Stephanie Pass

    This is good to know! My parents are taking my teenager to a forensic science summer thing for high school kids, but they’ll have about 2 days to take her around D.C. I bet they’d love these trolley cars.

  119. Cara (@StylishGeek)

    Thank you for your wonderful post on your family trip to Washington DC using the Trolley! It reminded me when my daughter and I took a trip there when she was young. Washington DC is such a fascinating city! I love all the sites, particularly our visits to the Smithsonian.

  120. Jhoveleen

    My kids and I have never been to Washington DC, but I think it would be also a blast when we go there. Thanks for this share.

  121. Krystal

    I have never gone to DC before but have friends there. I would love to hit all the tourism spots!

  122. censie

    I have never explored DC but it is on my list for sure. I think we will go when the kids are older.

  123. Manu Kalia

    Looking forward on visiting washington DC and will definitely straight to Old Town Trolley Tour. It’s on my bucket list!

  124. melisasource

    I remember seeing the trolley when I visited D.C. I’ll definitely have to take a ride on it next time!

  125. Becky

    Enough room for strollers perfect! Last time I was in DC was 20 years ago!

  126. Debi

    Wow, it certainly sound alike a lot of fun. We are trying to plan a trip to DC soon.

  127. sgarrison05

    This sounds like THE way to check out DC! I’m going to have to keep this in mind for when we go visit!

  128. Shannon Gurnee

    I love trolleys! Sounds like a great way to experience Washington DC!! I would love to go on them someday.

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