As a DC local, it is not an uncommon site to see Segway tours going around the city – my office is two blocks from the National Mall and I jog around the monuments several times a week. After years of seeing these tours and snickering at them (all the while secretly jealous), my friend and I decided to bite the bullet and be tourists in our own city.
From turtle mode to the White House
We signed up for a 2pm Segway tour, and by 2:45pm, after the safety briefing and some time to get a feel for the Segways away from crowds and traffic, we were on our way. A small surprise – Segways come equipped with bags for water, cameras, etc. I didn’t need my awesome fanny-pack after all.
We were in a group of about eight people, led by our friendly tour guide, Megan. Our first stop was the White House! By the time we were leaving the White House, Megan was comfortable enough with the group’s riding abilities to take our segways off “turtle mode.” We then “sped off” – at a whopping 12 mph – towards the National Mall, getting a view of the backside of the White House and the Ellipse.
Washington DC looks pretty good on a Segway
Once on the National Mall, we passed the Washington Monument – hard to miss, but there was a whole new thrill seeing it perched on a Segway. From there we turned east heading past the Smithsonian Museums. Megan stopped along the way, explaining the museums, and we had a 10-minute break for snacks and rest from all the *cough cough* strenuous gliding.
There are 19 different Smithsonian Museums, most of them are on the perimeter of the National Mall, and all are free to the public. The museums include: the Air and Space Museum, African Art Museum, National Art Galleries, Natural History Museum, American History Museum, Native American Museum, the Hirshhorn, to name a few. You will definitely want to return to the mall to check out the museums, as well as to spend more time at the monuments.
After our break, we continued east towards the Capitol Building, stopping in front of the National Botanical Gardens. (We did not get a chance to go inside the gardens on this tour, but I highly recommend while you are in DC, you make a trip to the gardens.)
Next up – we went to the front of the Capital Building, where we had a great view of the National Mall, and then to the back of the Capital Building. You will want to take note of several buildings viewable from the backside of the Capitol Building, as you will want to return: the US Capitol Visitors Center (the meeting point for all Capitol Building tours), the Supreme Court Building and the Library of Congress.
For the last leg of the tour we glided up Pennsylvania Avenue, along part of the route for the Inaugural Parade (I’m going to write to the Executive Office and see if the next Inaugural Parade can be held on Segways). We stopped by the Newseum—a museum dedicated to all things news related, my favorite exhibit being the Pulitzer Prize Photo Gallery. Lastly we went by the FBI Hoover Building, and to Ford’s Theatre, where Abe Lincoln was shot.
Sometimes it’s good to be a hometown tourist
The tour ended up being a lot of fun. Not only was it a great way to hone my Segway riding skills, but also to learn a bit about the city and, for out-of-towners, to familiarize oneself with the locations around Washington, DC.
And sure, I’ll admit it – I also learned a few new interesting facts and bits of historical information about my current hometown. And I was left with a strong desire to take advantage of all that Washington DC has to offer. So all in all, a good day out.
Planning a trip? Browse Viator’s Washington DC tours and things to do in Washington DC, including the Segway tour Anne took as well as a Washington DC by Night Segway tour.