This was an absolute highlight of our long weekend trip to DC- riding the Old Town Trolley. We liked that we could hop aboard, hear the fantastic overview of the areas we were seeing, and then hop off to check out another area of DC.
Three Loops Divide Up the Sights
There are three routes- the orange loop which circles the Mall and hits all of the major monuments. If you only have one day to spend- this is the loop to ride. Then there is the red loop which takes you out to Arlington National Cemetery, and the red loop which takes you uptown to the National Cathedral and Georgetown.
Our family only rode the orange loop on this trip. We originally boarded on the Mall, not far from our hotel, and then exited at the Jefferson Memorial. We took our time walking the path between all of the memorials- the Jefferson, Roosevelt, Dr King, Abraham Lincoln- and then got back onto the trolley to complete the loop.
The Guides Were Fantastic and Shared So Much History
The reason we specifically came back and rode the trolley on the second day was because of how great the drivers are at storytelling. They shared so much history about the monuments, how the city was designed originally, and all kinds of behind-the-scenes details about presidential inaugurations and how they are celebrated in DC. My kids, who were only ages 6-11 at the time were genuinely interested in hearing what he had to say. On Day 2 we specifically rode the entire loop just to hear the speech!
Look for the Deals!
We purchased a promo ticket where we received a 2nd day of riding for free with the purchase of a 1 day pass. Be sure to check their website before purchasing your tickets to see if they are running a promo!
Our Only Complaint?
Our only complaint was that there were not enough trolleys running (it was Feb), and if a trolley was full and we couldn't board, we had to wait for the next one to come along which might be another 20-30 minutes. It would be great if the company came up with an app so that you could track the trolleys and see how much longer until they reach a trolley stop. That would have helped us to manage the kids expectations!
We loved taking the Old Town Trolley and plan to ride the uptown green loop on our next visit to DC!
I grew up in Baltimore so we were always visiting and never took this trolley until a friend recommended it as a way to see all the monuments in a day without killing yourself (and with kids it's an almost impossible task). We LOVED it! Hit all the highlights with young kids and grandparents and no one was exhausted. We started at the Union Station and stopped at the Museum of Nat. History to go through there. ESPECIALLY for first time visitors who are only going to be in town once - this is the best way to see all of the monuments and get some background on them as well.
We did this tour on a nice, 60 degree March day with my 3-year-old twins, my mother and her friend and it was great!!! It was scheduled to be a 3 hour tour of the city but we didn't get to do the entire tour in one day because we wanted to get out of the city before rush hour started.
Great things about the tour:
It is easily accessible by public transportation
You get to see a lot of the sites in the city.
You can get off of the trolley at many of the stops to get a closer look at the sites and to go into the many, many museums. (Our stop at the Arlington Memorial Cemetery added another hour to our tour)
Trolleys come quite frequently.
The tour guides are very friendly.
They allow eating on the trolley so you can pack your food.
The windows can be lowered to let in the cool air.
Not so great things about the tour:
The trolley may be cold in the cooler months since the windows can be lowered (although I haven't tried the tour when it's cold)
Recommendations for moms with young children:
Do not attempt to do this tour in one day. The stops can add hours to your actual tour time.
Plan ahead so that you know what stops you would like get off and explore. There are literally great sites at every stop.
Go with a positive attitude and have fun.
I definitely plan on doing this tour again so that I can get to see the rest of the sites.
This tour was enjoyable for all ages in our group (from 3 to 48 years). Driving in DC is horrible, absolutely the worst part of our trip, and surpassed in its discomfort only by parking there. So, on our third day in the city we used the subway and bought tickets for a tour. This one was recommended by my mother, so we gave it a try and we were pleasantly surprised. The open-air trolley was a new experience for the girls and they had a great time watching the sights pass by. Our driver worked from a script, pointing out everything as we passed and giving us an abridged history lesson along the way. Every few minutes, the trolley would stop at one of the many attractions along the way. Though we did not get out at all the attractions, it was nice to have the option. The stops were clearly marked and we didn’t have to wait very long for a pickup after we finished with each stop. All of the trolleys were clean and in good repair and we felt comfortable that the drivers were competent. I would recommend this tour, though I felt that it was a bit on the expensive side. If you are spending the entire day in the city, you will definitely get your money’s worth. Also, if you buy your tickets online you save a few dollars and get two days for the price of one as long as they are used consecutively.