Castle to Capitol: Museums of the National Mall Architecture Tour

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From $48.00

7 reviews   (4.43)

Price varies by group size

Lowest Price Guarantee

Pricing Info: Per Person

Duration: 2 hours

Departs: Washington DC, Washington DC

Ticket Type: Mobile or paper ticket accepted

Free cancellation

Up to 24 hours in advance.

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Hear the stories behind our best loved and little known Smithsonian museums!
Washington’s most famous and lesser known museums can be found on the East side of the National Mall, laid out between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. Called “America’s Attic,” the Smithsonian Institution is one of the largest museum organizations in the world, with 30 million annual visitors, 19 museums and over 140 million items in the collection. On this tour, explore how the Smithsonian Institution has helped shape the fabric of the National Mall since 1847. Please note, this tour is mostly outdoors, plus a visit inside of the Smithsonian Castle.

Reserve directly via DC Design Tours for the best experience and price!

What's Included

Local guide

What's Not Included


Traveler Information

  • CHILD: Age: 1 - 16
  • ADULT: Age: 17 - 99

Additional Info

  • Contactless payments for gratuities and add-ons
  • Infants and small children can ride in a pram or stroller
  • Public transportation options are available nearby
  • Suitable for all physical fitness levels
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • All areas and surfaces are wheelchair accessible
  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
  • Minimum numbers apply. There is a possibility of cancellation after confirmation if there are not enough guests to meet requirements. In the event of this occurring, an alternative or full refund will be provided.
  • Service animals allowed
  • Transportation options are wheelchair accessible

Cancellation Policy

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Experience may be cancelled due to Insufficient travelers

What To Expect

Smithsonian Institution Building
Your tour begins outside the Smithsonian Castle, the headquarters of the largest museum complex in the world!

30 minutes • Admission Ticket Free

Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building
We'll discuss the beautiful and unique design of this second home of the Smithsonian Institution.

5 minutes • Admission Ticket Free

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Our spaceship on the National Mall.

5 minutes • Admission Ticket Free

National Air and Space Museum
The second most popular museum in the world!

• Admission Ticket Free

National Gallery of Art
We'll examine the stark contrast between the Neoclassical West building and Modern East building of the National Gallery of Art.

• Admission Ticket Free

National Museum of the American Indian
Meant to look sculpted by the wind and water, this beautiful building has a tumultuous past.

5 minutes • Admission Ticket Free

United States Botanic Garden
A hidden gem among museums along the National Mall!

10 minutes • Admission Ticket Free

Bartholdi Park
A secret spot off the National Mall with a historic and beautiful fountain, sculpted by someone unexpected!

5 minutes • Admission Ticket Free

Capitol Hill
We'll wrap up at the foot of Capitol Hill, with breathtaking views of the US Capitol and the National Mall!

10 minutes • Admission Ticket Free


Fascinating history. Easy walk. Great value.
jpiburn, 20-08-2022
Fascinating history. Easy walk. Great value.

I've recently gotten interested in architecture and decided to take the "Castle to Capitol" tour while I was in town for work. Absolutely fantastic. Can't wait to do another tour they offer.

The "Castle to Capitol" tour tells the story of the birth and evolution of the Smithsonian Institute through the design and architecture of several of their most prominent buildings. Intriguing, often funny, history told through a leisurely stroll down the mall.

Great for all ages. I would say 12 and up would get the most out of it, but it's enough moving around to keep the younger ones from melting down.
View the Smithsonian through a different lens!
Itsasarahparty, 20-06-2022
This is such an interesting tour! I’ve gone to museums many times without thinking much about the buildings that house them- this entire tour is all about those buildings. I credit this tour with introducing me to one of my favorite places to catch a quiet moment on the mall- the Enid A. Haupt garden at the Smithsonian castle- and the exterior of the National Museum of the American Indian is serene and took my breath away (also has a fascinating story!) I highly recommend this tour.
I Learned so much!
KellyJ1111, 23-05-2022
This tour was AMAZING!!!! I have been on several tours all around the world and I have not had a better tour experience. I learned so much and the guide was very very prepared! I learned so much even though I had done a lot of tours in the area before. If you love history and design this is a great tour for everyone! I especially loved how they came prepared with pictures from the past to help you visualize the transition from history to the present. This tour is a must-see in DC. I am recommending it to everyone!
This is the tour you're looking for
davidsT4537QR, 09-07-2020
DC Design Tours is an ideal way to learn about D.C. and have an outstanding experience exploring. Carolyn, our guide, was friendly, brilliant, engaging, and welcoming. We plan on doing another tour with DC Design Tours the next time we're in town.
Practically Perfect in Every Way
staceydel, 14-03-2020
Cathryn was a fabulous tour guide and seemed to know it all. As an architect by training, she enthusiastically answered all our questions. I will definitely be back to explore some of her other tours next time I’m in DC.

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