Washington vs. New York

Washington is the scenic, quaint, and monument-filled capital city of the US. While New York is the country's art capital, an energetic and one-of-a-kind city that's always buzzing with life. While they are quite different, both are the same in that they're popular tourist destinations. And if you can't choose between the two, this article will help you.
Washington vs. New York

Table of Contents

The charming capital of the United States, Washington DC is a beauty at every turn, filled with green spaces and stately monuments. In contrast, New York is a skyscraper wonderland, buzzing 24/7 with an endless list of fun activities.

This is only scratching the surface of what makes both destinations great. And if you can’t decide between the two, you’ll figure out which one suits you best below.


Washington DC is the home to stately monuments and top-notch museums, and it’s the best place to dive deep into American History. Being the seat of the government, it’s mostly thought of as a playground for politics. But Washington DC knows how to allure tourists too with its eclectic mix of draws.

What Makes Washington Unique?

A Premier Destination for History Buffs

If you’re a history buff who’s particularly interested in American History, there’s no better place to visit than the capital of the US. Washington DC is brimming with significant sights, monuments, and museums that give you a glimpse of the nation’s past.

Kickstart your historical tour at the National Museum of American History. From the original Star Spangled Banner to the John Bull locomotive, you’ll find all things American here. You’ll have three floors of exciting exhibits and artifacts to discover here!

It’s easy to spend hours and get lost in the treasures that the National Archives holds. This is where the country’s historically significant records, papers, photos, audio, and video clips are. But three gems here stand out as crown jewels.

The National Archives is where you can get a good look at the originals of the following:

  • The Declaration of Independence
  • Constitution
  • Bill of Rights

Here, you’ll also find telegrams by Abraham Lincoln, the original copies of the 1297 Magna Carta, and more!

Going on a historic tour in Washington DC doesn’t have to be indoors though. Taking a lovely stroll around Georgetown is enough to indulge the history lover in you.

The historic Georgetown is the oldest neighborhood in Washington DC. It dates back to the mid-1700s and was a tobacco port before being a part of the capital. With tree-fringed sidewalks, cobblestone streets, and charming architecture, it’s incredibly scenic.

Given its age, Georgetown is home to some unmissable historic sites.

There’s Tudor Place, a 19th-century mansion that was the to six generations of Martha Washington’s descendants. The mansion tells its stories through thousands of items, as you wander around the place.

Exhilarating Interactive Museums

At a glance, Washington DC may seem like it’s all about lawmaking and politics. This is evident in the city’s countless historical museums and famed monuments. But take a close look at the city and you’ll see that it’s more than just the capital of the USA.

Washington DC’s impressive museums go beyond their historical and political significance. It’s home to fun and exciting museums that cater to everyone’s interests.

Take the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, for example. Here, you can marvel at planes, space shuttles, and every other cool thing related to air and space. You’ll also find Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit, aerial camera, and more here!

More than that, the museums dive deeper into questions about air and space travel. What’s it like being inside an early American spacecraft? You’ll get your answer to this right here in the museum.

How about playing the part of an undercover agent for a day? At the International Spy Museum, you’ll get just that!

Go on an undercover mission and test your skills. The museum will give you a cover identity. After which, you’ll need to solve some puzzles as you go about the museum’s exhibits. Crawl through air vents, spy on other people, and most importantly, have fun!

If you don’t want to go on a mission, you can tour the museum as normal too! With two floors of spy gadgets and memorabilia, there are tons to marvel at here. You’ll find some cool items here from famous spy movies and books, such as James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5.

There’s Art at Every Turn

Often overshadowed by its political significance, Washington DC is also home to a vibrant art and culture scene. The city’s art scene is easy to find as it’s everywhere. From street art to performance venues to art galleries, and more, there’s more than enough here for the art lover in you.

Go on a fascinating journey through history in the eyes of artists at the National Gallery of Art. The masterpieces here are as varied as it gets. You’ll find Italian Renaissance pieces, impressionist works, and even quirky abstract paintings. Housing artworks from the Middle Ages to the present day, this museum holds tons of artistic gems.

Its crowning glory is its collection of artworks by Old Masters such as Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, and Rembrandt. And the museum houses some of the most famous paintings in the world. This includes Claude Monet’s Japanese Foot Bridge and Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait.

If you’re a lover of modern art, Washington is the home of the first museum of modern art in the country. At The Philipps Collection, you’ll find a collection of over 3000 impressive masterpieces. Some of these are from Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, and Alfred Steglitz.

A highlight of this renowned museum is the Rothko Room, a space that’s designed in collaboration with Mark Rothko himself.

The capital’s collection of art isn’t confined to museums only though. Adding color to Washington DC is the many vibrant street art sprinkled everywhere!

One of the best places to see colorful murals is Blagden Alley, as it’s home to the DC Alley Museum. This is an outdoor museum of commissioned public murals painted across garage doors and exteriors. A highlight here is the LOVE mural, a perfect backdrop for some Instagram pictures!

Consider visiting Dupont Underground too, where you’ll find the Up From The Underground. This is an exhibition of historic graffiti that spans six generations of DC artists.

Home to the USA’s Most Important Sites

Famous destinations across the United States often have iconic landmarks that have become its symbol. And in Washington DC, it’s no different.

You’ve seen them on TV, in movies, or even in textbooks. But there’s nothing like seeing famous landmarks up close and personal. And some of Washington DC’s iconic sites are more than just for pretty pictures.

Washington DC is home to tons of important landmarks, but arguably the most iconic one is the United State Capitol. This enchanting building sits right at the capital’s heart, famous for its tall neoclassical dome.

You can go on a tour here and visit the Rotunda, Crypt, and the Greek-inspired National Statuary Hall. And as the home of the Congress, you can also watch them in action here as long as you get a pass.

The United States President has the most famous home in the world, The White House. A bright white building nestled in vibrant greenery, seeing it from afar is enough for most people.

But you can also go on a self-guided, limited-access tour inside the house, but you need to request one. You can freely roam the public areas of the State Floor, such as the Red Room, Green Room, and the State Dining Room. Both the East and West wings are inaccessible to the public.

Some of the most treasured landmarks in the country are within one area, The National Mall. Surrounding this grassy field are several monuments that honor presidents, forefathers, and heroes.

This park stretches over 2 miles (3 km), from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. Between these two are the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Reflecting Pool, and more.

The National Mall is also a venue for some events, such as concerts, sporting events, and the Fourth of July festivities!

A Wonderland of Scenic Green Oases

From the planning of the capital in its early days, beautiful gardens and scenic green pockets were already a priority. In Washington DC, more than 20 percent of its land is a lush, green space. So no matter where you are here, you’re always within a minute’s walk to a green oasis.

When locals say “meet me at the mall”, chances are, they’re referring to the National Mall. That’s because this famous landmark is the park of choice for a tranquil afternoon. But there are tons of other park or garden choices in the capital.

Rock Creek Park is also another popular retreat in the capital. It’s the largest among the city’s many parks, a perfect spot for some outdoor recreation. Go hiking, skating, biking, or even horseback riding here. Play golf or tennis, visit the aquarium, or just relax at any of its picnic areas.

You can also watch a show at the Carter Barron Amphitheater. Or you can get up close and personal with a wide variety of animals at the National Zoo on the park’s grounds. The zoo homes over 2000 different animals, from cheetahs, elephants, bald eagles, and more!

If you also want views of the water, head to the Tidal Basin, a man-made inlet near the Potomac River. The Tidal Basin is best visited during the spring. Not only because of the balmy weather and low humidity but also because it’s when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom!

A feast for your eyes, the National Arboretum is home to a wide array of rare plants. Wander through well-manicured gardens, each with its distinct charm. Across the Arboretum are perennials, historic roses, and wildflowers, to name a few.

Head to the Grove of State Trees area, where you’ll find a collection of trees representing every state in the country. Marvel at tiny bonsais at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum., home to over 300 curated specimens.

Within the arboretum is the Asian Collections, with plants blooming year-round. Pretty camellias dominate this site from mid-autumn through spring. And the collection features a Japanese Woodland, a Korean Hillside, and a Chinese Valley.

New York

New York is a city that spoils you with tons of choices. Famous landmarks, a ton of different attractions, countless restaurants, and more. It’s the endless choices that make New York a city for everyone, and its urban vibrancy adds to its addicting charm.

What Makes New York Unique?

Get Inspired by Its World-Class Art Scene

New York is famous for many things, and one of them is its reputation as the country’s leading art city. But it’s actually one of the world’s most important art cities, a worldwide mecca for art. And in going on an exhilarating pursuit through the city’s art world, you’ll soon find out why this is.

From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, you’ll find thousands of years worth of art here. Through paintings, sculptures, and even gritty street art, the city celebrates every medium and art style. There’s no shortage of ways and places to get a feel of the city’s vibrant art scene.

Experiencing the city’s art world through its museums is a must-do for any art lover in the city. New York is home to hundreds of museums, and it’ll take a lifetime to explore each one.

But whatever you do, don’t leave the city without a trip to the “big three” of its museums. Each of these distinct museums houses important artworks by the most famous artists in history.

One of these is the Museum of Modern Art, whose highlights include The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. One of The Metropolitan Museum’s crown jewels is Woman with a Water Jug by Johannes Vermeer. And at the nautilus-shaped Guggenheim Museum, you’ll find a wealth of Wassily Kandinsky’s artworks.

Art isn’t confined to the four walls of a room in New York. It also lives on the street, inspiring people’s everyday lives.

It comes in the form of murals, an ever-changing art form in the city. Make your way to the Graffiti Hall of Fame on Park Avenue to get a glimpse of New York’s urban art scene. It’s home to a diverse array of murals, changing yearly depending on the exhibition’s theme.

Walk around the city and you’ll find tons more urban art, painting the city with color one wall at a time.

Soak in the Beauty of the City’s World-Famous Sights

A lot of big, bustling cities in the US have an iconic landmark or two that’s become synonymous with the city. And if you mention a specific city, you may have an image of this site in mind.

San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge, Seattle has the Space Needle, and the list goes on. But if you ask people about an iconic landmark in New York, you may get mixed answers. That’s because the Big Apple has tons of these, some of which are among the most recognizable sights in the world.

Despite the many famous sights in the city, the Statue of Liberty is the city’s best icon. This massive neoclassical sculpture is a proud symbol of American Freedom. And with the museum in the area, you’ll figure out how it became one.

It’s a beautiful sight from afar and even from its foot. But you can also climb up to its crown, where an observation deck with stunning views of New York City awaits you.

Another symbol of New York is best known for its height and its charming Art Deco architecture. The Empire State Building’s days as the world’s tallest building have long been gone. But it remains to be one of the most famous ones across the globe.

You’ve seen it in tons of movies, such as King Kong, Spider-Man films, and more! Climb up to the 86th and 102nd floors where you’ll find an observation deck to get a view of the city.

Also no stranger to being a movie or TV star, the Brooklyn Bridge is an enchanting sight over the East River. Go on a stroll here, ride a bike, or hang out and enjoy the stunning views of Lower Manhattan!

These aren’t the only world-famous sites in the city though. There’s still the Times Square, Theater District, Grand Central Terminal, and still many more on the list!

Its Zinging and Ever-Evolving Food Scene

A city for the foodies, New York’s food scene is famous for so many things. The astounding number of restaurant choices, the cuisine diversity, the types of restaurants, and loads more. All these guarantee one thing, you’ll find what you’re craving in New York.

In such a compact city, New York has over 20000 restaurants to fuel a food-loving city. Dining at each of these restaurants will take you a lifetime to complete.

There’s an exciting mix of restaurants here too. Decades-old, family-run eateries, hole-in-the-wall diners, and more. But an aspect that elevates the city’s culinary scene is New York’s wealth of Michelin-starred restaurants.

New York is home to over 70 Michelin-star restaurants, many of them with two to three stars already. A lot of them are contemporary, while a big chunk focuses on cuisines from all around the world.

This comes as no surprise since New York’s reputation as a melting pot of cultures has long influenced its food scene. People from all around the world now call the city their home, and they’ve brought their dishes with them. So if you’re not into upscale dining, you’ll always find a restaurant offering authentic flavors right around the corner.

When it comes to traditional dishes, New York does it well. But the city has made some of these dishes its own, remixing them with its own flare.

The world-famous New York–style pizza is one of these. And the city’s take on the classic Neapolitan pizza is not only its bigger size. New York pizza has more toppings on it, with a base so thin you can fold it in half!

Then there’s the super dense, extra creamy New York Cheesecake. This cheesecake doesn’t skimp on cream cheese, which is why it’s got that signature creaminess.

Other dishes that have become New York’s icons are General Tso’s Chicken, bagel with cream cheese and lox, and pastrami on rye.

The Fun Here Doesn’t Stop Past Midnight

In a city that never sleeps, you can head out and do something fun even at the crack of dawn. Drinking or partying all night is a staple in big, bustling cities like New York. But the city’s nightlife isn’t only revolved around drunken merrymaking as there’s a seemingly endless list of things to do here!

New York lights up with bright, colorful lights at night, giving it a different feel from the daytime. So why not view the twinkling skyline from an observation deck? Be it at the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock, or a rooftop bar, the city will mesmerize you with its beauty.

If you want to see the city from the ground, join an exciting bus tour of New York at night. You’ll go on a narrated tour as a guide takes you to the best nighttime sights and attractions in the city.

Perhaps you want to see the city from a different perspective. Admire the New York skyline from the water on a dinner cruise, where you can eat delicious food while you’re at it.

One of the highlights of New York’s night scene, though, is something it’s known for, watching a Broadway show. Watch stories come to life and see a blockbuster show like The Phantom of the Opera. Or dive into the city’s experimental theater scene at Off-Broadway.

Countless Scenic Urban Parks

From sunrise to way past sunset, New York is buzzing with life as it’s constantly on the go. Add the plethora of things you can see and do in the city and the Big Apple can be quite overwhelming.

But you’re never too far from a tranquil haven in this concrete jungle where you can retreat if you’re tired of the hustle and bustle. Unwind like a New Yorker, and head out to a lush green oasis for a change of pace!

As it’s one of the ways for locals to destress, New York takes its parks seriously. There are over 1700 parks to choose from here, spoiling you with options.

You can always head out to the world-famous Central Park for a picnic. Sitting in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park is big enough for everyone to have a spot.

Spread out a picnic blanket at Sheep Meadow and go people-watching. Rent a rowboat and float around glistening waters at Bow Bridge. Or look for the “secret garden” here known as the Conservatory Garden.

While Central Park may arguably be the best one in the city, it’s not the only one worth your time.

In the heart of Midtown Manhattan lies Bryant Park. It’s a lovely green path surrounded by skyscrapers, right behind the public library. This park is perfect for reading a book on a sunny day, but many come for the free movies on the lawn!

Quirky and unique, The High Line is a park like no other. Built on an elevated track for freight trains, this was once an abandoned structure in the city. But it’s now a breathtaking vertical park, towering over the west side of Manhattan.

Stroll along the greenery-fringed walkway as you go through neighborhoods with distinct characters. Marvel at the wealth of public art along the park. There’s so much to see and do in this vertical park!

Which Is Better to Visit – New York or Washington DC?

The better destination to visit depends on what you want to do on your trip.

If you’re a history buff, Washington DC is the better destination for its wealth of museums and historical sites. But if you’re a theatre lover, New York is the home of the world-famous Broadway and an exciting theatre scene.

Washington DC also has an exciting food, shopping, and art scene. But it pales in comparison to what New York has to offer. New York is one of the world’s best art and fashion cities, and it has a world-renowned food scene.

If you love the big-city feel, New York is oozing with a vibrant urban charm. If you love green, open spaces, Washington DC is your best bet. Washington DC is a more picturesque city as its landscape integrates well-manicured parks and gardens so well.

Both cities are family-friendly and are great for couples. Although Washington DC is more romantic, from its views to its vibe.

If you’re traveling on a budget, choose Washington. The average daily cost here is around 155 USD. But in New York, you may spend around 238 USD daily.


Is New York and Washington DC the Same?

New York and Washington DC are not the same, as they’re two different places.

New York City is part of New York State, on the southern tip of the state. It’s the biggest city and metropolis of the East Coast.

Meanwhile, Washington DC is the capital of the United States. It’s a federal district of Columbia, operating as a state, and has the functions of both a city and a county. It’s part of the mid-Atlantic region of the country’s East Coast.

Washington DC borders Maryland to the east, west, and north. And it shares a border with Virginia on the Potomac River’s southern shore.

Is Washington DC in New York?

Washington DC is not in New York, but it is close to New York. Washington DC sits approximately on the southwest side of New York City.

Where Is Washington and New York?

Washington DC is near Virginia and Maryland. It sits on the Potomac River’s east bank, sharing a southwestern border with Virginia, while it’s bordered by land by Maryland on the west, east, and north.

Meanwhile, New York City’s location is on the southern end of New York State. It forms a border with New Jersey at the Hudson River to its west.

Is Washington DC Close to New York?

Washington DC is quite close to New York. New York is anywhere between 4 to 5 hours away from Washington DC, depending on your chosen route.

If you want to reach New York right away, taking Interstate 95 will give you a travel time of around 4 hours and 6 minutes. This isn’t much of a difference if you take US 301 and Interstate 95, as this has a travel time of around 4 hours and 14 minutes. The longest route is going through Interstate 83 and Interstate 95 as you’ll be traveling around 5 hours and 2 minutes to reach New York.

New York and Washington DC Distance

The straight line distance between New York and Washington DC is around 204 miles (328 km). But if you’re driving from Washington DC to New York, the driving distance is longer due to the road curvature.

The fastest and most direct route is via Interstate 95 North, which has a distance of 225 miles (362 km). You’ll be able to reach New York on this route in around 4 hours and 6 minutes.

Another option is going through US 301 North and Interstate 95 North. With this option, you’ll be covering a distance of around 238 miles (383 km). And it takes around 4 hours and 14 minutes of travel time to complete this journey.

You can also travel via Interstate 83 North and Interstate 95 North. This is the longest route option as it has a distance of 277 miles (446 km). And you’ll have a travel time of around 5 hours and 2 minutes on this route.

Distance Between New York and Washington DC by Air

The plane distance between New York and Washington DC is 214 miles (344 km). And it only takes around 1 hour and 25 minutes of travel time to complete this trip.

New York to Washington DC by Train

Around 30 trains travel from New York to Washington DC each day. This trip will cover a distance of around 204 miles (328 km). Usually, takes around 3 hours and 24 minutes to complete this journey. But the fastest train services can cut this travel time down to 2 hours and 26 minutes.

On average, the train ticket prices on this journey cost around 147 USD. If you’re planning a trip between the two cities, do so in January as the average ticket price then would be around 84 USD. Traveling in May is the most expensive as average ticket prices skyrocket to 140 USD.

Other than that, booking your tickets ahead of time will get you cheaper train tickets. Booking at least 25 days ahead, you’ll pay around 105 USD less for train tickets.

The busiest day to travel from New York to Washington DC is Monday. Because of the demand, ticket prices are higher on this day. If you want more room on your trip or if you want cheaper tickets, travel on a Friday.

The first train departs from New York to Washington DC at 2 AM. While the last train leaves for Washington at 8 PM.

Distance Between New York and Washington by Train

The train travel distance between New York and Washington DC is around 204 miles (328 km).

Best Train From New York to Washington DC

Amtrak is the sole train operator on the route from New York to Washington. But it has several trains to choose from so you can find one that best fits your needs.

The most popular option on this route is the Amtrak Northeast Regional Service train. These trains have 15 daily trips, the most among the other options. And it’s also the cheapest train, with an average price of 112 USD.

The Northeast Regional train has an average travel time of 3 hours and 38 minutes from New York to Washington. It’s comfortable, with big seats and tons of legroom. More than that, you’ll have a power outlet, free WiFi, and access to clean bathrooms.

Another option is the premium train service, Amtrak Acela. There are no bullet trains on this route. But the Acela is a high-speed train, completing the journey in as little as 2 hours and 46 minutes.

Apart from comfy seats, great legroom, and power outlets, this train has free high-speed internet. It also has a Corridor Café if you need a glass of wine.

Amtrak Acela only has 6 daily trains though. And it’s the most expensive option with an average price of 160 USD.

Distance Between New York and Washington by Bus

Buses traveling from New York to Washington follow a route that covers 227 miles (365 km).

Distance Between New York and Washington DC by Car

The distance between New York and Washington DC depends on your chosen travel route.

Going through Interstate 95 South is the fastest and most direct route option. This route covers a distance of around 226 miles (364 km).

Another option is driving via US 301 South. On this route, you’ll cover a distance of around 239 miles (385 km).

The longest drive route is via Interstate 95 South and Interstate 83 South. This route has a distance of around 277 miles (446 km).

Best Way to Get From New York to Washington

The best way to travel from New York to Washington DC depends on your preference.

If you’re traveling on a budget, the cheapest way to travel is by bus. Bus ticket prices can cost anywhere between 18 to 100 USD. The average bus travel time from New York to Washington DC is around 4 hours and 35 minutes.

Direct buses are available so that you don’t have to make a switch along the way. These buses operate daily, departing from New York every 30 minutes.

Considering the travel time, you may want to travel by car instead. The drive time from New York to Washington DC is only around 4 hours and 4 minutes. The average cost of this journey is around 40 to 60 USD.

Driving gives you more freedom to make stops at popular attractions along the way.

The downside to a bus or a car is that you have to consider delays due to traffic. This issue is something you won’t have on a train.

Trains are fast, with a travel time of around 3 hours and 24 minutes. Ticket prices are not far off compared to buses too, as it costs around 20 to 250 USD.

Tour From Washington DC to New York

If you chose Washington DC as your base, you can still experience the best that New York City has to offer on a tour! You’ll find a lot of companies offering this tour in Washington DC. They’ll set a meeting point, pick you up, and you’ll make your way to the Big Apple!

Tours include going to the famous attractions of New York. Some of which are Times Square and the Empire State Building. You’ll have a guide with you to help you throughout your trip.

Most tours include lunch meals so you don’t have to bring food. This, including transfers and transportation, is included in the tour price.

1-Day Bus Tour From New York to Washington DC

You’ll find a lot of companies offering a one-day bus tour from New York to Washington DC. Most are fully-guided tours with a professional tour guide as part of the group tour.

On this trip, of course, you’ll tour the most iconic sites of Washington DC. See the Capitol Hill and White House in person, explore the National Air and Space Museum, and visit its many monuments! Keep in mind that you’ll need your US ID or passport if you’re going to tour the Arlington National Cemetery.

3-Day Bus Tours From New York to Washington DC

A 3-day tour from New York to Washington DC usually includes a trip to Niagara Falls too. This way, you’ll discover the majestic charms of the falls along with the iconic landmarks of Washington DC in one trip!

These tours include hotel accommodation too, but there are tons of excluded fees you need to be aware of. This depends from one company to another. So it’s best to check all your options to see which one fits your budget best!