If you’ve ever been in Washington, D.C on a spring, summer or fall evening or weekend, you may have seen a peculiar sight.
Clusters of helmeted people standing on devices that look downright futuristic. They are balanced on a platform a half a foot above the ground, which is attached to a set of gigantic rubber wheels. And these people are motoring through the city at speeds much faster than the typical pedestrian.
If you don’t know exactly what is going on, you’re probably unfamiliar with Segways. And you are also missing out on one of the coolest and most original ways to play tourist in Washington, D.C.
Segways are electronically-powered transportation devices. They contain an internal gyroscope which, despite the look, makes balancing and using them extremely easy. Invented in 2001, they were expected to revolutionize the way people moved around cities.
Since you don’t see them all over the place, you are probably aware that transformation didn’t happen. But since they can travel at speeds over 10 miles an hour, they make activities that require covering a lot of ground, say touring a city, extremely easy.
In Washington, D.C., a niche market has cropped up over the past decade that offers tours of this city’s well-spaced monuments and other sites.
Though they are handled by several different companies, every Segway tour of the city begins the same way: learning to use your device.
They may seem daunting, and when you’re about to step on it, you might be afraid you’ll fall immediately on your back. But once you get on the machine, you’ll see how well-designed and easy it is to use.
The whole platform is connected to a balancing device, so whichever way you shift your weight, the device automatically adjusts. So if you can stand on the ground without falling over, you can ride a Segway on a sidewalk.
To move on the machine, you simply lean forward. It’s as easy as that. Immediately you are moving down the road.
After the getting to know your Segway, the tour portion of your excursion begins.
With all the different companies in the area, there are numerous different options and routes to choose.
Segs in the City has options ranging from a quick one-hour trip, a two-hour sunset ride or even a jaunt up around the National Cathedral and the embassies of Massachusetts Avenue. Two hour tours with Segs in the City run between $70-80.
Capital Segway has a similar cost, and does tours that go from the Washington Monument down to the Capitol, catching highlights in between, such as the National Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian. They also offer evening tours, giving you a unique view of the city’s landmarks lit up at night.
Most Segway tours have an age restriction and only allow adults over the age of 16; so be sure to check in advance before you book. Many of the shops will be halting their operations at the end of October for the winter, so the opportunity to take a tour this year is coming to end.
While it may seem a bit different and you may garner some stares from dumbfounded pedestrians, Segway tours are nonetheless one of the most original ways to see Washington, D.C.
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