Explore DC with David

There's more than meets the eye in Washington. See that ordinary house over there? It's an FBI observation post. That nondescript restaurant across the street? A Soviet spy escaped his CIA handler there.

On an Off the Record tour, I delve into the history of all the places, we visit and debunk the local rumors and urban legends, and show you the secrets hidden in plain sight.

I'm excited to show you around this intriguing city and sharing its history and stories with visitors and locals alike. Browse our tour selection below to find out more. I look forward to seeing you!


Learn from the Expert

David Shaw

David Shaw

When not showing visitors the District (that’s what residents call Washington) I enjoy reading, grilling, and traveling. I’ve been to nineteen countries and every state except Idaho and Nebraska.

I am a Certified Master Guide of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington, DC, a certified guide at Washington National Cathedral, and hold a city tour guide license. I also work as an International Visitor Liaison for the State Department.

In addition to private tours, if you're planning a bus tour and need of a local guide, I also do group tours for adults and students.


Washington denizen and tour guide

Ever since I was a young boy watching the Watergate hearings on TV with my mother, I wanted to live in Washington. The confluence of personalities, power, and history makes this such an intriguing city. I consider myself fortunate to be able to tell you its stories as well as separating myths from facts. Join me and see Washington again for the first time.

Why choose us?

Out of the Ordinary Experiences With Your Private Tours in Washington DC

At Off the Record Tours, I know how valuable your vacation time is. You are not looking for a generic experience, listening to time-worn stories. Savvy travelers know that the best way to see this area is with Washington DC private tours with a local. I provide a personalized tour experience with a highly knowledgeable tour guide. Your excursion will be led by a Certified Master Guide of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington, DC who is also certified as a National Cathedral guide.

Expert Local Guide

David is a Certified Master Guide of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington, DC, holds a District tour guide license, and is a certified National Cathedral guide — there’s no doubt you’re in the best hands!


Due to COVID, for your safety and ours, all of our tours are private so you feel more comfortable with the people you know.

Unrivaled Storytelling

David treasures the history of the city and loves nothing more than to show it off. He keeps things factual (in addition to a lot of urban legends) coupled with a dry sense of humor and wit — hear what’s Off the Record. Get real time availability and instant confirmation for your upcoming trip.


Informative, Expert Tours in Washington, D.C.

New York and Philadelphia were the capitals of the United States before the government moved to Washington in 1800. For much of its history the city was a small city with few reasons to visit. President Kennedy even joked that it was a city of "Northern charm and southern efficiency." The Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and World War II brought thousand of new workers to Washington and the city has only grown since then.

Today Washington is home to some of the world's greatest museums, cutting-edge theaters, and Michelin-starred restaurants. It's memorials and monuments are inspiring. Their meanings have changed over time as our understand of the people and events they remember has. Off the Record Tours tells the stories of how all these sites have evolved to tell the complete story of the United States.

Frequently asked questions

Most frequent questions and answers

Off the Record Tours follows the latest US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for wearing masks and vaccinations. All guests must be fully vaccinated (2 shots & booster). All guests must wear masks in indoor areas (such as inside the Lincoln Memorial or Eastern Market) or crowded outdoor areas (such as the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). All tours are private tours, so you feel more comfortable with people you know.

Due to COVID, we are offering easy rescheduling for any cancellation and full refunds in the event you need to cancel your booking 24 hours before the tour. Contact us as soon as you know you are unable to keep your reservation.

Currently, White House tours are suspended.  When they resume contact your Senators and Congressperson (202-224-3121) as soon as you know when you will be in Washington to request tour tickets. Tickets are free but subject to cancellation depending on White House events. International visitors wishing to tour the White House should contact their embassy in Washington.

We get wet. Fortunately, we are waterproof. Tours go on as long as it is safe to do so. We recommend that you bring an umbrella for outside portions of tours. If there are extreme weather conditions such as a snowstorm, ice, lightning, flooding, etc. the tour will be rescheduled.

Washington is a great city for walking and you’ll appreciate it so much more by seeing it on foot. That means comfortable walking shoes are essential. Dress for the season. Be comfortable, not fashionable. This isn’t New York City.

Don’t let dehydration ruin your vacation. Drinking plenty of water is important. Please bring a bottle of water. Often we will be in areas without water fountains or shops. Also, it’s good to have sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses along.

Tips for the tour guide are not included in the price. They are never expected but always appreciated.

Go Off The Record.

Hear About the Stories From Behind the Scenes