If you’re planning a trip to Washington DC, you probably have visions of trips to the Capitol, the Smithsonian, the Washington Monument and the National Zoo dancing through your head. But what if the government, who runs these museums and monuments, shut down for a short period of time? Due to a budget showdown, this could be the reality in the coming weeks. But there’s no need to panic – there’s still plenty to do in Washington that doesn’t depend on the government.
While you wouldn’t be able to enter any monuments (the Washington monument, the Lincoln memorial, etc.), the National Mall and the Tidal Basin are still available to walk around. The Washington DC World War I Memorial (behind the World War II Memorial on the Mall) is open.
The Smithsonian museums aren’t available, but Washington boasts plenty of other museums that offer enjoyable experiences for adults and children alike.
Fun with Kids
Adopt a cover and go on a daring mission at The International Spy Museum at 800 F Street NW. You’ll go through the Spy School, the Secret History of History, and learn about Spies Among Us.
Step into Tim Russert’s office at the Newseum – the only museum dedicated to journalism. While you’re there don’t forget to check out the amazing view of the Capitol from the roof. Many visitors find the Newseum one of the most interesting museums in DC, and the $21.95 adult ticket gives you a 2-day pass. (555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW)
Explore the America I AM exhibit , The President’s Photographers exhibit or the Great Migrations photography exhibit at the National Geographic Museum at 17th & M Streets.
The National Building Museum at 401 F Street NW offers great exhibits for kids including LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition.
Shake hands with all 44 presidents of the United States and see civil rights figures such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks at Madame Tussauds wax museum at 1001 F Street NW.
Walk onto the actual television set of America’s Most Wanted and a CSI crime lab at The National Museum of Crime and Punishment.
Connected to the Corcoran School of Design, The Corcoran Gallery of Art at 500 17th Street is a short walk from the hotel and has a strong collection of American art including John Singleton Copely, Frederic Church, Mary Cassat, Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper.
Located in Dupont Circle, The Phillips Collection is best known for their French Impressionists including Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at noon the Collection offers a 15 minute “Spotlight Talk” focusing on one work in the museum.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts at 1250 New York Avenue NW offers a permanent collection dedicated to works by women from the 16th Century to the present, from Renaissance paintings of Elisabetta Sirani to Irish and English women silversmiths to contemporary sculptures and paintings.
Hillwood Museum and Gardens is the home of Post cereal fortune Marjorie Merriweather Post. Post was also married to E.F. Hutton and US Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph Davies. During her time in the Soviet Union she collected Russian decorative and liturgical arts including many Faberge eggs. The house and grounds at 4155 Linnean Avenue NW are a great way to pass an afternoon. Check the calendar for family events.
The Kreeger Museum is a private, non-profit museum on Foxhall Road in Georgetown. The Kreeger’s collection contains nine Monets as well as works by Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro and Picasso. They frequently host chamber music concerts.
While you won’t be able to tour the Arlington National Cemetery, the Historic Congressional Cemetery at 1801 E Street SE, the final resting place of Representative Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress; John Phillip Sousa, the “March King”; J. Edgar Hoover, longtime director of the FBI; and Eldridge Gerry, only Vice President to be buried in the District. There is a self-guided walking tour available, plus a docent-led tour each Saturday at 11 a.m. In addition, a special Civil War tour is offered on the third Saturday of each month at 1 p.m.
Lincoln spent nearly a quarter of his presidency at a cottage in upper Washington as he pondered the decisions he needed to make. You can tour Lincoln Cottage near the Old Soldier’s Home.
Remember too that most of Washington DC’s history is in the neighborhoods, not in museums. Walk down U Street and follow the DC Neighborhood Heritage Trail. The first market is located at 13th & U Streets. Learn more about the history of Washington’s African American community while you walk through a revitalized neighborhood full of shops and restaurants. Be sure to stop by Love Café and DC institution Ben’s Chili Bowl – even the President has been known to stop by here.