Washington, D.C.

Things to do in Washington, D.C.

America’s capital offers lots of affordable activities year-round. Of the 17 Smithsonian museums, all of which offer free admission, the National Air and Space Museum is a favorite (literally—it’s the world’s most visited museum) thanks to its vast collection of artifacts, which includes the 1903 Wright brothers flyer and the Apollo 11 space module. Meanwhile, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts stages fantastic music and theater performances each year (400 of which are free to the public). Awe-inspiring monuments such as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial should appear on any itinerary of things to do in Washington, D.C. (perk: unlike the museums, there are no long lines). Another architectural wonder is Union Station, with its vaulted ceilings, three majestic arches, and massive columns. Of course, the city offers an array of in-depth historical tours, but one of our favorites is more whimsical: Paws for Spies, which reveals tales of espionage with as many as 17 highly-trained dogs in tow. For the best itinerary, plan two or three cultural activities during the day, then explore Washington, D.C.’s restaurant and nightlife scenes, and, finally, check into an uber-comfortable hotel to recharge.

The department’s Indian Craft Shop has been representing Native American artists since 1938, showcasing an array of traditional works by 60 tribes.

The Brewmaster’s Castle, open for guided tours, captures the elegance and opulence of the Gilded Age. However, the 31-room home of German brewer Christian Heurich was also ahead of its era with indoor plumbing and a pneumatic communications system, among other innovations.

The bronze Spirit of Freedom statue and the Wall of Honor, which is etched with the names of 209,145 servicemen, commemorate the United States Colored Troops. Across the street, the heartfelt museum relates the hardships and victories of African Americans before, during, and after the Civil War.

The cultural branch of the Mexican embassy shares its rich south-of-the-border traditions with a variety of public events, many of which are free.

Follow the ranger on a National Park tour that goes beyond the surface of the monuments and memorials.

At this good vs. evil museum, the law usually wins, but the villains certainly put up a plucky fight.

A constellation of jazz legends–Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, for example–have lit up this celebrated music venue, which opened in 1926. Today, the club hosts national and local acts who jam in an intimate space that resembles a cool secret cave, complete with faux-rock walls.

Beer is king at this upstairs-downstairs bar. The assortment of brews is epic, with more than 500 types of bottled beer from around the world and 50 different drafts on tap. To be sure, the drink menu itself is longer than a Raymond Carver short story.

The 12-acre urban park, part of the National Park Service family, exemplifies early 20th-century neoclassical design.

Peek behind the doors of White House for an enticing glimpse at the executive lifestyle.

Drinking isn’t the only sport at this vintage motorcycle-themed watering hole. The downstairs bar resembles a retro-rec room with shuffleboard tables, Skee-Ball, pinball and Stacker, which can earn the winner an Angry Birds charm necklace, the rare nod to the 21st century.

Toro Mata specializes in Peruvian art and crafts, covering every available space with pottery, reverse-painted glass, figurines, paintings, textiles, jewelry and toy-size Andean pack animals.

The mansion, designed by U.S. Capitol architect Edward Clark, is a study in eclecticism and eccentricity. The museum collection can only be described as pack rat with a trust fund, and its tours are equally wild and unconventional.

On this self-guided walking tour, piece together the neighborhood’s history by following the 17 informational signs sprinkled throughout the protected historic district.

The historic golf course, part of the National Park system, comprises three courses: red (nine holes), white (nine) and blue (18). Or play a round on the oldest continually operating mini-golf course in the country, built in 1930. Greens fees start at a reasonable $10 for 9 holes.