Washington, D.C. Travel Guide
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 36-year-old performing arts center embraces Latin American culture with bilingual programs held in the Tivoli Theater, an ornate movie palace built in 1924.
The ghost of Shakespeare rules this world-class house of research and learning, established in 1932. Sculptures of his iconic characters adorn the Elizabethan Garden, and bas-reliefs of dramatic scenes enliven the northern exterior wall.
Tudor Place, owned by Thomas Peter, son of Georgetown’s first mayor, and Martha Custis, granddaughter of Martha Washington, stayed in the family for nearly 180 years.
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 Tony award-winning Arena Stage has been presenting new and classic American plays for more than six decades.
Three times a weekday, the U.S. State Department runs free tours of the tastefully decorated chambers used to welcome visiting foreign dignitaries.
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.
With its mismatched furniture and insomniac hours (open until 3 a.m. on weekends; reopens at 6:30 a.m.), Tryst is more than just an indie coffeehouse and bar: It’s a temple of loafing.
Open since the class of 1962, the closest bar to Georgetown University draws students on a study break, as well as alum wistful for the good ole days.
The TV- and martini-free watering hole is heavy on the German brews and good intentions: 25 cents of each tab goes to charity. To date, the bar has helped build 15 schools in such developing countries as Uganda, Nicaragua, and Laos.
The open-air public market, open since the 1800’s, puts a large chunk of sea life on ice. Fishmongers sell tuna, tilapia, Chesapeake soft-shell and blue crabs, squid, shrimp (in various sizes and spices), and so much more.
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.
The two-time winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars bakes vegan cupcakes so rich and tasty, they could dupe even the most diehard dairy- and egg-eater.