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.
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.
The boutique for men and women features a well-curated selection of styles appropriate for nearly every occasion: day job, garden party, weekend in the Hamptons, your best friend’s wedding.
Jack Rose takes its liquor seriously: The tippling establishment claims to have the largest collection of spirits in the world (more than 1,400) and the largest assemblage of whiskey (more than 900) in North America, if not beyond.
The boutique features a rotating cast of 12 designers (all local, minus the co-owner’s Wisconsin mother) who create clothes, accessories, and jewelry out of repurposed and recycled materials.
Sail into the rosy sunset aboard the 65-foot schooner, American Spirit, part of the National Maritime Heritage Foundation’s community sailing program.
Visitors to Ford’s Theatre immerse themselves in the life and death of Abraham Lincoln. Tours encompass the theatre, site of the assassination; the Petersen House, where the president died; the Center for Education and Leadership, which covers his legacy; and the newly renovated museum.
The corner hangout wears many hats: brunch spot, bar, music venue, d.j. danceteria. However, if you can only choose one, go for the beer garden, a spacious patio with communal picnic tables, trees draped in twinkling lights and chatty co-cocktailers.
Tucked in a graffiti-splashed space, the multi-disciple venue spotlights underground and experimental art, film and music.
The museum takes the art outside, creating a fanciful playground of oversize sculptures including an XXL spider by Louise Bourgeois and a cartoonishly large typewriter eraser by Claus Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.
The snug shop sells artisanal confections from all over the map, including designer bonbons from Arlington, Virginia, and pure cocoa bars from Madagascar.
Founded in 1821 as the First Unitarian Church of Washington, the institution has a long history of supporting our nation’s biggest social issues, such as abolitionism, civil rights, women’s equality and, most recently, same-sex marriage.
The spiritual center describes itself as “not just a church,” an accurate characterization considering its extracurricular activities. Every Friday and Monday nights, the Westminster raises the roof with live jazz and blues jams.
The department’s Indian Craft Shop has been representing Native American artists since 1938, showcasing an array of traditional works by 60 tribes.
Open since 1922, Heller’s tempts visitors with pastries, cakes and cookies that flashback to a more decadent age, one with more frosting, butter, and calories. Signature treats include mocha rum cakes, éclairs, and blocks of marshmallow doused in chocolate.