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 Navy museum, one of only 14 in the country, focuses on the long and thrilling history of the military branch, covering major wars and model ships as well as Arctic expeditions and deep-sea explorations.
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 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.
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.
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 fifth and final national headquarters of the National Woman’s Party traces the group’s fight for gender equality and the right to vote. The museum’s 250-plus artifacts, including Susan B.
Kick off your shoes, grab a cushion, and sample teas from around the world (Japan, China, South Africa, Taiwan, more). The trained staff delivers the hot beverage in traditional Chinese serving and sipping vessels, and throws in a lesson on the steeping and serving process.
The Arts Club, established in 1916, exhibits contemporary artworks in its headquarters, the former home of President James Monroe. The group also maintains a busy calendar of free activities, such as play readings and Friday concerts.
The rustic-gourmet grocer specializes in edibles from Lancaster County produced by Pennsylvania Amish and Mennonite farmers. Pickings include flavored popcorn, freshly baked breads, jams, cheeses, Soupergirl soups and, for dessert, whoopie pies, and stroopies.
Discover your dream house–or at least your fantasy bathroom and lighting fixtures–at this showcase and shopping center of high-end home décor. The seven floors of decorated spaces illustrate the tastes and creations of more than 50 interior designers.
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.
Three times a weekday, the U.S. State Department runs free tours of the tastefully decorated chambers used to welcome visiting foreign dignitaries.
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.