There are so many sights to see in DC outside of WordCamp. Whether you are local and haven’t had time to explore or you are visiting for the first time and want the greatest hits, this list has something for you.
Museums in DC
According to Wikipedia, we have 80 museums in DC, not taking into account nearby VA or MD. We have 4 of the twenty most popular museums in the world! Here is a starter list:
All of the Smithsonian Institution (Free)
The Smithsonian includes 17 museums and a zoo in DC. Many of the museums are on the National Mall – these include Natural History, Air and Space, American History, Hirshhorn, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of the
American Indian. The American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery are walking distance from our conference if you want to wander at lunch or after camp – it is open until 7pm!
National Gallery of Art (Free)
The NGA is a national museum, but not part of the Smithsonian. You can see works from Rembrandt to Calder. It has one of the finest art collections in the world and takes up multiple city blocks, so bring your walking shoes!
National Archives (Free)
The Archives represents the physical record of the birth and growth of a nation in original documents, maps, photos, recordings, films and a miscellany of objects. Best known items include the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. Expect lines to enter during the summer.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Free – Timed Tickets)
The three-floor exhibition, containing more than 900 artifacts, many video screens and four theaters showing archive footage and survivor testimony, presents a chronological history of the Nazi holocaust. A deeply profound museum that brings victim’s and survivor’s stories to the forefront.
Newseum (Admission Charge)
The front of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue showcases over 80 copies of todays front pages from newspapers around the world. Truly stunning is the gallery of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs, which includes every award-winning photo from 1942 to now.
International Spy Museum (Admission Charge)
When you enter, you are given an alias that you can learn about throughout the museum. See real spy gadgets including KGB-issued poison pellet shooting umbrellas and Germany’s Steineck ABC wristwatch camera. If you also love fictional spies, the silver Aston Martin from 1964’s Goldfinger is a great place for selfies.
O St Museum (Admission Charge)
The Mansion on O St boasts “over 100 rooms and 32 secret doors,” spread throughout four maze-like floors created in four row houses opened to one another and turned into one elaborate hotel/museum. Rosa Parks once lived on site as activist-in-residence. The mansion includes a large amount of Beatles and John Lennon memorabilia, including a Sgt. Peppers jukebox in the “Beatles Room.” Everything can be touched and almost everything is for sale. It is a very delightfully strange experience.
National Monuments (Free)
Visit the Lincoln memorial, the Vietnam War memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial and many others that dot the DC Tidal Basin. The public may visit the sites of National Mall and Memorial Parks 24 hours a day. Rangers are on duty at the sites to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily and to provide interpretive programs throughout the day and upon request.
Ford’s Theater (Timed Tickets, Reservation Fee)
The site of the April 14, 1865, assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Ford’s Theatre is a working theatre, historical monument, world-class museum, and learning center. The hotel where Lincoln died is directly across the street.
U.S. Capitol Building (Free)
The United States Capitol is a monument, a working office building, and one of the most recognizable symbols of representative democracy in the world. The visitor center will teach you the history of the building, while a tour (must be scheduled) will allow you to see the Crypt, the Rotunda, and National Statuary Hall.
Library of Congress (Free)
The LOC s the largest library in the world, with more than 164 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 38 million books and other printed materials, 3.6 million recordings, 14 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 8.1 million pieces of sheet music and 70 million manuscripts. Take a guided or self-guided tour to see some of the amazing building and collection.
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (Free)
Home to the National Woman’s Party for nearly 90 years, this was the epicenter of the struggle for women’s rights. From this house in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, Alice Paul and the NWP developed innovative strategies and tactics to advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment and equality for women.
Here is an alternate list of things to do and see in DC that are a bit more off the beaten path. Enjoy.
- Franciscan Monastery Catacombs – the holy land in the US, complete with grotto, catacombs, and saints.
- National Bonsai & Penjing Museum – one of the largest collections of Bonsai in America, part of the National Arboretum.
- The Glass Forest – glass, mirrors, sculptures, and mobiles hang from this small local park’s trees.
- Lincoln’s Cottage – See where Lincoln lived for ¼ of his presidency, and where he began the Emancipation Proclamation.
- The Technicolor Church – In 2012, artist Alex Brewer turned the Church into a riot of color and patterns. The interior, also colorful, is now a gallery named Blind Whino.
- Darth Vader Gargoyle at the Washington National Cathedral – See the grotesque at the top of the cathedral that is Darth.
- The Capitol Stones of Rock Creek Park – Chunks of the Capitol gathering moss in Rock Creek Park for 50 years
- The Mary Surratt Boarding House – The house where John Wilkes Booth conspired with his co-conspirators – not far from Ford’s Theater.
- DEA Museum – The DEA has a museum!
- The Exorcist Steps – see the steps from the 1973 horror film.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald’s grave – last line of the Great Gatsby is on their tombstone.
- The Gibson speakeasy – hard to find and even harder to get into, it is considered one of the best bars in the world.
Have fun in DC – it is small but amazing!