Things to Do in Washington, D.C.
Things to Do:
Explore the National Mall: Stretching from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol, the National Mall in Washington, D.C. offers much more than just a single day's activities. A dozen free museums flank the National Mall's walkable treasure map of art, science and history. Attractions include:
1. National Gallery of Art—Behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt's support and financier Andrew Mellon's sizeable donation, Congress established the National Gallery in 1937. Every work of art in the gallery—thousands of pieces from the Renaissance to modern day—has been privately donated or purchased with privately donated funds. From paintings to sculptures to photographs and media arts, the National Gallery is the perfect destination for any lover of the arts.
2. U.S. Botanic Gardens—Steeped in history, rich with tradition, the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is a living plant museum that informs visitors about the importance, and often irreplaceable value, of plants to the well-being of humans and to earth's fragile ecosystems. The Garden has been recognized as a museum and is accredited by the American Association of Museums. This accreditation is a widely recognized seal of approval that recognizes a museum's commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement.
3. National Museum of the American Indian—The National Museum of the American Indian houses one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of its kind. The museum’s sweeping curvilinear architecture, its indigenous landscaping, and its exhibitions, all designed in collaboration with tribes and communities from across the hemisphere, combine to give visitors from around the world the sense and spirit of Native America.
4. National Air & Space Museum—The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. It is also a vital center for research into the history, science, and technology of aviation and space flight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics.
The Museum has two display facilities. The National Mall building in Washington, D.C. has hundreds of artifacts on display including the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and a lunar rock sample that visitors can touch. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center displays many more artifacts including the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay and Space Shuttle Discovery.
5. National Museum of Natural History—The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s preeminent museum and research complex. The Museum is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery, and learning about the natural world through its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions, and education outreach programs. Opened in 1910, the green-domed museum on the National Mall was among the first Smithsonian building constructed exclusively to house the national collections and research facilities.
6. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden—The Hirshhorn Museum’s founding donor, Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899–1981), immigrated to New York from Latvia when he was eight years old. His widowed mother settled with her children (Joseph was the twelfth of thirteen) in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
Today, building on this original foundation of artworks from Joseph Hirshhorn’s personal collection, the museum’s curators continue to refine and expand the collection, which today numbers more than 12,000 pieces. A consistent influx of new acquisitions invigorates and extends Joseph Hirshhorn’s legacy of passion for the art and artists of our time.
7. Freer (top) and Sackler (bottom) Galleries of Art—The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art: the Freer Gallery of Art, which opened to the public in 1923, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, which welcomed its first visitors in 1987. Both are physically connected by an underground passageway and ideologically linked through the study, exhibition, and sheer love of Asian art. In addition, the Freer Gallery contains an important collection of nineteenth century American art punctuated by James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room, perhaps one of the earliest (and certainly one of the most controversial) art installations on record.
8. National Museum of African Art—The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art fosters the discovery and appreciation of the visual arts of Africa, the cradle of humanity. Click here to check out a video history of the museum.
9. National Museum of American History—Through incomparable collections, rigorous research, and dynamic public outreach, we explore the infinite richness and complexity of American history. We help
people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.
The National Museum of American History collects and preserves more than 3 million artifacts—all true national treasures. We take care of everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Our collections form a fascinating mosaic of American life and comprise the greatest single collection of American history.
Places to Eat:
Art and Soul: James Beard-Award winning Chef Art Smith opened Art and Soul at The Liaison Capitol Hill to provide Washingtonians with "food for the soul." This 221-seat dining destination serves up fresh and modern regional cuisine with southern accents. The modern decor merges with a welcoming environment to create the perfect setting in which to meet and connect.
Article One Lounge and American Grille at the Hyatt Regency: Sample a creative cocktail from the extensive menu at Article One Lounge, the Hyatt's prime Washington, D.C. bar. Enjoy small plates in the lounge or just relax at the bar. Savor a steak or cocktail at Article One American Grille, the Hyatt's renowned Capitol Hill restaurant. Our Capitol Hill Washington DC restaurant offers contemporary American flavors in an enticing atmosphere.
Belga Cafe: Belga Cafe is a restaurant concept by Belgium native and award-winning Chef Bart Vandaele. A vibrant atmosphere modeled after Brussel's casual cafes, Belga Cafe is the original Belgian restaurant in Washington, DC. Opened in 2004, the neighborhood locale on Capitol Hill is known for its authentic cuisine, extensive craft beers and Genevers.
Serving, lunch, dinner, the ever popular brunch, and "Dinsdag Mossel," Belga Cafe features an open kitchen, European casual dining room along with a sidewalk cafe. It is a small piece of Bussels on the Hill.
Johnny's Half Shell: Opened in 1999, and chosen by Gourmet Magazine in 2000 as one of “America’s Best Restaurants,” Johnny’s Half Shell relocated to its present Capitol Hill location in September 2006. Renditions of Chesapeake and Gulf Coast Seafood remain the kitchen’s focus, and the restaurant’s new home has maintained its homespun conviviality. Said Washingtonian Magazine, “The capitol dome shines in the background, a reminder of the new, more serious-minded neighbors who come here. But Johnny’s still feels like home.” In September 2007, New York Times dubbed the new venue a “Capital Gain” for Washington, DC.
Cafe Berlin: Café Berlin has been serving authentic German and traditional cuisine on Capitol Hill since 1985. It occupies the ground floor of three joined townhouses whose front yards serve as patio for outdoor dining in warm weather. The interior features a small bar and two cozy dining rooms. The restaurant is located at 322 Mass. Ave., NE and within a short walking distance of Union Station and the U.S. Capitol. It draws politicians, congressional staffer, and tourists as well a loyal following of neighborhood residents.