Did you touch down in DC just as Congress managed to shut down the entire city? Chances are, their bickering just took a large chunk out of your travel itinerary. The Smithsonian museums, the National Parks, and the monuments are all closed to visitors (some are even behind barricades). Don’t head home just yet, though. No, you can’t go see Dorothy’s ruby slippers or take a walk through the White House, but now is the perfect time to see DC like a local. Check out our top 10 suggestions for getting the most out of Washington DC during the government shutdown.
Discover what they are after the jump…
10) Catch a free show at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Every day at 6:00 PM in the Grand Foyer the doors open to the public for free performances. Concerts range from touring children’s choruses, to Dutch comedians, to local hip-hop sensations. Arrive early.
9) Enjoy some of the country’s finest crab cakes while Congress skips their lunches to debate. The Old Ebbitt Grill is a DC landmark located just a stone’s throw from the White House. Home to many a power lunch this restaurant has fed presidents and peons alike for decades.
8) Read about the shutdown on the front pages of hundreds of different newspapers, then shake your fist in the Capitol’s general direction. The Newseum posts front pages from around the world outside its doors daily, and is a veritable monument to journalism on the inside.
7) Head over to Georgetown to shop in DC’s answer to SoHo and duck into one of the over 150 boutiques. You’ll see everything here from Brooks Brothers to H&M. After shopping, take a walk down the famous Exorcist steps and relive a part of cinematic history.
6) Sneak off to the International Spy Museum for a look at the history of espionage. If James Bond movies are your thing, you’ll want to walk through the “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains” exhibit. This museum can be fun for the whole modern family.
5) Cupcakes are still a thing in 2013—at least in Washington. Since you won’t be waiting in line at the Smithsonians, why not join rest of displaced DC at one of the city’s famous cupcake shops? Of course there’s Georgetown Cupcake (you’ll want to walk those Exorcist steps a couple more times after eating here), but head off the main drag in Georgetown and stop at Baked and Wired for one of their signature “cakecups.”
4) Get your fine art fix at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. While you’re there, be sure to ask about the scandal involving Robert Mapplethorpe and some of DC’s political prudes in the late 1980s.
3) Take a stroll through the historic (and very gay) neighborhood of Dupont Circle. It’s hard to walk more than a few blocks in Dupont without running into a gay club. Be sure to check out Pizzeria Paradiso while you’re in the area.
2) See DC from a bird’s eye view from the Pilgrim Observation Gallery at the National Cathedral. Since the other vantage points in the city are shut down (or on top of that hotbed we call the Capitol), take advantage of the sweeping views from the top of America’s cathedral. Don’t leave the cathedral grounds without trying to spot the famous Darth Vader grotesque.
1) Lie down in the grass at Gravelly Point and watch planes fly into Reagan National airport. This grassy park bordering the airport is a little out of the way, but few places in DC are as uncluttered by tourists. Bring a lunch and wave to the airplanes as they fly in directly over your head.