Getting to the Sites
D.C. Sites and the Pentagon:
Metro is a way around town. The hotel is four minutes from the Metro’s Mt. Vernon Square/7th St.-Convention Center Station. Using Metro or walking, or a combination of the two (or a taxi cab) most D.C. sites and the Pentagon are within 30 minutes or less from the hotel1. Googlemaps can help you find the relevant Metro line to use.
the Georgetown-Union Station route (with a stop at 9th and New York Avenue, NW, a block from the hotel); and
the National Mall route starting at nearby Union Station.
The Mall in particular. Many sites are on or near the Mall, a five-minute cab ride or 17-minute walk from the hotel going straight down 9th Street. See map of Mall. However, the Mall is huge: the Mall museums discussed start at 3d Street and end at 14th Street, and from 3d Street to 14th Street is an 18-minute walk; and the monuments on the Mall are located beyond 14th Street, ending at the Lincoln Memorial at 23d Street. Even walking across the Mall from one side to the other takes 10 minutes. Consider using the Circulator buses’ National Mall route.
Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a 23-minute Metro ride from the Mt. Vernon Square Metro Station to the King Street Metro Station. From there, the free King Street Trolley runs (every 10 to 15 minutes) down King Street to Old Town and the Potomac River, and back up King Street to the Metro Station.
Sites further away. Baltimore is accessible from nearby Union Station by train. Other sites require use of a car.
Families With Children
Many of these sites in D.C. and at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor are of interest to young children, and even teens.
Website With D.C. Information
More extensive information regarding visiting D.C. can be found on the somewhat overwhelming Washington visitor website, including part listing Things to Do, and information regarding ordering a Free Official Visitors Guide. We try to highlight here only some of the things to do, and provide pertinent links to parts of that website.
Local Judges’ Recommendations
Mount Vernon is outstanding. If you’ve never visited Hillwood Estate and the National Zoo, consider combining a trip to those two places which are near each other. But there are so many interesting things to do in D.C. you cannot go wrong, whatever you choose. We touch later on restaurants and theatres: we recommend making reservations well in advance.
Supreme Court of the United States (and nearby sites).
Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court building is open Monday – Friday (except Federal Holidays) 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. A self-guided tour can include:
- attending a Courtroom Lecture,
- viewing a 24-minute Visitor Film (last showing at 3:45 p.m.),
- viewing Exhibitions, and
- touring the public areas of the building (and visiting the gift shop (closes at 4:25 p.m.) and enjoying a stop at the cafeteria (closes at 4:00 p.m.).
Library of Congress. Across from the Supreme Court. It has one-hour tours, plus special exhibition tours, Monday through Saturday.
- one-hour tours Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
- tours of the Reading Rooms on Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. and on Sundays from 1–2 p.m., but advance reservations are required.
Tour of Capitol. The U.S. Capitol’s Visitor Center helps with visits of the Capitol.
Visit National Archives. The National Archives, home of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is open daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Located at 701 Constitution Avenue, NW.
Tour of the Pentagon. There is easy subway travel to the Pentagon. Guided tour reservations are required, booked at least 14 days in advance, and be aware of important information in the Tour Guidelines regarding, e.g., arrival time and ID requirements.Visit White House. This must be arranged through your member of Congress, with the request submitted up to three months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. See White House Visitors Office Information.
Civil War Related Sites; Frederick Douglass House. Four of these sites are in D.C. The battle sites and Harpers Ferry are some distance away from D.C., but a small group could rent a car or van to minimize the expense of getting to them (and if other activities at the Annual Meeting fill up your calendar, it may be worth staying an extra day before or after the Meeting).
- Ford’s Theatre, site of President Lincoln’s assassination, its Museum, and the Petersen House where President Lincoln died. Located at 511 10th St., NW, an 11-minute walk from the hotel. Tickets for this Historic Site Visit, though free, are required. Reserve tickets online for a fee of $3.
- African American Civil War Museum, located a mile north of the hotel, this museum is dedicated to the contributions of the 209,145 members of the United States Colored Troops.
- President Lincoln’s Cottage (sixteen minutes from the hotel by cab or car) is where Lincoln frequently stayed in the summertime during the Civil War, devoting attention there to such momentous decisions as drafting the Emancipation Proclamation. Experienced guides lead informative tours.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site: located across the Anacostia River from downtown D.C., this is Frederick Douglass’s Cedar Hill estate. Reservations to visit inside the house, via a guided tour, are available; there is a modest $1.50 reservation fee.
In light traffic, a taxi’s the fastest way there. Or take the Metro Green Line to Anacostia Station and then take an Uber or taxi to the site. Located at 1411 W Street, SE, it is a two-block walk up W Street from the Circulator’s Congress Heights-Union Station route stop at Martin Luther King Jr Ave and W Street, SE.Consider stopping at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy (item 13 below) on the way back.
- Gettysburg National Military Park (85 miles from D.C.) is probably the best Civil War site to visit. It has a much improved museum and excellent guides available (the NCBJ will try to provide recommendations).
- Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (where John Brown seized the armory and was then captured by U.S. Army forces commanded by Robert E. Lee) (68 miles from D.C.) and Antietam National Battlefield (74 miles from D.C.) are two other sites (close to each other) to consider.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon. You can ride to Mount Vernon via bicycle (but it’s some distance). Once you have crossed over into Virginia from D.C., it’s an easy bicycle trail, running alongside the Potomac River. Or you can drive there in 45 minutes.
Mount Vernon has a relatively new and excellent museum, which enhances a tour of the mansion, surrounding buildings, and grounds.
Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens (20 minutes by cab from the hotel, or a six-minute cab ride from the Woodley Park/National Zoo Metro Station, such that visits to Hillwood and the National Zoo could be readily combined)
Hillwood was Marjorie Merriweather Post’s estate, which is now open to the public, housing a museum (the most comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia, and a distinguished eighteenth-century French decorative art collection). The estate includes twenty-five acres of gardens and natural woodland.
The National Zoo (part of the Smithsonian) has free admission. Near the Woodley Park/National Zoo Metro Station, it is readily accessible by Metro from the hotel. It is also a short cab ride to Hillwood, so visits to Hillwood and the Zoo (or first to the Zoo and then Hillwood) could be combined.
The National Geographic. Located at 1145 17th Street, NW, a 17-minute walk from the hotel. Check website for current exhibits.
The Newseum. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 6th Street, NW, across from the Mall (a 19-minute walk from the hotel), this is a popular museum, with some interactive experiences (e.g., filming a visitor as a news anchor). Bring a camera: it has a spectacular view of the Capitol and the Supreme Court. Admission fee. After 2019 (but not before), it may move: a sale of the building to Johns Hopkins University is being finalized.
International Spy Museum (new location in Spring 2019 at L’Enfant Plaza — just south of the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall). This is a fun museum to visit. In Operation Spy, you play being an American spy on a one-hour mission. Admission fee.
International Spy MuseumNational Museum of the U.S. Navy (see website for special I.D. requirements) located at the Navy Yard, 4 or 5 blocks east of the Navy Yard Metro (Green Line) or take a taxi (15 minutes) from the hotel. Also on the Circulator’s Congress Heights-Union Station route.
United States Botanic Garden (including a surrounding outdoor three-acre National Garden). Located downhill from the Capitol, just before the start of the Mall. Check website for current exhibits. Consider combining with a visit to one of the nearby museums on the Mall or just south of the Mall.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (located only a block south of the Mall). A living memorial to the Holocaust, one of the worst tragedies the world has ever seen, its purpose is to educate its visitors on the dangers of hatred and the atrocities of genocide, and how society can confront challenges to freedom and human dignity.
Smithsonian Museums. All the Smithsonian museums have free admission. The museums have many tours and other events, and the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center also hosts programs. Those museums in D.C. are within walking distance from the hotel (or via combining the Metro with less walking). Some museums worth considering:
The Air and Space Museum. The Air and Space Museum, has two locations:
Air and Space Museum on the Mall. Some highlights: 1903 Wright Flyer; Spirit of St. Louis, SpaceShipOne, Hubble Space Telescope test vehicle, How Things Fly activities and demonstrations, Einstein Planetarium, and IMAX® films shown on a five-story-high screen.
Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia (The Museum’s more spacious facility, five miles from Dulles Airport). Some highlights: Hundreds of historically significant aircraft and spacecraft (e.g., the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay); the Airbus IMAX Theater; and the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, where visitors can watch museum specialists at work restoring artifacts.
At each site tours led by experienced guides can be arranged.
- The National Museum of African American History & Culture, on the Mall, is the newest Smithsonian museum, and is hard on the spur of the moment to get passes to visit the museum. The NCBJ will be looking into the possibility of arranging for a block of timed passes for a visit.
- The National Museum of Natural History (on the Mall). Largest natural history collection in the world, and great for families with children (discovery room for young children; science experience room for teens; The Last American Dinosaurs; mammals; Ocean Hall; the Hope Diamond; Egyptian mummies; daily tarantula feedings in an Insect Zoo; and on and on).
- The National Museum of American History (on the Mall). Traces the American experience from colonial times to the present (includes the Star-Spangled Banner, Washington’s uniform, Jefferson’s lap desk, and Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, plus hands-on experiences).
- The National Museum of the American Indian (on the Mall). Designed to give visitors the sense and spirit of Native America from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. Includes Who We Are, an introductory film in the Lelawi Theater.
The National Postal Museum. Next to Union Station. World’s most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material. Instrumentalities of postal transport (a stagecoach visitors can ride in, a railway postal car, and mail planes). Visitors can walk along a Colonial post road, browse through a small-town post office from the 1920s, and receive free stamps to start a collection. Children can trace the journeys of historic letters, create a virtual stamp collection, and design their own stamp.
Smithsonian’s Crafts Museums and Art Museums:
The National Portrait Gallery. An 11-minute walk from the hotel. New portraits of Michelle Obama and President Obama are a draw.
The Renwick Gallery (steps from the White House, a 20-minute walk from the hotel). Dedicated to exhibiting American contemporary craft.
Four Smithsonian Art Museums On the Mall. These are steps from each other:
The Freer Gallery. Asian art and collection of works by James McNeill Whistler (including the Whistler Peacock Room).
The Sackler Gallery. Asian art, including some of the most important ancient Chinese jades and bronzes in the world, with innovative programming for visitors of all ages.
The National Museum of African Art. Dedicated to the collection, exhibition, conservation, and study of the arts of Africa.
The Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Modern and contemporary art, with a sunken sculpture garden.
Other Art Museums and Decorative Arts Collections (Not Part of the Smithsonian):
Glenstone. For those who want to venture beyond downtown, Glenstone — a contemporary art museum in a quiet pastoral 230-acre landscape setting - is located in Potomac, Maryland. It has been described by a Washington Post review as “D.C.’s new must-see art museum.” Free admission, but reservations are required. Open Thursday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. with visits scheduled on the half hour until 3:00 p.m. It’s approximately 40 minutes to 1 hour by car or taxi from the hotel in non-rush hour traffic.
The National Gallery of Art (on the Mall near the Capitol). Admission (except, rarely, for some special exhibits) is free:
East Building (modern and contemporary art).
West Building (includes such European and American masterpieces as Claude Monet’s The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil; Winslow Homer’s Breezing Up (A Fair Wind); and George Bellows’ Both Members of This Club).
Sculpture Garden (located on the block west of the West Building).
The Phillips Collection. A few blocks from the Dupont Circle Metro Station is the Phillips Gallery with the wonderful Renoir painting The Luncheon of the Boating Party. (The President Woodrow Wilson House, where President Wilson spent his years after his presidency, is a short walk nearby, as is the Society of the Cincinnati’s magnificent Anderson House with a museum featuring an art collection and items related to the American Revolution.)
The Textile Museum and the George Washington University Museum (on 23d Street, NW near Washington Circle). Fans of oriental rugs may want to visit the Textile Museum. The University Museum includes a Washingtoniana Collection documenting the history of Washington, D.C. Modest suggested donation for visiting.
State Department Diplomatic Reception Rooms. For the antiques and art lover: arrange a 45-minute tour of the elegant rooms where diplomacy is practiced against a stunning backdrop of American art and architecture from the time of our country’s founding and of its formative years, with a museum-caliber collection of American fine art (landscapes to portraits of presidents), decorative art, and antique furniture. Tours lasting 45 minutes are available Monday - Friday, 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 2:45 p.m., but reservations are required and should be made approximately 90 days in advance.
National Museum of Women in the Arts (a nine-minute walk from the hotel). Dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts.
Art Museum of the Americas (201 18th St., NW, siding Constitution Ave., 15-minute cab ride from hotel). Oldest museum of modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art in the United States. It is part of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Bureau of Engraving and Printing. (Close to the Holocaust Museum.) Kid-friendly tours to see money being printed run from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tickets (free) are required (available starting at 8:00 a.m. at ticket booth, located at Raoul Wallenburg Place, SW (15th Street extended)).
Museum of the Bible. Located south of the Mall three blocks from the Capitol. A five-minute walk south of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian. Accessible from MetroCenter Metro station (ten-minute walk from hotel) on Blue Line. Get off at Federal Center Metro station, and it’s a one-block walk to the Museum. Admission fee (and separate fees for some features and tours).
National Law Enforcement Museum. Experience what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer through innovative and engaging exhibits, artifacts and programs. A 16-minute walk from the hotel. Located near the Judiciary Square Metro station (use National Building Museum exit). Admission fee.
For those interested in architecture:
National Building Museum (a 16-minute walk from the hotel; admission fee).
The Architects Foundation’s Octagon House Museum (12-minute cab ride, just west of the White House at New York Avenue & 18th Street, NW, free admission, open Thursday—Saturday, 1-4pm) (a short distance from the Renwick Gallery).
If you visit the Octagon House Museum on a Thursday, consider combining with a visit, a block away, to the Ringgold–Carroll House located at 1801 F Street, NW (open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 2:30–4:30 p.m. as the “Ringgold Museum”). Also known as the DACOR Bacon House and John Marshall House, this historic residence, where Chief Justice John Marshall and other notables lived, has been adapted as office space by the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired (DACOR) organization.
Various historic buildings, like Tudor Place, Dumbarton House, and Arlington House (all discussed below) and Mount Vernon. The Decatur House at Lafayette Square has tours only on Mondays (no fee).
Visit Historic Georgetown. Enjoy shopping or just viewing homes along the narrow streets. Fine restaurants, along the main streets and on the waterfront.
Upper Georgetown or not far beyond:
Tudor Place and Gardens (1816 federal-style mansion and surrounding gardens) (admission fee).
Dumbarton Oaks Museum (north of Tudor Place) featuring Byzantine and pre-Columbian art (free admission); Dumbarton Oaks Gardens (admission fee until winter season begins November 1); and National Park Service’s Dumbarton Oaks Park (naturalistic gardens creating an illusion of country life within the city).
Dumbarton House (not part of Dumbarton Oaks; east of Tudor House) is a fine example of Federal period architecture with 18th- and 19th-century furniture and decorative arts of the Republic's formative years. Fee for admission.
National Cathedral (north of Georgetown at the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues) (check website for concerts, tours, and events).
Theaters and Concerts; Educational Programs. D.C. and surrounding areas have many theaters and concerts, and educational programs that may interest you. Here are a few theaters to explore: Kennedy Center; Shakespeare Theatre Company; National Theatre; Arena Stage; Ford’s Theatre; Wooly Mammoth Theatre; Warner Theatre; Studio Theater; Folger Shakespeare Theatre; Signature Theatre; MGM Casino.
Some of the other organizations offering educational programs and concerts are:
the Library of Congress; and
Washington Monument. Take the elevator to the top for spectacular views of the city.
For similar views try the Old Post Office Pavilion Clock Tower (run by National Park Service; free admission) located in the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue at 11th Street, NW, a 16-minute walk from the hotel. Consider combining with a trip, steps away, to the National Archives or a museum on the Mall.
World War II Memorial. Located west of the Washington Monument, at the start of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Across Independence Avenue from the Reflecting Pool and near the Tidal Basin.
Korean War Veterans Memorial. Just south of the end of the Reflecting Pool, near the Lincoln Memorial, this memorial is dedicated to those who fought in the three- year Korean War.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Just north from the end of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the somber granite memorial wall chronologically lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans who gave their lives in service to their country in the Vietnam War.
Lincoln Memorial. At the end of the Reflecting Pool.
Arlington National Cemetery, is among the most hallowed ground in our nation. It is situated opposite the Lincoln Memorial just across the river at the foot of Memorial Bridge. It offers walking tours. From the hotel, you can take the subway to the Arlington Cemetery Metro Station. Highlights include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and John F. Kennedy’s gravesite. Also on the site is historic Arlington House, which belonged to Robert E. Lee’s father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis, who inherited the property from Martha Washington (who, with George Washington, had raised him as a child). Lee’s wife inherited the property before the outbreak of the Civil War, and it now serves as the Robert E. Lee Memorial. Being renovated by the National Park Service, Arlington House reopens in the fall of 2019, precise date uncertain.Bicycle From Georgetown Along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to the Maryland Side of the Great Falls (or Drive There). The tow bath along the Canal, which starts in Georgetown, makes an excellent bicycling trail. (Google “Bicycles Georgetown DC” to find bicycle rentals.) The Great Falls, 16 miles from Georgetown, are impressive. Nearby, as an idea for lunch, is the Old Angler’s Inn, or you can return to Georgetown and have lunch on the waterfront or at one of the many restaurants in Georgetown. Or, on the Virginia Side of the Potomac River, drive to Great Falls Park Virginia (an 800-acre park with views of the Great Falls and hiking trails). Enjoy the overlooks on the George Washington Parkway on the way there.
Other D.C. Neighborhoods; Restaurants. One idea: visit the Southwest Waterfront: experience the fish sellers’ stalls; eat at one of the many restaurants; visit a music venue. Also consider: Capitol Hill; Dupont Circle; U Street Corridor; Adams Morgan; China Town; Foggy Bottom, all with good restaurants. To find a restaurant:
Use the latest spring or fall restaurant guide of Washington Post restaurant critic, Tom Sietsema: Washington Post Fall Guide 2018. (Spring Guide 2019 not yet published.) Or look for his Favorite Places to Eat Right Now on the Washington Post Restaurant webpage.
Or use the on-line Washingtonian Best Restaurants guide that allows you to locate restaurants on a map, with an ability to filter results by price, style of cuisine, and so forth, and to bring up reviews of each restaurant.
Historic Old Town Alexandria. Down the Potomac from D.C. and on the Virginia side, Old Town has cobblestone streets with historic residences; good restaurants; boutiques, and The Torpedo Factory, a former munitions factory converted into a space for artists of all kinds (painting, sculpture, etc.), with free admission and with the artists having their pieces for sale. Across the river on the Maryland side, and accessible via water taxi, is MGM Casino (see next item).
MGM Casino at National Harbor. For the risk-takers among us, there is MGM National Harbor, featuring a casino, restaurants and a theater with a full concert schedule.
Annapolis, Maryland (an hour from D.C.). Visit the U.S. Naval Academy, stroll the streets of this historic town, filled with boutiques and restaurants, inspect the sailboats moored at the waterfront.
Less than 10 minutes by taxi from the Inner Harbor are:
Baltimore Museum of Art (less than 10 minutes north of Penn Station by taxi or the Purple Line, and 10 minutes by taxi from the Inner Harbor)
Fort McHenry (whose defense inspired the Star Spangled Banner), a ten-minute drive south of the Inner Harbor.
Virginia Wineries; Oatlands; Waterford; Leesburg. Within just over an hour’s drive from the hotel, the Virginia countryside is home to many wineries. (Just google “Virginia Wineries Near DC” to see some ideas.) Consider a Saturday outing to one of them. On the way, visit Oatlands Historic House & Gardens or the historic village of Waterford. On the way back, Leesburg is a historic town, with good restaurants like Light Foot Restaurant, and Tuscarora Mill Restaurant, and further along towards D.C. there are Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Ashburn and, a long-time standout, L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls.
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (Charlottesville, Virginia, roughly 2.5 hours from the hotel). Consider spending Saturday night in Charlottesville, visiting Monticello and the Lawn at the University of Virginia on Sunday, and then returning home.
Golf. The East Potomac Golf Course on Hains Point — with two 9-hole courses and one 18-hole course, a driving range, practice holes, and the Washington Monument in the background — is a cab ride from the hotel. A bit further from the hotel is the Langston Golf Course. Counties surrounding D.C. have numerous public golf courses (for example, see Montgomery County Golf for a list of Montgomery County public courses).
1 - Attached to the printable pdf version are a Metro Pocket Guide with a Metro map, and a D.C. street map. Consider using the maps to plan combining visits to sites nearby to each other.