50 things to do in Washington, DC
The ultimate guide to things to do in Washington, DC, from DC’s best restaurants and shops to museums and sightseeing
The best Washington DC attractions
An insider’s guide to the best attractions, including iconic memorials and monuments, plus other free activities
Cool Washington, DC tours worth taking
Get to know the District via brewpub crawls, bike excursions, culinary walks and more fun Washington DC tours
The best museums in DC
From the International Spy Museum to the Smithsonian set, the best museums in DC offer plenty of culture in Washington
Ice-skating rinks in DC
Whether you’re an aspiring Olympian or a cautious shuffler, we’ve got the ideal indoor or outdoor ice-skating rink for you. Whirl around the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden by fairy light, practice your figure eights in Georgetown and add the rest of the icy experiences to your holiday things-to-do list.
More things to do in DC
The 14 best free things to do in DC
The best free things to do in DC, from the zoo to concerts to major attractions to screenings. All completely gratis!
Events in DC all year round
The best events and things to do in Washington, DC in spring, summer, fall and winter
Washington, DC for kids and families
There are myriad activities in Washington, DC for kids, including parks, zoos, monuments and some of the country’s most family-friendly museums
Smithsonian museums guide
Use our ultimate guide to the DC museums on offer from the Smithsonian smorgasbord to get thoroughly institutionalized for free
Cheap date ideas in Washington, DC
From a moonlit hike to a self-guided taco tour, we’ve got the best dirt-cheap date ideas for cash-strapped city dwellers
Where to see art in Washington, DC
Since Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith opened their gallery in 1999, they have been showing prints, photographs, paintings and sculptures by the kind of cutting-edge artists Washingtonians usually travel to New York to see. The pair’s expansive gallery on Florida Avenue, NE, is unrivalled in DC—the massive, flexible space has played host to Leo Villareal (whose LED-based light sculpture Multiverse is in the National Gallery of Art’s collection) and video artist Federico Solmi. Strong shows by DC’s younger artists have been well received.
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
This spectacular, aggressively modern cylindrical building by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill enlivens the predominantly neoclassical architecture lining the Mall. The purpose of the structure, which was completed in 1974, was to house self-made Wall Street millionaire Joseph Hirshhorn’s collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture. The museum now presents art in a range of media, including works on paper, painting, installation, photography, sculpture, digital and video art.
This mansion was opened as a gallery in the 1920s by Marjorie and Duncan Phillips as a memorial to his father. The building was remodeled in the 1960s and underwent further renovation in the ’80s, when an extension increased its space by almost 20,000sq ft. In 2006, the museum unveiled its Sant Building, another expansion project that added airy galleries for modern art, an outdoor sculpture terrace and café, an art and technology laboratory and an auditorium. The museum’s signature painting, Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, enjoys pride of place in the permanent collection galleries. There, significant Van Gogh oils rub shoulders with Steiglitz prints and a solid selection of works by Picasso, Paul Klee, Bacon, Vuillard and Rothko—that is, if a traveling show hasn’t deposed them temporarily.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
The Sackler contains some of the most important holdings of Asian art in the world. It has more flexibility than its neighbor, the Freer Gallery, whose mandate forbids the exhibition of anything from outside its collection. The Sackler, on the other hand, stages international loan exhibitions of Asian art (a recent show featured Ai Wei Wei). Connected to the Freer by an underground passageway, the Sackler was built up around a 1,000-piece Asian art gift from Dr Arthur M Sackler. Visitors enter through architects Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott’s first-floor granite pavilion (a similar pavilion, by the same firm, is at the National Museum of African Art). You then head below ground into a maze of overlapping bridges and long passageways that give the feel of an ancient temple.
National Gallery of Art
Pittsburgh investment banker and industrialist Andrew Mellon was born the son of a poor Irish immigrant but went on to serve as US Treasury secretary from 1921 to 1932. In 1941, he presented the National Gallery’s West Building as a gift to the nation. Mellon’s son, Paul, created the gallery’s East Building in 1978. Mellon junior, who had donated over 900 artworks during his lifetime, bequeathed $75 million and 100 paintings—including works by Monet, Renoir and Cézanne—on his death in 1999.