Attractions, Sites, and some Fun Things to do in the
Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area
Hello and welcome to the Washington metropolitan area and to Balisage. August in Washington offers many wonderful options for site seeing. You will have the opportunity to experience some of the world's most famous and beloved museums, monuments, and other attractions. You can also potentially expect some high temperatures combined with intense humidity. Below is a short list of museums and activities you and/or your family might like to visit. As with any big city, there can potentially be lots of walking. Please wear comfortable shoes and carry a water bottle or two. This list is divided between places that are metro accessible, short drive and a longer drive. Have a wonderful visit!
National Mall, Open 24 hours a day
For many individuals visiting the Washington area, the National Mall is their first stop, open around the clock, this area can be enjoyed during day time hours where one can go inside and visit one of the adjacent (air conditioned) museums, or at night time by lamp light. The tree lined, grass carpeted, Mall spans from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, about a 5 mile jaunt, wear comfortable shoes.
National Building Museum, The Museum and Museum Shop are open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
America’s leading cultural institution devoted to the history and impact of the built environment. This is one of the most family friendly places in Washington, D.C. Located just four blocks from the National Mall, the Museum occupies a magnificent building with a soaring Great Hall, colossal 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns (among the tallest in the world), and a 1,200-foot terra cotta frieze.
Smithsonian Museums, Open 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
The Smithsonian Institution, also known as the nations "attic" is a group of museums and research centers. In the Washington Metropolitan area, this comprises nineteen museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoological Park (the Zoo). The National Mall houses 11 of the local Smithsonian museums. Among the Smithsonian's treasures are the Hope Diamond, a pair of Dorothy's ruby slippers and a Star Trek Phaser. The Air and Space Museum has an iMAX theatre where you can view the classic film "To Fly", among others.
National Zoo, Exhibits Open daily at 10:00 a.m.
Enjoy seeing many animals outside including, but not limited to, cheetahs, zebras, gazelles, lions, tigers, elephants (oh my!). Many more animals are on exhibit throughout the day in air-conditioned, or heated buildings, including the Reptile Discovery Center, Invertebrate Exhibit, Small Mammal House, Bird House, and Amazonia. The best time to see the giant pandas is between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., or before the zoo becomes crowded. There are plenty of places to picnic or grab a bite to eat. Located at 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC on the Red line Metro* Station. When going to the zoo, you can use either stop, however, Woodly Park is uphill to the zoo and Cleveland Park is a downhill walk to get to the zoo.
Newseum, Open 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
The Newseum is an interactive museum of news and journalism located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. Metro* accessible on the red line at either the Gallery Place or Judiciary Square stations, approximately four to two blocks distance respectively. This museum houses 15 theaters and 14 galleries. The Newseum's Berlin Wall Gallery includes the largest display of sections of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. The Today's Front Pages Gallery presents daily front pages from more than 80 international newspapers. Other galleries present topics including news history, the 9/11 attacks, the First Amendment, world press freedom and the history of the Internet, TV and radio. The adult admission fee is $22.95.
Spy Museum, Open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily
From their web-site: This unique museum is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective on the elusive profession that has shaped history and continues to have a significant impact on world events. The Spy Museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. Many of these objects are being seen by the public for the first time. These artifacts illuminate the work of famous spies and pivotal espionage actions as well as help bring to life the strategies and techniques of the men and women behind some of the most secretive espionage missions in world history. The mission of the International Spy Museum is to educate the public about espionage in an engaging way and to provide a context that fosters understanding of its important role in and its impact on current and historic events. The Museum focuses on human intelligence and reveals the role spies have played in world events throughout history. It is committed to the apolitical presentation of the history of espionage in order to provide visitors with non-biased, accurate information. Admission: Adults (ages 12-64) $21.95.
Union Station is a national landmark featuring shopping and dining housed in a historical structure. On the red line Metro*, this building also is a major transportation hub for trains and buses. Open 7 days a week, hours vary for shops and restaurants.
Dupont Circle is the home of some of Washington, DC's finest museums, historic homes and foreign embassies as well as a variety of ethnic restaurants, bookstores, and private art galleries. This cosmopolitan neighborhood is the heart of Washington, DC’s nightlife.
Ford's Theatre, Open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is located on 10th Street between E and F streets. The site is within walking distance of the Metro* stops at Metro Center and Gallery Place. Parking garages and metered street parking are located nearby. Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is open for tours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Mansion on O Street, Tours daily
Experience a visual treat as you wander around the large O Street complex, which has its own history of renovation. The mansions collections rotate and change daily. From the art, to the music, to the surroundings, no visit is ever the same. Visit this palace of eclecticism for an amazing experience. Galleries are not limited to one genre, they promote and embrace life, from every culture, resulting in a wide ranging collection of paintings, photographs, sculpture, books, artifacts, and music, from all over the globe. These works celebrate life, culture, all religions, science, education, and more. O Street Museum offers a fascinating and dynamic tactile experience where you will hear rare studio cuts, leaf through manuscripts, touch sculpture and tour through a multitude of architectural styles. No matter where you look you will miss something. But it's not what you miss, rather what you're willing to see. All tours are daily, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., unless specified otherwise. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. All tours are available by on-line reservation only, based on availability.
Other. . .
Shopping and Restaurants: Friendship Heights (on the red line Metro*, Friendship Heights station) Perhaps the "Beverly Hills" of Maryland, this residential/shopping/dining area has high-end designer boutiques such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Tiffany. You may also find upscale department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus which is the anchor store at Mazza Gallery. There are more traditional department stores such as Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's and Loehmans. Fabulous shopping with ample dining opportunities.
Metro Maintenance 2016
The DC Metro has started a major program of emergency repairs and maintenance called "SafeTrack". "SafeTrack" will bring many advantages in the long run, but in 2016 it will bring a year of Public Transportation Chaos to the DC Metro Area. The initial "SafeTrack" schedule shows no disruptions near the North Bethesda Marriott and Conference center, and shows clear track between the conference venue and Reagan National Airport, restaurants in Bethesda and Rockville, and downtown DC. However, we strongly suggest checking the "SafeTrack" site before using Metro in 2016.
Short Driving Distance
Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens, Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily with tours available
From their website: Marjorie Merriweather Post bought Hillwood in 1955 and soon decided her home would be a museum that would inspire and educate the public. Her northwest Washington, D.C. estate endowed the country with the most comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia, a distinguished 18th-century French decorative art collection, and twenty-five acres of serene landscaped gardens and natural woodlands for all to enjoy. Opened as a public institution in 1977, today Hillwood's allure stems from the equally fascinating parts that make up the whole. From the captivating life of Marjorie Post to the exquisitely maintained Mansion and Gardens. Located about one mile from the Van Ness Metro stop on the red line (detailed directions are available on their website).
Glen Echo Park, Open from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily.
Glen Echo Park is a situated on the Potomac palisades near Bethesda, Maryland. Originally a Chautauqua retreat, then an amusement park, this National Park now presents various arts and cultural programs. There are 14 resident artists and arts organizers offering classes in pottery, painting, photography, silversmithing, or textiles. Enjoy a puppet show or theater performance with your kids and ride the historic Dentzel carousel, or perhaps even a drop in art class. On weekend evenings, there are a variety of different styles of dances, such as tango, swing and contra, accompanied by live bands. Dances take place in the beautiful and pristinely restored 1933 Spanish Ballroom.
Part of Falls Road local park, Hadley's Playground is a unique and fully accessible playground that allows children of all ages and abilities to play together. Perfect for young children and worth the drive.
Brookside Gardens, Open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Brookside Gardens is Montgomery County's incomparable, award-winning 50-acre public display garden. Included in the gardens are several distinct areas: Aquatic Garden, Azalea Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children's Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Style Garden, Trial Garden, Rain Garden and the Woodland Walk. The Formal Gardens areas include a Perennial Garden, Yew Garden, the Maple Terrace, and Fragrance Garden. Ample parking available and many fun things for kids to do also.
Longer Driving Distance
Baltimore (about an hour drive, or two hours by train)
The Inner Harbor is a historic seaport, tourist attraction, and landmark of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The name "Inner Harbor" is used not just for the water but for the surrounding area of the city, with approximate street boundaries of President Street to the east, Lombard Street to the north, Greene Street to the west, and Key Highway on the south. The harbor is within walking distance of Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. A water taxi connects passengers to Fells Point, Canton, and Fort McHenry.Information on the water taxi can be found here: Baltimore Water Taxi.
National Aquarium, Open Daily, check website hours vary.
Located at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, the National Aquarium houses coral reefs, jelly fish, sharks, an Amazonia exhibit as well as an exhibit on animals native to Maryland and more. The newest exhibit, Living Seashore, is an interactive, hands on, exhibit featuring two touchpools where you can experience touching an Atlantic stingray or the bell of a pulsing moon jelly.
Port Discovery Children's Museum, Monday - Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Ranked among the Top 12 Children's Museums in the U.S. by Forbes magazine. If you are bringing children with you to Balisage, visiting this Museum combined with the Aquarium would be a very good way to spend an entire day. Port Discovery features, upon entrance, a soccer field and a 3.5 story urban tree house with a slide and zip line. Other exhibits in this three-story museum include: WOW, a water works room (slickers, crocs and dryers are provided); Tiny's Diner, a realistic 50s style diner, a Mystery house, and a Studio artist workshop to name a few.
Fort McHenry Daily 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
A good hands on learning experience for you and your family. Fort McHenry successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy during the war of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay on September 13 - 14, 1814. It was during the bombardment of the fort that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," the poem that would eventually be set to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven" and become the national anthem of the United States. The film at the visitors center is a must see. You can take the Water taxi from the Inner Harbor to get to Ft. McHenry.
Old Town, Alexandria, is nationally recognized for its rich history and beautifully preserved architecture. It is a welcoming, appealing and completely walkable historic area. Here you will find trendy shopping, exquisite dining, arts, culture, and night life. You can get there via metro blue and yellow lines station and exit at the King Street station (just west of Old Town).
Potomac Mills Mall, About an hour drive. Open Monday - Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m., Sunday: 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Potomac Mills is one of the world's largest outlet malls with more than 220 discount stores featuring designers and brand names including Nordstrom RACK, OFF 5th Saks Fifth Avenue, Polo Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Nautica, Banana Republic, Mikasa, Gymboree and much more. Potomac Mills has numerous dining options ranging from fast-food to the Olive Garden, Silver Diner and Ruby Tuesdays. There is an AMC 18-screen movie theatre and a Mugsy Meadow Kids Club that offers free family programs throughout the year.
Address: 2700 Potomac Mills Circle Prince William, Virginia (703)496-9301
Potomac Mills is located just off of I-95 at exit 156 in Prince William, Virginia. The mall is about 30 minutes south of Washington, DC.
Colonial Williamsburg, (long drive about 3 hours from the metro area)
Allow at least a day to explore and experience this well preserved former capital of Virginia. You will meet townspeople, tradespeople, shopkeepers, political figures, women, and the enslaved that call Williamsburg home and learn of their hopes, struggles, and fears in these uncertain colonial times. As you explore the challenges of daily life set against the backdrop of revolution, look for the many opportunities to play your role as a citizen of the Revolutionary City.