What interesting stuff can I do in D.C. on a Monday?
March 11, 2022 4:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm taking a weekend trip to Washington, D.C., very soon. I plan to attend some of the city's great museums on Saturday and Sunday. I was hoping to tour the Capitol as well, possibly on Monday... but my congresswoman's office has not gotten back to me about when or even if I'll be able to do that. I see that most of the museums are closed on Mondays. So I'm trying to figure out what, if anything, I could do that day.

Right now I'm scheduled to return home on Sunday evening, but if I can find enough interesting stuff to do on Monday, I'll extend my hotel reservation another night, and change my train ticket to Monday evening. I can leave my luggage at my hotel during the day.

I'm thinking maybe I can just schlep around and look at monuments? I could also ride the Metro and take photos -- I do love the Harry Weese-designed station architecture. But I'm searching for other ideas as well.
posted by Artifice_Eternity to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Cherry Blossom Festival starts 20 March. A Monday might be a good time to walk around the Tidal Basin without the weekend crowds.
posted by chrisulonic at 4:56 PM on March 11, 2022 [7 favorites]

They suspended constituent tours during COVID - they're opening back up again, but I think you're wise to make a backup plan. If you don't mind sharing, where is your hotel?
posted by nkknkk at 5:43 PM on March 11, 2022

The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the National Zoo have just gone back to being open 7 days a week, starting March 14th.
posted by gudrun at 5:46 PM on March 11, 2022

Response by poster: nkknkk, I'm staying a few blocks south of the Mall.

gudrun, that's great information -- thanks!
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 6:27 PM on March 11, 2022

Another cherry-blossom related activity you may enjoy: https://www.artechouse.com/program/pixelbloom/
posted by space snail at 6:36 PM on March 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

TBH I didn't love the National Zoo, and it's kinda out of the way.
posted by radioamy at 6:47 PM on March 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's a weird geography just south of the Mall - you may feel like you're cut off from everything by various highways, overpasses, etc. DO NOT BE DETERRED. It's not pretty, but you're not actually that far away from anything.

Among other things, you're quite near the "Southwest Waterfront" aka the Wharf, which now has restaurants and breweries and things. I'd also recommend Union Market for food and photography.

One note about the museums - the National Museum of the American Indian is known as being the only one with a cool/decent cafeteria. Otherwise, food is not easy to come by on the Mall itself. Pack a snack.

I agree that the Zoo is out of the way.
posted by nkknkk at 7:41 PM on March 11, 2022 [7 favorites]

Oh, also I'm quite fond of the Botanical Garden, which is on the south-east side of the Mall.
posted by nkknkk at 7:44 PM on March 11, 2022 [5 favorites]

Grr, so many of the places I'd send you are closed for various reasons. DCist lists all kinds of stuff to do. Also, this is kind of left field, but BeaconDates has ideas for self-contained mini-adventures around (parts of) DC, sortable by neigborhood and vibe, you can just...take yourself on a nice DC date.

South of the Mall, you'll be close to Artechouse, mentioned above, though I think that is closed Mondays. You'll also probably be near the Wharf which does events, and DC's Fish Market, which is fun to visit even if you're not taking a whole trout home on the train.

If you're headed out toward the Capitol Hill/Eastern Market area, Congressional Cemetery is cool to wander around, don't miss the Lummi Nation totem poles. A little farther east than that are Kingman and Heritage Islands, nature preserves built by dredging the Anacostia with lovely trails.

The National Gallery of Art is open Mondays, so you could maybe skip that one on the weekend. It's about a ten minute walk from the National Building Museum, also open Mondays but not free.

The National Arboretum is not very metro-friendly, but it's one of my favorite things in the city, and on a Monday in March you might have the place to yourself. While you're up there, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is also really lovely.

The Basilica is metro friendly and has really beautiful art and does docent tours. The Franciscan Monastery nearby has beautiful gardens and replica catacombs. (Not like miniature catacombs, they built a whole thing underground, though I don't know if you can see them on the self-guided tour.) If you're in the neighborhood check out what the Brookland Arts Walk has going.

Have fun and safe travels, this is a great city!
posted by jameaterblues at 7:44 PM on March 11, 2022 [6 favorites]

The Smithsonian has a single page with operating hours for all its facilities , which may help you plan. Lots of Smithsonian facilities are closed Mondays these days, and the National Air and Space Museum’s building on the Mall is in the middle of a renovation so it might not be open at all when you’re here. The National Gallery of Art’s West Building is open seven days a week, but the East Building is closed until June for renovations.

The monuments and memorials on the Mall are “open” all the time, but visitor facilities aren’t, so if you know you want to visit something specific check those hours directly first. Note the straight line walking distance from the Capital to the Lincoln Memorial is 2.3 miles, not counting any detours for museums or cherry blossoms. From the Lincoln Memorial it’s another mile and a quarter along the Potomac to the Kennedy Center, which may be architecturally interesting to you if you like the Metro. It’s currently featuring an exhibit for the 50th anniversary of the facility in the main building. and a photography exhibit on the climate crisis in the new expansion called The Reach.

If the weather’s nice I’d probably go to the NGA and enjoy some Dutch masters and Rodin sculptures, walk down the Mall and up to the Kennedy Center, then walk to Foggy Bottom and take the Metro back to l’Enfant or wherever your hotel is. (I did this walk in reverse last week, in fact, but I didn’t go to the NGA ‘cause the timing didn’t work out that day). Note that due to various mechanical problems most of the actual Metro trains are out of service and you may have a longer wait and/or a more crowded experience on the Metro than you’d expect or hope for.
posted by fedward at 9:09 PM on March 11, 2022 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, all! Many great ideas here.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:10 AM on March 12, 2022

One of the best (my opinion) art galleries in Washington is The Phillips Collection.

Aaaaargh! Not open on Mondays, sorry.
posted by mbarryf at 6:10 AM on March 12, 2022

Washington Post had this article today; might be generally helpful regarding what's open.
posted by Ipomoea at 6:59 AM on March 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

The Spy Museum is open on Mondays.
posted by oceano at 9:50 AM on March 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

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