Here are 10 staff favorites for sites to see and bites to eat this spring.
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington
Off of Metro’s Blue Line, more than 400,000 Americans (service members and family) are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. If you have a relative among them, the cemetery’s website and mobile app make them easy to find. If not, there’s still plenty to see, like the final resting places of William Howard Taft, and Robert and John F. Kennedy, as well as the Arlington House, the estate once owned by Robert E. Lee. An interpretive bus service is accessible to those with disabilities.
Brookside Gardens, Silver Spring
With 50 acres of lush, verdant landscape and flora, Brookside Gardens in Wheaton Regional Park is a beautiful place to spend a sunny spring day. The emphasis here is on local plant species, with a fragrance garden, butterfly garden and Japanese teahouse all open for wandering.
Ford’s Theatre, Washington
It’s most famous for being the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, but it had an interesting history even before “Our American Cousin” showed up. It was originally the site of a Baptist church that John T. Ford bought in 1861 and converted to a theater. But that burned down in 1862. It was rebuilt just in time to host one of the most infamous events in American history. Today, the theater still holds performances and tours are available to the public at certain times, with elevators and assisted listening devices available.
Gadsby’s Tavern, Alexandria
Some of the most famous drinkers in American history were regulars at this joint in what’s now Old Town, Alexandria. Today it’s a museum of American history and tavern culture, but back when it was built in the late 18th century, it was a local hangout for the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison.
The National Gallery of Art, Washington
Speaking of free, it’s hard to pass up any opportunity to see a Michelangelo, Van Gogh self-portraits, Mary Cassatt’s and more all for the low price of … $0.00. Even if you’ve been before, this nearly-encyclopedic art museum in the heart of downtown Washington has more than enough to keep you coming back. Plus, the café between the original building and the newer modern wing is lovely. Assistive listening devices, as well as tours designed specifically for people who are vision impaired, are available.
Make sure to book your visit in advance, because since it opened in 2016, it’s been one of the hottest tickets in the area. Ten stories of art and artifacts tell of the African American experience, drawing visitors from across the country and around the world.
The Newseum, Washington
It’s one of the pricier options in a city full of free museums, but if the old saying is true, you get what you pay for (plus, with a senior discount, admission is $19.95). Either way, it’s a truly unique museum experience covering American media. And right now, they’re featuring exhibits on the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. Feel free to check them for accuracy. Large print visitor guides are available upon request, and American Sign Language tours are led on specific dates.
The Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington
When it comes to dining in the District, nothing shows quite as much reverence for yesteryear as the Old Ebbitt Grill. It’s the third iteration of the timeless bar and grill, but it was crafted with the utmost respect for the original, which opened in 1856. The dinner rush can get crazy, so if you aren’t making a reservation, weeknight (or even better, lunchtime) dining is easiest.
The Round Robin Bar, Washington
If the dogs are barking after a long day of serious sightseeing, take a load off at the Round Robin Bar. It’s got the stuff of smoke-filled backroom legend in the lobby of the Willard InterContinental Hotel. The bar itself dates back to 1847, and famous patrons include Woodrow Wilson, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.
The Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington
You might be thinking that the zoo is only for kids, but it’s making a comeback for animal lovers of all ages. There may be no better outing on a pleasant springtime day than the Smithsonian National Zoo, tucked at the very bottom of Rock Creek Park. And if you can go on a weekday, you’ll beat most of the crowds, getting right up close and personal with Bei Bei (perhaps the most famous giant panda in the Western hemisphere). The zoo is pretty hilly and wheelchairs are available at no cost. Electric vehicles can be rented for $25.