Today, I’m sharing a few of my friend Catherine’s favorite spots in D.C. that I’d never explored as well as some of my old standbys I can’t seem to pass on whenever I visit.
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When visiting Catherine, she and I spent a lot of time comparing our favorite things to do in D.C.. I realized when visiting her that I’ve come to the city at least every year since my sophomore year of college, so I’ve got some serious love for Washington D.C.!
The Newseum has been on my list forever, but because it’s not cheap and surrounded by so many great (and free) Smithsonian museums, I’d never visited. But Catherine loves it, so we spent the afternoon here.
As the name implies, it covers all things journalism, news industry, and free press. With exhibits ranging from the stories behind Pulitzer-prize winning photography to music and politics’ relationship to the history of the tech that supports journalism, they run the gamut of subjects that touch news.
Nearly every exhibit had something I wasn’t expecting. An exhibit about the connections between music and politics includes Lady Gaga’s meat dress, cured and repainted to last. An exploration of the relationship between news agencies and the FBI: where the media helps and hurts investigations, including cases that occurred in the past six months!
A twenty-foot section of the Berlin wall stands in the basement, drawing on the distinctions in news coverage between East and West Germany to further illustrate the difference between the graffiti scrawled western side and starkly bare eastern side.
Another fascinating display showed the world and its level of free press. Spoiler alert: Italy will surprise you. And the US isn’t quite as high on that list as I expected.
I could’ve spent all day wandering. It’s a five-story museum and they make a great use of the nooks and crannies: everything is captivating. The photography exhibit by the coat check alone could hold my attention for a solid hour. If this is your kind of thing, probably plan to spend a whole day here. And done miss the top floor with its rooftop patio and views of the Capitol Building.
National Gallery of Art
Another favorite is the National Gallery of Art. I love that because the Smithsonian museums are free, you can poke in for a few minutes just to see one particular exhibit or to sit and soak in a few paintings without feeling like you have to invest the whole morning in a visit.
It may have been snowing outside, but spring had sprung inside! I loved the azaleas surrounding the main fountain inside. Eager for a bit more springtime, we swung through the Impressionists before braving the cold again.
U.S. Botanic Gardens
Speaking of springtime, our jonesing for warmth and bright colors took us to the Botanic Gardens! Somehow in all my visits I’d never been here, and now I can’t imagine what kept me away. Stepping in felt like entering another world, one where mittens weren’t a requirement for leaving home and floral greenery was a given everywhere you turned.
While it’s not a huge place, the amount of variety makes it feel like they’ve gathered every imaginable plant for you to see and smell. My favorite room was the massive central exhibit that had a second story catwalk. The glass roof fills the room with light without letting in the cold and creates an almost tropical illusion!
National Zoological Park
Finally, I can’t talk about D.C. favorites without bringing up the National Zoo. If I lived in D.C., I think I’d come here at least every other weekend. Lucky for me, Catherine moved within a few blocks of it! So we swung through, eager to see the pandas and if any creatures liked the snow.
Most were inside to avoid the cold, but we did see some native animals enjoying the weather! It always cracks me up when you see deer or other local wild things hanging out in a zoo.
Thanks Catherine for introducing me to some new places I can’t wait to check out again! Those are just a few of our favorite spots in D.C., but I’ve got lots of love for this city. Check this page for more of D.C., or this and this for more of this particular spring-snow visit.