Affordability, walkable attractions, and meaningful subject matter make Washington D.C. an excellent vacation spot for UMass Boston students. Flights are cheap, and the city is accessible by metro from nearby hotels in Bethesda and Silver Springs. Fun can be had on shoe string budgets: the memorials and Smithsonian museums are free and open to the public 7 days a week. Below is a curated selection of staple destinations and less typical ones. Check these them out when you aren’t taking selfies in front of government buildings or peaking the lawmaking setting.
The towering Washington Monument is iconic and practically unavoidable. The white point of the obelisk rises over building tops. Because of this, and the location close to the Whitehouse and other attractions, it makes for both a great start to the D.C. tourism, and a visual reference point. Tickets to climb up and look out over the city at morning can be purchased online. The wide area of lawn surrounding the monument is perfect for picnicking or pickup sports games.
Similarly, no trip to the capital is complete without visiting the Museum of American History, which has a little something for everybody, history buffs especially. There are exhibits for those interested in U.S. military and involvement in war. Techies should head to the newest wing on American innovation. Popular exhibits include the collection of First Lady dresses and the battle-flown flag that inspired the national anthem.
Natural History Museum can bring the history lesson to a planetary scope. Taxaiderm animals from across the world are forever in mid-roar, flight, and graze. Skeletons show the evolutionary descent of the human body. Upstairs are live creepy-crawlies and a pay-to-see butterfly enclosure. Perhaps the most interesting is the mineral science wing, housing a rainbow of crystals and gems. Don't miss the blue Hope Diamond, a notoriously cursed gem priced upwards of 225 million. Warning, families crowd this museum at peak hours, so avoid if you dislike ambient shrieks.
Feer and Sackler Galleries, and the Museum of African Art connect underground, making their stop efficient fun. Find solace in the shade and cool stone walls of this complex. Average temperatures in D.C. hit between 69 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, but the summer is humid. The Freer is devoted to art from across the Asian continent. Stone shinto demons stand guard in corridors. Arabic curls across the page of an Iranian Sultan's poem. Korean bowls shine with chrysanthemum glaze. ‘The Peacock Room,’ a Anglo-Japanese styled dining room from 19th century Britain, is the counterpart to the Sackler Gallery’s Filthy Lucre, the same room recreated, but urns smashed, and illustrations reflecting emotional origins.
African Art Museum displays a reimagining of ‘Dante’s Inferno,’ by contemporary African artists. The installations are split thematically across three floors ‘Hell,’ ‘Purgatory,’ and ‘Heaven.’ Museum-goers ascend them in the same order as Dante on his journey. A rubber and bulbous installation snakes across ‘Hell.’ An abstract video plays on a loop in ‘Purgatory.’ In ‘Heaven,’ a grid of sequined high-heels evokes ghosts enraptured. Donated by the Cosby family, the other exhibit, ‘Conversations,’ is a dialogue made between African and African American artists with vivid colors and stories.
The Jefferson Memorial possesses a tranquility that rivals the Lincoln Memorial, and sees comparably less foot traffic. This breezy vantage point across the Potomac River is easily accessible by a bridge, and along the way walkers can rent paddleboats. This memorial is testament to the District’s dynamic landscape, where a naturalistic environment is a short walk away from an urban one. Inside the dome is the metal Founding Father, and and passages from Declaration of Independence on the wall.
Multiple-story glass walls contain the various modules of the American Botanical Garden, populated by different themes of plans. Its pathway passes through twisting cacti in a desert, a scented area of herbs, and the colorful Orchid Room. Check out the prehistoric plant exhibit sporting Mimosa Pudica, that crumples inwards when brushed. Make sure to walk the canopy balcony in the main space. When all is done, you’ve positioned yourself at the corner of Capitol Hill, where many of the Congressional buildings are open to the public. Here you can see where laws are made and say “Hi” at the office of your representative.