NOTE: Some museums and historic sites are closed during the shutdown. Please check websites for updated information.
If you’re planning on joining the Women’s March in DC this January, take pride in the fact that you are part of a long history of exercising first amendment rights. From suffragettes in the early 20th century to the original Women’s March in 2017, DC has long been a destination for people from all over to unite, march, and let their voices be heard.
But once it’s time to set down your megaphone and picket sign, you may be wondering how to make the rest of your trip equally meaningful. If so, you’re in luck: with its thought-provoking monuments, political hotspots, opportunities for ethical consumerism, and museums that celebrate the diversity of the United States, DC offers plenty of ways for you to enrich your trip, whether you have a day, a weekend, or a week to spend. Get ready to ride that marcher’s high and check out these 11 spots, all recommended by Moon Washington DC author Samantha Sault:
Start your day off right at…
Established in 2005 by an Iraqi-American artist and activist and inspired by Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy in a Washington hotel in the 1920s, Busboys and Poets is where progressive activists tend to meet for breakfast before a march. It’s also where artists and poets ruminate on political and cultural issues, and where locals enjoy good, affordable food made with organic, hormone-free, and fair-trade ingredients. This busy, casual restaurant is covered in art inspired by its progressive, community-focused mission. Choose from standard dining tables or cozy couches where you can have coffee or tea. If you have a little time to kill, browse the onsite bookshop specializing in social justice issues and DC life and history. In addition to the 14th and V flagship, there are several other locations throughout the city, including one less than a mile north of the National Mall where the Women’s March plans to gather.
2021 14th St. NW, 202/387-7638, www.busboysandpoets.com; 8am-midnight Mon.-Thurs., 24 hours Fri.-Sat., until midnight Sun.
Stock up on swag at…
Want to find an on-point rally outfit while putting your money where your mouth is? March on over to The Outrage to get your resistance-themed gear, including tees, tanks, totes, leggings, baby onesies, jewelry, art, and much more with feminist and equality slogans— think “Nevertheless, She Persisted” and “Nasty Women Unite” as well as designs celebrating gay pride. The proceeds from every item sold benefit organizations like Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and The Malala Fund.
1722 14th St. NW, 202/265-6546, www.the-outrage.com; 10am-8pm daily
Discover how women artists have been catalysts for change at the…
Shockingly, Washington’s National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only major museum in the world dedicated exclusively to women artists—why not lean in to the theme of the weekend and check it out? The museum was founded by Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, a diplomat and art collector who was appalled by the lack of information about women artists in American art textbooks, and she made it her mission to support women artists. Rotating exhibitions draw from the collection of nearly 5,000 pieces by more than 1,000 artists, including Mary Cassatt, Clara Peeters, and Frida Kahlo, as well as hundreds of lesser-known artists.
1250 New York Ave. NW, 202/783-5000, www.nmwa.org; 10am-5pm Mon.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun.; $10 adults, $8 students and seniors, free for children 18 and under
Be sure to tour the…
While this imposing white neoclassical dome is visible for miles, rising 288 feet into the Washington skyline, the U.S. Capitol is worth seeing up close. If you plan ahead, it’s relatively easy to take the free, 45-minute guided tour of the Capitol, either by contacting the office of your senator or representative or by reserving tickets online through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. The highlight is the rotunda, the 96-foot-wide circular room under the dome that connects the House and Senate sides of the Capitol. Want to go a little higher? It’s possible to tour the top of the dome, if you’re accompanied by a member of Congress. You’ll climb 300 spiraling steps to get an up-close look at the dome and an expansive view from an exterior walkway. It’s hard to nab a spot, but it’s worth asking when you request a tour of the Capitol. Afterwards, swing by Bullfeathers, a watering hole popular with Hill staffers, for a refreshing beer (or two).
1st St. SE and E. Capitol St. NE, 202/226- 8000, www.visitthecapitol.gov.
Celebrate America’s immigrant heritage in…
Washington DC has a large Ethiopian population, and the Washington metro region has the largest Ethiopian population in the country. While Ethiopian immigrants are increasingly priced out of the District and now live and open businesses in suburbs like Silver Spring, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia, parts of the U Street Corridor and Shaw around 9th Street NW are still known as “Little Ethiopia,” as evidenced by restaurants like Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant, where you can feast on traditional dishes. Today, Ethiopian food is an essential part of the District’s culinary landscape.
If you’re lucky enough to snag tickets, don’t miss the…
If you can get tickets, go early and stay late—it’s worth seeing everything inside the five-story museum. The newest and by far the best Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture deserves several days to fully explore the magnitude of information and artifacts contained in 12 exhibitions over five floors—but you’ll likely only have entry passes for one day, so plan to spend the better part of a day here, if you can.
Start in the History Galleries, where you’ll learn the detailed realities of the horrific slave ship journeys. Plan to spend at least two hours climbing the ramps in the galleries from the Civil War through segregation and the civil rights movement to present day, alternately distraught by the treatment of African Americans by their fellow Americans and elated at the triumphs, culminating with the election of America’s first black president. After decompressing by the indoor rain-shower waterfall in the Contemplative Court, save time for the upper levels, which are dedicated to black art and culture.
1400 Constitution Ave. NW between 14th St. NW and 15th St. NW, 844/750-3012, http://nmaahc.si.edu; 10am-5:30pm daily; free
But if you can’t get in, check out the…
While the new National Museum of African American History and Culture has been getting so much attention, the National Park Service has been quietly preserving the legacy of one of the country’s most important abolitionists—and you won’t need to wait for hours to see it. Located in Anacostia, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is the estate where Douglass lived from 1877, when he was appointed U.S. Marshall by President Rutherford B. Hayes, until his death in 1895. See rooms containing many of Douglass’s personal belongings in the exact spots they would have been while he was alive, as well as artwork and photographs of the Douglass family. Discover fascinating tidbits about the man who was born a slave and would eventually become a renowned (and mostly self-educated) abolitionist, author, and speaker. Reserve tickets online at least a few days in advance and arrive early to catch the 19-minute film about Douglass. When you finish the tour, take in the view from his porch, located high above the city on a 51-foot hill and offering expansive views all the way to the U.S. Capitol.
1411 W St. SE, 202/426-5961, www.nps.gov/frdo; 9am-5pm daily Apr.-Oct., 9am-4:30pm daily Nov.-Mar.; $1.50 for reserved ticket
And while you’re at it, stroll the…
Anacostia Heritage Trail
Launched by Cultural Tourism DC in 2015 to showcase the history of the community, the trail highlights prominent African Americans who lived here, like John A. Moss, who escaped slavery and became the neighborhood’s first lawyer, Solomon Brown, the first African American to work at the Smithsonian Institution, and of course, Frederick Douglass. After about a block and a half, America’s Islamic Heritage Museum and Cultural Center will be on the left. This museum has displays, rife with text and photographs, which traveled with the U.S. State Department before finding a permanent home in Anacostia. It’s worth spending an hour or two here if you want to dig into the stories of American Muslims that you may not have known before.
To read up on (and possibly meet!) your political heroes, stop in…
Since opening in 1984, Upper Northwest’s Politics and Prose has long been a favorite local shop to purchase books and meet authors, including many U.S. senators, star reporters, and bestselling novelists, at the store’s readings and signings that take place almost daily. Events at the store are almost always free and open to the public, though events with high-profile authors (Patti Smith, Amy Tan, Dan Rather) hosted at other city venues often require advance tickets. There is also a Metro-accessible, 2,300-square-foot location at the District Wharf is where you can find a large selection of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books as well as cards, gifts, and other items.
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202/364-1919, www.politics-prose.com; 10am-10pm daily
Linger at one of the store’s evening book signings, then head a couple doors down to…
In the aftermath of Pizzagate, Comet Ping Pong was flooded with community support. It’s a terrific local business to support if you’re against the proliferation of fake news—and the wood-fired pizza is good, too. Enjoy free ping pong games while you wait for your pie or join DC hipsters for beer (most between $5-8) and live music until late.
5307 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202/364-0404, www.cometpingpong.com; 5pm-9:30pm Mon.-Thurs., 11:30am- 10:45pm Fri.-Sat., 11:30am-9:30pm Sun., bar open late
And after a long day, kick back at…
This growing, woman-owned distillery produced a limited-edition rye for November 2016: Rodham Rye, celebrating what they thought would be the election of the first female POTUS. Things didn’t quite go as planned, but Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner released it anyway. Visit their tasting room bar, which is built in a warehouse in the former B&O Railroad Yard in Ivy City and has lots of natural light and sleek wood finishes, where you can try refined cocktails made with their clean Civic Vodka or Borough Bourbon (made with Kentucky whiskey). The day of the march, they’re hosting a free after-party featuring the woman-owned operated hot dog company Sporty Dog Creations and drink specials from their incredible bar team.
1369 New York Ave. NE, 202/733-3996, www.republicrestoratives.com; 5pm-11pm Thurs.-Fri., noon-11pm Sat., noon-5pm Sun., tours available Sat.-Sun. or by appointment Mon.-Fri.