Set your sights on DC

September 1, 2005

If you'd like to catch some of the sights while you're in town, all you have to do is look around. Chances are there's a monument, memorial, museum, or historical building close by. Most of the war memorials are outdoors, so take that into account if the weather is a little on the chilly side. However, a little inclement weather shouldn't stop you from taking in some of what the District has to offer. You could literally spend months in Washington, DC, and still not get through all the museums. Indeed, seeing all the museums within the Smithsonian is a daunting task in itself.

If you'd like to catch some of the sights while you're in town, all you have to do is look around. Chances are there's a monument, memorial, museum, or historical building close by. Most of the war memorials are outdoors, so take that into account if the weather is a little on the chilly side. However, a little inclement weather shouldn't stop you from taking in some of what the District has to offer. You could literally spend months in Washington, DC, and still not get through all the museums. Indeed, seeing all the museums within the Smithsonian is a daunting task in itself.

Most of the attractions listed here offer guided tours. Many of the attractions are free, but it's always good to call ahead.

MUSEUMS The Corcoran Gallery of Art Located just a block west of the White House at 17th Street and New York Avenue, the Corcoran is one of the oldest and most prestigious art museums in the nation. Here, the emphasis is on American art, with works from frontier artists such as Remington and Bierstadt, to more modern pieces by Warhol and Rothko. You'll also find a sampling of Dutch masters and French impressionists. Guided tours are available. For further information, call 202/639-1700.

National Gallery of Art Located on the north side of the Mall on Constitution between Third and Seventh streets, the National Gallery of Art is not a government institution. Industrialist Andrew Mellon bought the building and donated many of the paintings. Many of the paintings here once hung in the world-renowned Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Your best bet is to take one of the daily free tours. You'll find everything here from Renaissance masters to the Impressionists. Admission is free. For further information, call 202/737-4215.

National Museum of American History A museum dedicated to U.S. cultural heritage, this is where you'll find displays of odds, ends, and artifacts that have played a role in the nation's development. You'll see things like George Washington's wooden teeth, Judy Garland's ruby slippers, and the flag that inspired "The Star Spangled Banner." Inventions abound as well, from light bulbs and telegraphs to atomic clocks. More fun than educational, it's good for a light-hearted trip through yesteryear. On the north side of the mall at 14th NW and Constitution Avenue, this museum is part of the Smithsonian. For more information, call 202/357-2700.

National Museum of the American Indian A newly opened attraction, the museum is a centerpiece for the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, arts, culture, and history of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The museum also features educational and public programs, including ceremonies and performances. Free, but timed passes are required. For further information, call: 202/633-1000.

National Museum of Women in the Arts The museum, dedicated to women artists, is located at 1250 New York Ave, NW. Opened in 1987, the collection includes pieces by Georgia O'Keefe and Helen Frankenthaler among many others. A small donation is suggested. For more information, call 202/783-5000.