By Kara Fellows
If you’re one of the 20,000 interns spending the summer in DC, you’re going to get asked about which museums you visited. Unfortunately, you likely work well beyond museum hours. So unless you play hooky, you’ve got to brave the Mall on a weekend. Here are some inside tips on how to make the most of the DC’s museums.
Start at the Smithsonian Castle.
Directly across from the Natural History Museum is a dark red gothic building that sticks out from the rest of DC’s white, classic architecture. It’s the original Smithsonian museum building known as the Smithsonian Castle. You only have to spend 15 minutes in the museum dedicated to the world’s largest museum.
Each of the big museums will take at least an hour depending on crowds. If you’re dying to see every inch of the Natural History Museum, get there when it opens at 10 a.m. sharp. The smaller museums, like my personal favorite the Hirshhorn can wait until later in the day. Regardless come with a game plan.
I cannot stress this enough. The Mall is almost 2 miles long and traversing it in the summer heat will leave you exhausted. Bring your own refillable water bottle and stop at plenty of water fountains.
Eat throughout the day
As someone who starts planning for dinner about halfway through lunch, food is never far from my mind. But there’s so much to see and do in the museums that hours fly by and before you know it the plastic food in Julia Child’s kitchen looks good. Even I found myself at the end of the day lightheaded and hangry. For a quick bite without leaving the Mall, you can head over to the long line of food trucks. But if it’s the end of the day, and you’re looking for air conditioning, comfy chairs and the best people watching in the city, hop in a cab and head to the Trump Hotel. Politics aside the hotel bar and restaurant are top notch and you’ll likely see someone with a security detail.
Get African American Museum Tickets EARLY
The newest museum on the Mall is being heralded as one of the best out there. All 19 Smithsonian Museums in DC are free of any admission charge but the African American Museum requires timed passes to handle the massive demand from guests. These babies sell out months in advance but if you miss out they are sometimes available on craigslist – for a price.