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Downtown & Penn Quarter Attractions

Engage your mind with historic landmarks, a formidable art museum and world class entertainment

Perhaps the most famous theater in the country, Ford's Theatre is the infamous site of President Lincoln's assassination. The theater and museum are open for public tours.


Ford's Theatre
Tour the working theatre where President Lincoln was shot, and the adjacent house where he died.

April 14, 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth during a performance of Our American Cousin. For 100 years, the theatre remained closed, tainted by this dismal event. But luckily for us, in 1968 the Ford's Theatre was restored to its former glory. It is now a beautiful, fully operating arts and education venue for the world to enjoy and managed by the National Parks Service. Rangers lead tours of the museum, which explores Lincoln's presidency from inauguration to assassination through a series of artifacts. Explore the Center for Leadership and Education across from the theater and adjacent to the Petersen House where Lincoln died. There are three galleries, including one about the aftermath following Lincoln's assassination, and a 34-foot tower of books written about the president. Visitors may not be permitted to enter the theatre or museum during rehearsals or performances so plan your trips in advance.

Up-to-the-minute interactivity makes the Newseum an exciting place for families to mull over the role of the free press - from newspapers to Twitter feeds - in American society.


Realize the importance of a free press through a series of media exhibits that document history.

Forget a civics textbook – all you need is a trip to this 643,000 square foot museum to obtain a thorough understanding of events that have shaped the world since the printing press was invented. You'll also come to realize the power and importance of a free press, the museum's ultimate mission. With a prime view of the U.S. Capitol, admire graffiti’d sections of the Berlin Wall, a heart-wrenching collection of newspaper front pages after Sept. 11, 2001, and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs. Test your on-camera skills in the NBC News interactive newsroom, where you can be recorded in a TV reporter role-play. The museum continually documents the media's evolution: the HP New Media Gallery demonstrates how significant news events were reported in recent years through mediums like Twitter. Visitors get a crack at piecing together their own news stories based on snippets from social media outlets.

The East Building of the National Gallery of Art houses the modern and contemporary pieces in the mammoth collection. A mobile the size of a jet by Alexander Caulder hangs inside the atrium.


See the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Americas, among the impressive national art collections.

The official national art collection of the U.S. begun by financier Andrew W. Mellon contains permanent European painting collections going back to the 14th century, including the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Americas, Italian cabinet galleries and French Rococo pieces, well-known Impressionist paintings and other impressive sculptures, prints and photographs that fill the classical style West Building and H-shaped, I.M. Pei-designed East Building. In the summer, catch the museum’s popular Jazz in the Sculpture Garden series on Friday evenings.

Shakespeare Theatre Company's Harman Center for the Arts in Penn Quarter hosts classic Shakespeare plays and cutting-edge classics in the making.


Take advantage of lavish, award-winning, frequent and sometimes free productions here.

No need to practice ye olde English for this one. Here, the mission of the nation's foremost Shakespeare company is to present classic theatre in an accessible way. This is why you can find so many fabulous prix-fixe menus nearby. This theater is often a contender at the local Helen Hayes Awards each year and was awarded the 2012 Tony Award for regional theater, so take advantage of its lavish, frequent and sometimes free productions.

The Washington Capitals playing the Montreal Canadiens at the Verizon Center


Attend one of 220 annual events, from concerts to basketball games to monster truck shows.

This 20,000 seat arena is home to most D.C. sports teams, like the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and the Georgetown Hoyas. There are 220 events a year here, so chances are you'll always be able to snag tickets to a great function, whether it's Beyonce, a monster truck show or an audience with the Dalai Lama.