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Everything Visitors Need to Know About a U.S. Government Shutdown in DC

@brenntravels - Summer sunset over DC skyline flying into Reagan Airport - Best views of Washington, DC

Washington, DC is always open for business. Here’s what you need to know about a government shutdown to ensure the best trip to the nation’s capital.

Even during a U.S. government shutdown, DC is open. The nation's capital is a thriving city with vibrant neighborhoods, art galleries, shops, attractions and local restaurants. And the city is open for business!

What's Affected During a Shutdown
Due to their affiliation with the federal government, impacted museums include the Smithsonian Institution sites (National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, the Zoo and more), as well as the National Gallery of Art, which are typically expected to close during a shutdown.

National parks, such as the National Mall and its monuments and memorials, as well as Rock Creek Park, may remain open but with limited access. Most staffed services will be unavailable, including park ranger-led tours and memorial shops. Tours of the U.S. Capitol are also typically suspended.

Operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. National Arboretum will be inaccessible to the public.

DC is Open
In Washington, DC, local services continue operating as normal. That means the Metro and other public transportation options remain open, as will DC public parks, sanitation services, schools, ancillary government services, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and more. 

The good news: Most of the city isn't impacted and there's still lots to see and do in the nation's capital. 


Check out what's happening this weekend and this month in Washington, DC. 


The National Gallery of Art may be closed, but visitors can enjoy the fine arts at:

  • Artechouse
  • District Architecture Center
  • Dumbarton Oaks
  • Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
  • The Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
  • Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
  • Kreeger Museum
  • Long View Gallery
  • Museum of the Bible
  • National Building Museum
  • National Geographic Museum
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • The Phillips Collection
  • St. Matthews Cathedral
  • The Textile Museum
  • The Wharf
  • Walter E. Washington Convention Center
  • Washington National Cathedral


The National Museum of American History and other Smithsonian museums may be closed, but visitors can get hands-on history lessons at:

  • Anderson House – The Society of Cincinnati
  • Arlington House
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Bureau of Engraving & Printing
  • Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  • DAR Constitution Hall
  • Folger Shakespeare Theatre
  • Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon
  • Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
  • International Spy Museum
  • Kreeger Museum
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Newseum
  • Tudor Place House & Garden
  • Union Station
  • Washington National Cathedral


DC’s excellent performing arts scene, including theater, dance, film, is in full swing at:

  • 9:30 Club
  • AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center
  • The Anthem
  • Arena Stage
  • Atlas Performing Arts Center
  • Black Cat
  • Dance Place  
  • DC Improv
  • Folger Shakespeare Library
  • The Hamilton Live
  • Howard Theatre
  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Lincoln Theatre
  • Medieval Times
  • National Theatre
  • ​Pearl Street Warehouse
  • Studio Theater
  • Signature Theater
  • Shakespeare Theatre Company
  • Strathmore
  • Toby’s Dinner Theatre
  • ​U Street Music Hall
  • Warner Theatre
  • Washington National Opera
  • Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company


DC has more than 2,200 places to eat, from Michelin-starred restaurants to the locally sourced feasting ground that is Union Market and hot spots at The Wharf. Eat it all up – your stomach will thank you.


There is plenty of thrilling sports action and outdoor fun at:

  • Buffalo Billiards
  • Capital One Arena
  • D.C. United
  • East Potomac Golf Course
  • FedExField
  • Go Ape Treetop Adventures
  • Langston Golf Course
  • Lucky Strike Lanes
  • Nationals Park
  • Pinstripes
  • Rock Creek Golf Course
  • Six Flags America
  • Terrapin Adventures
  • Topgolf
  • Washington Mystics
  • Washington Nationals
  • Washington Redskins
  • Washington Wizards
  • Washington Capitals


You may not be able to tour the U.S. Capitol, but you can take an exciting city tour with:

  • Adventure Links
  • America’s Trusted Tours & Attractions
  • American City Walking  Guide  of Washington,  DC
  • Big Bus Tours
  • Bike and Roll
  • C&O Canal Boat Rides
  • Capital City Bike Tours
  • Capital River Cruises
  • City Segway Tours of Washington, DC
  • DC by Foot
  • DC Ghost Tours
  • DC Metro Food Tours
  • DC Trails
  • DC Walkabout
  • Double Key Treasure Hunts
  • Entertainment Cruises
  • National Public Radio Building
  • Odyssey Cruises
  • Old Post Office Building Pavilion
  • Old Town Trolley Tours
  • Open Top Sightseeing
  • Potomac Riverboat Company
  • Side Tour
  • Spirit Cruises
  • Washington Walks

Follow local news sites for the latest information on a federal government shutdown:

For up-to-date visitor information during a U.S. government shutdown, make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook or call our hotline at (800) 422-8644.