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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.

UPDATE: Smithsonian Institution sites and the National Gallery of Art are currently closed to the public. They will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Even during a partial 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 it is open for business.

What's Affected During a Shutdown
Open-air national parks, such as the National Mall and its monuments and memorials, remain open and accessible but with limited access during a partial government shutdown. Most staffed services are usually unavailable, including park ranger-led tours and memorial shops.

How a federally operated building or attraction is funded will affect whether it is open or closed during a partial government shutdown. For example, during the most recent shutdown that ended in January 2019, the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, U.S. Supreme Court, Library of Congress and U.S. Botanic Garden remained open because they were funded through the year.

Due to their affiliation with federal government funding, 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. These museums are able to remain open if they set aside reserve funding for such events, which occurred with the shutdown that began on Dec. 21, 2018 when museums operated for 11 additional days.

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 and places to go in the nation's capital. 

DC is Open - The Visitors Guide to a U.S. Government Shutdown in Washington, DC


Check out what's happening this weekend and this month in Washington, DC, including the following popular events:

  • Rodarte at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (through Feb. 10)
  • Daily free performances on Millennium Stage at 6 p.m.
  • Winter Restaurant Week (through Jan. 20)
  • Ice skating at rinks including Canal Park in Capitol Riverfront, Washington Harbour Ice Rink in Georgetown, Wharf Ice Rink
  • Dream Closet installation of modern holiday ornaments above CityCenterDC’s Palmer Alley (through Feb. 28)
  • Everything in Existence interactive installation at ARTECHOUSE (through March 10)
  • Matthew Bourne's Cinderella at the Kennedy Center (through Jan. 20)
  • School of Rock at National Theatre (through Jan. 27)
  • Judy Garland: A Star is Born at Signature Theatre (through Jan. 26)





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.



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.