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People walking in Georgetown during fall

What to Know About Visiting Washington, DC During a Government Shutdown

DC is open for you with plenty to explore, from local treasures to museums to award-winning dining.

The nation’s capital remains a great destination for travelers, despite a government shutdown.

What to Know

A partial U.S. government shutdown may affect some attractions, but Washington, DC’s vibrancy shines through 24/7, 365. There are still countless events going on, museums to explore, a world-class dining scene to devour, must-see theater productions, waterfront fun, cool neighborhoods to check out, plenty of places to stay and fall vibes to enjoy. Translation: DC remains one of the world’s top destinations even during a shutdown.

Shutdown Snapshot

What’s Affected: The shutdown’s potential impact extends primarily to attractions that receive federal funds. Examples include the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, White House tours, U.S. Supreme Court, Library of Congress and U.S. Botanic Garden, among others. During a government shutdown the Kennedy Center's performances would go on, but the building would close to the public during non-performance times. 

Monuments & Memorials: Open-air national parks like the National Mall, Memorial Parks and Rock Creek Park remain physically accessible to the public during a shutdown. Some of the monuments and memorial sites may offer limited access, and services like ranger-led tours and memorial shops typically  go on hiatus. 

Museum Magic: Smithsonian Institution museums, the National Zoo, as well as the National Gallery of Art are also federally funded. These museums and others may stay open or offer limited access if they've set aside reserve funding. For example during the 2018 shutdown, these cultural gems welcomed visitors for an extra 11 days, and if there would've been a shutdown on Oct. 1, 2023, the Smithsonian Institution and National Gallery of Art were prepared to stay open an extra week. 

DC's Resilience: While certain federal government operations may pause, DC's daily life persists. The Metro and public transportation operations are unaffected, DC government-operated public parks remain open, schools and sanitation services continue business as usual. In the event of a government shutdown, stay tuned for updates and the latest status of federally funded attractions.

Find out more about how DC is Open.

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