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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 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. Most staffed services will be unavailable, including park ranger-led tours and memorial shops. 

Due to their affiliation with the federal government, impacted museums may 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

UPDATE: Smithsonian Institution sites and the National Gallery of Art are currently closed to the public due to the shutdown.

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. 


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)


  • Artechouse
  • Art Museum of the Americas
  • District Architecture Center
  • Dumbarton Oaks
  • Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
  • Glenstone Museum
  • The Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
  • Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
  • Kreeger Museum
  • Long View Gallery
  • The Mansion on O & O Street Museum
  • Museum of the Bible
  • National Building Museum
  • National Geographic Museum
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • The Observation Deck at CEB Tower
  • The Phillips Collection
  • St. Matthews Cathedral
  • U.S. Botanic Garden
  • The Textile Museum
  • The Wharf
  • Walter E. Washington Convention Center
  • Washington National Cathedral


  • African American Civil War Memorial Museum
  • Anderson House – The Society of Cincinnati
  • Arlington House
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Bureau of Engraving & Printing
  • Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  • Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Museum
  • DAR Constitution Hall
  • Folger Shakespeare Theatre
  • Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon
  • Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
  • Kreeger Museum
  • Library of Congress
  • Madame Tussauds
  • National Law Enforcement Museum
  • National Museum of the Marine Corps
  • National Museum of the U.S. Navy
  • Newseum
  • President Lincoln's Cottage
  • Saint John Paul II National Shrine
  • Tudor Place House & Garden
  • Union Station
  • U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
  • U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • Washington National Cathedral
  • Woodrow Wilson House


  • 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.


  • Buffalo Billiards
  • Capital One Arena
  • Capital City Go-Go
  • D.C. United
  • East Potomac Golf Course
  • Entertainment and Sports Arena
  • 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


  • 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.