A walking tour of the smaller museums in DC

When I was a kid, we went on multiple field trips to learn about our nation’s capital. We visited the Capitol, the Smithsonian, the White House, and all of the presidential memorials. I remember being so tired out at the end of the day, I immediately plopped into bed. On this trip, I was determined to wander around some smaller places and try to find some quiet amidst the National Mall madness.

First Stop: Library of Congress I love libraries so this was a must-see for me. The Great Hall in the Jefferson Building has beautiful and intricate carvings. Note that the silver metal in the Hall is actually aluminum since aluminum was more precious than gold when it was built. If you stay tuned for a later post, I’ll teach you how to get into the various reading rooms…

The entrance of the Library of Congress Jefferson Building

Second Stop: The Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery I love art museums and the National Gallery has an amazing collection but sometimes that much art can be overwhelming. So instead I decided to wander around the sculpture garden right next to the National Gallery. It’s small but lovely. My favorite works were Typewrite Eraser by Oldenberg/van Bruggen and Puellae by Abakanowicz.

The four-sided pyramid by Sol DeWitt at the Sculpture Garden

Third stop: Enid A. Haupt Garden This garden is very tranquil and beautifully laid out. On the left hand side is the moon gate garden which has lovely smelling honeysuckle and also a cherry blossom tree. Magnolias cover the entire garden and its a great place for a short stroll.

The Moon Gate at the Enid A. Haupt Garden


Fourth Stop: Sackler Gallery I really like small art museums like this one. It only has three floors, with a few temporary exhibits on each floor. My favorite exhibits while there was the Filthy Lucre by Darren Waterston, which housed a beautifully decrepit sitting room and the Turquoise Mountain exhibit, which showcased amazing woodwork, carpetmaking, and jewelrymaking by Afghan artisans.

peacock rom
The Peacock Room at the Sackler Gallery


Fifth Stop: the WWII Memorial this is a little far from the rest of the mall but you get a great view of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It’s also very moving to see the depictions of WWII and all of the United States and its territories that lost soldiers in the war.


ww2 memorial
From ocean to ocean at the WWII Memorial

Bonus Stop: the Mansion on O Street if you’re willing to go a little farther, this quirky mansion is a fun place to go. It’s a huge place filled to the brim with knick-knacks and secret passageways. I recommend doing the Treasure Hunt, which is a fun scavenger hunt within the mansion. In addition, J Edgar Hoover and Rosa Parks have passed through its doors so you get some history as well. Note this is the only stop that isn’t free. It costs $25 for the tour.

Some of the interesting bric-a-brac at the Mansion on O Street

Where do you like to go in DC?


2 thoughts on “A walking tour of the smaller museums in DC

  1. Look at those cherry blossoms! All of these sound interesting. I’m hoping to go to DC for the cherry blossoms next year so will add these to the list.


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