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Visit DC During Government Shutdown

Updated: October 1, 2023

Looking for what to do in DC during the government shutdown?

While some sites will be closed, you can still visit DC during the government shutdown! Lots of popular attractions remain open.

WE'RE STILL OPEN! The city doesn't shut and in fact, there are often special events and discounts to accommodate all the visitors locked out of museums.

All of our tours will run as normal with little to no effect whatsoever.

With the threat of a partial shutdown on October 1, 2023, we will continue to update this page with relevant information for visitors to DC.

MANY sites remain open even during government shutdowns.

If the relevant appropriation bills are passed before October 1, some museums and attractions will remain open even during a shutdown (as happened in 2019).


With the threat of a government shutdown, we are basing the information we have on past government shutdowns.

Tourist attractions, museums, and sites are subject to budget concerns, and whether they are open or not depends on information that we (as tour guides) don't always have!

These sites will remain open "as long as funding allows" - there is little information on when that might be! They will close with funding runs out and will attempt to stay open as long as possible.


  • The Library of Congress  (and our Capitol Hill tours will still run even if buildings are closed!) 
  • US Capitol Visitor Center
  • Museum of the Marine Corps
  • National Archives
  • White House Visitor Center & White House Public Tours
  • The National Botanical Gardens
  • Fords Theatre *performances will still run.
  • Old Post Office Pavilion
  • National Arboretum


During partial shutdowns, some federal buildings remain open.

The sites below are open and admission is FREE.

You'll find a number of other recommended attractions, museums, and historic sites listed farther below that have admission prices (but we think they are worth it!)

These will not be affected by any government shutdown.

Memorials on the National Mall

Every memorial will still be open to visitors. All of our tours are running as normal! Hop on Hop Off Bus Tours are still running.

Most restrooms, ranger stations, gift shops, and museums will be closed but you'll still be able to visit the memorials as normal.

Often, NPS will still manage select restrooms. In the past shutdowns, there have been open restrooms located at:

  • WWII Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial South Side
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery will remain open and our Arlington Cemetery walking tours were still able to operate.


The below locations remain open during the shutdown as they are privately funded. There is an admission cost but we think it's worth it!

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, George Washington's home, is a private institution and is unaffected by the shutdown!

Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral is always worth a visit and will remain open.

Though it has the word National in its name, it is not government-funded.

You can also visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Saint John Paul II National Shrine.

Private Museums and Historic Homes

Private museums and historic homes that require tickets will be open as normal as they are not government-funded like the Smithsonian.

government shutdown


Art Museums:

Historic Sites:

Suggested Alternatives to Visit the Smithsonian Museums During the Shutdown

We agree it's a bummer that the Smithsonians are closed but there are some great alternatives if you know where to go.

We know a number of school groups are visiting DC for already planned trips, contact us for discounted rates on our tours to help make the most of your trip.

Below are our suggestions for some alternative things to do that are open during the shutdown and welcome groups.

You will need to contact individual sites for group pricing or special circumstances (some can only accommodate small groups).

Instead of the Air and Space Museum:

Instead of the American History Museum:

Instead of the National Museum of African American History and Culture:

Instead of Natural History Museum:

Instead of the National Archives:

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | Canden is a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. She is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city since 2011. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. She homeschools her 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC.
Updated: October 1st, 2023
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