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Visit DC During Government Shutdown (What's STILL Open) | (UPDATED 2022)

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Looking for what to do in DC during the government shut down?

While some sites will be closed, you can still visit DC during government shutdown! WE'RE STILL OPEN! The city doesn't shut and in fact, there are often special events and discounts accommodate all the visitors locked out of museums.

The Government is Open - no need to worry about museum closures!


ALL of our tours will run as normal with little to no affect whatsoever.


  • All Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo are now closed. See our suggested alternatives below. Smithsonian Museums will reopen Tuesday, January 29, 2019.
  • National Archives
  • National Arboretum
  • Fords Theatre *performances still running, Aftermath Exhibits open 930am-5pm*
  • Kennedy Center will see no tours and reduced hours but performances will be unaffected.
  • White House Visitor Center
  • National Gallery of Art

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Since this is a partial shutdown, 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!)

The Holocaust Memorial Museum was open during the Jan 2019 shutdown however it was nearing the end of its budget. If the government does shut down again, don't be surprised if the museum isn't able to reopen.

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.

Despite shutdown, sidewalks maintained by the NPS will be treated and shoveled during snow storms.

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

There are some 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.

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The below locations remain open during the shutdown as they are privately funded. There is an admission cost but we think its 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 Smithsonians.

government shutdown


Art Museums:

Historic Sites:

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Suggested Alternatives to Visit the Smithsonian Museums During the Shutdown

We agree, its 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:

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About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and 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 our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: January 18th, 2023
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