Celebrate Women’s History Month in Washington DC (2019)

Every March, we celebrate and commemorate the vital role of women in American history. 2019 marks the beginning of the centennial celebrations honoring the passage of the 19th Amendment and ensuring women the equal right to vote, with special events planned to honor this important anniversary.

Below is a list of some of the best women’s history month activities and events. Most of these options are budget and family friendly!

You can check out our full list of March activities in Washington DC here.

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Women’s History Month in Washington DC

This section covers our top ten list for Women’s History Month in March. When possible, we’ve noted activities that are free or family-friendly.

For more ideas for popular things to do in D.C., check out our posts on walking tours and bus tours of the city.

Visit the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Memorial

This historic site is the house where it happened! Located in the heart of historic Capitol Hill, just blocks from the Capitol Building and White House, this building has been the center of political life for more than 200 years. The house was purchased by the National Woman’s Party in 1929 to become the headquarters of their efforts to fight for women’s equality. The house today is a women’s history museum operated in partnership with the National Park Service.

On display on items directly related to the fight for women’s right to vote as well as the efforts of the National Women’s Party to continue fighting for women’s equality after the passage of the 19th Amendment. The unique collection includes banners, signs, political cartoons, artifacts, and the nation’s first feminist library.

Belmont-Paul is open Wednesdays-Sundays, 9am-5pm, with free guided tours offered at 9:30am, 11am, 2pm, & 3:30pm. The house is always free and for National Park enthusiasts, visitors can earn a free Junior Suffragist badge – the only one in National Park system!


Women’s History Walking Tours

We are excited to partner with A Tour Of Her Own (TOHO) to offer a few special themed walking tours during Women’s History Month in 2019.

 

 

Check out our tours on March 23 and March 31, 2019

  1. Wild Women of Georgetown: A stroll through the historic neighborhood focusing on the stories of the women who helped build it, run it, and celebrate it. We’ll discuss women from all centuries and from all walks of life.
    • Saturday March 23: 430pm-630pm
    • Sunday March 31: 430pm-630pm
  2. The Women Buried at Arlington National Cemetery: A tour of this hallowed ground focusing on the women who have served, whether on the front lines or on the home front.
    • Sunday March 31: 10am-12pm
  3. Women of Capitol Hill: A take on those who made it to the top of the Hill, from our current Supreme Court Justice and Librarian of Congress to the women who paved the way for them.
    • Saturday March 23: 10am-12pm
  4. First Ladies: A historic and sometimes scandalous take on the first ladies of years past as we wander the grounds around the White House.
    • Saturday March 23: 7pm-9pm
    • Sunday March 31: 2pm-4pm

All of these tours are run on a name your own price basis. You decide how much the tour is worth at the end of the tour. However, to ensure a suitable group size, there is a $3 non-refundable booking fee. All booking fees received from these special Women’s History tours will be donated to a local Washington DC women’s charity.

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Get Artsy!

There’s only one museum in the world dedicated to displaying, studying, and celebrating the work of female artists and that’s the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Women remain dramatically underrepresented in museums, galleries, and auction houses and the NMWA aims to change that by exclusively recognizing the contributions of women artists.

The museum is open seven days a week and is located right in the heart of downtown D.C., an easy walking distance from the White House, Convention Center, and several Metro stations.

It is free for visitors 18 and under, making it a great destinations for families, with admission ranging from $8-$10 for all others. They also have an extensive event calendar, with gallery talks, lectures, and more.


Explore Georgetown

The oldest neighborhood in D.C. is steeped in women’s history! You can check out one of our Georgetown walking tours, which highlight some of the famous women who have lived in Georgetown and some of the wild women who caused trouble there! 

Our own tour guide Canden has published a book on the wicked side of Georgetown history! Wicked Georgetown: Scoundrels, Sinners and Spies  and a pictorial history using vintage photographs, Images of Georgetown.

The Colonial Dames of America are headquartered at Dumbarton House, built in 1799 and one of the most historic structures in Georgetown. Since 1891, this women’s organization works to collect, preserve, and share America’s founding and colonial history.

You can also pay a visit to Tudor Place, which was built by Martha Custis Peter, the granddaughter of Martha Washington and remained in the family for the six subsequent generations. It contains one of the largest collections of items belonging to George and Martha Washington outside of Mount Vernon. Tudor Place regularly hosts programs and events highlighting the history of the women who have kept the house going, generation after generation.

The perfect way to finish a women’s history visit to Georgetown? Treat your sweet tooth and support local businesses owned and operated by women! Our favorites include the famous Georgetown Cupcakes and the delicious pies whipped up at Pie Sisters.


Time Travel to Ancient Egypt

Travel back in time and explore the legacy of some of the earliest female leaders in world history at the National Geographic Museum. The Queens of Egypt is a multisensory exhibit that will bring you back to the ancient dynasties of Egypt. Get to know Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Hatshepsut, and more along with 300 prestigious objects, including jewels and sarcophagi.

If you purchase one of DC’s tourist passes, your entrance to the museum is free!


Learn About Women’s Suffrage in the United States

The National Portrait Gallery is one of our favorite sites in D.C. and the permanent collection is a great place to start to explore women’s history.

Opening on March 29, 2019, a new special exhibition will specifically highlight the centennial of the 19th Amendment. Votes for Women: Portraits of Persistence will reveal the stories of women and organizations that are often overlooked in the study of women’s history.

The National Portrait Gallery, like all Smithsonian museums, is free and open to the public seven days a week.


Honor Women Who Have Served

There is only one memorial that honors all women, from all branches, from all moments in our history and that’s the Women in Military Service Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. The memorial honors and recognizes the service of military women as well as hosts a museum dedicated to educating the public and empowering future generations with stories of limitless possibilities.

The memorial and museum are free and open to the public seven days a week. We end our Arlington National Cemetery walking tour nearby and encourage guests to visit on their own after our tour.

While you are at Arlington National Cemetery to visit the memorial, you could also take our self-guided tour of the cemetery, focusing on notable women who are laid to rest at Arlington.


Learn About The Angel of the Battlefield, Clara Barton

Clara Barton began her career as one of the first women to work in the federal government, in the Patent Office, but found her true calling during the Civil War. She began to deliver supplies to troops during the war and she used a nondescript building in downtown D.C. as her headquarters for her Missing Soldiers Office, to help families located men who hadn’t returned.

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine operates the museum today, leading visitors on guided tours of Clara Barton’s incredible life and contributions to American history.

The museum is open Thursday through Sunday, with admission at $9.50/person and children under 9 are free.

You can continue a day of Clara Barton sightseeing by heading out to Glen Echo, Maryland to see the Clara Barton National Historic Site. This building was her home for the last fifteen years of her life and leads guided tours that share the story of her life’s work of helping others. The site is free and open on Fridays and Saturdays, from 1pm-4pm.


Visit the DAR Museum

The Daughters of the American Revolution operate a free museum, just off the National Mall and near the White House, that focuses on the work of women during the American Revolution and colonial era.

The museum is free and open every day of the week except Sunday. They also offer a wide array of programs and activities, many geared for families and focusing on hands-on history.


Get Fit and Support Women’s History

On March 2nd, race to support the National Women’s History Museum by joining this #FITDC 5K race at Yards Park. Participants will be inspired by the women who built our nation as well as helping to raise funds for the National Women’s History Museum, which is working on having the first women’s history museum in D.C.

The NWHM will have a special pop-up exhibit at the race site, available to participants and spectators to enjoy. Register for the race here!


Discover the captivating story of Marjorie Merriweather Post

One of the most beautiful sites in D.C. is Hillwood Estate, the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Post purchased the estate in 1955 and turned it into a museum that would inspire and educate the public. Post was born into the family behind the Post cereal empire and at age 27, became the owner of what would become the General Foods Corporation, making her one of America’s most successful businesswomen.

The Hillwood Estate displays many of the items Post collected in her travels, including decorative arts, furniture, Faberge eggs, and more. The museum also highlights Post’s role as a businesswoman and philanthropist, including her outreach to veterans in the D.C. area.

The museum is open every day except Monday with admission ranging from $10-$18/person.     


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Free Things To Do

With a little planning, there are a lot of free activities available in D.C. Some of the events we’ve mentioned in this post are free and you can find a comprehensive list of free activities in our Free Things to Do in DC.

Community Day at the National Museum of Women in the Arts 

The first Sunday of the month is always FREE admission at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Take an opportunity to explore all the exhibits for free – there is even a free “Fierce Women” tour at 1pm.

Tour spaces are offered first-come, first-served and you can sign up at the information desk

Take A Tour!

Our National Mall and All-in-One tours include a visit to the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, the only memorial on the National Mall that explicitly honors women’s contributions to American history.

Our guides are also happy to share recommendations for other women’s history sites on any of our tours!

Visit the Smithsonian Museums!

These museums are always free and a great option for visitors on a budget. There is plenty of women’s history to be found at the museums.

  • Air & Space Museum – Be sure to visit the Pioneers of Flight Gallery exhibit on Amelia Earhart to see her red Lockheed Vega 5B, the plane she flew when she set two of her aviation records – first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic and first woman to fly nonstop across the USA
  • American History Museum – We suggest starting at The First Ladies exhibit, to learn about the contributions of the women who have occupied the White House. You can also drop by the FOOD: Transforming the American Table exhibit to see Julia Child’s kitchen and learn about how she changed cooking and food culture in America.
  • African-American History & Culture – This museum has incredible artifacts related to the contributions of African-American women, including the lace shawl given to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria, the dress worn by First Lady Michelle Obama on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, and items related to pop culture icons like The Supremes and Tina Turner.

The Smithsonian Museums frequently host women’s history month programs and events. Due to the government shutdown, program calendars for March have not been released yet but we will update this post when that information is available.


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Family-Friendly

D.C. offers a lot of family-friendly activities and attractions any day of the year. Here are a few family-friendly ideas for women’s history. For more, read about Visiting Washington DC with Kids.

Attend the Women’s History Celebration

This free event will be hosted by the DAR Museum on Saturday, March 29th from 10am-3pm. This celebration, geared for families, will include hands-on activities, crafts, games, and more to help highlight the contributions of women throughout American history. You can register here!

Have A Treat!

After a day of sightseeing and learning about women’s history, support a women-owned and operated bakery. Buttercream Bakeshop is a local favorite, started by pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, and known for its delicious treats that delight kids of all ages. We’re particularly fond of unicorn bar and the happy camper!


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Nighttime Activities

There are a number of things to do in D.C. at night. For additional ideas for how to spend your evenings, make sure to check out our master Things to do at Night in D.C. post. Some of our Top 10 offers evening options, like special programs at the National Portrait Gallery, Hillwood Estate, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Take A Tour!

Our Wicked Georgetown tour shares a more scandalous side of women’s history, highlighting some of the wild women that have walked the streets of Georgetown. Our White House at Night tour also highlights some of the women who have caused scandals for the men who have occupied the White House.

Reserve your spot on either tour today!

Check out our special evening tour on March 23, 2019 at 7pm where Tour Guide Becca leads us on a historic, sometimes scandalous tour around the White House all about the First Ladies! This is part of our special Women’s History Month partnership with A Tour of Her Own.

Grab A drink!

Pay a visit to Republic Restoratives, the first women-owned distillery in D.C.! Started by Pia Carusone, Republic Restoratives is run by women who left the world of politics to get into distilling! You can arrange a tour of the distillery, check out the tasting room, or slide up to the cocktail bar.

See A Show!

Check out 19: The Musical, a new show that highlights the struggles and triumphs of the fight for the 19th Amendment. This original musical brings to life the work of Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells, and more. Show dates are not yet announced beyond January but there will be multiple performances across the region in March and beyond.


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