Go-Kart Track is precisely what it sounds like?an outdoor go-kart track designed for drivers and passengers of nearly all ages. Broken up into six-lap sessions, each turn on the windy track lets visitors put the pedal to the metal as they hug corners and zip past stacks of tires, which serve as a reminder to the go-karts what happens to them if they misbehave.
Open on weekends year-round, plus weekdays from March??September, Go-Kart Track hosts single- and double-kart races both during the day and beneath the lights and the moon's rubbernecking at night. Visitors ages 8 and older and 54 inches or taller can drive the single carts; however, only visitors ages 18 and up can pilot a double kart, but kids as young as 3 can ride along.
Satisfy sky-centric curiosity with the College Park Aviation Museum's 27,000 square feet of cloud-plowing attractions, set on the historic grounds of the world's oldest continuously operating airport. This Smithsonian-affiliated museum's pride is a restoration shop, which makes once-grand beauties look as flight-ready as a seagull strapped to a jet pack. Ten vintage and reproduced aircraft are arrayed in the main gallery, including a reproduction of the Wright Model B from 1910 and a 1941 Boeing Stearman. Exhibits chart the nonvehicular history of flight, such as the Fly Now! showcase of international aviation posters dating back to 1860. Petite pilots may explore kid-friendly displays, sitting in the cockpit of the Imagination Plane, a 1939 blue Taylorcraft, or go to the hands-on room to dress in flight-ready uniform.
Originally built in 1938 by noted movie-palace architect John Eberson, the AFI Silver Theatre's vintage hall transports viewers back to the heyday of the silver screen. In the fully restored main auditorium, curling lines decorate the wood-colored ceiling and glowing wings unfurl from the screen, echoing its art deco origins and comforting penguins who, also, will never fly. Two new, stadium-style theaters triple the number of possible screenings, and each auditorium comes tricked out with projectors that can handle everything from 16 mm to 70 mm film as well as the latest digital video.
At Montgomery Royal Theater, six screens beam larger-than-life stars into the eyes of moviegoers during showings of recently released flicks and Hollywood blockbusters. Viewers can sink into the theater's plush, cushioned seats to absorb action-packed reels that showcase the twists of budding romance or the dire consequences of resurrecting an extinct flower’s DNA. The theater’s concession stand outfits viewers with buckets of popcorn and cups brimming with soda, providing the appropriate rations to accompany treks into the fantastical worlds of first-run films.
Considered to be the country's only public museum devoted to the history of global espionage, the International Spy Museum teems with multimedia displays, hands-on activities, and educational events. Filled with low-lit halls and mysterious doors, the museum backs up its exhibits with experience; many of its board members, staff, and speakers are former spies. Executive Director Peter Earnest, for one, spent more than 35 years in the CIA and its National Clandestine Service; frequent speaker Oleg Kalugin once held a position as major general of the KGB. Through special talks and an array of exhibits, the group reveals several hundred years of spy techniques and gadgetry, showcases connections between real spies and pop culture, and draws from international backgrounds to grant a global perspective.
In the Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains exhibit, visitors explore the most memorable villains from throughout the James Bond film series, discovering the role the series played in shaping public perception of spying and exploring how the villains changed to reflect their times. Featuring over 110 movie and historic artifacts, a series galleries allows visitors to learn about the wide variety of evildoers from many perspectives. For an additional charge, guests can opt to embark on a simulated covert mission entirely based on real intelligence case files in Operation Spy, a one-hour interactive exhibit during which participants ride in simulated truck beds and use video surveillance to find leaked nuclear-trigger technology in a fictional country.
William Wilson Corcoran believed in American artists at a time when most collectors bought only European paintings. The financier-turned-philanthropist made friends with masters such as Thomas Doughty and George Inness, bought what interested him, and even opened up his home twice a week so the public could view his collection. And that practice was the seed which grew into the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The formal location opened in 1874 with 98 paintings and sculptures from Corcoran's personal collection. Today, that collection exceeds 16,000.
The focus on 18th- to 20th-century American artists such as Mary Cassatt and Andy Warhol remains—but that doesn't mean the gallery has blinders on. It also holds works by European luminaries such as Pablo Picasso and Edgar Degas. The collection even extends into decorative art such as the Salon Doré, an 18th-century French period room once housed in Paris's Hôtel de Clermont.
In the same way the Corcoran Gallery extends beyond American art, it pushes its purpose beyond simply displaying masterpieces. Year-round events include lectures from prominent critics as well as live performances and wine mixers. The Corcoran even nurtures the next generation of talent with after-school and weekend classes that teach students how to draw everything from landscapes to landscapes covered with bowls of fruit.