Many of the rooms in President Lincoln's Cottage resound with the voices of Lincoln and his houseguests, in the form of actor-interpreted recordings broadcast through audio speakers. Though not all rooms are accessible to the public, daily tours through this Gothic Revival home use interactive multimedia to tell the stories of Abraham Lincoln's ideas, struggles in passing emancipation, and family during the three summers they spent here during the Civil War. Knowledgeable guides divulge facts about the president's meditations and meetings, often tailoring tours to their areas of personal expertise, such as war or politics. They showcase video screens populated by images about Lincoln's life, and a replica of the president's desk scrawled with the words "Constitution 4eva." Guides also invite visitors to engage in conversation throughout the tour while welcoming them to sit on furniture.
The adjacent Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center, built in 1905 and restored as a LEED-certified building, houses a range of both permanent and temporary exhibits. Visitors engage with interactive displays, photos, and manuscripts revealing the presidential Cabinet's feelings on emancipation, life in Washington DC during the Civil War, and the president's role as commander in chief. The cottage also hosts a lecture series with guests that have included historians, Lincoln experts, and an artist who sculpted a life-size statue of the president and his horse, which today stands watch over the cottage.
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Old Town Trolley Tours provide sightseers with extensive, fully narrated tours of the national capital, taking tourists past both the heavy-hitting attractions and the little-known gems. This deal gets you a full-day pass (9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.) to hop on and hop off the trolley at any of its 19 stops. This means you can get on at the Washington Welcome Center, ride it until you're enticed by the hypnotic pilasters and cartouches of the Jefferson Memorial, then get on again at any other stop throughout the day. The full tour of Washington takes about three hours, and each tour is patriotically lead by a licensed tour guide, who'll tell historical anecdotes, share intriguing facts, and cast any tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Sit back and relax as your trolley smoothly takes you past Washington hotspots such as the National Mall and the Smithsonian.
With a variety of group classes available during evening hours, a class at ABC Language School is ideal for young professionals, middle-aged professionals, and elderly professionals. The teaching staff consists of experienced polyglots who have spent their lives not only studying and teaching language, but putting their skills to use while living and working abroad. Over the course of six weeks, once a week, a teacher will guide your progress and stretch your brain's plasticity as it absorbs the shapes and contours of a foreign language. Group classes are small, typically from three to nine people per class, and last 1.5 hours.
There are many different ways to see the sights of Washington D.C., but in a city with so many interesting neighborhoods and architectural details, perhaps the best opportunities for exploration come on foot. Washington Walks takes visitors through the city’s many unique neighborhoods, from hip urban thoroughfares to upscale and historic parts of town, then on to the corridors of power. Get Local Saturdays feature a different region of the city every weekend. The U Street tour covers a neighborhood once known as the “Black Broadway”, due to the number of entertainment venues in the area frequented by the likes of Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Many of Washington Walks’ guides are native Washingtonians, actors, semi-professional historians or all of the above.
Constellation Theatre Company immerses audiences in ensemble-driven plays that explore vast expanses of human emotion and experience. Written by famed Spanish dramatist Federico García Lorca, Blood Wedding weaves a dark tale of romantic longing, betrayal, and murder, all set around a rural wedding. The play seesaws between psychological realism and dreamlike sequences starring the moon, her priestess, and death incarnate, which elevate the show's meditations on violence to haunting allegory while conspicuously snubbing other A-list celestial bodies. Song-and-dance sequences set to live music further draw showgoers into the onstage action. Constellation Theatre Company's black-box theater fosters an intimacy that breaks down emotional fourth walls and social prohibitions against holding a stranger's hand during the scary parts.
Led by a former New York City gallery owner, Hinckley Pottery's experienced staff is adept at teaching fresh potters how to turn mud into masterpiece. The intimately sized, one-hour Try It! course helps patrons bone up on pottery-wheel basics and decide whether or not to pursue more-advanced wheel techniques, such as creating a vase using only your thighs. The 3,300-square-foot studio, housed in an industrial warehouse, boasts 14 electric wheels, two kick/electric combination wheels, and one treadle wheel, in addition to two electric kilns, two gas kilns, and a propane-fired raku kiln. Try it! courses are available at select times. Click here for details and to find a time to meet likeminded crafters, channel workweek stress into a mound of clay, or craft a large bowl that can hold novelty sized paper clips. Call ahead to reserve your space in class.