Departing from Southwest Waterfront, a boat skipper begins another journey down the calm, flat waters of the Potomac River. The multi-decked boats, such as the Patriot II catamaran, power DC Harbor Cruises's daily tours of the capital's famous waterway. The tour crafts are furnished with bars, snacks, full audio systems, and plush seating for sightseers to enjoy as they drift along the Potomac's smooth waters and collect eyefuls of national treasures. Guests can admire the imposing Capitol Building and whisper about how silly the Washington Monument looks without its powdered wig. The Coast Guard–certified staff points out other notable visuals such as the National Cathedral's stately towers, the Pentagon, and Fort McNair.
It’s only fitting that a museum devoted to architecture is itself housed in a formidable structure. The National Building Museum's 19th-century edifice greets visitors with somber Union soldiers sculpted into the exterior’s 1,200-foot frieze. Corinthian columns 75 feet high and built with 70,000 bricks lead into the cavernous Great Hall, which soars up to 159 feet in height and captures the echo of groups as they follow the color-coded banners towards exhibits devoted to American and international architecture, engineering, and design. Drawing on hands-on children’s toys, drawings, photographs, and models, the exhibits delve into everything from the history of the American home to the evolution of building blocks and other architectural toys. Future-facing exhibits, meanwhile, focus on topics such as sustainable school buildings that employ recycled construction materials and singing plants instead of teachers. The museum shop practices what it preaches with an award-winning selection of sustainable housewares, toys, and books.
The Textile Museum is finding a new home in 2014, moving to the campus of George Washington University. There, inside their roomy, airy new digs, the unique facility will continue to dutifully display fabrics and rugs from around the world, highlighting cultural works and important pieces across time. Since the museum was founded nearly 90 years ago, the collection has expanded to encompass some 19,000 objects, and spans a full spectrum of non-Western textile arts across nearly 5,000 years. Featured shows cluster objects together thoughtfully to create unique displays, while the overall mission of the museum is to unite textiles from across cultures to explore expressions of individual, cultural, political and social identity. The facility will also showcase the Textile Museum’s world-renowned historic collections, and will present special exhibitions covering everything from contemporary textiles to fashion.
For the past several years, Washington, DC Legend Tours, operated by Jerusalem DC Tour and Transportation, has shuttled passengers around the nation’s capital on entertaining and educational tours. Captained by Yohannes Zeleke, PhD, founder and current research collaborator at the National Museum of Natural History, the company’s guides exude passion while sowing the seeds of history in different languages, including English and Russian. They lead four-hour treks through surrounding neighborhoods and past notable monuments, such as the US Capitol building, as well as helm comprehensive eight-hour tours that delve deeper into iconic sites such as the Arlington Cemetery. When not on a tour, the company uses its fleet to bus customers to and from area airports—a safer alternative than trying to inconspicuously squeeze a moped into the president’s motorcade.
There are plenty of famous landmarks to see in Washington D.C.: the White House. The Lincoln Memorial. Jefferson's vault of pudding. However, more obscure (but just as interesting) sites lie off the beaten path, and Zohery Tours whisks its patrons to many of them. In between stops at the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool and the American Red Cross Headquarters, Dr. Zohery introduces visitors to the spots where dignitaries go jogging and politicians take their morning coffee breaks. He also opens their eyes to the cultural aspects of the city, which include seven universities, the National Gallery of Art, and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Regardless of the locale, the guide taps into 25 years of experience hosting D.C. tours, regaling visitors with historical facts and answering questions about the political process.
An American government professor may not seem like the first person to ask about ghosts. But if you want to learn about the D.C.'s spectral past, then Dr. Philip Ernest Schoenberg possesses inside knowledge on the capital's paranormal past. A presidential consultant for PBS's website and founder of Scary DC, the professor heads up a staff made up of fellow Schoenbergs and a cast of storytellers that lead visitors on weekly tours. Trips explore the haunted history of sites across the city, possibly encountering John Quincy Adams residing over the Capitol Building or James Madison checking out a book about himself at the Library of Congress.