Washington, D.C., is in the spotlight as the city readies for President Obama’s second inauguration, January 21, 2013. Whether you plan be in the District for the festivities or visit the city later this winter, there’s much that’s new and interesting.
To watch history in the making at the inauguration, plan ahead. Moving between the U.S. Capitol grounds to view the swearing-in and then to Pennsylvania Avenue to see the inaugural parade is often difficult or impossible because of crowds and security. It’s best to arrive early—hours early--pick the locale you prefer and wait.
Expect to be standing among crowds for hours so wear comfortable shoes and bundle up as D.C. can be blustery in late January. Check the inauguration site for the list of the many prohibited items; among them are backpacks, strollers and umbrellas.
Along with providing great places to warm-up in winter, the District’s museums, many of which are free, feature new exhibits. The Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum recently unveiled Dom Pedro, the world’s largest aquamarine gem, an intricately cut 10,363-carat masterpiece.
A week ago the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History opened Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963. The exhibit details these events and how they illustrate American struggles and ideals.
At the International Spy Museum see Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains, which opened this fall in sync with Skyfall, the latest Bond movie. Bond fans from back when Sean Connery held the franchise as well as tweens and teens new to the sleuthing series will find movie clips to view and more than 100 items to ogle. Among them: the Jaguar from Die Another Day and Jaws’ metal teeth from The Spy Who Loved Me.
The Georgetown waterfront’s looking even better these days. That’s because the November opening of the Washington Harbour Ice Rink added a much needed outdoor venue for winter. At 11,800-square feet, the rink is bigger than the one at New York City's Rockefeller Center. To appeal to various ages, the rink schedules different spins on the ice. During Rock n’ Skate, a DJ plays Top 40 hits.
The National Children’s Museum opened its doors in mid-December at National Harbor, the shopping and dining complex in Maryland across the Potomac River from D.C. The 18,000-square foot museum targets infants through nine-year-olds.
In Our World, ages 3-9, explore various cultures. Kids pinpoint places on interactive maps, explore different types of homes and try on clothing from other countries. In My Town kids can create political buttons, talk to mayoral candidates and “bake” pizza, complete with toppings.
Little ones enjoy a playscape all their own in 3 and Under. Toddlers can build, climb, paint and draw. Big Bird and friends add to the fun by appearing in educational Sesame Street Workshop videos and exhibits. Babies under one-year-old can creep and crawl on a waterbed, view a fish tank and peer into mirrors. At select times the museum hosts
storytellers, dancers, puppeteers and other performers.
Don’t wait for the spring and summer crowds. There’s much to enjoy in a wintry, Washington, D.C.