You’ve printed your business cards, updated your resume and purchased your flight tickets. It’s official — you’re going to the PRSSA 2014 National Conference. Even though you’ll be busy attending amazing sessions and learning about the profession, you’ll also have some free time to do some sightseeing.
Wondering where to start? Here are a few ideas:
1. Smithsonian Museums
In Washington, D.C., there are 14 Smithsonian museums that you can visit. The most popular are the Air and Space Museum, American History Museum and Natural History Museum. The best part is that all of these museums won’t cost you a dime.
Hours: Most Smithsonian museums open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m. For a full list of hours, click here.
Nearest Metro: Depends on which museum. Click here for recommendations.
This is one of my favorite museums. Before you automatically say no to this option because of the price, you need to be aware that tickets are good for two consecutive days. Some of the current exhibits are “1964: Civil Rights at 50,” 9/11 gallery, Berlin Wall gallery and “The Boomer List.” The Newseum website tells more about this top attraction that blends history and technology.
Price: $22.95 plus tax (10 percent discount for those with a college ID)
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Nearest Metro: Archives
3. National Mall and Memorials
You can’t go to Washington, D.C., without having walked the National Mall. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes! The sights to see include: the DC War Memorial, FDR Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Monument. If you have a chance, I recommend visiting these memorials at night when they are all lit up.
Nearest Metro: Smithsonian
Tours can be scheduled in advance by using the Capitol’s online reservation system or through the office of your local Senators or Representative. I would encourage you to schedule through your Senator or Representative so you may be able to have a personalized tour.
Hours: 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Nearest Metro: Capitol South
For all the foodies out there, you have come to the right place! After visiting the Capitol, be sure to stop by We the Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery. They are right next door to each other, and just blocks from the Capitol. Good Stuff Eatery is known for its handmade burgers, handcut fries and delicious milkshakes. We the Pizza is known for, well, its pizza.
D.C. is also known for its cupcake scene. If you make your way over to Georgetown, check out Georgetown Cupcake and Baked&Wired. Tip: If you follow Georgetown Cupcake on Twitter (@GTownCupcake), every day they post a free (not-on-menu) flavor. If you order it by name, it’s free. However, there are only 100 per location.
Nearest Metro: Depends on location
6. National Archives
Have you ever wanted to see the actual Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution? Well, now is your chance. In addition to seeing the documents mentioned above, there are several other exhibits that you can explore.
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (last admission 30 minutes prior to closing)
Nearest Metro: Archives
7. Arlington Cemetery
“The grounds of Arlington National Cemetery honor those who have served our nation by providing a sense of beauty and peace for our guests,” says the cemetery website. You won’t want to miss the changing of the guard. It takes place every hour on the hour.
Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Nearest Metro: Arlington Cemetery
These are just a few ideas to get you started. If you need any more, feel free to send me a tweet (@ethanparry3) and I would be more than happy to provide you with more ideas.
Ethan Parry, 2014–2015 PRSSA vice president of public relations, is a senior communications major with a concentration in public relations and a business management minor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.