If members of Congress can't resolve their differences over the federal budget, the government will shut down starting the morning of April 9, 2011, causing lots of federally-funded DC attractions to also hang up their "closed" signs. While it’s a major disappointment that the Smithsonian museums and other Washington attractions will shut down with the government, there are plenty of other things to do in the nation’s capital. Just be prepared to pay entrance fees for some of these activities.
1. Cherry Blossoms
A government shutdown will cancel the Cherry Blossom Parade scheduled for April 9, 2011. The parade depends on a permit from the National Parks Service, one of the federal agencies that will close shop with the shutdown, and without that permit, the parade cannot go on. But you can still catch the actual Cherry Blossom trees still in bloom. Take a picnic and enjoy probably one of the last weekends to see this special gift from Japan.
2. Outdoor Memorials and Monuments
Outdoor memorials like the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial will still be available to the public if the government shuts down. It’s possible staff won’t be on hand to answer questions and keep up with maintenance. But you can still take in the beauty of the memorials.
3. Take A Tour
The nation’s capital offers plenty of fee-based private tours of the attractions, all from the comfort of an open-air bus, a duck on wheels, a double-decker bus, a Segway....the list goes on.
4. Take A Walk On The National Mall
You won’t be able to visit any of the Smithsonian museums that surround the Mall, but it’s breathtaking to see the Washington Monument at one end and the U.S. Capitol on the other end.
5. Check Out Private Museums
The Smithsonian has a huge collection of museums but DC has plenty of other museums and galleries that are privately funded. Here’s a few that confirmed recently that they would not be affected by a government shutdown: National Building Museum, the Newseum, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the National Museum for Women in the Arts, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the National Museum of Crime & Punishment.
6. Go To The Movies
FilmFest DC opens April 7, 2011 and runs until April 17. Check out the catalog of the more than 70 international films that will be showing at different theaters throughout the city.
7. Celebrate Italian Heritage
La Dolce DC is a celebration of Italian history and heritage and several celebrations are taking place between now and July 31, 2011. This weekend you can catch an exhibit by Philip Guston (1912-1980) whose paintings are full of Italian influences. His exhibit of 40 paintings will be at the privately-funded Phillips Collection at 1600 21st St., NW in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of DC. You can also take a themed walking tour of Washington that discusses the influx of Italians in the 1800s, and includes a tour of the Holy Rosary Church and the artistic influences of Michelangelo and Verdi. Reservations are required.