So the government shutdown may stomp out the promise of your family’s long-planned jaunt through the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and photo-op with the Lincoln Memorial. Thankfully, not everything in this town relies on federal dollars to keep the lights on. Even if the government is fully funded by the time your parents arrive, plan a shutdown-proof weekend full of activities, events and museums will keep your family busy – and happy that they came.
1309 5th St., NE
Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Farmers’ Market: Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Drive-In Movie: Friday, 8 p.m.
Amid shoddy wholesale warehouses in the NoMa business neighborhood stands the massive, new Union Market building. Union Market is more than just an alternative to the touristy Eastern Market: It’s home to artisan food vendors, a farmers’ market, visual artists and a drive-in film series. Whether you want a quick bite to eat or specialty chocolates, deli meats, empanadas or even cutlery to bring home, Union Market has it all. For some high-quality produce shopping, take the five-minute walk from the NoMa-Gallaudet metro stop on Sunday morning for the farmers’ market.
Pro tip: If your parents got to D.C. by car, head to Union Market on Friday night for the drive-in movie series. “Good Will Hunting” will play Friday at 8 p.m. Guests are welcome to watch sans vehicles, but blankets and chairs are recommended on the concrete floor.
945 Florida Ave., NW
Shaw Metro Station
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Foodies and DIY-enthusiasts unite: District Flea, which opened in September, brings a bit of Brooklyn to the District. The flea market offers antique furniture, a variety of food choices, vintage clothing, handmade jewelry and various arts and crafts booths. Artists from across the East Coast attend every Saturday, and notable creatives like “Project Runway” season one winner Jay McCarroll have made appearances.
Pro tip: Check out sketch artist Elizabeth Graeber who creates eclectic illustrations and painted vases.
2401 Foxhall Rd., NW
Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Adults $10, Students $7
For Vernies looking for some culture while the National Gallery is closed, look no further than your neighbor on Foxhall Road, the Kreeger Museum. Works of Claude Monet, Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso grace the halls of collector David Lloyd Kreeger’s expansive mansion, which was designed by the Museum of Modern Art’s first director of architecture and design, Philip Johnson.
The collection features more than 300 pieces, focusing on Impressionism, and also includes traditional African and Asian art. From historical paintings in the museum’s halls to stunning sculptures in the outdoor garden, the Kreeger Museum is a tucked-away treasure of greater D.C. To get to the Kreeger, take the Vern Express to the Mount Vernon Campus and walk up the hilly side of Foxhall Road about one block.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for deep and moving works, check out Mindy Weisel’s “Not Neutral” exhibition, which explores tragedies of both the natural world and personal lives – and how societies rebuild after devastation.
The Phillips Collection
1600 21st St., NW
Dupont Circle Metro Station
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, extended hours, 5 to 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Adults $12, Students $10 on Saturdays and Sundays and for ticketed exhibitions; by donation Tuesday through Friday
Bummed that the Smithsonian art galleries are closed? Head to Dupont Circle with your parents to visit the Phillips Collection. Though a much smaller museum, this contemporary gallery offers paintings by artistic luminaries like Mark Rothko and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as a new Van Gogh exhibit. “Van Gogh Repetitions” features 35 pieces, including “The Bedroom at Arles” and “Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle.” It also explains why some of the artist’s works were recreated multiple times throughout his life.
Pro tip: The 20-minute trek from campus to the museum is a worthwhile walk. Cross right through the Dupont Circle park for a scenic trip.
Andy Warhol Silver Clouds Exhibition at Artisphere
1101 Wilson Blvd.
Friday, noon to 11 p.m.
Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.
A quick jaunt to Rosslyn can take you all the way back to 1966: Artisphere is hosting Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds Exhibition, which first premiered in New York 47 years ago. On loan from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the display invites visitors to interact with a room full of metallic balloons – 150 pillow-like “clouds” that float through the gallery propelled by fans. Artisphere is a three block walk from the Rosslyn Metro stop on the Blue and Orange lines.
Pro tip: Spend the day in Rosslyn and head to nearby favorites like Chipotle, Chop’t or Z Pizza after touring the exhibition.
National Building Museum
401 F St., NW
Gallery Place Chinatown Metro Station
Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Adults $8, Students $5
Your parents can treat you to a shopping escapade or dinner near Metro Center, but make time to take in some history at the National Building Museum. Known for architecture and design, the museum showcases hundreds of models, plans and photos of urban construction and aesthetic trends. Providing a perspective of past and future, the museum helps teach urban planning and city management. Its other claim to fame? It houses a multi-award winning gift shop.
Pro tip: The museum is interactive for children and adults alike. Its “Play Work Build” gallery lets patrons construct their own cityscapes and building designs out of giant foam blocks. West Coast natives can connect to their roots with the new “Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990” exhibition, which opens Sunday.
16th Annual Bethesda Row Arts Festival
7200 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, Md.
Bethesda Metro Station
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For 15 years, the Bethesda Row Arts Festival has welcomed hundreds of national artists to feature work across dozens of mediums. This year, 190 artists will display handmade jewelry, metalwork, paintings, glasswork and more in Bethesda’s charming mini-downtown. The area itself is a shopping and dining haven, with both big-name stores and quaint boutiques adorning its streets.
Pro tip: If you want to support a local artist, check out D.C.-based accessory maker Jenae Michelle, whose bags and gloves feature nature themes.
Northern Virginia Brewfest
Bull Run Regional Park, 7700 Bull Run Dr., Centerville, Va.
Oct. 19-20, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Your family can bond over booze and brews at the Northern Virginia Brewfest, which features samples from over 45 microbreweries. Wine and mixed drink vendors will offer drink tastings, and food vendors, like seafood crew ProShuckers and kettle corn masters Blue Ridge Kettle Korn, will serve throughout the day. Even better, area cover bands will perform throughout the weekend, serenading your inebriated family with sub-par Lady Antebellum covers. Drink up!
Pro tip: If you’re underage and/or the notion of drunken parents horrifies you, the festival offers more than finely crafted alcohol. There are numerous jewelry and crafts artists on site.
“Full, Deep and Not Quite Real” Exhibition
201 Prince St., Alexandria, Va.
Friday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
Saturday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
With its cobblestone sidewalks and pictorial waterfront views, Old Town Alexandria is picturesque and charming. It’s also a gold mine for art enthusiasts, especially District dwellers who have exhausted visits to the Smithsonian museums. The Athenaeum, which houses the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association, presents its “Full, Deep and Not Quite Real” exhibit until Oct. 20, featuring surrealist paintings of illusionary visual depth.
Pro tip: Embrace all of Alexandria’s artistry by checking out the Torpedo Factory Art Center, known for allowing patrons to interact with artists at work.