Balancing a full course load, jobs, internships and student organizations may have left you with limited free time over the past four years. You may have escaped the Foggy Bottom bubble every now and then but never had enough time to explore the District as much as you had hoped.
If you’re not staying in D.C. for the summer, it’s not too late to explore. Whether you’re with your friends or family for the week, bring them along to activities around the District during your last week left before graduation.
1. Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture
When the newest Smithsonian museum opened in September of 2016, it broke barriers as the only national museum devoted exclusively to African American life, history and culture. Following its grand opening, students may have been unable to access the popular museum because visits were previously facilitated through timed passes. Now, guests can enjoy walk-up entry Monday through Friday from 1 to 5:30 p.m.
National Museum of African American History and Culture, 1400 Constitution Ave. NW. Open every day, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
2. Find your state tree at the National Arboretum
The National Arboretum features several exotic plant species and special gardens, like the bonsai and herb garden. With some extra time on your hands, you can visit the arboretum’s National Grove of State Trees, which displays a section of trees representing each of the 50 U.S. states and D.C. Visit the grove to take a look at your home state’s tree up close or say goodbye to the D.C. tree as you get ready to move.
National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE. Open every day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3. Visit the home of Frederick Douglass
You may have thought you learned about D.C. on your walks to the monuments over the past four years, but D.C. has a rich history beyond the Lincoln and Washington memorials and Foggy Bottom. Head over to Anacostia to visit the home of Frederick Douglass, a prominent abolitionist and civil rights leader. The home is restored to its 1895 appearance and features furniture and books that originally belonged to Douglass.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, 1411 W St. SE. Open every day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
4. Go on the Ghosts of Georgetown Tour
Seniors may have enjoyed the stores and restaurants of Georgetown over the years, but Georgetown also has a dark side. D.C. By Foot offers weekly walking tours of the scariest parts of Georgetown for $12 per person. The tour explores ghost sightings at the 1766 Old Stone House and the filming locations of horror movies like the steps from “The Exorcist” on M Street.
Locations and times vary.
5. Step inside the landmark Folger Shakespeare Library
Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Capitol Hill displays folios, playbills and costumes from some of Shakespeare’s literary works. The grounds contain rooms like an Elizabethan Theatre, a Great Hall and an Elizabethan Garden. Walk-up tours of the library are available, but you can book a tour to gain access to the Folger Reading Rooms, which hold Shakespeare’s early modern collections.
Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E Capitol St. SE. Open Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
6. Support local vendors at a D.C. farmers market
Over the past four years, you may have become accustomed to your usual purchases from Whole Foods and Safeway. For those looking to grocery shop with family in town for graduation, consider supporting local farmers at the 14th and U Farmers Market. Located near the U Street Metro, the market sells cheeses, fruits and vegetables.
14th and U Farmers Market, 2000 14th St. NW. Open Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
7. Have a laugh with free comedy at the Wonderland Ballroom
For a free nightlife activity to share with friends or family, the Wonderland Ballroom at 1101 Kenyon St. NW in Columbia Heights hosts a free comedy night every Sunday showcasing both seasoned and new D.C. stand-up comics. Register online to enjoy D.C.’s comedy scene after you graduate on the National Mall Sunday.
Wonderland Ballroom, 1101 Kenyon St. NW. Sundays at 8 p.m. 21+.
8. See the District in a 360-degree view
Reflect on the past four years while overlooking the city from 387 feet in the air by taking a trip to the Observation Deck at the CEB Tower in Arlington, Va. While tickets are not free, you can show your GWorld to get a $16 student rate ticket and experience a full view of D.C.’s monuments while listening to a history lesson on the nation’s capital.
The View of D.C., 1201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. Open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Monday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.