- Waldorf Astoria Washington D.C.
- Grand Hyatt
- The Mayflower
- Omni Shoreham
From Egyptian mummies to Neil Armstrong’s space suit, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., houses an unparallelled range of artifacts to delight curious visitors.
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The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex. It encompasses 21 museums and the National Zoo. Most of the museums are located on the National Mall, a large park that stretches from the U.S. Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. All are accessible by Metro and free of charge to explore, though some do require reserved timed-entry tickets.
Having lived — and driven, and parked — in the Washington, D.C., area off and on since college, my advice is: Skip the rental car, and reserve a hotel near the spots you most want to visit.
The purpose of this post is to suggest the best hotel within walking distance of each Smithsonian venue:
This Hilton property took over the Old Post Office Pavilion building that once housed the Trump International Hotel. Attached to the building is the Clock Tower, from which you may enjoy 360-degree views of Washington. The closest Metro stop is Federal Triangle on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
Rooms are spacious and elegant, and the service is outstanding. The hotel features a spa, a gym, and valet parking.
Its lobby bar/restaurant is one of my favorite spots in Washington, thanks to its spacious and comfortable atmosphere and enviable display of crystal decanters.
Other Michelin restaurants within half a mile include:
- minibar (two stars)
- Fiola (one star)
- Café Riggs (inside the Riggs hotel)
- China Chilcano (Bib Gourmand)
- Jaleo (Bib Gourmand)
- Oyamel (Bib Gourmand)
The Waldorf is within a mile of ten open Smithsonian venues on the Mall:
The Smithsonian Institution Building (the Castle) is home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center. You can marvel at its unique 19th-century architecture, as well as enjoy highlights from each Museum’s collection, seek personal advice on what to see and do based on your interests, and plan your days. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
The Freer Gallery of Art showcases Asian paintings, sculptures, ceramics, lacquers, and metalware and 19th-century American pieces, including works by James Whistler. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery features South Asian sculpture, modern Japanese ceramics, and ancient Chinese jades and bronzes. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian.
The National Museum of African Art houses traditional and contemporary works including masks, baskets, and jewelry from Africa. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture features artifacts related to the black experience in America, including Harriet Tubman’s hymnal, Emmett Till’s coffin, and Jackie Robinson’s Dodgers jersey. Timed-entry passes are required. The closest Metro stops are Smithsonian and Federal Triangle.
The National Museum of American History showcases artifacts tracing the American experiment from colonial times, including George Washington’s uniform, Thomas Jefferson’s lap desk, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The closest Metro stop is Federal Triangle.
The National Museum of Natural History is the place for science buffs, with artifacts ranging from Egyptian mummies to the Hope Diamond. The closest Metro stop is Federal Triangle.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden displays international modern and contemporary art, including sculpture by Auguste Rodin. It offers outdoor jazz concerts on summer Fridays. The closest Metro stop is L’Enfant Plaza on the Yellow, Blue, Orange, Silver, and Green lines.
The National Air and Space Museum houses flight-related artifacts including planes, rockets, and Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit. Timed-entry passes are required. The closest Metro stop is L’Enfant Plaza.
The National Museum of the American Indian displays native objects from the Western Hemisphere. The closest Metro stop is L’Enfant Plaza.
This hotel has a fabulous central location in the fun Penn Quarter area. The closest Metro stop is Metro Center on the Red, Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
The hotel offers a gym and valet parking. Rooms have refrigerators.
Michelin restaurants within half a mile include:
The Grand Hyatt is within a mile of three Smithsonian museums:
The Smithsonian American Art Museum displays the works of artists including John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The closest Metro stop is Gallery Place.
This historic Marriott property is the longest continually operating hotel in Washington. When I worked in Washington, I’d sometimes meet friends and colleagues here. The closest Metro stop is Farragut North on the Red line.
The hotel offers a gym and valet parking. Rooms have refrigerators. Its Edgar Bar & Kitchen was named after J. Edgar Hoover, who dined there virtually daily.
The Mayflower is a 10-minute walk from the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum which features contemporary works. The closest Metro stops are Farragut North and Farragut West on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
The Shoreham is a 15-minute walk to the National Zoo, which houses many different species of animals, including big cats and the famed pandas. Timed-entry passes are required. The closest Metro stop is Woodley Park.
Planning travel to Washington, D.C.? You might like:
For two decades, I worked at political jobs. Then my parents got sick, and I went home to help care for them, and they died, fourteen weeks apart, in their late 60s. And I decided that life is too dear, and too uncertain, to fritter away in political offices. I fought back the sorrow with travel, and started this blog. I believe that passions are more fun when you share them with others, and my hope is to share my passions for travel and culture with you. Welcome! Read more …