From Washington

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Other Transportation Options

This post is a combined effort between Hannah Fischer and Claudia Guidi. Thanks to both!


In the previous post, we took at look a public transportation options in Washington, D.C. In this post, we will be taking a look at other transportation options for getting around Washington, D.C., including via bikes, taxis, ride sharing services — and even Segways and pedicabs!

Bicycles
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“Smartly dressed couple seated on an 1886-model bicycle for two,” United States National Archives, at https://goo.gl/c3X67N.

Biking can be a great way to see the city and avoid traffic jams at the same time. Washington, D.C. was the first U.S. jurisdiction to launch a bicycle sharing program in 2008. Since that time, the largest bike sharing program, now called Capital Bikeshare, has taken off, and the program is now owned by various local governments. Find out more about how it works, a station map, and pricing at its website.

You can also rent bicycles by the day (rather than by the half hour, as is the case with most Capitol Bikeshare rentals). BikeWashington.org has a list of resources to help you do that. In addition, guests at one of the conference hotels, the Capitol Hill Hotel, have access to that hotel’s own bike program.

No matter where you get your bicycle, you can turn to Washington D.C.’s Department of Transportation page to check for information on bike paths (as of 2015), bicycle and pedestrian safety, and bicycle laws.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association also has information on bicycle routes, including apps that may help you find your preferred path. They also have pages on key points of bicycle laws in the area, biking visibly, and on what to do if your bike is stolen.

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“Bike race on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2011632658/.

Do you want to bring your bike onto Metro? Here are the rules for bringing your bike onto Metro rail and the rules for bringing your bike onto a Metro bus.

If you’re serious about biking and want to get out of the city, here is a webpage with the local longer-distance bike paths.

DC also offers many options for tours on buses, Segways, and even pedicabs, particularly in and around the National Mall area.

Taxis and Ride sharing Options
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“Heated Taxi Cab,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/hec2013010061/.

Washington, D.C. also has many options for taxi and ride sharing services. The D.C. government Department of For-Hire Vehicles has this list of for-hire vehicles that can be dispatched either via phone or digitally via your smartphone. In addition, this AboutTravel.com page has information on taxis in D.C. (including pricing information).

Taxis in D.C. now mostly have a red-and-grey pattern; you are allowed to hail them from the street, and you should tip the driver at the end of the ride. By contrast, ride sharing vehicles will not have a standard look; they must be hailed using your smartphone device; and the tip is usually included in the price.

Let us know if you have any questions about transportation in the comment box below — or if there are any modes of transportation we didn’t cover that you would like to use (hot air balloons?).

"DC Circulator at the Washington Monument," DC Circulator Press Photograph, at http://goo.gl/fq6ina.

Public Transportation

The Washington Metro System
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“Capitol South Rush Hour,” WMATA photograph by Larry Levine via WMATA’s Photo Gallery page, at http://goo.gl/mGNjOA

Washington, D.C.’s public transportation system is named Metro. You can find a map of the Metro rail system here, and you can search for the station nearest your location here.

The price of your trip on Metro varies based on the length of your trip; this is the Metro webpage  showing Metro rail fares. You will need to purchase a Metro SmarTrip Card to ride either metro trains or the Metro buses; you can purchase SmarTrip Cards at any Metro rail station or at these locations. Once you have a SmarTrip Card, you can load any U.S. currency amount onto it. When you enter and exit a Metro rail station, you will need to pass your SmarTrip Card over the magnetic “reader” at the turnstyles; as you exit, the reader will deduct the appropriate amount from your SmarTrip Card depending on how far you have traveled.

Train Naylor Road Fall 110609-24 WMATA Photo by Larry Levine 11-06-24
“Train Naylor Road Fall,” WMATA Photo by Larry Levine via WMATA’s Photo Gallery page, at http://goo.gl/mGNjOA

Metro is in the process of a year-long rail maintenance effort called SafeTrack.  SafeTrack affects different parts of the city at different times, and we are fortunate that the part of the SafeTrack project that will be taking place during IFLAPREatLOC is unlikely to affect delegates’ travel plans. Nonetheless, slowdowns due to SafeTrack, as well as more general maintenance projects on Metro, can delay Metro trips at any time. You may want to visit the Metro homepage and check their “Service Status” section before embarking on a trip via Metro.

DC Circulator
"DC Circulator at the Washington Monument," DC Circulator Press Photograph, at http://goo.gl/fq6ina.
“DC Circulator at the Washington Monument,” DC Circulator Press Photograph, at http://goo.gl/fq6ina.

Another public transportation option in Washington, D.C. is the DC Circulator bus. The Circulator has six routes around the DC area and into Rosslyn, Virginia, and costs $1 to ride. You do not need a SmarTrip card to ride the Circulator.

The most relevant route for our delegates might be the Union Station/Navy Yard Circulator Route, which runs every 10 minutes between Union Station and Navy Yard and has a stop directly outside of the Madison Building of the Library of Congress. If you were to continue from Union Station and head east past the Library of Congress, you would also pass the Eastern Market and Barracks Row neighborhoods, with plenty of restaurants and shops, and you would end your journey in Navy Yard, which also boasts a number of restaurants as well as a river-side park and the Nationals’ baseball stadium.

We look forward to welcoming you to Washington, D.C., and if you have any questions about transportation around the city, please ask us in the comment box below.

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The Memorials of Washington, D.C.

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“Thomas Jefferson Memorial,” National Park Service photo, at https://goo.gl/IfkhiJ.

The United States Congress (and with it, the Library of Congress) is located on one end of the National Mall, and many memorials to United States presidents, people who have changed the course of American history, and wars and veterans line the two-mile stretch of the Mall that leads from the U.S. Capitol down to the Potomac River. A map of the Mall and the placement of the memorials can be found on the website of the National Park Service Page here.

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“Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial,” National Park Service photo by Nathan King, at https://goo.gl/JMMtcv.

All memorials are free of charge to visit, and many offer tours at certain times. Check the National Mall website of the National Park Service for the specific monument you want to visit for more information. During the month of August, one of the best times to visit the Mall can be at night, when it’s a little cooler, the crowds have left, and the monuments are lit up. The bright white memorials at night can make for great photographs; check out this blog post for more Washington, D.C. photography tips.

This blog post was written with the help of intern Melina Hernandez — thanks, Melina!

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Visiting Local Libraries

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“Philadelphia bookseller George J.C. Grasberger, full-length portrait, facing right, pushing a wheelbarrow piled high with books,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2015650301/.

When I travel, I love to stop in and visit local libraries. Not only do they showcase important national treasures, but they host events and reflect the activities of residents. Beyond the Library of Congress (see our blog post “Setting up Tours Around Capitol Hill” to learn more about Library of Congress tours), DC is home to a number of beautiful and influential libraries!

Public Libraries
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“Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St., NW, Washington, D.C,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2010641350/.

The DC Public Library has 26 branches around the city, with Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library as the central location. Visitors need a library card to check out books or use the public computers, but even visitors can come in, browse the library, and participate in events such as childrens’ story time. Public Libraries in adjacent Maryland and Virginia also offer wonderful community spaces if you are staying outside DC.

Academic Libraries
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“23. November 1969 RIGGS LIBRARY STACKS, THIRD FLOOR, SOUTH WING – Georgetown University, Healy Building, Thirty-seventh & O Streets, Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, at http://goo.gl/RTD2XL.

Universities abound in DC, with specialized collection locations focusing on various topics. A few interesting examples include: George Washington University’s Textile Library, Georgetown University’s Bioethics Research Library, and the African Heritage Collection in Howard University’s School of Divinity Library. Most of these university libraries have different visitor policies and hours, so please research or contact them before you visit. Also keep in mind that different individual libraries within the same university system have specific visitor policies and hours. Many require government ID and a sign-in procedure during visitor hours. Many also provide visitor access to wifi! Below, we list the major academic library groups in the vicinity:

Government Libraries & Other Special Libraries
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“View of the north tower porte cochere and flag tower, looking southwest (duplicate of HABS No. DC-141-19) – Smithsonian Institution Building, 1000 Jefferson Drive, between Ninth & Twelfth Streets, Southwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, at http://goo.gl/YZ5YYx.

Other special libraries in the DC area can be worth a visit if they correspond with your personal (or professional) interests. As a medical librarian, stopping by the National Library of Medicine seems perfect for me, but you may be interested in any of the special collections listed below or searching for others!

Are there other DC libraries you’ve visited or want to see?

If so, please let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at #IFLAPREatLOC.

Setting up Tours Around Capitol Hill


While visiting us in DC, you or anyone traveling with you will probably want to explore some of our notable landmarks. Some, like the monuments and museums can be memorable even without a guide. However, other sites either require setting up a tour or may be even more enjoyable with someone to provide background information and point out sites or stories you might not notice on your own.

U.S. Capitol
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“View of the Capitol’s East Front Plaza,” U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center Photograph Downloads, at https://goo.gl/vto4gl.

If you want to tour the historical indoor areas of the Capitol beyond the Capitol Visitor Center, you’re required to reserve a guided tour. Since these tours can be in high demand, it’s a good idea to book in advance!

If you’re a U.S. Citizen, you can request a tour through the offices of your Representative or Senators. Offices sometimes offer staff-led tours, and work directly with local constituents to provide a tailored experience.

Anyone, including non-citizens, can reserve a tour through this online system, and if you’d like to reserve space for a group larger than 15, please use the group reservation system.

Even if you don’t pre-book, same-day tours are sometimes available, so stop by the Information Desk at the Visitor Center.

Be sure to check out the Capitol Visitor Center’s Plan a Visit site, which offers all the basic information – from visitor hours (Monday – Saturday 8:30am-4:30pm) to frequently asked questions (Tours are only offered in English, but visitors can request listening devices for some foreign-language versions. There are also brochures in a number of languages).

Library of Congress
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Picture taken by Anna Groves.

You’ll be spending a lot of time in the Library buildings throughout the pre-conference, but we hope you’ll also experience some of our history and collections through our tours!

For those who want to investigate on their own, we have brochures for self-guided visits in a number of languages. You also may enjoy our online tours before you arrive – then you’ll feel at home when you get here!

The Library offers daily tours without reservations at set times, so if you have a packed schedule feel free to drop in for a one hour tour. Other guided tours require reservations and are available as group tours by request. Be sure to check out the guidelines & tips before you tour the library.

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Picture taken by Anna Groves.

We also have a number of reading rooms and exhibits you may want to visit. From the African & Middle Eastern Reading Room to the American Folklife Center, there are amazingly diverse collections to explore. Prior to visiting these specialized areas, please obtain a Library of Congress Registration Card. (You will need a government ID — either a driver’s license or a passport — to obtain the Registration Card.) It makes a fun souvenir! Family activities are also available, and you can check out our public events listing to learn about lectures, exhibits, concerts, and more!

Other D.C. Tours and Landmarks

When you have free time from our packed conferences, or while your accompanying person explores the city, we hope you will be able to experience some of the wonderful things our city has to offer! Below, we talk about a few sites that may be on your mind.

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“Inside the White House,” the White House, at https://www.whitehouse.gov/about/inside-white-house.

Setting up a tour of the White House requires advance notice (no less than 21 days), so it may not be an option on this trip. U.S. citizens request White House tours through their individual Members of Congress, while citizens of foreign countries work with their embassies to submit a tour request. However, it can still be enjoyable to take a virtual tour or just walk by the exterior of the White House.

The Library’s next door neighbor is the Supreme Court, and you can stop by for a self-guided tour or also participate in docent-led “Courtroom Lectures,” 30 minute programs available Monday-Friday every half hour from 9:30am-3:30am. Before your trip, check out their helpful information on planning your visit. Translations of the visitor’s guides are available online.

Many museums and landmarks across the city offer free tours led by helpful docents, so check out the visitor’s information before you go. Also, many visitor and travel sites offer advice on free and paid tour options across the city.

Are there other DC spots you’re thinking of touring? Would you like to share advice with other attendees?

 

If so, please let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at #IFLAPREatLOC.

 

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Music Venues in D.C.

This guest post was contributed by Jared Nagel, a Senior Research Librarian in the Congressional Research Service and our resident music guru. Thanks for all your insights, Jared!


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Black Milk and Nat Turner, photo by Jared Nagel.

The District and surrounding area hosts a pretty good group of live music venues covering just about every genre of music. Luckily there are a few resources to help keep you up to date on who is in town and where they are playing. Below are some quick picks that should get you to a good show before or after the conferences start, or on a free night during your conference.

The Washington Post’s “Going Out Guide”

The Washington Post hosts a guide for area restaurants, events, and music. The music section includes highlights for area concerts.

The Washington City Paper’s “Do This”
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Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, photo by Jared Nagel.

The Washington City Paper has their own webpage with information on upcoming concerts and events. They list events by date and provide some pretty good options to keep you busy every night of the week. You can also filter events based on the genre of music you are interested in. The music portion of “Do This” is available here.

Songkick

Songkick is a website and app for your phone that allows you to track concerts. You can search by location or follow your favorite bands to see when the next time they are going to be in town.  Here is a link to upcoming events in the DC area.

Show List DC

Want a simple listing of shows by date? Look no further than Show List DC.

Do you have a favorite music venue or area concert guide? Feel free to share it in the comments.

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Dining in D.C.

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“OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo,” by Katja Hasselkus, at https://goo.gl/HlEu9c.

Washington, D.C.’s food scene has been collecting a number of accolades lately: it recently became the fourth American city to warrant a Michelin Guide and Zagat has named it the third best food city in the U.S. Here are several guides to help you find your perfect meal during your time in Washington, D.C.

For those who would like to explore the dining scene without blowing their budget, the Washingtonian puts out a guide to “cheap eats,” or places where you can eat for less than $25 per person. If you’re more in the mood for a splurge, the Washingtonian also features a list of the “100 Very Best Restaurants” in D.C. and the Washington Post has also put together a roundup of top restaurants in their Spring Dining Guide for 2016. Note that some of the top-rated restaurants are more expensive than others (both publications list price estimates), and also that the restaurants listed are in the larger Washington, D.C. area. This means that reaching some of these restaurants might require a car or a long Metro ride.

If you would prefer to stay closer to the Capitol Hill neighborhood (the neighborhood in which the Library of Congress is located), the Washingtonian has a guide to restaurants around the Capitol Hill area and Eater has this website rounding up their news on restaurants in the Capitol Hill area.

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“112 Superb Varieties for Market Gardeners Season of 1926,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, at https://goo.gl/061EVg.

Many international visitors to America would like to eat “American food” while they are here, but given the melting-pot nature of the country, “American food” can be a hard concept to define. Time Out for Washington D.C. has this article on “The Very Best American Restaurants in D.C.,” but note that several of the restaurants on the list are fusions of American style or techniques with ingredients from other countries or regions, such India, France, or the Mediterranean. (The Time Out list was written in 2014, and at least one of these restaurants has closed since publication; contact the restaurant you would like to visit before traveling to avoid disappointment.)

To find a taste of home, you may want to consult this “ethnic food” blog from local George Mason University professor, Tyler Cowen. The tag line of the blog is “all food is ethnic food.”

Wherever you go, remember that tipping is customary in all American restaurants except fast food restaurants. You may want to consult this guide from Emily Post or this guide from U.S. News and World Report for more information on tipping.

Washington D.C. locals, do you have any favorites in the Capitol Hill area (or beyond) that you would particularly recommend? For those who are travelling here, please do return to this page and let us know which restaurants you are enjoying during the conference (and which ones you might not recommend).

Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

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Checking Out the D.C. Sports Scene

This guest post comes from our summer intern, John Steele. Thanks so much, John!


Everyone knows about Washington, D.C.’s reputation as the living enshrinement of America’s rich history and home to the United States federal government; however, it can be easy to forget about Washington D.C.’s thriving sports scene.  Whether you’re out touring one of D.C’s great museums or handling official business in the Library of Congress, you may want to save some time in the evenings or at the beginning or end of your trip to catch an exciting baseball game or tennis match—both of which will be readily available during your visit to Washington D.C.

Baseball
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“Baseball Ball Isolated On White,” PublicDomainPictures.net, at http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=159148&picture=baseball-ball-isolated-on-white.

Every week, scores of elated Washingtonians pile into National Park to watch the Nationals duel visiting baseball teams. Home games occur frequently, so catching one should not be too difficult. For further information on scheduling and ticketing, please see this site. If you actually decide to embark on a D.C. baseball journey, one option for traveling to Nationals Park is the DC Metro.  The Green line runs regularly during games and the walk to/from the Navy Yard-Ballpark stop is very short. Be prepared for very large crowds. If you have a DC Metro Smartrip card, please be sure to use it.. Additional information on travel to Nationals Park can be found here.  With regard to seating, there’s no such thing as a bad seat in the house, but try to avoid the lower right field seats. You’ll be in the shade, but it’s really difficult to see the entire field and scoreboard from that vantage point.  Nationals Park hosts an assortment of fine eats. Reference this site for more information.

Tennis
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“Fuzzy Yellow Tennis Ball,” PublicDomainPictures.net, at http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=163740&picture=fuzzy-yellow-tennis-ball.

In addition to great baseball, the District is also home to a growing tennis market. To be fair, you’re probably not going to catch any Wimbledon-level tennis in D.C., but if you’re into viewing competitive matches, the District has a few options.   The Washington Kastles, one of seven franchises currently competing in World Team Tennis, has won six of the last seven World Team Tennis championships.  Matches are held indoors at the Charles E. Smith Center, Kastles Stadium. The Smith Center is located on the corner of 22nd and G Streets NW in Foggy Bottom. For additional information on directions and ticketing, please visit this site.

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Library of Congress Tips

Thanks so much to Jennifer Manning, our guest blogger for this post on navigating the Library of Congress buildings. Jennifer is a Senior Research Librarian at the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress, and has been very active on the planning committee for the IFLAPREatLOC pre-conferences. Thanks for all your insights, Jennifer!


Tip 1: Security

We will have an entire post on this topic in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say in the meantime that you can expect to go through security upon both entering and exiting Library of Congress buildings. On entering a Library of Congress building, you will go through a metal detector; please remove all metal items from your pockets (including your cell phone, keys, etc.), and place them on the conveyor belt. On exiting the building, the security officer will check any bags you may be carrying for Library materials. Please keep checking back at this blog for more information on security.

Tip 2: Photography
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“Herbert G. Ponting and his camera,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2009633374/.

Photography is allowed in Library buildings, although flash photography is not allowed in some exhibits, to protect the objects from excessive light. Tripods and “selfie sticks” are prohibited in Library buildings (and many other D.C. museums as well).

 

Tip 3: Wifi

The Library buildings have a public wireless network (WiFi) called “LOCGUEST.” No password is required.

 

Tip 4: Smoking
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Library of Congress.

Smoking is prohibited in Library of Congress buildings (and most government buildings and museums), including in interior courtyards and bathrooms. To smoke outside the building, you must go out, through security, and be more than 25 feet [7.6 metres] from the building entrance. The map to the right of this text is a map of the Library of Congress Campus; there are smoking tables set aside alongside the Madison building, on the corners of 1st Street SE & Independence Ave. SE and again at 2nd St. SE & Independence Ave. SE.

Tip 5: Air Conditioning
WinterCoat
“Washington, D.C. Jewal Mazique [i.e. Jewel], worker at the Library of Congress, waiting for a streetcar on her way home from work,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001003428/PP/.
Although Washington weather in August tends to be very hot and “muggy,” the air-conditioning inside buildings is very effective. Sometimes we find it TOO effective. Conference attendees, especially women wearing short sleeves or skirts, may wish to bring another layer of clothing, such as a shawl or jacket, in order to stay comfortable during sessions.

Are there any other topics on which you would like some tips?

If so, please let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at #IFLAPREatLOC.

 

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Tips for Taking Memorable Pictures Around Washington, D.C.

Our deepest thanks to Angela Napili, the author of this guest post. Angela is a Senior Research Librarian at the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress, and she is also an award-winning amateur photographer. Thanks for sharing your tips, Angela!


With its monumental architecture, historic landmarks, and diverse communities, Washington DC is a photographer’s paradise. Here are three photo tips.

Tip 1:  If you want to avoid the crowds and harsh midday sun, then early mornings and early evenings are lovely times to photograph DC’s memorials.

The Lincoln Memorial at sunrise.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

Evening at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool looking toward the Washington Monument.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

The Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial at sunset, photographed with a zoom lens from near the Washington Monument.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

Here are the sunrise and sunset times.

 

Tip #2: Some of DC’s best photo opportunities are indoors, with free admission (and air conditioning!)

Electronic Superhighway” by Korean-American artist Nam June Paik,  Smithsonian American Art Museum.  Here is the Smithsonian’s photography policy.

PictureTips_SmithsonianAmericanArt
Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

The Supreme Court of the United States, photographed from just outside the courtroom. Here is the Court’s photography policy.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

 

Union Station. Here is Union Station’s photography policy.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.
Tip #3: Keep your camera within easy reach. You never know when you’ll come across something interesting, like a Dog in a costume.

Here is a Welsh Corgi dressed up as Captain America. (Well, kind of.)

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Picture taken by Angela Napili.

Even our metro stations are eye-catching. This is the Dupont Circle Station, but most stations in the system look very similar.

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Photograph taken by Angela Napili.

More resources:

Do you have favorite DC photo spots, tips, or resources? Please share them in the comments below!