News & Politics  |  Things to Do

Shutdown Hacks: Where to Get Married, Go to a Museum, and More

Some alternatives while the government isn't operating.

The National Gallery of Art's ice rink at the Sculpture Garden. Photograph by Brett Davis via Flickr Creative Commons.

The ongoing government shutdown has affected a lot of areas of daily life in DC. The Smithsonians are closed, along with the National Zoo and its panda cam, but there are plenty of other places to skate, get married, and more.

Ice Skating

Perhaps your legs are tingling from all the inactivity and cookies this holiday break. The Sculpture Garden Ice Rink is closed, but you can work it all out on skates à la Jonathan Van Ness at rinks at The Wharf and the Capitol Waterfront.

National Parks

Shehandoah. Photograph via iStock.

The shutdown might be cutting into your outdoors fix. National parks such as the C&O Canal and Shenandoah are open but unstaffed. Head to Mason Neck State Park in Virginia or the US Botanic Garden–fully funded for this fiscal year–for a little bit of nature.


Some of Rodarte’s runway looks on display at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Photographs of Rodarte by Dan & Corina Lecca and Greg Kessler/Kessler Studio.

It may not be possible to take a lunchtime stroll through the National Gallery of Art or show your mom the Obama portraits when she visits this weekend, but there are lots of other options. Admission to the National Museum of the Women in the Arts costs $10; the museum is currently displaying numerous runway looks from Rodarte, including the costumes used in Black Swan. The Phillips Collection has a display of nearly 200 years of Nordic art running through January 19.


Photograph by brianstromberg via Flickr Creative Commons.

The shutdown seems to have put a damper on some DC couples looking to get hitched as the DC courts operate with federal funding. Not to worry: Grab your honey and head to Virginia. In Arlington, a marriage license will run you $30, payable by cash or debit/credit card. You can still divorce in DC, though.


Photograph by Alan Levine via Flickr Creative Commons.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau suspended all nonessential operations during the shutdown, meaning no new labels or beers are being approved. Luckily for you, the consumer, this shouldn’t affect your ability to drink your pint.

Web Producer and Social Media Fellow

Helen joined Washingtonian in January 2018. She studied Journalism and International Relations at the University of Southern California. She recently won an Online News Award for her work on a project about the effects of the Salton Sea, California’s greatest burgeoning environmental disaster, on a Native American tribe whose ancestral lands are on its shores. Before joining the magazine, Helen worked in Memphis covering education for Chalkbeat. Her work has appeared in USA Today, The Desert Sun, Chalkbeat Tennessee, Sunset Magazine, Indiewire, and others.