Sound-and touch-activated displays explore the world’s languages and how words are used in everything from speechwriting to advertising to jokes. A grand library brings nearly 50 books to life (literally); a poetry nook offers quieter contemplation. 925 13th St., NW. Free.
This museum at Fort Belvoir tells the story of the US military’s oldest branch via the tales of soldiers, whether they were crawling through mud in World War I or avoiding IEDs in Iraq. The stories are buttressed by fascinating objects, such as an engine from a Black Hawk helicopter downed in Somalia and Ulysses S. Grant’s kepi. Bonus: The building, whose polished exterior reflects sunrises and sunsets, is stunning. 1775 Liberty Dr., Fort Belvoir. Free; timed-entry tickets required.
This memorial on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian honors Native Americans who have served our country. The contemplative space features a stainless-steel circle balanced on a stone drum, four tall lances to which visitors can tie prayer cloths, plus benches and water. Fourth St. and Independence Ave., SW. Free.
The four-acre park, designed by architect Frank Gehry, includes sculptures of Ike addressing the troops before the D-Day invasion, in the Oval Office, and as a young boy, along with a massive steel tapestry representing the beaches of Normandy. 540 Independence Ave., SW. Free.
This tribute to the 4.7 million Americans who served in the Great War opened in April after years of debate over its design and location. The memorial, across from the Willard Hotel, is still missing its centerpiece—a 58-foot-long bas-relief sculpture—but visitors can see its outline and learn about key battles. Pennsylvania Ave. between 14th and 15th sts., NW. Free.
This museum on the grounds of the old Lorton Reformatory—now the Workhouse Arts Center—lays out the prison’s 91-year history, including the repeated incarceration of suffragists such as Lucy Burns, who were arrested for picketing the White House and subjected to harsh treatment such as being force-fed through the nose. 9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton. Free. Open Thursday through Sunday.
This article appears in the July 2021 issue of Washingtonian.