Can you imagine anything worse: You’re in the middle of a crowd of people lined up along Pennsylvania Avenue — eager to see President Obama walk a portion of the inaugural route — when, all of a sudden, Little Johnny starts tugging at your sleeve, because … he’s REALLY GOTTA GO! Sure, every president since Thomas Jefferson has walked a portion of this inaugural route, but right now you’ve got something more important to think about – the nearest port-a-potty.
First, relax — we at the Travel Channel have got you covered. While Monday’s Inauguration isn’t expected to reel in the nearly 2 million people who descended on the nation’s capital 4 years ago, it will still be pretty darn packed. Streets will be closed off. Metros are running at special hours. And, well, when nature calls, the nearest museum or store may not be open. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know.
Know Before You Go
First thing’s first – bathrooms. Yes, several media outlets have reported a shortage of port-a-potties about town for Monday’s inauguration. None other than Charmin is encouraging attendees to download the SitOrSquat app to find clean public restrooms.
But phones die, and apps can still be unreliable. So it never hurts to mentally catalogue places you know will be open. Many of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall will open early come Monday, Jan. 21 – specifically, the Freer and Sackler galleries, and African Art and Hirshhorn museums will all open at 8 a.m. and stay open until 5:30 p.m. The Smithsonian Castle will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. However, all of these museums, as well as the Air and Space Museum, will close all Mall-side entrances – the only way to access them will be via Independence Avenue. Plan accordingly.
Not all museums will be open, however. These include the American Indian Museum, which will be closed all day (due to its proximity to the swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol steps). The National Gallery of Art will close its East Building Monday but keep its West Building open – this means there will be no handicapped entrance. The Renwick Gallery will be closed all day Monday.
Looking for Food?
All the political festivities got you hungry? If you’re looking for something quick – plus a chance to warm up – these museum concessions will be open: Air and Space (McDonald’s McCafe, Boston Market, Donato’s Pizza); Natural History (Atrium Café, Café Natural, Fossil Café); American History (Stars and Stripes Café, Constitution Cafe); Smithsonian Castle (Cafe and Coffee Bar).
Getting Around Town
If, for some odd reason, you’ve decided to drive into town — keep in mind areas with vehicle restrictions. Check out this full map of vehicle restrictions, courtesy of the US Secret Service. And if you plan on hoofing it on foot, print out this map of pedestrian walking routes.
For a full look at public transportation options over Inauguration Weekend, check out our Escape DC’s Inauguration Crowds — scroll to the bottom, where you’ll find everything you need to know!
Things to See
So you couldn’t land a front-row seat to the swearing-in ceremony — big deal! You’ve still got plenty of options. Swing by the American History Museum at 11:30 a.m. Monday – they’ll broadcast the ceremony in the Flag Hall. (However, if you were lucky enough to score tickets – be sure to check out the official Inaugural app that will guide ticket-holders to their seats.) Afterward, be sure to check out the ever-popular “First Ladies” exhibition on the museum’s third floor – you’ll see 2 dozen gowns worn by First Ladies of eras past, including Jackie Kennedy and Laura Bush.
Be sure to check out the National Portrait Gallery’s new display – a collaged portrait of President Obama by American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator Shepard Fairey, as well as Chuck Close’s sprawling 2012 tapestries of the president’s likeness. And don’t miss these presidential hangouts in DC.
Additional Inauguration Resources: