How to Win Inauguration Weekend: There’s an App for That

Only one man won the election, but with free tours and insider information, you can still win the weekend. Plus hours, eating spots and where to rest your feet

Be in the know with our free visitors app, specially made for the inauguration.

The votes have been cast and counted, the campaign offices have been packed up. But things are just getting started in D.C. as the city prepares for a rush of excitement for Barack Obama’s second inauguration, January 21. More than a million people sought a spot near the Capitol to witness his first inauguration in 2009. For his second, Obama is sure to bring out the crowds again and all of D.C. is gearing up for inauguration day, from hotels to restaurants, including Ben’s Chili, which expects to serve 1,000 gallons of its famous chili the week of Obama’s swearing in, according to NBC.

You might not be running for office any time soon, but you can still win big this weekend with the help of our editors.

Conveniently situated around the Mall, the Smithsonian offers a wealth of presidential pomp and history to help get you up to speed for the big day, from Bill Clinton’s saxophone to Thomas Jefferson’s desk. Since this is the land of the free after all, we’ll be offering our custom inauguration-themed app for most smartphones for free with step-by-step tours to the best of the collections and exhibits. The tour includes stately highlights at the American History Museum, Natural History Museum, American Indian Museum, National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. From the gowns of inaugural balls past to the hall of presidential portraits, the tour will get you geared up for the festivities.

Info, tours and artifacts, all at your fingertips.

Try on some truly presidential duds with our digital postcard featuring George Washington’s uniform.

Museum by museum, step by step, you can’t take a wrong turn here.

A must-see stop on the tour: Shepard Fairey’s iconic portrait of Barack Obama at the National Portrait Gallery.

On Jan. 21, all Smithsonian museums will operate on their normal schedules, with the following exceptions:
•             The Renwick will be closed.
•             The National Museum of the American Indian will be closed because of its proximity to the swearing-in ceremony.
•             The Castle will open at 7:30 a.m.
•             The Hirshhorn, the Ripley Center, the National Museum of African Art, and the Freer and Sackler Galleries will open at 8 a.m.

The museums on the south side of the National Mall will be accessible from Independence Avenue only. The museums on the north side of the National Mall will be accessible from both Madison Drive and Constitution Avenue.

More good news, the bathrooms will be available. And if you’re feeling peckish, you can get food at the Air and Space Museum (McDonald’s McCafe, Boston Market and Donato’s Pizza), Natural History Museum (Atrium Cafe, Cafe Natural and Fossil Cafe), American History (Stars and Stripes Cafe and Constitution Cafe) and the Smithsonian Castle’s Cafe and Coffee Bar.

For more information on the when, where and how to get there, view our inauguration at the Smithsonian page.

And if the inauguration tour leaves you curious about what else the Smithsonian has to offer, upgrade to our full visitors guide for just 99 cents. The app includes interactive postcards (starring you wearing the Hope Diamond or Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, or other fun items from the collections) as well as custom tours for history buffs, art lovers and even a three-hour tour for the brave of heart and swift of feet. One of our own former interns tried to conquer the tall task:

About Leah Binkovitz
Leah Binkovitz

Leah Binkovitz is a Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow at Washington Post and NPR. Previously, she was a contributing writer and editorial intern for the At the Smithsonian section of Smithsonian magazine.

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