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  • Writer's pictureBlue Trunk

Explore Washington, D.C.: A Virtual and Accessible Tour

This week we are heading to Washington, D.C. to explore the United States capital. Washington is full of stunning museums and a rich history. We are trying to make sure the content we suggest is accessible in different ways. Although it can be difficult to find websites that are fully accessible, we review many to offer you the ones that are the most accessible. As always, if you find barriers or have suggestions please reach out to us at and let us know so that we can improve!

Visit the Museums and Sites

There are many renowned museums in D.C. and covering them all would take several blogs. Instead we have focused on a few of the better-known ones here. The National Portrait Gallery has a page dedicated to their Visit at Home initiative with several virtual resources. In particular we want to draw your attention to the ASL video tours and the audio descriptions of presidential portraits. The National Gallery of Art also has several resources that keep accessibility in mind. They have ASL video collections focused on the West Building and the East Building. They also have verbal descriptions for collection highlights from the East Building. For additional audio and video resources you can check out this link. The Museum of Natural History is another D.C. favorite. Their website features an Explore at Home page with several resources. Of these we recommend the narrated virtual tour videos (with captions available) and the museum blog. The Air and Space Museum has two locations, one in D.C. and one in Chantilly, Virginia, but you can also explore their exhibits online through their Explore Anywhere resources. If you want resources that aren’t visual, we recommend their podcast. Since opening in 2016 the National Museum of African American History & Culture has attracted scores of visitors. The demand for tickets has necessitated a ticket system with timed entries, sometimes booking out months in advance. Luckily they have several resources online for you to explore, including a blog series.

Although not a museum, the National Zoo is another popular site for D.C. visitors. They have webcams for several of their animals, including an elephant cam, a lion cam, and their famous giant panda cam. The Zoo also has information on exhibits available online, so you can read more about your favorite animals from the comfort of home.

Tune in to Shows and Movies About Washington

There are several ways to explore D.C. through film. To learn more about the capital you can turn to Over Washington D.C.: Our Nation's Capital, streaming on Amazon Prime (captions available). Another, more recent, exploration of D.C. is available on PBS. In an episode of Beyond Your Backyard the host explores D.C., from the monuments to the food (captions available). Arlington National Cemetery, a documentary on PBS, takes you outside of the city to learn about the history of our national cemetery (captions available).

To dive more into the culture of D.C. you can stream If Cities Could Dance on PBS. This short episode focused on D.C. explores go-go music and dance (captions available). If you are more interested in the food scene of D.C. you can turn to Anthony Bourdain. In his show No Reservations, he experiences the city through food. It is available for streaming on the Travel Channel’s webpage (captions available).

Lastly, if you want a fun fictional film and museum experience bundled into one, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is availablefor streaming. You can stream through Amazon Prime with the Starz add on, which has audio description and captions available. It is also available to rent or buy on iTunes with both audio description and captions. The other streaming options (Starz and Hulu) have captions, but no audio description. Although not about D.C., the tour of Hamilton was set to be performed at the Kennedy Center but was canceled due to COVID. You can watch a live recording of Hamilton on Disney+ (audio description and captions available).

Get Lost in Books About Washington

Culture Trip compiled a list of books to read about Washington, D.C. across genres - from romance, to crime, to history. Of the 12 books on this list, 8 are available in an ebook format and 6 are available on Audible. The Washington Post also published a list of their 20 top picks of books about Washington. Of these, 16 are available on Kindle and 10 are available on Audible.

Bring Washington to Your Kitchen

D.C. is a city of international cuisine, but there are still some local D.C. recipes to bring to your own kitchen. The first is the half-smoke, the D.C. take on a chili dog. This recipe is a classic half-smoke. To make this recipe vegetarian, swap out your favorite vegetarian protein crumbles or lentils for the ground beef chuck, swap vegetable stock for the chicken stock, and swap a vegetarian bratwurst for the half-smoke hot dog. Although you could use any veggie dog here, we recommend finding a spicy vegetarian bratwurst to get closer to a half-smoke. A half-smoke is similar to a hot dog, but is a larger and spicier sausage. To make the recipe gluten-free sub in your favorite gluten-free flour instead of all purpose flour.

When it comes to dessert in D.C., Georgetown Cupcakes instantly springs to mind. They have shared their red velvet cupcake recipe with Popsugar. You can watch the video about it and get the recipe here. For a vegan version of a red velvet cupcake check out Tasty, and for a gluten-free version check out Gluten-Free Palate.

Where to Next?

Thanks for wandering Washington, D.C. with us virtually! Join us next time as we explore the U.S National Parks.


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