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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Loosen the Beltway in Washington, D.C.


3. What to Do

From left, The National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum and, right, the National Museum of the American Indian.  

The Smithsonian’s often overlooked National Museum of the American Indian not only has a fascinating permanent collection, like the "Our Universes" exhibit of native cosmology, but it also happens to have the best cafeteria on the Mall. Called Mitsitam ("Let’s eat," to the Piscataway) Native Foods Cafe, the cafeteria features indigenous cuisines from all across the Americas like salmon from the Pacific Northwest, chicken-stuffed tamales from South America, buffalo burgers from the Great Plains.

You’ll see a portrait of Stephen Colbert near the bathrooms at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery for a limited time, but it’s the new Kogod Courtyard that’s really worth a look. The Foster + Partners–designed undulating glass rooftop was unveiled in November, and it’s a marvel to consider while eating a sandwich. If it’s time for a nip, walk across G Street: Proof serves more than 40 wines by the glass, including 16 whites and 16 reds dispensed by a fancy Enomatic machine.

Until mid-March, ice-skate in the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden. It costs $10.50 (with skate and locker rental) for two hours of slipping and falling before great works by Joan Miró, Roy Lichtenstein, and Alexander Calder. When you’re cold and bruised, have a hot chocolate (or a beer) at the Pavilion Café.

Published on Jan 23, 2008 as a web exclusive.

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