Hours From New York: 4.5
Major paintings and sculpture from legendary money manager Scott M. Black’s collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts’ The Romance of Modernism, starting December 12; it includes Pissarros, Magrittes, and Rodins, many of which have never been on display before. Enough good young galleries have opened up south of Washington Street that it’s gotten the unfortunate nickname SoWa; the best shows this fall are Kyong Ae Kim at the OH+T Gallery (617-423-1677) and Brooklyn artist Jeffrey Gibson’s vibrant landscapes at Samson Projects (617-357-7177). Stay at the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton (from $380; 617-536-5700) for its great views of the Common.
Hours From New York: 1.5
The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Arnold Newman retrospective is a portraiture orgy for photography fans, juxtaposing his images of Cab Calloway, Truman Capote, and Zora Neale Hurston with the work of contemporaries including Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Barbara Morgan, and W. Eugene Smith. Check into the Rittenhouse Hotel for some of the largest guest rooms in the city and a view of the historic square (from $299; 215-546-9000).
Hours From New York: 2.5
It’s about time pop culture got some respect. Visit the new Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, where you can view 230 years of cartoons, from Buster Brown to Star Wars (410-625-7060). Admission is now free at the Baltimore Museum of Art, so you can make multiple visits to one of the country’s largest collections of prints and drawings (currently displaying Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, and Man Ray). The Harbor Court is a refined hotel right on the Inner Harbor (from $290; 410-234-0550), within walking distance of Camden Yards and that famous aquarium.
Hours From New York: 3.5
One of the more civilized aspects of our nation’s capital is that all the Smithsonian museums are free and there’s good crowd control, which means even agoraphobes can culture-binge. The spectacular new National Portrait Gallery is worth a trip to see John F. Kennedy rendered by Elaine de Kooning. For contrast, go to the International Spy Museum (202-393-7798) around the corner. The Mandarin Oriental is the upscale hotel option (from $275; 202-787-6140), but the Kalorama Guest House is more wallet-friendly and puts you in the heart of groovy Adams Morgan (from $109; 202-667-6369).