Our nation’s capital is chocked full of free things to do but if you are planning a trip with your daughter(s), consider taking her to places that feature women who will inspire her to reach for the stars and fulfill all of her potential.
In fact, you can both expand your horizons in Washington, D.C. and learn about the successes of some of America’s most accomplished women in the fields of art, science, politics, and history.
1. DAR Museum
The headquarters of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the museum celebrates the woman’s sphere with over 30 period parlor rooms spanning the 16th to 19th centuries. These authentically recreated parlor rooms were where (well-off) women in America spent most of their days receiving visitors, sewing, writing letters and spending time with family. There are also visiting exhibitions like the current Creating the Ideal Home, 1800-1939: Comfort and Convenience in America (through August) and on Saturdays they have family programs. It also it has one of the prettiest and historically accurate Victorian doll houses that I have ever seen. Admission is free.
If you want to become a member of the Society, you must prove your lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American Independence—descendants of Benedict Arnold need not apply.
This house was headquarters and home to the lady who founded the National Council of Negro Women. Ms. Bethune, a child of former slaves, worked tirelessly throughout her life to advance the interests of African-American women. You can learn all about this civil rights powerhouse at the picturesque Victorian townhouse located in the Logan Square historic district. It was her last residence (she lived on the 3rd floor) and the floor plan of the home remains unchanged from the days when Bethune lived there. Most of the furnishings are original to the home or actually owned by Bethune so it is easy to picture her as she was, receiving heads of state and changing the world.
Women are front and center at this pioneering museum that is dedicated to female artists. As any student of art history knows, men dominated the art world for what seemed like forever. Your daughters may know Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso, but they should also know Louise Élisabeth Vigeé Le Brun, Mary Cassatt and Artemisia Gentileschi as well as modern artists like Judy Chicago, Helen Frankenthaler and Jenny Holzer. Kids under 18 are free.
It’s never too late to get your daughter interested in the sciences. This museum’s namesake was an accomplished immunologist and molecular biologist whose illustrious career included groundbreaking research in the behavior of antibodies that eventually lead to the creation of a cholera vaccine.
Recommended for inquisitive tweens, teens and adults, this interactive museum challenges visitors to explore the role of science and the policies that affect their lives. Girls can learn about the causes of climate change, its impact and possible solutions or discover how their brains work in the museum’s life lab, among other exhibits.
With your older daughters, you can visit the nation’s highest tribunal which has had only 4 women justices since its inception in 1789: Sandra Day O’Conner, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (its latest addition confirmed by President Obama in 2010).
The Court convenes from October to June in public sessions. Lines form early to hear whole arguments or three-minute portions starting at 9:30 (so get there early) and expect larger lines between tourist season in March – June.
Finish your tour of the nation’s capitol at the largest glass ceiling in town because it is never too early to start thinking about being the President. The White House has been home to every U.S. president since 1800 (George Washington’s first home as president was in New York City).
For this national landmark you will need to plan ahead by applying through your member of congress at least 21 days ahead of your trip.