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DC museums reopen just in time for Memorial Day weekend

As COVID-19 restrictions ease up in D.C., WUSA9 looked into how the tourism industry plans to move forward in the District.

WASHINGTON — Many people are excited to get away this Memorial Day weekend, especially now that people can travel again. 

The nonprofit organization Destination D.C. is also expecting an increase in travelers to the city. 

"There are still free things to do in D.C. so this really has been our opportunity to really deliver that message. I feel very confident about what the future is going to hold. Obviously, international travel will be slower to return until we open up the borders but for the most part, we are focused on domestic visitation and we look forward to a fantastic summer," said Theresa Belpulsi, the Vice President of Tourism with Destination D.C.

The museums and monuments always draw tourists to the D.C. area and many of them will be back open this Memorial Day weekend.

The Smithsonian will reopen 10 of its museums throughout the summer, marking a full reopening of the Smithsonian since closing to the public in March 2020. 

Each of the locations will open on a staggered schedule from June through August. The museums will also reopen with added safety measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you have family or friends visiting the D.C. area this Memorial Day weekend, it is a good idea to preplan because many of the museums require visitors to reserve free, timed-entry passes before arriving.

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"In 2019, we saw close to 25 million visitors which was our record year of visitation, and that was a mix between domestic and international visitors. So, you can imagine we took about a 70% hit when it came to the pandemic," said Theresa Belpulsi with Destination D.C.

According to Tourism Economics, visitor spending in D.C. went down more than $6 billion last year. That meant, the district lost about $477 million in tax revenue from visitor spending.

"Getting back to it, it’s one of the largest economic drivers into the city. You think about the hotels, restaurants, meetings and conventions that we have here in the city. It all thrives and it is a major driver into the city itself so we are happy to get it back on board again and kickstart the economy for D.C.," said Belpulsi.

For more deals around D.C., click here.

Wreath Laying Ceremonies - Monday, May 31 

  • World War II Memorial – 9 a.m.
    The Friends of the National World War II Memorial and the National Park Service will pay tribute to the more than 400,000 Americans who lost their lives during World War II on Memorial Day. World War II veterans will lay wreaths at the Freedom Wall in remembrance of their fallen comrades and the Military District of Washington will provide military support for the event.

    The ceremony is open to the public, but advance registration is required at www.wwiimemorialfriends.org. Social distancing practices will be in place, including the wearing of face masks. The program will also be streamed live to the Friends' Facebook page (@WWIIMemorialFriends)
  • U.S. Navy Memorial – 1 p.m.
    The U.S. Navy Memorial will remember the fallen with a Memorial Day ceremony to honor service men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice in defense of their country. Register online for the livestream at http://ow.ly/8xsF50EQInz.
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial – 1 p.m.
    The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) will host a small in-person ceremony to commemorate Memorial Day, featuring remarks by author and Vietnam War veteran Karl Marlantes and Nancy George Wilson, who served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps from 1964-69.

    Advance registration is required to attend in person and attendance is limited. All attendees are strongly encouraged to wear masks for the event. The ceremony will also be live-streamed on the VVMF website and Facebook page (@VietnamVeteransMemorialFund)
  • War I Memorial – 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.  Taps will be played at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. in honor of Memorial Day, sponsored by the Doughboy Foundation.

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