NORDP Annual Research Development Conference

Visitor Guide

The Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area offers visitors unlimited options to fill free time during a conference stay or for those who are planning to extend their stay in the area.

When sightseeing in DC, the easiest way to get around is public transportation. Driving can be difficult with the large amount of traffic, especially in the spring when the area is buzzing with tourists. Parking is not only hard to find, but in a lot of cases, impossible to find. The following links will help you move around the city:

A great resource in planning your stay is the concierge at the Bethesda Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. The concierge can be reached at 1-301-822-9201.

Listed below is a sampling of the unlimited activities in and around the DC area.

National Zoo: Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo is the nation's zoo. It is a 163-acre zoological park set amid Rock Creek National Park in the heart of Washington, D.C. Admission is free.

Memorials and Monuments: Washington, DC is a city of monuments and memorials. We honor the generals, politicians, poets and statesmen who helped shape our great nation. Although the most famous monuments and memorials are on the National Mall, you will find statues and plaques on many street corners around the city. Since Washington, DC's monuments are spread out, it is hard to visit all of them on foot. At busy times, traffic and parking makes it difficult to visit the monuments by car. The best way to see all the monuments is to take a sightseeing tour. Many of the monuments are open late at night and their illumination makes nighttime a memorable time to visit them.

U.S. Capitol Building: The United States Capitol is a symbol of the American people and their government, the meeting place of the nation's legislature. The Capitol also houses an important collection of American art, and it is an architectural achievement in its own right. It is a working office building as well as a tourist attraction visited by millions every year. Book a Tour: The Capitol Visitor Center is open to visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Inauguration Day. Tours of the U.S. Capitol are conducted from 8:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Tours of the U.S. Capitol are free, but tour passes are required. Click here for more information

Arlington National Cemetery: Arlington National Cemetery welcomes visitors to explore the rich history found within the cemetery grounds. ANC Tours by Martz Gray Line provides an interpretative tour bus service through Arlington with stops at the John F. Kennedy gravesite, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Arlington House (The Robert E. Lee Memorial). Vehicle and bus access is generally not authorized. Driving into the cemetery is allowed for disabled visitors and those attending a funeral service or visiting a gravesite. A vehicle pass is required for access. The cemetery is also a stop on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrorail system and Metrobus, each are a short walk to the gates of Arlington.

The Smithsonian Institution Museums: The Smithsonian Institution—the world’s largest museum and research complex—includes 19 museums and galleries. Most Smithsonian museums are free and open every day of the year except December 25.

In addition to the Smithsonian Museums, there are many other museums in and around the Washington, DC area. Click here for a listing. Please note that you need to contact any of the Smithsonian Museums prior to you visit if you need to request special accommodations.

The White House: Tours of the White House are only available by advance registration. Requests must be submitted through one's Member of Congress or embassy three weeks to six months in advance of the desired tour date. Each Member of Congress has established his or her own procedures by which to accept tour reservation requests. Please contact the member or members through whom you wish to place the reservation request to learn more about their requirements. The switchboard at the US Capitol and each member's web page will be able to assist you in reaching your senators and representatives. To reach members of the United States House of Representatives or Senate, please call 202-224-3121 or visit or to find your members' webpages. You are encouraged to submit your request as early as possible as a limited number of spaces are available.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center: is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study Earth, the sun, our solar system and the universe. The visitor center demonstrates Goddard's innovative and exciting work in Earth science, astrophysics, heliophysics, planetary science, engineering, communication and technology development. Browse the unique, informative exhibits and learn about climate change, climb inside a Gemini capsule model, encourage a child to dream as he or she pulls on our kid-sized space suit, or participate in one of the monthly model rocket launches. Visits are free of charge.

Pentagon Tours: To take a guided tour of the Pentagon, you must make a reservation at least 14 days in advance. Reservations are available 14 to 90 days in advance and tour schedules fill up quickly, so it is advisable to book your tour well in advance of your visit. Reservations will not be accepted for tour dates outside this 14-90 day window. Please review Tour Guidelines and Security Information before requesting a tour.

Holocaust Memorial Museum: Located among our national monuments to freedom on the National Mall, the Museum provides a powerful lesson in the fragility of freedom, the myth of progress, and the need for vigilance in preserving democratic values. With unique power and authenticity, the Museum teaches millions of people each year about the dangers of unchecked hatred and the need to prevent genocide. The Museum is open every day except Yom Kippur and Christmas Day.

The permanent exhibition and special exhibitions are open from 10 a.m. to 5:20 p.m., with extended hours in the spring. Advance passes are recommended during the Museum's busy season (March 1 - August 31). See Advance Passes for details. See complete museum hours.

Newseum: One of the top attractions in Washington, D.C., the Newseum in Washington, DC is a six-level, high-tech and interactive museum tracing the history of news reporting from the 16th century to the present day. In 250,000 square feet of exhibit space, the Newseum offers visitors 15 theaters, 14 major galleries, two state-of-the-art broadcast studios and a 4-D time-travel experience. The exhibition galleries explore news history, electronic news, photojournalism, world news and how the media have covered major historical events.

National Arboretum: The grounds are open Fridays through Mondays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum is open Fridays through Mondays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The grounds are closed to the public Tuesday through Thursday. Please see the Hours and Admission for additional information.

Washington National Cathedral: Washington National Cathedral is called to serve as the spiritual home for the nation. The Cathedral is a national treasure and an architectural feat, a place of stunning beauty built to inspire. Inside, artwork and exhibits tell the American story of faith. Outside, you can explore gardens and grounds shared with three outstanding schools—or peer with gargoyles from the city’s highest point.

National Institute of Health and Nobel Laureate Exhibit Hall: The NIH Visitor Center offers tours that combine an overview of the NIH with a walking tour of the NIH Clinical Research Center weekdays for small groups and individuals. NIH tour programs are designed for groups and individuals who are interested in scientific and medical research that improves human health and prevents disease. Our permanent Nobel Laureate exhibit honors NIH-supported intramural and extramural scientists who have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, physiology or medicine. This tour is available by signing up in advance. For reservations, you can either call the NIH Visitor Center at 301-496-1776 or fill out the Tour Request form.

The International Spy Museum, a museum exploring the craft, practice, history, and contemporary role of espionage, is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective on an all-but-invisible profession that has shaped history and continues to have a significant impact on world events. The Museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. Many of these objects are being seen by the public for the first time. These artifacts illuminate the work of famous spies and pivotal espionage actions as well as help bring to life the strategies and techniques of the men and women behind some of the most secretive espionage missions in world history. It is recommended that you purchase your tickets prior to your visit during the Museum’s busy season, March 1 – August 31.

Ford’s Theatre: Ford’s Theatre celebrates the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln and explores the American experience through theatre and education. A working theatre, historical monument, world-class museum and learning center, Ford’s Theatre is the premier destination in Washington, D.C., to explore and celebrate Lincoln’s ideals and leadership principles: courage, integrity, tolerance, equality and creative expression.

Washington Nationals Baseball: Nationals Park is located in Southeast Washington, south of the Capitol, along the fast-developing Capitol Riverfront adjacent to the Navy Yard. The new park not only redefines modern sports facility architecture but also serves as the catalyst and cornerstone of a new mixed-use Capitol Riverfront in our nation's capital.

Segway Tours: A Segway tour of the nation’s capitol is a great way to experience all of the sites the city has to offer.

Museum, Boat & Walking Tours: There are many opportunities for museum tours, boat tours and walking tours throughout the area. Click here for information about locations, times and tickets. In addition to the countless activities and places to visit, the Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. Click here for a schedule of festivals and special events happening during your stay.

Additional points of interest for visitors

Baltimore area:

Washington D.C./Virginia area: