Best Place to Loiter at the Smithsonian

Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum
8th and F streets NW
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

If you arrive early for a night out in Chinatown or need a quiet study table, visit the combined Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum, which share the same 146-year-old neoclassical edifice opposite the Verizon Center. Unlike other Smithsonians, which tend to close at 5:30 p.m., this pair of museums stays open daily until 7 p.m. The central Kogod Courtyard is a ponderers’ oasis: Its undulating glass ceiling designed by London’s Foster + Partners gazes downward at what is essentially an indoor public square. While the galleries offer some seating, Kogod comes with ample tables, a water scrim, indoor trees, and yes, free Wi-Fi.