Ford’s Theatre

in Downtown & Penn Quarter

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln here. Free timed-entry tickets provide access to the site, which has four parts: the theater itself (where you see the box seat Lincoln was sitting in when Booth shot him), the basement museum (displaying Booth's .44-caliber pistol, his muddy boot etc), Petersen House (across the street, where Lincoln died) and the aftermath exhibits. Arrive early (by 8:30am) because tickets do run out. Better yet, reserve online ($3 fee) to ensure admittance.

The play the president and Mrs Lincoln watched was Our American Cousin. Booth knew the farce and knew at what line the audience would laugh most. He shot Lincoln at that moment to muffle the sound. National Park Service rangers are on hand to tell the story.

The theater still holds performances, and sometimes the venue is closed to the public. It’s always smart to check the schedule before heading out; Ford’s posts it online, or you can call the box office to make sure the site is open. Also, not all entry tickets provide admittance to all four parts of the experience, due to occasional scheduling conflicts. Be sure to check before booking. Allow at least two hours to see it all.