This is a lovely spot in which to while away a Washington afternoon. Japanese silk scrolls, smiling Buddhas, rare Islamic manuscripts and Chinese jades spread through cool, quiet galleries. The Freer and Sackler are actually separate venues, connected by an underground tunnel. The Sackler focuses more on changing exhibits, while the Freer, rather incongruously, also houses works by American painter James Whistler. Don't miss the blue-and-gold, ceramics-crammed Peacock Room.

Like all Smithsonian institutions, the venues host free lectures, concerts and film screenings, though the ones here typically have an Asian bent; the website has the schedule. Alas, the Freer will be closed for structural renovations from January 1, 2016 until summer of 2017. The Sackler will stay open throughhout the period.