The end of the shutdown means the Washington area can get back to museum hopping, drum circling, ballroom dancing, cinemagoing and even marrying - all activities that were easy to take for granted before the shutdown took them away. Here's another batch of things we missed most.
Leaf-peeping along Skyline Drive
Fall ushers in a routine that revolves around buying pumpkins, uncovering that dusty box of sweaters and checking out the spectacular foliage for which the Mid-Atlantic is renowned. It was easy to forget that natural beauty could be affected by political posturing; with the "CLOSED" signs blocking Skyline Drive, the 105-mile road that weaves its way through Shenandoah National Park, the start of fall felt delayed. Autumn colors don't pause for political posturing, so now's the time to catch up on what we've really been missing: a season's brilliant rite of passage. Skyline Drive, Route 340 at Front Royal and Route 211 at Thornton Gap. 540-999-3500. visitskylinedrive.org. $15 per car through November; $10 December-February.
-- Stephanie Merry
The Charters of Freedom at the National Archives
It's fitting that our deeply divided government managed to obscure the very documents the nation was founded on during the shutdown: For more than two weeks, the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights have been locked away in the grand rotunda of the National Archives.
I regret that I've been to see the Charters of Freedom only a couple of times, but that's due in part to the long lines. The documents are bigger than you might imagine, and no easy feat to read. Even tourists, who could be somewhere cool like the Spy Museum, adopt an air of solemnity in their presence. The lights are almost ridiculously dim and cameras are banned, all so that the nearly 250-year-old ink can be preserved, and another generation can marvel over the ornate lettering of John Hancock's John Hancock.
The nation's founding documents are not as whiz-bang as the shiny rockets at the Air and Space Museum. Nor does their time locked away compare to the kind of palpable, workaday loss associated with the shuttered soccer fields in Rock Creek Park. But it's difficult to think of anything that was more shameful to lose, even for a short while, to political wrangling. National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 866-272-6272. archives.gov. Free.
-- Lavanya Ramanathan
Drums at Meridian Hill Park
The Meridian Hill Park drum circle has been a weekly gathering place for professional and amateur musicians since the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, when the park became a focal point for civil rights rallies, demonstrations and protests. But on Oct. 6, the National Park Service told the assembled drummers and dancers to leave. With the shutdown over, the music can resume, and there's no doubt you'll find a happy group of drummers near the top of the hilly park on Sunday. We're glad they're back. Meridian Hill Park, 2400 15th St. NW. 202-895-6000. nps.gov/mehi. Free.
-- Margaret Ely