6 surprising places affected by the government shutdown that could impact your travel plans


As the government shutdown enters its 20th day, many parts of the country are feeling the effects.

At the airport, TSA agents are no longer getting paid. As a result, many are calling out of work, and thus security checkpoint lines are growing, causing the wait time to be even longer than usual.

But that’s not the only way this shutdown can affect your travel plans: Many popular tourist destinations are closed due to the shutdown, prompting some people to change or even cancel their vacation plans.

From California to DC, here are a few places that are closed that may affect your travels.

If you’re planning to visit any of the Smithsonian Museums, you’ll have to change your plans.

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar CenterBenjamin Zhang/Business InsiderThe Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Within the Smithsonian Institution, there are 19 museums, which include The American History Museum and Air and Space Museum in DC, and the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. Since all of these museums are funded by the government, they are closed during the shutdown.

“We can’t reopen until we have a federal budget, so it all depends on a call from the White House,” Linda St Thomas, the chief spokesperson of the Smithsonian Institution, told The Guardian. “When we get federal funding, we will reopen immediately.”

During this time, travellers cannot see Oprah Winfrey’s exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, nor is the presidential portrait of Barack Obama at the National Portrait Gallery accessible.

Typically, these galleries and museums see 1 million visitors over the course of a month, according to The Guardian. But for the past few weeks, the museums have had no visitors at all.

The National Zoo is also closed.

The National Zoo is also part of the Smithsonian Institution, so it will also remain closed during the shutdown. While the zoo is typically open 364 days a year, it has been closed for weeks. Around 2 million tourists a year come from all over the world to visit this free 163-acre zoo in DC that is home to 2,700 animals.

The zoo did state, however, that during the shutdown each animal will be properly cared for.

“Essential personnel are on hand to care for the animals at the National Zoo,” the Smithsonian tweeted.

Hikers and nature lovers looking to spend time in US national parks will have to wait until the government reopens.

Gov't Shutdown National ParksJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesSome National Parks are closed.

Throughout the country, there are 418 National Parks that all use government funding, but some sites – like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Grand Canyon – are using state funding to remain open during the shutdown. Other parks aren’t so lucky, like the Acadia National Park in Maine and the Rocky Mountain National Park, which both remain closed.

Similarly, California’s Joshua Tree National Park has announced it is closing because it experienced too much vandalism and sanitation issues due to its minimal amount of staff during the shutdown. The lack of staff is a serious problem in those parks that do remain open because there aren’t enough employees picking up trash and cleaning bathrooms.

Eric Cox of Texas told Vox that he and his wife planned a trip to Bandelier National Park in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to celebrate their 20th anniversary, but couldn’t because the park was closed. “It’s somewhere my wife and I have long wanted to visit,” Cox told Vox.

Likewise, a couple in California planned an entire wedding at the Cabrillo National Monument Park in California for December 29, but they had to find a church last-minute when they learned the park was closed.

“During all of this, I’ve felt stressed and disappointed,” bride Amanda McLearn-Montz told INSIDER. “I’m still disappointed we will not exchange vows at Cabrillo.


Read more:
12 of the best national parks in the US – and how to see them each in a day

The Gateway Arch – one of the biggest attractions in St. Louis – will also remain closed.

Gateway archShutterstockThe Gateway Arch.

When visiting St. Louis, Missouri, the 630-foot high Gateway Arch is a must-see. With an elevator up to the top, you are able to see sweeping views of the entire city. But this attraction is not available during the government shutdown. If people purchased and scheduled tickets for a visit, the ticket price will be refunded.

The historic Old Courthouse in St. Louis will also stay closed during the shutdown.

You also will not be able to visit the Liberty Bell.

Liberty BellMadraban/FlickrThe Liberty Bell is closed.

In Philadelphia, the famed Liberty Bell is not accessible during the government shutdown. Independence Hall – where the bell is currently located – is closed. You’ll have to wait until the government reopens to see the infamous Liberty Bell crack.

If you planned on visiting a small town, expect some businesses to be closed.

All around the US, there are some quaint and culturally exciting small towns. But during the shutdown, some of these towns may be a bit quieter, as small business owners had to close their doors. Many small business owners use government loans to run their business. Since the shutdown began, The Small Business Administration has stopped issuing new loans.

“I feel helpless,” Amanda Cylc, who planned to open a fitness studio in Pittsburgh, told The Washington Post. “I had no idea this was going to affect me like this.”

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