One of the first things we do when we visit cities abroad is that we tend to look for the most famous tourist attractions, restaurants or museums. That’s cool and all, but when we do that, we can barely sense any local spirit! We meet many other tourists, and we end up not really understanding the culture nor the mentality of the place we’re visiting.
This is the case with the majestic capital city, Washington D.C. People run off from Capitol Hill to the White House, or they hit the road towards museums and performing venues such as the Kennedy Center. So instead, we’re giving you a list of ten, non-mainstream places to see in Washington.
Hidden Gems to look for in Washington D.C
1. Tudor Place
Source: Atlas Obscura
Designed by the architect of the Capitol, William Thornton, Tudor’s place was home of six generations of the Peter Family. Its founders were Thomas and Martha (George Washington’s step-granddaughter), and all of their heirs were born, married and died in the rooms of this National Historic Landmark in the hills above Georgetown. The house belonged to the family from 1805 to 1983 until it was deeded over to the Tudor Place Foundation. It is now a beautiful heritage and one of America’s last urban estates from the Federal Era.
2. The U.S National Arboretum
Source: 1001 Gardens
This national treasure was established in 1927 by an Act of the United States Congress. What is amazing about this place is that it contains 446 acres of fabulous flora and fauna and is especially known for its Asian, azalea, and conifer collections. Covered with forests, meadows, multiple gardens, and Bonsai & Penjing Exhibits, this place is your ideal picnic destination.
3. President Lincoln’s Cottage
This very picturesque cottage is where president Lincoln lived during the Civil War. It has a stunning scenery, as the cottage is located on a hilltop, Northwest Washington, DC. This hidden gem is one of the best things to do around Washington, D.C, especially if you want to learn more about Lincoln’s ideas or get a closer look at his private and professional life during his presidency.
4. The Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens
Source: Russian art and culture
The amount of history, refined architecture, and large gardens you will find at Hillwood are extraordinary! Hillwood, the grand estate of Post Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, sits on 25 acres overlooking Rock Creek Park in northwest Washington DC. It’s worthiest assets you should definitely visit are the world-renowned collection of Russian and French decorative arts, along with the extensive gardens and special exhibitions.
5. The National Museum of Health and Medicine
Source: Stars and Stripes
Talk about the best-kept secrets in D.C. This small museum will amaze you or your children, with its history, living organs stored in the museum, and a free entrance to experience it all. The museum is focused on medicine, specifically military medicine and all the things that can wrong the human body in warfare. It has a variety of medical artifacts, including the bullet that killed President Lincoln. Visitors who randomly end up visiting it are always in awe of this great little find in the D.C area.
6. The DEA Museum
Source: DEA museum
Are you interested in things that add up more adrenaline and action? Then let us inform you about the DEA Museum. The Drug Enforcement Agency has renovated a museum that covers everything the DEA does to manage drugs, drug abuse, and illegal drug activities. They show permanent exhibits on the history of opium dens, patent medicines with illegal ingredients; the connection between heroin and jazz; and the history of Colombian drug cartels. You can even go see the mysterious bundles of pot that fell out of a plane from Mexico over the skies of San Diego.
7. Dumbarton Oaks
Source: Library of the Congress
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This beautiful building is a research library and collection administered by Harvard University. Located in Georgetown, the Dumbarton Oaks is also known as “The Home of the Humanities.” Its gardens are large and magnificent. You should definitely pay a visit to the “Lover’s Lane Pool” and listen to the soundscape coming from an installation of bamboo pipes. This tour will be your loveliest getaway from the dynamics of Washington D.C.
8. The Titanic Memorial
Source: Atlas Obscura
The Titanic Memorial was authorized by Congress in 1917 and completed in 1918. Meaning that this historical event happened many years before Leonardo DiCaprio got famous for the memorial’s statue pose, shown in the Titanic film. The memorial is also known as the Women’s Titanic Memorial, because funds for the monument were raised by American women. They contributed one dollar each, to reach the $25,000 cost. The memorial honors all the men on the ship who gave their lives so that women and children could be rescued in the lifeboats. This touching tribute represents one of the most historical things to do in Washington, D.C.
9. The Exorcist steps
Source of picture: Oddthingsiveseen
Certainly the most frightful and famous staircase. The Exorcist steps are a set of stone steps in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., famous for being featured in the 1973 film The Exorcist. We recommend you go visit them at any given time, except for Halloween.
10. The Naval Observatory
The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) provides astronomical data that is critical for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT), a mission essential for accurate navigation and communication of naval and DoD assets. This place is home to the Master Clock – the official time of the Department of Defense and is in charge of recording measurements for Earth’s orientation for the almanac and GPS satellites. During tours, you get a fantastic view of the stars through USNO’s telescopes.
If you are interested to dig deeper into the American Culture, you can find many other destinations that are not necessarily famous. Try asking locals for recommendations of this sort or simply use the internet. It will take you places!