Washington DC Things to Do

So, it's easy to find things to do in DC since there are so many monuments and museums that are well worth visiting.  But if you visit the city more often, there's a lot more to see than war memorials and Smithsonian museums.  Here are some of my best lists in DC, in no particular order.


My top five of all the things to do in DC:
  • Anacostia (Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Anacostia Neighborhood Heritage Trail, Anacostia Community Museum)
  • Alleys (Hughes Mews and Snows Court in Foggy Bottom, Georgetown alleys, Blagden Alley and Naylor Court in Shaw, F Street Terrace in Barracks Row, etc.)
  • National Building Museum historical building tour- this was one of the best tours we have ever been on anywhere in the world
  • MLK Library for the Washingtonia Collection
  • Cherry blossoms at the site where a tree was cut down after Pearl Harbor

Top Five Smithsonians:
  • Renwick Galley
  • American Indian Museum
  • Sackler and Freer Galleries
  • American History Museum
  • Anacostia Community Museum

Top Five Neighborhood Heritage Trails (besides Anacostia):

Top Five Annual Events:
  • EU Embassies' Open House (second weekend in May) and the Around the World Embassy Tour (first weekend in May)
  • Family days/holiday events at individual Smithsonians (Dia de los Muertos, Holiday events at the beginning of December, Family Days in the summer at the Air and Space Musuem, etc.)
  • Cherry Blossoms when it isn't crowded 
  • National Christmas Tree
  • So many street festivals

Places I love or that have great stories that you don't hear much about:
  • Boundary Stones 
  • Larz Anderson House (tour)- this is one of the few houses you can go in all the time on Embassy Row and it's a great house with lots of history and a good tour
  • Lithuanian Embassy- (there's a sign in front of the building with its interesting history)
  • Peirce Mill (milling demonstrations on 2nd and 4th Saturdays, midday, except in winter)
  • Georgetown and Alexandria colonial-era places to visit
  • Octagon House (self-guided free tours)
  • Fort Washington (visiting info, free)
  • Washington City Canal Lockkeeper's House (17th and Constitution- read the signs)
  • Civil War forts all over and around the city- try Fort Stevens for a taste
  • Lincoln Cottage (this doesn't seem to be all that popular, maybe because the house tour is fairly expensive for a family, but you can see the house from the outside and go in the worthwhile museum for free)
  • US Botanic Garden- go at all different times of the year
  • Cavalry Baptist Church (designed by Adolph Cluss)
  • Grant Road Historic District- one of the few country roads remaining after L'Enfant's grid was extended to the suburbs
  • Striver's Section (brochure)
  • 1727 S Street NW
  • Eastern Market (closed Mondays) or any of the other old public markets like Georgetown Market (now Dean & DeLuca), Central Market (razed for the National Archives), etc.
  • Ben's Chili Bowl
  • Site of Schneider’s Hardware, beginning of Berman v. Parker (west side of 4th Street SW between G and I)
  • Old Mormon chapel on 16th street- fossils!
  • National Cathedral
  • Sixth and I synagogue
  • 437 Seventh St NW- Clara Barton office (and read the sign for the story)
  • Ninth and F NW alley- John Wilkes Booth escape
  • 604 H St NW- Mary Surratt's boardinghouse

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