8 (Not so Touristy) Things To Do in Washington DC
Washington DC is a great city to visit. There are so many things to do in Washington DC that it should take you a very long time to get bored in this city, no matter what your interests are.
My husband works with a team in DC, so he gets to travel there quite frequently and lucky me, I sometimes can join him on his trips. So I have had the chance to explore Washington a bit deeper and would love to share some of my favorite not so touristy things to do in Washington DC with you.
Washington is an absolute foodie destination. You can literally eat your way around the world and I have done so. Try new cuisines from any corner of this earth and take your tastebuds on a journey.
I love DC because it is almost a task to find big chain restaurants in the city. Most of the places are privately owned and run independently.
Monuments & Memorials at Night
Visiting the monuments is a must-do for any tourist in Washington DC. But for me, they are even more magnificent during the night and strolling around and seeing them lid up is one of my favorite things to do in Washington DC. There are fewer tourists and you get to see them all lid up. You can book an organized tour that shuttles you around and you can hop on and hop off.
On my most recent visit, the husband and I just took an Uber from the hotel to Lincoln memorial and then walked to the Vietnam and Korean War Memorial, down to the FDR and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and all the way to the World War II Memorial. It is quite a bit of walking, but the weather was nice and it was a nice stroll. We even saw a fox running through the bushes at the Korean War Memorial.
Even if you are not a museum person, you should consider checking out some of the world-class museums in Washington DC. All the Smithsonian Museums are outstanding and you can pick and choose the ones fit your interest. But there are also some private museums that are absolutely worth their money.
A museum or two should definitely be on the list of things to do in Washington DC, when you plan your trip. Here are some of my favorite museums in Washington DC that I visited so far:
- Natural History Museum (great for families)
- Air and Space Museum (another great one for families)
- National Portrait Gallery (for art lovers and to take a rest in the beautiful atrium)
- The Renwick Gallery (changing exhibits)
- National Museum of American History (kind of a must, especially for Americans)
- Smithsonian American Art Museum (art lovers)
- Holocaust Museum (another must in my opinion!)
- International Spy Museum (great for families with kids 7+)
- NEWSEUM (my favorite museum in DC!)
- Check Groupon for local deals to save money and fun things to do in DC
Enjoy the Parks and Gardens of DC
I love to stroll through gardens and look at flowers, take pictures and enjoy nature and after visiting a few museums, I am usually in the mood for some organic matter and I visit one of the Parks and Gardens in DC. Sit on a park bench, watch the people stroll by, and enjoy nature for a bit.
I just discovered the National Arboretum during our last visit to DC and it is definitely one of my favorite things to do in DC. It is a huge park and definitely worth to spend at least half a day there, especially since it is a bit out of the way. Check out my post about my last visit for more details on things to do and some beautiful landscape photos.
US Botanic Garden
The US Botanic Garden is just off the National Mall, in walking distance to the Capitol building. Admission is free, so it if a perfect spot for a little picnic after exploring the Mall and enjoy a little break from all the miles you have been racking up as you explore the city.
Rock Creek Park
Perfect, if you want to feel like you are on a trail somewhere on a National Park, rather than in the US Capitol. Untouched nature, hiking trails and
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
I haven’t been to this park, but if you look at the pictures, it looks like a Monet painting come to life. I will definitely have to check this out next time I’m in Washington DC!
You can probably guess from my blog, I love to take photos. And there aren’t many cities in the US that have so many cool photo ops as Washington DC. I recently was invited on a photo tour with Washington Photo Safari and I highly recommend it. They take you around and show you some of the most photogenic places to take pictures at. Here is my full review!
Edit: And because I loved this tour so much, I joined Washington Photo Safari on their National Cathedral Tour. Take a look at these cool photos!
Library of Congress
I love books. I love reading them, smelling them, touching them. So libraries are kind of my candy store. My eyes light up and I have to control myself to not jump up and down like a little nerdy kid on a sugar rush. One of the most beautiful Libraries I have ever been at is the Library of Congress. Extra points for the underground tunnel that connects it to the Capitol. How sweet is that?
Kramer Books and Pub
And more fun stuff for book lovers. Kramer Books and the attached Craft Beer Pub is a must, when you are near Dupont Circle. Even if you are not, go there and check it out. They have a HUGE Travel Book selection, so I was lost for hours, staring at the shelves and daydreaming that I would find my own travel book there one day. Oh, and did I mention they have a Craft Beer Pub INSIDE the book shop? Suddenly, Barnes and Nobles with their Starbucks seem kinda boring, now, doesn’t it?
This is the place I come back to over and over again and if I were to move to Washington DC, this would turn into my local hangout spot a la Central Perk.
The husband and I love beer and even make it at home. So when we travel, we always try to fit in a brewery tour or two, a craft beer tasting or some other beer related activity. First, we thought about doing an organized beer tour, but in the end, we decided to just go off on our own.
Here are the Breweries we visited in Washington DC and Virginia:
Port City Brewing 3950 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304
Brau Brewery Tour 3178 Bladensburg Rd NE, Washington, DC 20018
Atlas Brewery Tours 2052 West Virginia Ave NE #102, Washington, DC 20002
We did a tour of Port City Brewing on Friday night at 6 and then Brau and Atlas on Saturday afternoon. Those two are in the same neighborhood and also close to the Arboretum, so you could check those three things off your list of best things to do in Washington DC in one day. Beer and Blooms, sounds like a perfect day to me, doesn’t it?
How to Get to DC?
For cheap flights to Washington DC, check out Skyscanner! I’ve saved so much on airfare since I use this site as my go-to flight search engine!
Where to Stay in Washington DC?
I love staying at Kimpton Hotels in Washington DC: Kimpton Rouge Hotel and the Kimpton Topaz Hotel are both just off of Dupont Circle and an excellent base to explore DC. If you want to explore the Northeast of DC, like the National Cathedral or Georgetown, check out the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel.
What are your favorite things to do in Washington DC?
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