If you’re planning a trip to DC, you’ve probably already gathered a bunch of information about the most significant places to go and the most popular things to do. Beyond the museums and monuments, Washington, DC offers a myriad of cool places to see, mouthwatering food to indulge in and tons of entertainment to enjoy. Check out this list of the top activities and attractions from a local’s perspective.
One of Washington, DC’s most historic neighborhoods, Georgetown is known for its magnificent 18th century architecture, cobblestone streets, lovely waterfront and upscale shopping and dining. If you’re able to spare an hour or two, it’s one of the places that locals recommend you see. Stroll down the streets and admire the row houses or have lunch or dinner with a view of the Potomac. There are also various historic houses in the neighborhood that are now museums, including the Old Stone House. Built in 1765, the house is considered to be the oldest known private home in the city.
Dupont Circle is another cool historic neighborhood in DC that’s worth a visit. If you’re looking for a delicious Sunday brunch, Dupont is a local favorite. Tabard Inn is known for their famous homemade donuts and mimosas, but be sure to call ahead a day or two so you don’t miss out. You’ll have your pick of art galleries, cafes, shops, restaurants and bars worth checking out.
Known as America’s first museum of modern art, the Phillips Collection is a local favorite for art and history lovers. Located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, the original gallery was opened to the public in 1921. Here, you’ll find paintings by Renoir, Rothko, Bonnard, O’Keeffe and many more. Enjoy the unique exhibitions with captivating impressionist and modern works and weekly Sunday Concerts.
Located just across the Potomac, stop by Gravelly Point Park to watch the planes take off from the Reagan National Airport. The park is located a few hundred feet from one of the airport’s runways, so you’ll have an excellent vantage point to watch the planes take off into the sky. If you like boating and hiking, you’ll find a paved path connecting Gravelly Point to the Mount Vernon Trail and a boat launch area.
The International Spy Museum is where you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about spies and espionage. The entire museum is dedicated to the history and mystery of the trade, featuring real spy gadgets, tools, artifacts, historical displays and so much more. You’ll be totally immersed into the world of spying, from weapons, bugs and cameras to vehicles and everything high tech. You’ll even get a mission of your own, if you choose to accept it. Be prepared, you never know who is watching or listening!
Union Market developed from the historic Centre Market into a vibrant and eclectic combination of retail stores, eateries and more. Stop by Union Market to purchase one-of-a-kind trinkets and delicious snacks from some of DC’s smaller vendors. The market also hosts fun events year round, including VinoFest DC for wine lovers, and offers great happy hour specials Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Just 16 miles outside the city, Mount Vernon is the place where George Washington lived for more than four decades. Today, visitors can roam the mansion, see Washington’s Tomb and walk the grounds of his expansive plantation. The mansion, built in 1735 by George Washington’s father, was originally a one and a half story farmhouse. But throughout his lifetime, George expanded and enhanced the home, and today it is three stories and 11,028 square feet, ten times the size of the average home in colonial Virginia. The estate also includes a working blacksmith shop and the Pioneer Farm, a 4-acre demonstration farm where you can see a reconstructed slave cabin and more. A fascinating look at the life of our first president, Mount Vernon makes for an unforgettable day trip while visiting our nation’s capital.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is part of a national memorial located on the Potomac River in DC. Just north of Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, you’ll find a footbridge to enter the park. Visitors can also reach the park by following the Mount Vernon Trail south. Once there, explore the park’s several unique hiking trails, check out the view of the cherry blossoms, and enjoy a break from the hubbub of DC.