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Best Hidden Gems In Washington D.C.

Best Hidden Gems In Washington D.C.

Picture of Lauren Gruber
Updated: 9 February 2017
Washington, D.C. is known for its statues and monuments, but after a while the major tourist attractions can just be that–touristy. Read ahead for our guide to where you can find some of the most exciting, off-the-beaten-path sights and experiences in D.C.
The outside facade of the National Museum for Women in the Arts.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Each Community day or first Sunday of the month, this off the path museum allows free admission — normally $10 for adults. The collection holds 4,500 pieces by female artists, including Frida Kahlo and Mary Cassatt. It is the only museum in the world dedicates to recognizing achievements of female artists and is often overlooked on tourist guides. Located in a beautiful Renaissance revival building, the national museum boasts its own library and many historical pieces of work.

Price: Budget

Hours: Monday-Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12PM-5PM

Address & phone number: 1250 New York Ave NW Washington DC 20005 202-783-5000

DC Punk Walking Tour

Explore DC’s underground punk history scene with this 2.5 hour walking tour of the Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights neighborhoods. Guide Mark Andersen shows sight-seers which locations were teaming with activism in the 1980s and 1990s, plus he’ll blast Bikini Kill and Fugazi on his boom box as he details the scene with fun and entertaining information. Total bonus: this tour is free!

Price: Budget

Hours: Call or Email for Details

Address & phone number: 202-487-8698 or

Part of the Underground Railroad Trail Experience is seen as hikers experience what it was like as a runaway slave.

Underground Railroad Experience Trail

Located in Sandy Springs, Maryland – just outside of DC – this two-mile self-guided tour shows guests the dangers runaway slaves faced on their path to freedom. Guides are available April-October, but otherwise hikers can pick up a map. The hike is free and is educational for both kids and adults.

Price: Budget

Hours: April 4 – June 30 Guided Hike 10AM, July 11 – August 30 Guided Hike 9AM, September 5 – November 7 Guided Hike 10AM

Address & phone number: 16501 Norwood Rd Sandy Spring, MD 20860 301-650-4374

A view of Ford Theater where President Lincoln was shot.
©Norman Maddeaux/Flickr

History on Foot Tour

Starting at Ford’s Theater, history buffs can relive the night President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865. The tour guide plays an investigator in full costume as the group follows the escape route of John Wilkes Booth, and guests will be able to view other significant Civil Wars sights related to Lincoln as the trail ends in Lafayette Square right by the White House. The cost is $15 for a 2.5 hour tour.

Price: Mid-Range

Hours: March-October, Call For Details

Address & phone number: 511 10 St NW Washington DC 20004 202-347-4833

The lilies and lotus are a tourist draw for Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens during the spring and summer months.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Garden

In northeastern DC, visitors can spot rare birds at the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Garden. In summer months, the garden is teaming with water lilies and lotuses in the ponds, and in winter months, the boardwalk above the marshlands is a perfect bring children for wildlife spotting and birding. Watchers will be able to see great bleu herons or kingfishers. However, the view of the wetlands is picturesque all year round. Entry into the garden and park is free.

Price: Budget (Free)

Hours: Winter hours (November 1 – March 31): 8AM-4PM, Summer hours (April 1 – October 31): 9AM-5PM

Address & phone number: 1550 Anacostia Ave NE Washington DC 20019 202-426-6905

Smithsonian After-Hours Events

The Smithsonian hosts sporadic events for guests (only 21+) that combine music, food and drinking. Examples of upcoming events include an electric pow wow with a Tribe Called Red hosted at the National Museum of the American Indian right after an artists panel beforehand, or a garden party at the Smithsonian Castle and Haupt Garden. Admission is on a first-come first-serve basis.

Price: Budget (Free)

Hours: 8PM-Late Night

Address & phone number: 4th St and Independence Ave SW, Washington DC 20024 202-633-1000

Milkshakes at Ted’s Bulletin

Blending any type of dessert into your milkshake, this restaurant will accommodate your sweet tooth’s every wish. Try the cinnamon-sugar donut with a vanilla shake, or mix chunks of pie or pop tart into a milkshake with alcohol. Prices range from $7-$9. They also make a mean brunch.

Price: Budget-Mid-Range

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 7AM-10PM, Friday-Saturday 7AM-11PM

Address & phone number: 505 8th St SE Washington DC 20003 202-544-8337

A shot from behind Tudor Place in its flower garden.

Tudor Place

Tudor Place, the neoclassical mansion in Georgetown, is the preserved home of Martha Custis, Martha Washington’s granddaughter, and husband Thomas Peter. The space offers stunning architecture and family heirlooms, and the drawing room, bedrooms, servants quarters and a portico look out onto the Potomac River. The five-and-a-half acre property offers visitors to enjoy a bowling green and Japanese teahouse. The cost is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, college and military personnel and $3 for all others.

Price: Budget

Hours: February-October, Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-4PM

Address & phone number: 1644 31st St NW Washington DC 20007 202-965-0400

Mansion on O Street

This peculiar Dupont circle mansion of over 100 rooms (and 70 secret doors) is a wild mix of varying styles of art and antiques. The guest rooms inhabit a two-story log cabin, and guests can also view rooms with John Lennon memorabilia and another stock-full of Gibson guitars signed by Bob Dylan and other. For a visit, be sure to make a reservation. While the fees may vary, special events like Mustache Happy Hour (where attendees are given mustaches to wear) are hosted every Monday. Tours range from $15-$50 with its most expensive at $500 per person.

Price: Mid-Range

Hours: Tours Daily 11AM-3:30PM, Sundays 1PM-3:30PM

Address & phone number: 2020 O St NW Washington DC 20036 202-496-2020