Washington DC is a city known for famous museums and monuments, but these are often filled with crowds of tourists. But, the city is also full of exciting and quirky places. For those looking to escape these touristy sights for places that are off-the-beaten-path, here are the top unusual things to see in Washington DC.
1Heurich House Museum
This gothic Victorian house was built in the 1890s by brewer Christian Heurich. Apart from its grand tower and elaborate architectural details, it also houses his historic brewing business and now hosts beer tastings and events like Oktoberfest.
2Underground Railroad Experience Trail
Located just outside the city in Sandy Springs, Maryland, the fascinating tour lets visitors see the dangers faced by runaway slaves on the path to freedom. The trail is part of a hike that is free and self-guided, though guides are also available between April and October.
3History on Foot Tour
Another educational tour on foot, this one allows visitors relive the night President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated – April 14, 1865. It starts at Ford’s Theatre and follows the escape route of John Wilkes Booth, passing other significant sights from the era, before ending at Lafayette Square.
4Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Garden
Set in the northeastern part of the city, this park is home to a number of rare birds and is also full of lush green plants. As it is part of the picturesque wetlands, do try to spot the great blue herons and kingfishers, as well as water lilies and lotuses.
5National Museum of Women in the Arts
This unusual museum has over 4,500 pieces of art by female artists such as Frida Kahlo and Mary Cassatt. Set in a stunning Renaissance revival building, it is surprisingly the only muse in the world solely dedicated to recognising the talent and achievements of female artists.
6Rock Creek Park
The sprawling 1,754-acre Rock Creek Park is a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of Washington. Here you can find miles of forests, hiking and bike trails, as well as opportunities for horseback riding at the Rock Creek Park Horse Center.
7Spies of Washington Tour & International Spy Museum
Spies can be thrilling to watch in films and TV, but the real shadowy underworld of spies can be equally intriguing. Experience this world on this tour hosted by a real-life spy. You can also visit the International Spy Museum in L’Enfant Plaza with features a large collection of espionage artefacts.
These cliffs all the Potomac River offer s stunning view of the Georgetown Waterfront and the river. In a hidden cove, you will also find an ever-changing canvas of local street art and graffiti. It’s the perfect place to come for a bit for quiet, to read or hang out with friends.
A neoclassical mansion in Georgetown, Tudor Place was the home of Martha Custis, Martha Washington’s granddaughter. The well-preserved house had collections of family heirlooms, as well as the drawing-room, bedrooms, and servants quarters.
10National Museum of Health and Medicine
Run by the U.S. military, this museum dates back to the Civil War. Originally known as the Army Medical Museum, it was meant to serve as a research centre, but now has many fascinating exhibits. Among these, you can see the autopsy kit used in President Lincoln’s post-mortem, and even the bullet removed from his skull.
11Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America (Mount St. Sepulchre)
The American home of the Catholic Church’s Holy Land Franciscan friars, this monastery is set within 45 wooded acres near the Brookland neighbourhood and contains replicas of churches, gardens, and shrines in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and other parts of the Holy Land. Underneath the monastery, you can see recreations of the catacombs of Rome. If you want to visit, sign up for a tour well in advance.
If we’ve missed any of your favourite unusual things to see in Washington DC, do let us know in the comments below.