You’re probably familiar with Washington, DC as the capital of the United States, and it’s true that you can find all sorts of historically and culturally significant sights within it.
From museums to war memorials to government buildings, it’s definitely the headquarters of the nation.
There are other parts to the city, however.
It’s home to everything from quirky little shops and boutiques to sprawling wilderness reserves filled with waterfalls and hundred-year-old oak trees.
It’s much more diverse than you might think!
Are you wondering what to do in Washington, DC?
Are you hoping to explore all of your options and not just the ones most commonly featured in travel guides?
Here are 68 of the best things to do in DC.
1. National Mall
The first stop that you’ll want to make in Washington, DC is the National Mall.
You’ve already seen it depicted in hundreds of films, shows, plays, postcards and art prints, so it’s time to gaze at its majesty in real life.
The long, grassy slopes are home to dozens of iconic U.S. institutions.
The White House is the most famous, but the Washington Monument is the tallest, and the Smithsonian Museums are the largest in terms of square footage.
The domed top of the U.S. Capitol Building can be seen in the hazy distance of the east.
The Lincoln Memorial is at the opposite end on the west.
Other attractions include statues, museums, memorials, art galleries, botanical gardens and more.
In the summer, cherry blossom trees bloom over ponds and reflecting pools.
In the winter, snow piles up on the lawns.
The National Mall is one of the major points of interest in the United States.
Forget the boundaries of the District of Columbia; it’s iconic for the entire country as a whole.
You’ll definitely want to cross it off your bucket list when you’re in the area!
Address: Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565, United States
2. Library of Congress
With more than 167 million items, the Library of Congress is the second-largest library in the world.
Its shelves hold everything from rare, fragile books to contemporary recordings for popular music.
It also boasts maps, manuscripts, photographs, paintings, murals, news reels, sheet music and just about everything else that a seeker of knowledge could want.
The library has three buildings in total, and each one showcases breathtaking architecture that’s just as incredible as the materials within.
The most famous is probably the Thomas Jefferson Building with its ornate, golden-toned central reading room, but all of them are worth a visit.
Special events are often held at the library as well.
For example, one of the buildings has a performance theater; another has an auditorium for live musical performances; another has television and motion picture rooms.
Did we mention that everything is free?
Not only is the Library of Congress one of the best things to do in Washington, DC, but it’s also budget-friendly.
You could entertain yourself for hours without paying a dime.
In terms of tourist attractions, it doesn’t get much better than that!
Address: 10 First St SE, Washington, DC 20540, United States
3. Eastern Market
The fruits are fresh. The flowers are fragrant.
The jewelry stands glitter in the sun; the woodworking stalls are always abuzz with the sounds of power tools.
Welcome to the Eastern Market!
Spilling out of an old brick building as a hybrid indoor/outdoor shopping space, the Eastern Market is one of the oldest of its kind in Washington, DC.
It’s open every day of the week except Monday, and it offers a constant rotation of farmers, florists, artists, butchers, blacksmiths, jewelers, booksellers and more.
If you’re feeling hungry, you can grab everything from warm flatbreads to shaved ice cups topped with homemade syrups and candies.
If you want to support small businesses, you can shop for shawls, necklaces, quilts, picture frames, seaglass gems and other goodies.
There are even specialty services available for things like leather working and shoe making!
The Eastern Market is one of the most fun things to do in Washington, DC.
No matter what you’re in the mood for, you can find it here, and it’ll probably be cheaper than a retail outlet.
Bring your bag and get ready to shop!
Address: 225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States
4. Ford’s Theatre
The show must go on.
Despite being the place where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Ford’s Theatre is still open today, and it’s still bringing plays, musicals, speeches, comedy shows and other live events to the residents of Washington, DC.
The venue is small and cozy.
It retains a lot of its original decor from the 1800s, including red carpets and golden railings in front of the balcony seats.
It has a kind of throwback atmosphere that’ll make you feel like you’re stepping back in time to the days of top hats and narrow-waisted gowns.
If you’re a history buff, you should also know about the museum located beneath the theater.
It’s the best place in the city to learn about Lincoln, and it’s home to one-of-a-kind relics like the bloodstained pillow used during Lincoln’s final moments.
There’s no shortage of famous places in Washington, DC, but Ford’s Theatre manages to stand out from the rest with both its vintage charm and its utterly unique backstory.
Quite literally, you can’t get this experience anywhere else.
Address: 511 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States
5. Washington Harbour
Shop in the spring. Boat in the summer.
Bike in the fall. Ice skate in the winter.
Washington Harbour offers activities for every season, so in addition to being a fun, lively place in general, it’s also a destination that will welcome vacationers at any time of year.
The views of the river are phenomenal, and you can enjoy them in many ways, including a rented canoe or jet ski right there on the water.
If you’d prefer to stay on solid ground, you can take a walking, biking or eating tour of the local hot spots, or you can simply wander on your own until the sizzle of fresh catfish tempts you into a seafood joint.
There’s shopping. There’s dining.
Hotels are all along the shoreline if you need accommodation.
Theaters, galleries, lounges and performance venues are always close at hand for entertainment.
Considered the “premiere waterfront destination of DC,” Washington Harbour is one of the best places to visit for travelers who want a fun and exciting time in the area.
Come here after you’ve had your fill of quiet museums and memorials.
Let loose and have a blast!
Address: 3000-3050 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States
6. Heurich House Museum
You can be forgiven for assuming that the Heurich House Museum is some grand palace built for long-forgotten aristocracy.
Its Victorian-style architecture includes stone archways, wide windows, spire-topped towers and all of the stairs and alcoves that you’d expect from a gothic building.
The truth, however, is that the Heurich House Museum was built by a European immigrant in the 1890s.
He ran a successful brewery a few miles away, and he wanted a taste of home in Washington, DC.
The brewery went out of business after the man died, but thanks to careful preservation by his descendants, the house survived.
It stands today as a tribute to turn-of-the-century living in Washington, DC.
Its first few floors have all of their original rooms and furnishings, including boudoirs, parlors, fireplaces, spiral staircases, servant’s quarters and more.
Tours are available every weekday.
Consider a trip to the Heurich House Museum if you’re looking for fun and unusual things to do in Washington, DC.
You’d never expect a piece of centuries-old gothic architecture to be sitting in the middle of a busy metropolis, but that’s exactly why it’s a must visit!
Address: 1307 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States
7. National Gallery of Art
Hailed as “the nation’s museum,” the National Gallery of Art is considered one of the best in the United States, and it’s located right in the heart of Washington, DC.
It’s actually comprised of two buildings: East and West.
The East Building is made with pink marble and a sharp, almost geometric flair that includes things like open rooftop terraces and sky-lit atrium galleries.
By contrast, the West Building has white columns in a neoclassical architectural style reminiscent of ancient Greece, so it harks back to the past even as its cousin looks to the future.
The interiors are just as impressive as the exteriors.
Dozens of art collections include paintings, portraits, sculptures and busts from all around the world.
The works of many famous artists can be found here.
A trip to the National Gallery of Art is one of the top things to do in Washington, DC.
Not only will you be stunned by the scale and scope of its exhibitions, but you’ll also be moved by the immerse amount of meaning that the gallery holds for the United States of America.
Address: Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20565, United States
8. Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park
You haven’t truly lived until you’ve hurled yourself down a mountain while strapped to a narrow cord strung between two trees.
Fortunately, this is just one of the experiences that you can have at Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park, so you can cross it off your bucket list as soon as you visit Washington, DC!
Activities include everything from ziplining to clambering across rope bridges and airborne obstacle courses.
You can test your nerves on the Tarzan Swings; you can goof around with the kids on a Treetop Discovery Journey.
There’s even something called a “Monkey Drop” if you’re really feeling brave.
It’s okay if you’re a beginner.
There are instructors who will walk you through the basics and show you how to have fun while staying safe.
Youngsters are also welcome as long as they meet certain guidelines, so this can be a family outing.
You won’t find a lot of ziplining opportunities in Washington, DC, but if you’re willing to leave the city, Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park isn’t that far.
You could be there in less than an hour if the traffic is light.
Sign up for an adventure today, and you could be flying through the treetops as early as this weekend!
Address: 7550 Reservation Dr, Springfield, VA 22153, United States
9. Capitol Hill Books
Bookstores are nothing new in Washington, DC, which might just be one of the most well-read cities in the world.
However, Capitol Hill Books is unique in a number of ways.
For starters, it’s completely unpretentious.
It sells used and battered books in a cluttered space with little direction but lots of wobbly stacks, and most of the goods have been so deeply discounted that they’re practically free.
The store’s founder is a retired WWII veteran who barks at millennials for using words like “totally” and “whatever.”
Despite this, he’s actually quite fond of his good-for-nothing customers, and he sold the store to four of his favorite regulars in 2016.
The new owners have been faithful to the spirit of the original store, so they haven’t changed much.
You can still find handwritten signs banning smartphones and the foreign language section stacked up in the bathroom.
One thing that’s changed has been the upgrade to electronic cash registers after years of the founder writing receipts by hand and complaining about it the entire time.
Are you looking for quirky, off-beat ways to have fun in DC?
Hit up Capitol Hill Books.
Just make sure that you don’t use any dang slang!
Address: 657 C St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States
10. Thip Khao
If you consider yourself a foodie, you’ll be absolutely dazzled by Washington, DC.
Its streets are packed with dining options that range from Michelin-star restaurants to cheap food trucks and hole-in-the-wall grub hubs.
The hard part won’t be finding a place to eat; it’ll be choosing between all of the places to eat!
Thip Khao is just one of the city’s many restaurants, but it stands out from the crowd for its daringly unique menu.
It’s dedicated to Lao cuisine, and dishes include things like goat curry and fried duck head.
There are also blood sausages, fire ant eggs, cured pork bellies and alligator tails served with mint and green apple.
These dishes might sound extreme to a first-timer, but there’s a reason why locals and tourists both go crazy for Thip Khao.
If you’re willing to expand your horizons, you can have an amazingly exotic culinary experience without even leaving the streets of DC.
Take a deep breath.
Get over your fear of fermented fish chili rice.
It’s time to push yourself out of your comfort zone with Thip Khao, one of the coolest, boldest and tastiest restaurants in the city.
Address: 3462 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010, United States
11. Old Town Trolley Tour
There are so many tourist attractions in Washington, DC, that it can feel like an impossible task to visit them all.
Your best chance at success is utilizing an Old Town Trolley Tour.
As a “hop-on, hop-off” tour, the Old Town Trolley Tour will allow you to explore the city at your leisure even as you enjoy the convenience of having informative guides and chauffeurs.
If you see a store, restaurant or landmark that interests you, just disembark at one of the tour’s 17 designated bus stops around DC.
When you’re ready to resume the trip, hop on the next bus and keep going.
The tour will take you to all of the best places to go in the city, including the world-famous National Mall.
You’ll also have the opportunity to experience a water taxi on the Potomac River.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Washington DC, consider a hop-on, hop-off experience with an Old Town Trolley Tour.
It can be a great way to kick off your trip and see the bounty spread before you as a visitor.
Address: 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States
12. National Arboretum
It’s also one of the most colorful.
From the tidy, well-trimmed bonsai collections to the overgrown willow trees hanging over fields of wildflowers, every inch of this arboretum will dazzle the eye.
Walking trails will lead you through gardens and groves.
Art collections will greet you in between statues, fountains and reflecting pools.
Tourist attractions include everything from arbor houses to nature museums.
There are other things to see, too, that don’t involve the natural world.
For example, the National Capitol Columns stand in an open field as a tribute to American history.
Are you looking to escape the grind of Washington, DC?
Are you a fan of nature, culture, beauty, history or all of the above?
The National Arboretum is a must see destination, so you’ll definitely want to make time for it when you’re near the capital.
Address: 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States
Covering more than five blocks, CityCenterDC is a “mixed-use development” located in the heart of downtown.
In simple terms, this means that it’s a gigantic commercial and retail space where you can find shops, parks, restaurants, hotels, offices and condos all contained within a single area.
If this sounds like a busy place, you’re absolutely right!
While CityCenterDC is a must see for folks who enjoy the thrumming energy of a modern urban landscape, it isn’t for the faint of heart.
There are always crowds, and there are always miles and miles of traffic.
If the bustle is part of the appeal, however, you’ll love the liveliness of CityCenterDC.
You can’t walk two steps without seeing another shop or another cafe.
You could spend hours within these five blocks alone; you don’t even need to venture further into downtown to have a good time.
If you aren’t afraid of bumping elbows with strangers, CityCenterDC is among the top tourist places of Washington, DC.
It’ll put you right on top of the beating pulse of the city, and you can’t ask for more from a vacation destination.
Address: 825 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States
14. The Pentagon
You might be surprised to learn that the Pentagon allows visitors, but it’s actually one of the biggest Washington DC attractions for political-minded folks who want to see where the action happens.
Guided tours are available on weekdays from 10 AM – 4 PM.
They’ll take you through some of the front rooms and offices as well as the Hall of Heroes where you can view Medal of Honor recipients.
There are also informative displays about all four branches of the military along with photos, relics and memorabilia from the conflicts of the past.
Keep in mind that tours have to be scheduled at least two weeks in advance, and you’ll need a government-issued photo ID to enter.
They don’t let just anyone pass through the front doors.
As long as you meet the criteria, however, it can be a rare and exciting treat to visit the Pentagon.
It can also make for a great story back home.
You can honestly tell your friends that you’ve walked the same halls as presidents, princes, dignitaries and more!
Address: Washington, DC 22202, United States
15. National Zoo
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
The National Zoo is a staple of Washington, DC for more reasons than one, so if you’re an animal or nature lover spending time in the city, it’s definitely a place to put on your to-do list.
The first reason to visit is because of the sheer range of animals within the zoo.
More than 2,000 animals call it home, including a family of giant pandas.
If it jumps, flies, crawls, stalks, slithers or rolls around in bamboo, it can probably be found here.
Another great thing about the zoo is that it hosts a wide variety of events and activities for visitors.
From “Woo at the Zoo” on Valentine’s Day to “Boo at the Zoo” during Halloween, there’s always something fun to do.
Last but not least, the zoo is free.
Yes, you read that right!
You can stroll right up to the gates tomorrow morning and gain entry without paying a dime.
It’s open every day of the year except Christmas, and it never charges admission.
Are you tempted by the National Zoo yet?
Are you ready to see all of the amazing creatures and enjoy all of the fun activities?
It’s located right on the National Mall of Washington, DC, so you can’t miss it!
Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, United States
16. International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum is a mix of fun and factual.
As its name suggests, it’s dedicated to the art of espionage, and many exhibits revolve around real-life spies and their history, technology and methodology.
On the flip side, a lot of stuff to do at the International Spy Museum is just plain cool.
There are trivia games and movie nights; there are interactive spy missions where the whole family can play at being James Bond.
Speaking of James Bond, he gets some attention, too.
Fictional spies aren’t overlooked.
The museum recognizes the role that they’ve played in public interest about the field.
If you’re looking for fun and unique things to do in Washington, DC, consider a stop by the International Spy Museum.
It’s one of the only museums of its kind in the entire world, so in addition to being a DC standout, it’s also a rare treat for those who like their martinis shaken and not stirred.
Address: 700 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States
17. Adams Morgan
If you’re a fan of the funky, you won’t want to miss Adams Morgan.
This vibrant neighborhood has colorful houses lined up like ducks in a row alongside shops, cafes, bars, bistros, lounges, clubs and many other entertainment venues.
You can sing karaoke until 3 AM; you can follow trails of graffiti to community art projects.
Every weekend, this neighborhood transforms into a mini-city of its very own.
Another great thing about Adams Morgan is its diversity.
Just walking down the street can take you on a journey around the world, especially if you’re a foodie.
You can dine on all kinds of pizzas, noodles, pastas, empanadas and gyros.
Go shopping at the thrift stores.
Take in live music at the pubs and taverns.
Eat until you’re stuffed at the outdoor restaurants of every flavor.
Adams Morgan is one of the best places for entertainment in Washington, DC.
It’s a must do if you like the nightlife scene, but even if you’re an older or calmer kind of traveler, you can find ample ways to have fun in a neighborhood like this.
18. Arlington National Cemetery
Located in Arlington, Virginia, Arlington National Cemetery is a few minutes south of Washington, DC, but it’s worth the side trip.
You’ve probably heard of it before.
It’s one of the oldest and most esteemed military cemeteries in the world.
The land was originally owned by George Washington’s grandson.
It passed through various hands, including Robert E. Lee’s wife, until it became the property of the U.S. government.
Today, it’s used as the final resting place for soldiers dating all of the way back to the Civil War.
The grounds are beautiful, especially when the leaves change colors in the fall.
Elaborate statues, fountains, headstones and memorial buildings are dotted across the hills.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of the most popular places to visit in the cemetery, but there are many others.
If you’re wondering what to do in Washington DC, put some gas in the car and hop across state lines to Virginia.
Arlington National Cemetery is a must do.
Address: Entrance at Arlington Memorial Bridge, Arlington, VA 22211, United States
19. Capital One Arena
The Capital One Arena is one of the major points of interest of Washington, DC.
It’s even been credited with the revitalization of its neighborhood.
You don’t have to sit through a history lesson to enjoy the arena for what it is, however.
It’s an awesome place!
Home to everyone from the Washington Wizards to the Washington Capitals, it hosts sporting events of all kinds, including basketball, hockey and even wrestling.
It’s also been used for concerts, festivals, horse shows, family events and ice skating performances.
If you want to see Disney on Ice while in DC, this is where you’ll go.
Amenities include a lounge, salon, food court and commercial retail space.
You’ll find lots of well-known shopping brands here.
To put it simply, everything that you need for a good vacation is right here in the Capital One Arena.
There’s entertainment; there’s food and drink; there’s a place to get your hair cut or your nails clipped.
What more could you ask for from an arena?
Address: 601 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States
20. Odyssey Dinner Cruise
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase a three-hour tour?
Thankfully, this isn’t Gilligan’s Island.
It’s the Odyssey Dinner Cruise.
Setting off from the Potomac River, the Odyssey Dinner Cruise will take you on a journey through some of the top travel destinations of Washington, DC.
You’ll pass by towering monuments and memorials; you’ll drift along shorelines dotted with fountains, statues, museums, naval piers and other points of interest.
Befitting a dinner cruise, a three-course meal is served with every trip.
You’ll enjoy tableside service along with classical music in a sophisticated setting.
When you’re done with your food, you’ll have the option of cutting a rug on the dance hall.
If you’re wondering what to do in DC, you don’t have to limit yourself to a small list of attractions.
See everything at once through an Odyssey Dinner Cruise, and enjoy some buttered scallops in citrus sauce while you’re at it!
Address: 580 Water St SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States
21. Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
If you’re looking for unusual tourist spots in Washington, DC, consider the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.
They’re captivatingly beautiful, but they’re definitely not your average park!
What sets them apart is their water-based plant life.
They offer several species that are quite rare for the region, including waterlilies, lotus blossoms and water hyacinths.
Some of these plants are located within Kenilworth Marsh, the only remaining tidal marsh in DC.
Another source of entertainment is the annual Lotus and Water Lily Festival.
It’s a two-day event held at the park, and it offers games, tours, dances, cultural lessons, fashion shows, wildlife experiences and more.
If you’ve ever admired the beauty of a floating heart or the hidden meaning of a lotus flower, you’ll definitely want to check out the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.
It’s a must do for nature enthusiasts in general, but it’s particularly special for folks who like to explore little-known places and find hidden gems during their vacations.
Address: 1550 Anacostia Ave NE, Washington, DC 20019, United States
22. Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island is a small and beautiful sanctuary located off the coast of Washington, DC.
It’s only accessible through a pedestrian bridge, and cars and bikes aren’t allowed.
You have to explore with nothing but your own two feet.
If you’re up for the walking, however, it’s a top 10 destination in terms of scenery.
There are hills and fields; there are shaded tree canopies; there are babbling brooks.
It’s a great place to relieve some stress by lying back on the grass and staring at the beautiful blue sky.
There are also wilder, denser places where serious hikers can test their mettle.
If you venture deeply enough into the trees, you might hear the call of Washington’s birds or the slither of its snakes.
Do you want to go off the grid for awhile?
Check out Theodore Roosevelt Island.
It isn’t one of the glamorous tourist places of the region, but it’s one of the best things to do in DC if you don’t mind loping it on foot.
Address: George Washington Memorial Parkway, Arlington, VA 22211, United States
23. National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is another place that you’ve probably seen in a lot of movies, but we’re here to tell you that reality is even better than fiction.
Its amazing collections have to be seen to be believed!
The first thing that you’ll notice is a gigantic elephant roaring at the center of a large, open-air rotunda.
From there, you can choose a direction and explore art galleries, fossil halls, meteorite collections, butterfly gardens and more.
There’s a Hall of Bones. There’s an Insect Zoo. The Hope Diamond is here.
Whether you’re into astronomy, oceanography, paleontology, meteorology or any other type of natural history, you can probably find some kind of display for it.
Run by the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of Natural History lives up to its reputation and then some.
It’s one of those rare places to visit that manages to combine education and entertainment, so even as you’re having fun, you’ll be trying new things and learning new facts.
Address: 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560, United States
24. Argentta Spa at the Watergate
If bottomless mimosas are your thing, you’ll love a luxurious afternoon at the Argentta Spa.
It’s found within the Watergate Hotel, but you don’t have to be a guest to sign up for a massage, manicure or mud mask.
Feel free to pamper yourself regardless of where you’re staying in the city.
Amenities include a pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steamroom.
Beauty services range from basic facials to elaborate Icelandic moonflower scrubs.
If you’re over 21, you can enjoy drinks with just about everything, including cocktails during cuticle treatments and wine after rooftop yoga classes.
If you’re looking to treat yourself while in Washington, DC, it’s hard to beat the “luxe living” of the Argentta Spa.
You’ll feel like a whole new person when you step out of a lavender-infused saltwater bath.
Additionally, if you get too lazy and relaxed to move, you can just book a room at the hotel and extend your stay!
Address: 2650 Virginia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037, United States
25. DC Improv Comedy Club
This subterranean comedy club has an awesome atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else in Washington, DC.
As you might expect from an underground building, it features a lot of dark walls and dimly-lit alcoves, but it gets filled with so much laughter that it never feels gloomy.
Instead, there’s a warm, almost cozy atmosphere as the comedians take the stage.
They’re close enough to reach out and touch.
As a member of the audience, you’ll be able to eat and drink while they perform, so everything has a very casual feeling.
Shows are hosted every week.
Special events include classes in improv, sketch and stand-up comedy.
If you’re traveling for work, you can even rent the venue for fun and unique team-building exercises.
Maybe you’re spending time with colleagues.
Maybe you need a cool place for a date tonight.
No matter what the occasion, the DC Improv Comedy Club will be a side-splitting spot!
Address: 1140 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States
26. Culture House
You can’t miss the Culture House.
Literally, you can’t miss it.
Its bright colors can be seen from miles away, especially since most of the surrounding neighborhood was demolished years ago.
The Culture House was only spared from the bulldozer because it used to belong to the Friendship Baptist Congregation, an African-American institution that supported low-income families and provided them with fun, creative ways to express themselves.
The Culture House has gone through various owners since then, but its mission remains the same.
Every inch of the place has been hand-painted or graffiti-sprayed with various types of artistry.
From cartoons to abstract swirls to elaborate “in memoriam” murals, it’s basically a living, ever-evolving work of art.
There are other reasons to visit the Culture House besides gawking at the walls, too.
Many artists use the space for showings and exhibitions.
Its psychedelic interior is also popular with musicians.
If you want some non-touristy things to do in Washington, DC, the Culture House is decidedly off the beaten path.
It’s a wonderfully unique place, and it’ll make for a wonderfully unique visit as well.
Address: 700 Delaware Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States
27. Cascading Waterfall
You’ve never seen a waterfall quite like this.
Located within Meridian Hill Park, it’s a man-made art installation that sends water flowing down a series of 13 stone steps.
Like its name suggests, it’s a beautiful cascade, and many people think that it represents the perfect harmony between man and nature.
When you’re done with the waterfall, there are other cool places to see in the park as well.
There are statues and fountains; there are monuments for war heroes.
One of the most famous is a heavy bronze recreation of Joan of Arc on a horse.
The sword in her hand has been stolen and re-stolen multiple times over the years; sometimes, the thieves leave flowers or other tokens behind.
When visiting the statue, you never know if you’re going to see the sword or not.
Do you want to experience the great outdoors without having to leave the urban terrain of Washington, DC?
Stop by the Cascading Waterfall at Meridian Hill Park.
It’s a nice place to get a respite from the city while still being conveniently cocooned within it.
Address: 16th St NW &, W St NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States
28. The Chocolate House DC
If you just felt a little shiver of excitement at the name “Chocolate House,” this is the tourist attraction for you!
Offering hundreds of bars, breads, truffles, crisps and bites made by world-class artisans, the Chocolate House DC is a luxury boutique and tasting room for chocoholics of all types.
You can munch on everything from chocolate peanut brittle squares to orange-infused dark chocolate fudge bombs.
You can also indulge yourself with wines, soaps, blankets and other care package goods to complement the cocoa.
As for activities, you’ll have your choice of classes, workshops and cooking events.
You can learn how to roll truffles; you can sample various types of gourmet chocolate under the tutelage of an expert.
The schedule varies.
Your sweet tooth will definitely get a workout at the Chocolate House DC.
Are you ready to treat yourself to some amazing desserts made by high-quality chocolatiers?
Get your taste buds to the Chocolate House!
Address: 1904 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States
29. United States Botanic Garden
With all of its vintage theaters and gleaming government buildings, you might not expect Washington, DC to have a lot of greenery.
However, the United States Botanic Garden would prove you wrong.
It’s a natural oasis in the middle of an urban landscape, and it’s hands-down one of the best places to visit in the city.
Flowers bloom in every shape and shade that you can imagine.
Gardens are arranged by theme, so one might have rare and endangered species while another is focused on jungle, desert or tropical plants.
There’s a canopy for looking at the trees and flowers from a top view.
There are trails and courtyards if you want to walk, talk, sit or just breathe deeply among the orchids.
You don’t have to be a botanist to appreciate a large and impressive house of botany.
If you want to escape the high-rise buildings of Washington, DC for awhile, stop by the tranquil spring that is the United States Botanic Garden.
Address: 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001, United States
30. Monumental Helicopters
It’s always fun to see a city from the sky.
It can get a little complicated in DC, however, because of the Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ) imposed on all of those important government buildings.
If you want to experience aerial views, you’ll need to book a helicopter tour with a company that has been approved for FRZ flights.
Monumental Helicopters is that company.
They have FRZ access, and while they can’t exactly fly you over the White House, they can get you closer than many of their competitors.
They can also take you on show-stopping journeys to other Washington DC attractions.
If you’ve always wanted to fly alongside the seagulls in Chesapeake Bay, this is your chance!
It’s unfortunate that you can’t take a real helicopter tour of Washington, DC, but with companies like Monumental Helicopters, at least you can experience something close to one.
Just make sure to call ahead and book early.
They provide such an in-demand service that they’re often swamped with requests.
Address: 7505 General Aviation Dr #100, Fort Meade, MD 20755, United States
31. Smithsonian Institution Building
Don’t be fooled by the name “Smithsonian Institution Building.”
While it might sound like a boring collection of offices and cubicles, it’s actually a medieval-style castle!
It was built with red sandstone over the course of 1849 – 1855 in a combination of Romanesque and early Gothic architecture.
The architects picked this style deliberately because they wanted it to stand out from the white marble and granite of other DC buildings.
The towers rise to a staggering 145 feet.
The windows are curved and arched alongside turrets and other medieval staples.
Inside, there are parlors, galleries, libraries, chapels and great halls.
There’s even a crypt for the tomb of James Smithson, the founder of the Smithsonian Intuition.
Washington, DC might be full of cool buildings, but the Smithsonian Institution Building is one of the top choices to visit.
How many chances will you get to see a genuine castle?
Rather than backpacking through Europe or Asia, just hop on over to DC.
Address: 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20560, United States
32. Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt Grill is another vintage building in the DC area, though it isn’t quite as vintage as a medieval castle.
However, it does date back to the mid-1850s, and it went through several lives as a boarding house and a saloon before finally settling on its identity as a tavern.
The dining room shines with polished woods and red, brown and gold accents.
The menu offers old classics like steak and eggs as well as more contemporary dishes like oysters and scallops.
For dessert, you can try some of the famous peach cobbler or the mouthwatering brown butter chocolate chip cookies; for a drink, you can sip white wines, bourbon whiskies, rum cocktails and tequilas with salty glasses.
The service is impeccable. The menu is delicious. The decor is fun and retro.
Why wouldn’t you stop at Old Ebbitt Grill when you’re feeling peckish in Washington, DC?
Address: 675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, United States
33. The Mansion on O Street
The Mansion on O Street isn’t actually a mansion.
It’s a series of brownstones connected by cluttered rooms, creaky staircases, secret doors, winding passageways and floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with everything from rare books to antique dining sets.
It’s partly a museum, partly a junk shop and wholly a place where you can have fun in Washington DC.
With more than 100 rooms in total, you’ll have your work cut out for you when it comes to exploring the labyrinth.
You might enter this weekend and not emerge until next weekend.
It’s that complex.
Once you embrace a perpetual feeling of being lost, however, you’ll have a blast.
There are all kinds of odds and ends to appreciate as you wander from room to room, and special events include tours, treasure hunts, musical performances, book readings and more.
A lot of the goods are on sale, too, so you can take home some of the world’s weirdest souvenirs.
Consider a trip to the Mansion on O Street if you’re looking for fun things to do that aren’t in your typical travel guide.
It might be one of the lesser-known options for Washington DC attractions, but considering its strange, secretive nature, that’s rather fitting!
Address: 2020 O St NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States
34. U Street
Once hailed as the “Black Broadway,” U Street spent years as a cultural hub for African-Americans in Washington, DC.
It’s become more gentrified as of late, but you can still find important works of art, music, fashion and culture preserved here, and you can still grab an awesome slice of Ethiopian dessert.
Attractions include the work of notable black architects like the Prince Hall Masonic Temple and the Thurgood Marshall Center.
There’s also the Lincoln Theatre, a historic performance venue for legends like Duke Ellington, and the Bohemian Caverns, a jazz club that dates all of the way back to the 1920s.
After you’ve enjoyed a show, grab some dinner at Ben Chili’s Bowl or smoke a cigarette at the U Street Music Hall.
If you’re in the area in the spring, see if you can catch the annual Washington DC Funk Parade.
U Street is an important touchstone for the African-American community in the District of Columbia.
It’s also a place of good vibes, great festivities and as much soul food as you can eat.
If you’re looking for fun vacation spots, make sure to mark U Street on your map!
35. The Capital Wheel
Have you noticed that Washington, DC doesn’t have a lot of skyscrapers?
It’s deliberate on the part of city officials.
It also means that attractions like the Capital Wheel really stand out.
Rising more than 170 feet from the land and water below, the Capital Wheel is a gigantic Ferris wheel that overlooks everything from the Washington Monument to the Potomac River.
It has such amazing views, in fact, that you can see Virginia and Maryland from the very top gondola.
As for the gondolas themselves, they’re both enclosed and climate-controlled, so you’ll never have to worry about bad weather ruining your visit.
You can just sit back and watch the raindrops streaking across the glass as you slowly ascend into the clouds.
If you’re traveling to the city in winter, you can also catch spectacular light shows that transform each gondola into an LED extravaganza.
You aren’t afraid of heights, right?
So climb aboard the Capital Wheel and look at Washington, DC the way that few tourists ever do.
You’ll treasure the memory for the rest of your life.
Address: 141 American Way, Oxon Hill, MD 20745, United States
36. Rock Creek Park
Take a deep breath in crisp, clear air when you visit Rock Creek Park.
It’s one of the most beautiful places to go in Washington, DC, and thanks to careful conservation efforts by the community, it’s also one of the best sites for escaping the smog of the city.
Water glides over the rocks in cold, clear streams.
Ferns and flowers hide all kinds of wildlife, including several species that aren’t commonly found in other parts of the state.
Nature trails are everywhere, and they’ll take you over hills, through trees, across foot bridges and down inlaid steps.
Available activities include everything from horseback riding to sightseeing at old-fashioned grist mills.
Do you need a break from the lights and noises of the big city?
Rejuvenate yourself by spending some time at Rock Creek Park.
Whether you’re going for an all-day hike or just an afternoon picnic in the park, it’ll soothe your soul to be surrounded by natural beauty on all sides.
Address: 3545 Williamsburg Ln NW, Washington, DC 20008, United States
You can’t talk about Washington, DC without mentioning Georgetown.
It’s one of the most iconic neighborhoods in the city, and if you play your cards right, it can also be one of the most fun.
The secret lies in making a game plan.
Georgetown is a lively neighborhood filled with colorful houses dotting cobblestone roads and shopfronts, so there are lots of things to see and do.
If you don’t want to miss out on anything awesome, you’ll need to know where to go and what to visit.
Are you hungry?
Take a food tour of the many cafes, bistros, bakeries and restaurants.
Do you enjoy nightlife?
Hit up the bars, pubs and taverns with their live music and never-ending taps.
Sightseeing is another popular activity in Georgetown.
The architecture is very Instagram-worthy, so whether you’re looking at snow-topped patios or fall foliage scattered on the streets, you’ll definitely want to whip out your camera and document it.
Georgetown is one of the major places of interest in Washington, DC.
If nothing else, it’s worth exploring just to say that you’ve been there!
38. Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe
Located within the National Museum of the American Indian, this cafe is one of the only ones in the country that serves exclusively Native American food.
It’s a great place to expand your culinary horizons while also supporting the indigenous populations of Washington, DC!
Menu items range from “bison burgers” to “yellow corn tacos served with goat meat and plantains.”
An open kitchen will allow you to watch your meal being prepared over fire pits and cedar-covered grills.
There’s a bit of a food court atmosphere to the cafe since it offers dishes from multiple Native American tribes.
You can even order a sample platter if you want to try different ones.
On slow days, the cooks will chat with you about the history of their skills and dishes.
The Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe is one of the best ways to spend your money in Washington, DC.
It gets its ingredients from tribal co-ops; it supports a museum dedicated to its people.
Most importantly, it serves Native American food that’s awesome and authentic, so you can feel good about your lunchtime choices when you eat here.
Address: Independence Ave SW & 4th Street Southwest, Washington, DC 20024, United States
39. Sculpture Garden
Part of the National Gallery of Art, the Sculpture Garden has an amazing collection of outdoor artwork that ranges from the aesthetically pleasing to the mind-bendingly weird.
You could spend a whole day just wandering the trails and looking at all of the goods.
Graft is a tree made entirely out of silver.
Spider is a gigantic, eight-legged bronze piece that looms over visitors.
Thinker on a Rock is a quirky take on the old classic with a ponderous rabbit in place of a human.
Chair Transformation Number 20B is a series of melted blue chairs that have been stacked on top of one another.
When you’re finished with the sculptures, venture into the gallery and look at the paintings, or hop on the ice skating rink that opens every year from December to March.
You can also grab a bite to eat at the pavilion cafe or shop for souvenirs at the museum gift shop.
For fun times with crazy, creative artwork, check out the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art.
You won’t regret it!
Address: Constitution Ave NW &, 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20408, United States
40. National Postal Museum
Another museum in the Smithsonian collection, the National Postal Museum is dedicated to the long and surprisingly interesting history of the U.S. postal system.
There’s a lot more to know about the Pony Express than you might think!
Exhibitions include letters, stamps, uniforms, decals, flags and vintage postal tools like printing presses and perforation machines.
Displays include multiple recreations of life-sized, turn-of-the-century transportation.
Wagons and stagecoaches line the floor; an “air mail” plane hangs from the ceiling.
You can even climb inside postal rail cars on a gigantic train.
Another cool thing about the museum is that it’s located at the former site of Washington’s central post office.
From 1914 to 1986, it was genuinely in use by the locals.
If you’re visiting Washington, DC to learn more about its historical significance to the United States, you’ll want to make time for the National Postal Museum.
It’s a unique destination for a unique time in the past, so it’s a must see for history buffs everywhere.
Address: 2 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States
41. Penn Quarter
Do you have some free time tonight?
Hit up Penn Quarter.
It’s a neighborhood that never sleeps, so it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for midday shopping or late-night drinking; you’ll always find open doors here.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company puts on the best shows from the Bard.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum shares space with the National Portrait Gallery and the Marian Koshland Science Museum.
The Capital One Arena is close by for sports fans, and the J. Edgar Hoover Building is just a stone’s throw away for the politically minded.
There are other, lesser-known attractions as well.
For example, there are many bars and restaurants to cater to the frequent foot traffic of tourists, and there are a number of stores for shopaholics.
With its endless variety of events and activities, Penn Quarter is one of the most fun things to do in DC.
It’s especially nice for night owls who are looking for a good time.
You don’t have to retreat to your hotel just because the sun goes down!
Visit Penn Quarter instead and enjoy yourself until the sun rises again.
42. Catacombs of Washington, DC
Hidden beneath the city of Washington, DC is a series of underground tunnels that are designed to mimic the religious catacombs of the Middle Ages.
They’re only 100 years old, so they’re quite young by catacomb standards, but their cracked stone walls and curving, dimly-lit passageways will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook of some kind.
Holy artwork covers the walls.
Shrines, tombs, altars and chapels can be explored at your leisure.
The skeleton of an eight-year-old martyr will watch over you as you venture from room to room.
Tour guides are available if you’re worried about getting lost forever among the ghostly graves of religious icons.
Otherwise, you can explore this subterranean complex on your own; it’s located beneath the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.
The Catacombs of Washington DC are one of the coolest sites to see in the city.
They aren’t as well-known as other tourist attractions in the city, but that just means that you won’t have to battle large crowds underground.
You can creep through the tombs in a hushed silence that befits the setting.
Address: 1400 Quincy St NE, Washington, DC 20017, United States
43. Greenbelt Park
Though it’s located in Maryland, Greenbelt Park is just a half-hour from downtown DC, so it isn’t a chore to take a drive there.
In fact, the drive itself can become a tourist attraction when the weather is nice.
The leaves turn gold in the fall; the tulips and dandelions blossom in the spring.
It’s quite scenic!
The main attraction, however, is definitely Greenbelt Park.
This woodsy wilderness is one of the top spots in Washington for hikers, campers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
There are off-grid locations if you like to get rugged, or you can stick to the reserved camping areas to enjoy amenities like picnic grounds and public bathrooms.
There are also a variety of trails for folks of every skill level, so whether you’re an experienced backpacker looking for a challenging route or a complete beginner who just wants to take a leisurely stroll through nature, there’s a pathway that will suit you.
Are you looking for fun places to go in Washington, DC?
Greenbelt Park doesn’t technically fit the bill, but if you’re willing to cheat on the District of Columbia with the state of Maryland, your sneakiness will be rewarded.
Address: 6565 Greenbelt Rd, Greenbelt, MD 20770, United States
44. Nationals Park
Home of the Washington Nationals, this ballpark mixes a classic, old-school stadium aesthetic with contemporary features and amenities.
For example, while it has grandstand seats surrounding a nostalgic green diamond, it’s also the first eco-friendly, LEED-certified stadium in the nation.
While it sells hotdogs and peanuts, it also offers ribs, lobster rolls, kielbasa, bao bao and Korean fried chicken.
Baseball is the biggest sport for Nationals Park, but if your trip coincides with hockey season, you might also be able to catch a NHL game.
You can also keep your eyes peeled for concerts, papal masses, political rallies and other big events.
Tours are available with and without appointments, so that’s another possibility for killing some time while you’re on vacation.
If you’re headed to DC this week, check out the schedule for Nationals Park.
You never know when something cool will be going on, and with any luck, you’ll get the chance to take your family out to a ballgame in true American style.
Address: 1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States
45. Madame Tussauds Washington DC
The wax statues of Madame Tussauds are known throughout the world.
However, it must be said that the Washington DC location is even better than the ones found in Hollywood or Las Vegas.
You won’t believe some of the famous faces on display here!
The Presidents Gallery has wax figures of all 45 U.S. presidents.
The Glamour Room has everyone from Beyonce to Michael Jackson.
The Civil Rights Room gets serious with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Sports Gallery goes right back to the humor with its renditions of Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods and Evander Holyfield.
If you’re curious about the creation process of these wax dolls, there’s also a “Behind the Scenes” room where you can learn some of the secrets of the trade.
Otherwise, feel free to explore the museum at your leisure and poke at all of the frozen celebrity smiles.
Unlike other museums, visitors at Madame Tussauds are allowed to freely interact with the exhibits, and funny selfies are both accepted and encouraged.
Are you tired of the usual Washington DC attractions?
Do you want something that’s totally weird and off-the-wall?
Madame Tussauds has you covered.
Just make sure that your camera roll is ready!
Address: 1001 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004, United States
46. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden
Put together by a rich heiress with a taste for high art and culture, the Hillwood Estate is filled with things like tapestries, portraits, ornaments, flowers, tea sets and porcelain goods.
It’s a collection that spans the globe, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Washington, DC if you enjoy delicate beauty.
The Hillwood Estate is technically known as a “decorative arts museum.”
However, it’ll offer a much different experience than your standard museum.
You’ll start with a trip through a Japanese zen garden.
A set of sliding doors will open into the estate, and a tour guide will escort you through everything from the French Porcelain Room to Russian Sacred Arts Room.
If you like the House of Romanov, they have an entire suite dedicated to them; items on display include a stunning collection of Faberge eggs.
There’s also an entire exhibit dedicated to the jewelry and fashion of pre-industrial England.
When you’re done with the exhibitions, hit up the on-site cafe for tea and sandwiches, or check out the souvenir shop filled with books, artwork, stationery and other delicately charming goods.
There’s a lot to see at the Hillwood Estate.
You’ll wish that you had more than one pair of eyes.
If you’re looking for cool things to do in Washington, DC, however, you won’t want to miss it!
Address: 4155 Linnean Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, United States
47. Union Station
This Union Station is one of the oldest railway stations in the world, and for a long time, it was also one of the biggest.
Millions of people visited it every year to take trains and buses to Boston, Baltimore, New York and more.
Today, Union Station is still a thriving hub for transportation, but it’s also been modernized for the convenience of the contemporary traveler.
There are shops and food courts; there are beauty services and bike repairers; there are tour guide companies of every possible type.
Previous businesses have included bookstores, barber shops, post offices and even a mortuary.
Union Station is the kind of place that you’ll want to visit at least once.
It might not be what immediately comes to mind when you think about Washington DC attractions, but it’s worth putting on your itinerary.
Visiting DC without a trip to Union Station is like visiting NYC without a trip to Fifth Avenue.
Address: 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States
In its heyday, the Chinatown of Washington, DC was one of the most prominent in the United States.
It’s suffered a lot of gentrification since then, and only a fraction of its original population remains, but it’s still a great place to get some dumplings.
Many of the businesses in the area are family-owned by Chinese immigrants.
There are restaurants, clothing shops, laundromats, video stores, general stores and more.
If you don’t know where to start, try the Washington DC Chinatown Community Cultural Center.
In addition to offering practical things like maps, they also host a variety of classes and festivities that celebrate China, so they can help gain a deeper understanding of the culture even as you partake in its food and festivities.
DC’s Chinatown might lack its original glory, but it’s still one of the best places to visit in the region.
Grab your chopsticks and loosen your belt!
The orange chicken is waiting!
Address: Bounded by G H, 5th, and 8th Sts., Washington, DC, United States
49. Tidal Basin
Are you looking for romantic places to visit in Washington, DC?
Take your sweetheart to the Tidal Basin.
It’s such a gentle, beautiful location that it isn’t at all uncommon to see lovers picnicking along the shore, renting out a paddleboat for two or just holding hands as they walk under shaded tree groves.
The most popular time to visit is during March – April when the cherry blossom trees come into bloom.
They provide rare and spectacular sightseeing opportunities that only last a couple of weeks before they’re gone, so they’re quite special.
If you miss the blossoms, however, don’t fret!
There are other places of interest throughout the basin.
For example, it’s located near the National Mall, so you can hit up all of the major monuments and memorials of DC with your special someone by your side.
Another option is to rent the aforementioned paddleboats and spend an afternoon on the water; they’re available every season except winter.
Put on some nice clothes. Spritz yourself with your favorite fragrance.
It’s time for date night in Washington, DC, and the Tidal Basin is waiting.
Address: E Basin Drive NW Ohio Drive NW, Washington, DC 20003, United States
50. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate this basilica.
Its towering domes look like something out of a renaissance painting from the 1800s, and the height of its bell tower puts it among the largest Catholic churches in the world.
The interior is just as grandiose as the exterior.
There are almost 100 shrines to the Virgin Mary alone, and they’re complemented by murals, mosaics, statues, roses and other beautiful and meaningful ornaments.
Elaborate altars are available for praying.
A crypt holds valuable relics like Pope Paul VI’s coronation tiara.
Surprisingly, the basilica is still open for everyday worship.
While other basilicas might be jealously-guarded historical sites, this one is free and open to the public, and it welcomes visitors of every age, gender, race and faith.
If you find yourself near the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception while visiting Washington, DC, consider going inside for awhile.
It’s okay if you’re a sinner. Mary won’t judge.
Address: 400 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC 20017, United States
51. East Potomac Park
East Potomac Park is one of the best things to do in Washington DC.
It’s also one of the lesser-known tourist attractions.
When you put these two facts together, you’ll realize that you have the opportunity to experience a great place in the city without the usual crowds.
Outdoor amenities include a golf course, a public swimming pool and an entire series of athletic fields for tennis, soccer, rugby and football.
You can also go walking, jogging, driving, biking, skating and fishing along the various trails and piers.
In the spring, the cherry blossoms scatter pink petals on the sidewalks.
In the winter, snow covers the ground and turns everything into a winter wonderland.
Swing by East Potomac Park if you want to experience natural beauty in Washington, DC.
It isn’t all condos and traffic!
There are sedate, serene places as well, and they’re worth a stroll under the trees.
Address: Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States
52. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Holding more than 2,200 events each year, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is one of the top destinations for art and culture in Washington DC.
It’s home to multiple venues, including theaters, concert halls and opera houses, and they’ve collectively welcomed millions of visitors since their foundation.
Do you like ballet?
Buy a ticket for the Nutcracker.
Are you a fan of classical music?
Check out shows by the National Symphony Orchestra or the Washington National Opera; they both call this location home.
Other events include plays, musicals, chamber concerts and more.
There are lectures and workshops for adults; there are educational games and activities for the little ones.
Many of these things are free, so if you’re wondering what to do in the city when you’re on a budget, it might behoove you to get a little culture.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a place that truly lives up to its name.
It’s a multicultural, multidisciplinary hub where there’s always something new and exciting going on.
Whether you’re visiting this weekend or next year, you can just look at the schedule and pick an event!
Address: 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566, United States
53. Oki Bowl
Do you dream of sushi? Do you live for late-night ramen?
Oki Bowl serves authentic Japanese cuisine in the heart of Washington, DC, and the only thing that outdoes the menu is the decor.
Dozens of mismatched lanterns hang from the ceiling.
The floor has black-and-white squares while the walls are covered in rainbow posters and oddly-shaped shelves crammed with toys and trinkets.
Even the bathrooms have eye-popping designs.
They’re painted with glowing blacklit landscapes that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a neon nightclub or maybe a futuristic anime.
They’re so cool that their lines are always a mile long because people take so many pictures during their potty breaks!
Oki Bowl is a fun place to grab a bite to eat in Washington, DC.
If you find yourself craving some miso soup while you’re in the city, make the trek here.
It’s worth it.
Address: 1608 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States
54. Rockefeller Mansion
Located in a remote wilderness preserve and surrounded on all sides by leafy, privacy-giving hardwood trees, the Rockefeller Mansion is such a large and grandiose estate that it actually has two separate mailing addresses.
It was built in the 1920s and purchased a few decades later by U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller.
It’s a real house, so it isn’t a tourist attraction that you can just walk up to and admire.
You’ll have to keep your distance.
If you love architecture, however, or if you enjoy finding treasures at the end of long hikes, it might be worth a side trip to see the Rockefeller Mansion.
You can snap a few photos from afar, and you can marvel at the fresh air and natural woodlands that surround the estate.
Washington, DC has very charming landscapes when you’re willing to venture out of downtown, and the Rockefeller Mansion is proof of that.
55. National Geographic Museum
You know National Geographic.
Everyone knows National Geographic.
But were you aware that it’s also a museum in Washington, DC?
Filled with fun things to see and do, this interactive educational center will be a treat for the whole family.
Kids will love the games and activities that range from fossil digs to 3D movies about volcanoes and supernovas.
Teens will appreciate the scattered remains of shipwrecks and the larger-than-life taxidermy models of forgotten beasts.
Adults will enjoy learning something new about ancient civilizations from Peru, Greece and Machu Picchu.
There are special events hosted by the museum as well.
Whether it’s attending a class or exploring an exhibit after-hours, you can find plenty of neat things on the schedule.
The National Geographic Museum is one of the top things to do in Washington DC.
If you’ve ever flipped through the magazine at the dentist’s office, do yourself a favor and check out what it can really do with your undivided attention.
Address: 1145 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States
56. Victura Park
Another great place to get away from it all in Washington, DC, Victura Park is a lovely little landscape that overlooks both Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Potomac River.
It’s located on the back lawns of the Kennedy Center, but you don’t have to be a patron to enjoy the park.
You can just waltz in, spread your picnic blanket on the grass and enjoy the scenery.
Another option is buying your lunch from the outdoor pop-up and wine garden.
In true “pop-up” style, the menu is ever-changing, so this week’s dishes might not be next week’s dishes.
There are occasionally guest chefs who host events and classes.
If you do want to check out the Kennedy Center, it’s just a few steps away in a large, geometrically-cut building.
It isn’t free like the park, so you’ll need to buy a ticket, but it’s worth it.
If the lights and crowds of Washington, DC are starting to get to you, consider slowing down for awhile with Victura Park.
It’s one of those lovely, low-key places to see that can recharge your batteries for the rest of your vacation.
Address: 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20566, United States
57. Skydive Capitol City
Did you know that you can cross “skydiving” off your bucket list when you visit DC?
You can’t jump off the Washington Monument or anything, but if you’re willing to take a short drive outside of the city, you can go nuts in the wide open fields of Virginia.
Skydive Capitol City is one of the best companies for it.
The owners actually hold Guinness World Records for their tandem skydiving, and all together, the staff has jumped out of planes more than 10,000 times.
You can take lessons or go tandem with an instructor if you’re a beginner.
You can also sign up for a freefall if you’re a licensed skydiver just looking to get your fix while you’re away from home.
All things considered, Skydive Capitol City can provide unforgettable memories while you’re in the area.
You’ll never feel more alive than when you’re risking death, so if you have the nerve, sign up for a skydiving session and get to work on that bucket list!
Address: Warrenton Airpark, 9272 Green Meadows Rd., Warrenton, VA 20187, United States
58. Lucky Strike
Rainy days are a bummer during vacations.
Fortunately, when you’re visiting Washington, DC, you don’t have to let them stop you from having a grand old time!
Lucky Strike is just one indoor attraction in the DC area, but it’s so cool and creative that it deserves special attention.
As you might have guessed from the name, it’s primarily a bowling alley, and it offers more than a dozen state-of-the-art lanes equipped with lights, chimes and digital scoreboards.
But the fun doesn’t stop there.
You can play arcade games; you can sign up for a game of laser tag; you can hit the dance floor.
There are special events like Silent Disco Night.
There are exotic foods and tasty cocktails.
All in all, Lucky Strikes is one of the better attractions in Washington, DC, and it can be visited anytime.
It isn’t dependent on good weather.
If you’re wondering what to see in the city on a rainy day, put on your bowling shoes and come here!
Address: 701 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States
59. Tudor Place
Six generations of George Washington’s family lived and died within Tudor Place.
Originally built in the 1700s by the same architect who created the Capitol Building, it spent more than 100 years as the estate where the Washingtons lived, married, worked, retired and died.
Today, Tudor Place has been converted into a museum, and visitors can explore the property like they’re a long-lost relative.
The inside of the house has charmingly vintage furnishings; the outside has everything from gardens to carriage houses to elaborate, labyrinth-style hedges.
There’s even a bomb shelter!
It was built during the Cold War, and it’s open to the public as a fascinating relic that peeks into the past of an emotionally-charged era.
Tudor Place is one of the last remaining estates from the colonial period of Washington, DC.
If you’re a history buff, it’s a top 5 destination within the city.
It doesn’t get more historical than the silverware that was actually used by George Washington’s kin.
Address: 1644 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States
60. J. Edgar Hoover Building
You might know the J. Edgar Hoover Building as the headquarters of the FBI.
It’s another place that you wouldn’t expect to welcome visitors, but as long as you’re a U.S. citizen who books an advanced tour and complies with the “restricted items” list, you can indeed walk the halls of this venerable institution.
The tours are self-guided, so you’ll need to be comfortable on your own.
You can look at different articles, artifacts and multimedia exhibits as you move along the permitted areas.
All of the materials that you’ll see are dedicated to the history and legacy of the FBI.
It’s done some important work for the country, and those efforts are on full display here.
If you’ll be traveling to Washington, DC, make time for the J. Edgar Hoover Building.
It’s a rare opportunity to peek behind the curtain of a powerful organization, and with all of its stories and mementos, it’s also one of the best places to visit to learn about U.S. history.
Address: 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20535, United States
There are two locations called “Gadsby’s.”
They’re at the same place and operated by the same people, but to avoid confusion, let’s look at them separately.
The first location is Gadsby’s Tavern.
It’s a complete throwback to the 18th century right down the period costumes worn by the waiters, so if you want dinner and a show, this is a fine place to get it.
The second location is Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.
Operating out of a restored version of the original building, it offers exhibits, workshops, classes and other educational events and activities for those who are interested in the colonial era.
The two Gadsby’s can make for quite the evening, so be sure to leave yourself enough time to visit both.
The original businesses were favorites of a whole host of important people, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, so you won’t want to miss a chance to walk in their presidential footsteps.
Address: 134 N Royal St, Alexandria, VA 22314, United States
62. DC Dragon Boat Club
The DC Dragon Boat Club creates a weekly spectacle on the Potomac River, and after you’ve seen them splashing around for awhile, you’ll be itching to join the fun.
Practice sessions are for developing their rowing and paddling skills.
Races are for getting their adrenaline going as they compete against each other for bragging rights and the occasional cash prize.
Annual events include the DC Dragon Boat Festival, the Independence Dragon Boat Regatta and the Baltimore Dragon Boat Challenge.
One of the nicest things about the Dragon Boat Club is that they’re always open to newbies.
Even if you’re just a curious first-timer who’s never paddled a day in your life, they’ll welcome you to their practice sessions.
They’ll even provide the lifejacket!
Maybe you want to try something new.
Maybe you’re a pro racer looking to get back into the game.
Either way, the DC Dragon Boat Club can provide an exhilarating afternoon on the water, so don’t hesitate to hop down the riverbank and join them.
Address: 975 Wharf St SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States
63. National Museum of Health and Medicine
The National Museum of Health and Medicine is run by the U.S. government, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at its exhibitions.
Rather than being the dull, drone-like museum of school field trips, it’s a fun and dynamic place that disguises its lessons so cleverly that your kids will be begging to come back.
Organs are displayed in glass jars.
Hairballs are behind glass cases after being pulled from human stomachs.
Rare and vintage medical tool are everywhere; some are replicas, and others are rusted originals.
You can also see one-of-a-kind relics like the bullet that was pulled from Abraham Lincoln’s skull.
It still has trace amounts of brain matter on it.
If you’re seeking Washington DC attractions that offer something a little different than usual, try the National Museum of Health and Medicine.
It’s a nice mix of informative and educational, and whether you’re traveling with kids, colleagues, dates, spouses or no one at all, you can have a great time here.
Address: 2500 Linden Ln, Silver Spring, MD 20910, United States
64. Adventure Park
The wind whips through your hair.
The straps dig into your chest.
You’re moving so fast that your cheeks are wobbling on your face, and you’re pretty sure that you left your stomach several stories beneath you.
Say hello to Adventure Park!
Located about an hour north of Washington, DC, Adventure Park is an outdoor recreation area that offers ziplines, roller coasters, rope courses, archery ranges, laser shows, hay rides, arcade games, mini-golf courses and much, much more.
There’s so much to see and do that your legs won’t be able to carry you to it all.
They’ll give out before you can finish.
Other amenities include a smokehouse restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat and an outdoor activity center where you can play with everything from excavators to genuine tomahawks.
Adventure Park is one of the most fun things to do in DC.
Technically speaking, it might fall outside of city limits, but it’s still close enough for a side trip.
The whole family can pack into the car and make a day of it!
Address: 11113 W Baldwin Rd, Monrovia, MD 21770, United States
65. National Archives Museum
Are you a bookworm? Are you a history buff?
Do you love pouring over handwritten papers and sepia-toned scrolls in the pursuit of historical knowledge?
Maybe you just enjoy the smell of old books.
No matter why you’re considering a visit to the National Archives Museum, you should know that it’s worth the trip.
More than three billion records call it home.
That’s billions with a “B.”
Its most famous documents are the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, but there are plenty of others, including the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, the Louisiana Purchase and the Emancipation Proclamation.
When your eyes get tired from all of the reading, you can take a stroll through the large, neoclassical building and soak in the details of its artwork and architecture.
There are also various educational rooms filled with things like telegrams and video recordings for further review.
The National Archives Museum is more than just a museum.
It’s a piece of history that can be explored at will.
If you’re at all interested in the foundation of the United States, you won’t want to miss this place when you’re visiting Washington, DC.
Address: 701 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20408, United States
66. Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill is one of the oldest neighborhoods in DC.
It’s also one of the most centrally located if you’re looking to pack a lot of tourist attractions into a busy schedule.
Like the name suggests, the Capitol Building is less than a mile away.
The Senate, the House of Congress and the Supreme Court Building are all within walking distance.
You can also find lesser-known locales like the Washington Navy Yard and the Congressional Cemetery nearby.
Flea markets and farmer’s markets crop up every weekend.
In the summer, musicians play in the parks; in the winter, there’s sledding down the actual Capitol Hill.
You can also enjoy yourself just by taking a scenic stroll around the rowhouses.
Capitol Hill looks exactly like what you’d expect from a neighborhood in Washington, DC, and it can be oddly satisfying to realize that.
No matter how you choose to spend your time on Capitol Hill, you’re sure to love it.
There’s a reason why it’s such an enduring community in the city.
Once you’ve seen what it has to offer, it’ll be hard to say goodbye.
67. Haunted Halcyon House
At first glance, the Haunted Halcyon House looks like any other stately building located in the upper-class regions of Georgetown.
It isn’t until you learn about its sordid past that you realize the twisted depths of its legacy.
For starters, the Haunted Halcyon House has gone through dozens of owners since 1787, and nearly all of them have reported strange tidings around the house.
There are also grisly rumors about runaway slaves that have perished in the basement and widows who have gone mad with grief and hung themselves from the rafters.
One confirmable fact is that the Haunted Halcyon House was owned by the death-obsessed Albert Clemens in the 19th century.
A cousin to Mark Twain, Clemens believed that he could somehow stave off the Grim Reaper by making a series of bizarre, inexplicable changes to the home, including stairs that lead to nowhere and trap doors that are just waiting for unsuspecting victims.
You can view the Haunted Halcyon House as part of many “ghost tours” in Washington, DC, or you can simply visit it as a one-time attraction.
The choice is yours. The spookiness will always be there.
Address: 3400 Prospect Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States
68. Monuments by Moonlight DC Night Tour
End your vacation with the Monuments by Moonlight DC Night Tour.
It’ll provide a beautiful and slightly surreal look at some of the most unforgettable sights in the city, so if you want to leave a lasting impression of Washington, DC in your memory, this is the way to do it.
Like its name suggests, the Monuments by Moonlight tour is done entirely at night.
The “moon” part may or may not happen depending on the weather, but even if it stays hidden behind the clouds, you can still enjoy the tour.
Since so much of the city is made with white marble, including the dome of the Capitol Building, it has a natural nighttime glow.
Other stops on the tour include the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial and the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial.
Along the way, you’ll be treated to fun and interesting stories from a local tour guide; it’s the kind of stuff that you would never get from a travel brochure.
It’s hard to say goodbye to an amazing city like Washington, DC, but this tour can give you one last hurrah before you go.
It’ll be an amazing experience that you’ll remember long after you’ve returned home.
Start Planning Your Trip To Washington, DC
These are a few of the most fun things to do in Washington, DC.
Whether you’re interested in art, food, history, culture, government or just beautiful views of cherry blossom trees over the water, this is a city that you won’t want to miss!