People flood in from all over to visit our nation's capital. While the White House, the monuments, and the museums are all worth a visit, they can get a bit crowded during the height of tourist season. If you want a more authentic experience in DC, we’ve compiled a list of some off-the-beaten-path spots for you to try. Our guide will help you navigate the streets like a seasoned local and cultivate some great memories along the way.
Score some tickets to a Nationals baseball game and head over the Bull Pen outside the stadium. Live music, discounted food and drinks, corn hole, and more await you inside. It has fun for all ages and is a staple for Washingtonians who are looking for some pre-baseball activities. Its industrial freight container walls are hard to miss, so you’ll have no trouble locating it.
1201 Half St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Head over to Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont Circle where you’ll instantly feel at home. With a daily selection of $5 local brews, local produce, yummy snacks, and the most drool-worthy grilled cheese, you’ll never want to leave. Their patio is dog and kid-friendly and a great place to hang out with friends or just sit-back, relax, and people watch.
2001 S St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Grab a blanket and catch some rays in Meridian Hill Park. Impressive fountains, stunning architecture, and endless greenery will make you forget you’re in the middle of a big city. Plus, if you happen to visit on a Sunday, the weekly drum circle will provide endless entertainment. As people jump, dance, and play music you’ll experience the invigorating energy that flows through DC.
2400 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
This two-level hang out is a little out of the way, but worth the trip. The first level offers old-school arcade games and a full service bar, but the upstairs is what you really want to check out. You’ll find everyone from children to hill staffers playing on a Washington DC themed putt-putt golf course. Offering fun for all ages, it’s no wonder that Washingtonians like to spend their weekend afternoons at this fun spot.
1335 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Locals enjoy spending their summer Friday evenings in the Sculpture Garden listening to live jazz. You can grab some food or drink from the café, but if you want to skip the lines then just pack a picnic! Watch the sun go down and enjoy the warm summer breeze as the music takes you back to a different time.
The Sculpture Garden, 7th Street & Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC 20565
Want a view that is normally reserved for elected officials? POV is swanky rooftop bar and lounge that offers unparalleled views of the White House lawn, Washington Monument, and sprawling city. Break through the red tape – literally, with a large glowing art installation created as a nod to DC’s bureaucracy – and enjoy a delicious meal and cocktails on the wraparound terrace.
515 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Chicago has deep dish pizza. Philadelphia has its cheese steaks. But DC is famous for chowing down on a half smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl. While it’s good at any time of the day, late night locals on U street can be found lining up around the block to grab a half-pork, half-beef smoked hotdog topped with chili, herbs, and onions. A staple in the community, even former President Obama was known for popping in now and again to get some of the best eats in the city.
1213 U Street NW Washington, DC 20009
While Georgetown Cupcake is the most well-known bakery in DC due to their hit TV show, sometimes the line can be a bit long. If you’re looking for something just as delicious and shorter wait, Baked and Wired is just a few blocks over and is a cute little family owned bakery with the most amazing oversized cupcakes and other sugary treats. If you’re there during the summer months the homemade ice cream cookie sandwich is something you can’t miss. It also has a couple of gluten-free and vegan-friendly options so everyone can enjoy!
1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW
This gem of a market is open daily, but is most popular on weekends. Vendors come to both the indoor and outdoor stalls with their antiques, art, organic produce, and more. Spend hours wandering around and stocking up on artisan goodies that you truly can’t get anywhere else.
225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Beloved by locals, this bookstore is a cultural hub. Many of the world’s most famous authors have come for book events to interact with fans in an intimate setting. Plus they occasionally do children’s book readings so it’s fun for the whole family. People spend hours combing through the shelves of new and used books. For avid readers and culture lovers, this DC classic is a must-visit.
5015 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Right across the river in Arlington, VA you can hang out on the grassy knoll and watch planes land and take off from Ronald Reagan National Airport. These huge planes will seem so close that you can almost touch them as they fly overhead (don’t worry – they’re plenty high enough). Bring the kids, friends, or your significant other and spend the day in the sun enjoying the view and soaking up all the fun. It’s located within the National Park Service's George Washington Memorial Parkway which is filled with lots of trails if you feel the need for a change of scenery.
Gravelly Point, Arlington, VA 22202