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10 Hidden Gems in Washington DC

More Than Museums: 10 Gems To Visit On Your Next D.C. Trip

Posted October 10, 2018 By Jillian Richardson

Washington D.C. is a hotspot for business trips. And thanks to Amtrak, it’s pretty easy to zip in for a meeting and be home by 6 PM. But let’s be honest—the commute is pretty draining. That’s why we challenge you to stay for an extra day or two.

While our nation’s capital is known for museums and walking tours, it also has other goodness to offer. The next time you’re feeling frazzled from the D.C. slog, take a breath, and visit some of these hidden gems.


Mansion on O Street

This eccentric space is not actually one home—it’s four rows of houses, all merged and turned into a hotel/museum/club mishmosh.

The Mansion on O Street has over 100 rooms and 70 secret doors, which makes it a fascinating place to book a hotel room or visit for an elaborate tea service. While you’re there, make sure to visit the billiards room, the “wine cellar,” and the John Lennon room.


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Apparently we are above average finding 5 secret doors in @omansion

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2020 O St NW. More info here.


The Technicolor Church

This abandoned house of worship, located in Southwest D.C., is full of fun and color.

Originally, a real estate developer had intended to turn the space into condominiums. Thankfully, a 2004 Historic Preservation Board blocked them from building the project. As a result, the Atlanta-based painter, HENSE, was commissioned to spruce up the facade.

Now, the psychedelic graffiti continues throughout the interior and into a downstairs art gallery.  As Atlas Obscura says, the building is going 130 years strong and “the newly renamed Blind Whino serves the neighborhood once again, though it now attracts a younger, more bohemian flock.” Their trendy Instagram confirms.


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#OpenGallery Today from 5p-8p // “Discover Greatness” showcases 90+ pieces of artifacts from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum alongside three hand drawn player profiles by @napkinkilla, five commissioned pieces from @ajkatzart & @marly_mcfly87 and one amazing @mlb Diversity & Inclusion mural from @kaseyoboyle all on display until Sunday, August 27th. Please visit swartsclub.org/art-annex for details & info! // #MLB #MLBAllStar #Community #Diversity #Inclusion #ArtStarGame #BlindWhino #SWArtsClub #SWDC #SouthwestDC #IGDC #aCreativeDC #bythings #202creates #BuiltIn1886 #Historic #Preservation #Heritage #CultureAndCode #NegroLeague #JackieRobinson #SatchelPaige #JoshGibson #ArtAnnex @_jeeehye_

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700 Delaware Ave SW. More info here.


Walk, hike, bike, or run the towpath on C&O Canal

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal stretches all the way from Georgetown into Cumberland, MD. Yet no worries—you don’t have to trek the entire thing. If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, or simply want to see a tree, this is the perfect place for you.

If you’re looking for a bike path, visit this site dedicated to everything cycling the C&O.



Multiple locations. More info here.


Shop at Eastern Market

If you’ve already seen D.C.’s museums, try some retail therapy instead! Eastern Market is the perfect place to find food from all over the world, plus little knick knacks that will make the hoarder in you smile. Stick around for one of their many events, which you can find on the Eastern Market calendar.


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Summer is in full bloom at the #EasternMarket! (Photo: @crystlline)

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225 Seventh Street. More info here.


Boat Around the Potomac

Skip the regular tourist traps, and see the sights from a kayak! There’s nothing more soothing than the sound of the wind, your paddles skimming through the water, and the sun on your back. For a few small moments, you might forget about how many emails you have to send. Ahhh…


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Nothing like a PBC sunset

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Key Bridge Boathouse, 3500 Water St NW.  More info here.


Get Down with a Drum Circle

Are you a musician, dancer, or closeted hippy? Then you’ll adore the drum circle that goes down every Sunday at 3 PM in Meridian Hill Park. This group started in response to the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, and was intended to be a spiritual revival. Now giant groups of hula hoopers, drummers, tightrope walkers, and tourists gather for a celebration of life. Join them!

Still not sure? Check out this Youtube video about the experience.



16th St NW & W Street NW. More info here.


Play in Rock Creek Park

After pounding the pavement for meetings, you’re probably craving a little bit of greenery. Thankfully, you can escape D.C. without actually needing to leave. Rock Creek Park offers over 2,000 acres of nature-tastic goodness, including hiking and equestrian trails, a nature center, and picnic facilities. Why not eat there with a coworker? Even a plain PB&J is better with good company and some trees.


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Yesterday in the District. #latergram

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Multiple locations. More info here.


Maine Avenue Fish Market

Craving a Chesapeake Bay classic like blue crabs or shrimp? Look no further than the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in America! Most vendors in this area—plus their parents and grandparents—have been selling seafood here for their entire lives (pro tip: the largest selection of fish is displayed on the weekend).

If you’re with someone who prefers sweet over salty, try one of the other food options at The Wharf. You can find everything from Ben & Jerry’s to an artisanal Italian market.


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#exploredmv #exposeddc #igdc #maineavefishmarket #maineave

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1100 Maine Ave SW. More info here.


Dining In Madison Cafe

Bless the people of TripAdvisor. One D.C. insider recommended checking out the top floor of the Library of Congress, which has a little-known dining hall that’s open to the public. While the food isn’t extraordinary, the view is—you can see all of D.C. Plus, no lines!

101 Independence Ave. More info here.


Library of Congress

We had to include one museum. If you need to sneak away to answer some emails during your trip, why not do it in the largest library in the world?

Bonus: there may or may not be a penguin waddling around when you visit (probably not).



101 Independence Ave SE. More info here.


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