Weird and wonderful Washington DC

A place where history is made on an almost daily basis, Washington DC is world-famous.

The US capital is packed full of historical monuments – the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol come to mind – but there are so many lesser-known highlights in this city.

Explore the weird and wonderful parts of Washington DC with our guide.

DC opens its doors

Beautiful mansions, wealth and power populate Embassy Row, which is home to more than 170 embassies from around the world.

Take a behind-the-scenes tour to explore the opulent interiors of Anderson House, home to the Society of the Cincinnati – a group dedicated to sharing information about the American Revolution.

If you happen to be visiting the nation’s capital in the spring, don’t miss your chance to sneak a look inside a range of embassies as part of the annual Passport DC Event.

Multitude of museums

Washington DC has a museum for every interest. From the National Museum of Women in the Arts to The National Geographic Museum, there are tons of unique museums where culture seekers can dill their boots.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the calming atmosphere of the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. The museum was established in 1976 with a gift of 53 bonsai trees from the Nippon Bonsai Association of Japan to the American people, celebrating America’s Bicentennial.

Not only does the museum provide a welcome respite from the capital’s hubbub, but it’s also free to enter.

DC down under

There’s plenty to see and do above and below ground in Washington. Located beneath the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America lies the catacombs of Washington DC, constructed in the 19th century.

Situated slightly outside of the city centre, a visit to this burial chamber is something many tourists miss out on.

Despite these catacombs not having the long history that their European counterparts have – most are replicas – it is where Saint Innocent, the child martyr, is laid to rest.

Galleries Galore

Washington is home to the United States’ first modern art museum, the Philips Collection. Opened in 1921, the gallery features work ranging from Van Gogh to Renoir and is the ultimate pit stop for art lovers.

If you’re after something a bit different, the Fridge, a gallery that focuses on graffiti and street art, should be at the top of your to-do list. This gallery also doubles up as a performance space and welcomes other artistic disciplines, from magicians to musicians, looking to showcase their talents.

Escape to Georgetown

Georgetown buildings Washington DC.

Historic homes and cobbled streets, Georgetown is a beautiful DC neighbourhood. It is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll by the waterfront or an afternoon of retail therapy.

Indulge in a sweet treat as you wander the streets with a cupcake from the famous Georgetown Cupcake.

You can also see where former president John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie lived, as well as the church they used to attend. You can even eat in the booth at Martin’s Tavern where JFK supposedly proposed – although a restaurant in Boston claims the same.

Market magic

Foodies listen up, a trip to DC isn’t complete without a visit to Eastern Market, where locals and visitors alike have come to devour the city’s best fresh food and produce since 1873.

Situated in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood it’s the ideal place to refuel after exploring Congress.

From piping-hot pies to delicious cakes and fresh seafood vendors, you’re sure to find something to tantalise your taste buds from the many stands and stalls offering delicious grub.

Lincoln’s legacy 

The tower of Lincoln books at the Center for Education and Leadership. Photo by Gary Erskine.

Image credit: The tower of Lincoln books at the Center for Education and Leadership, photo by Gary Erskine.

Head to Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership, just over the road from the famous Ford’s Theatre, to see one of the more unusual tributes to America’s 16th President.

Next door to Peterson House, where President Lincoln died in 1865, stands a 34-foot tower of books, representing a small fraction of the many words that have been written about him over the years.

Some 6,800 books were used to build the tower, with more than 205 real titles featured. It’s part of the theatre’s Aftermath Exhibits.

From the eerie catacombs to the Eastern Market, Washington DC has plenty to offer visitors other than the regular tourist traps. The rich history and culture that the capital has to offer will keep visitors busy.  

If you’re interested in travelling further afield, check out the Hertz US road trip planner to find even more some inspiration.