Viewing the museums and monuments in the National Mall is not the only awe-inspiring experience the nation’s capital city has to offer. If you venture off the beaten path, you will find that there are many exciting, non-touristy things to do in Washington, DC. Away from the overcrowded and noisy attractions, you can explore the District’s offbeat side. Here are some helpful recommendations to make your day memorable.
Have a happy hour beverage
Locals and travelers alike can find a budget-friendly, happy hour in the city. Happy hour is the ideal time to get affordable drinks in the many swanky and boujee cafes, restaurants, and bars around town. Sit at the bar for a spell and strike up a conversation with another local or traveler stranger—it makes no difference if you’re solo or with friends. Penn Social has an enjoyable and fun atmosphere with a giant games area that includes ping-pong and skeeball. Or, wander around Chinatown or down stroll down H Street to see what you can find.
Go for a stroll on Teddy Roosevelt Island
Escape the bustling urban environment for a few hours by exploring Theodore Roosevelt Island, a national memorial that is tucked away on the Potomac River. It is an 88.5-acre island that was given to the federal government by the Theodore Roosevelt Association to memorialize the 26th president. It features a network of trails you can hike to see old-growth trees, wildflowers, and wildlife in the spring and summer. Indeed, this secluded park is an outstanding place to take a long, leisurely nature walk. Teddy Roosevelt Island is easy to get to Washington DC. Take the Metro to Rosslyn Station, and then it’s a short jaunt to the park.
Get some good eats at the Eastern Market
The Eastern Market is located in the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, and is a reasonably well-kept local secret. The market is an excellent place to stock up on fresh, ripe produce to tempt your taste buds. It features many vendors selling seasonal wares, arts and crafts features, and mouth-watering prepared foods to munch on while you wander through the indoor and outdoor spaces. Weekends are particularly fun, with invigorating live music and many more stalls. To get there on a beautiful market day, take the Metro or rent a bike.
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Picnic by the Reflecting Pool on Capitol Hill
Like almost everyone, you know about the famous reflecting pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. However, not many know that it has a counterpart on the other end of the National Mall. The Capitol Reflecting Pool sits in the Union Square area, and has a pleasant grassy area with shade trees that just beg for you to picnic under them. While this is situated in the tourist zone, there are fewer crowds and a really great view of the Capitol Dome here.
To get the best non-touristy Washington, DC experience, venture out the local neighborhoods that aren’t near the National Mall. You’ll discover excellent restaurants, local boutique stores, and a side of the city that not many visitors get to enjoy.