6 Washington D.C. Attractions Tourists Might Not Know About

Ready for the local secrets?

Washington, D.C. is well-known for its monuments, large museums, history, and politics. In fact, its National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, White House, Smithsonian Museum, and other often-photographed attractions are often the first things that come to mind when someone is planning a trip to the area.

There are so many other things to see and do in and around the region, though, many of which are local secrets or beautiful spots that are simply not as popular. Here are a few of the most interesting, off-the-beaten-path, must-see attractions hidden in and around Washington, D.C.

Don’t Miss These Lesser-Known DC Attractions

George Mason Memorial — This bronze statue honoring Commonwealth of Virginia Declaration of Rights author George Mason overlooks the Washington Channel and sits on a marble bench. One of his quotes speaking out against slavery and supporting the human rights charge is inscribed there, too.

1. National Arboretum

Established in 1927, and administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the National Arboretum encompasses 446 acres and includes 9.6 miles of roadways. It sees more than 600,000 annual visitors and hosts expansive gardens, educational opportunities, cooperative programs, international partnerships, and more. The Arboretum also offers an Herbarium, including more than 650,000 dried plant specimens for agricultural, botanic, horticultural, medicinal, and other research.

national arboretum in washington, dc

2. President Lincoln’s Cottage

Located just south of Fort Totten, President Lincoln made some of the largest, nation-changing decisions from his summer cottage. His family lived in the smaller home on a hilltop for three summers straight during the Civil War, bringing them closer to the war and giving the President greater insights into humility, freedom, and justice. The home is open for tours, working to inspire “courageous ideas, respectful dialogue, and thoughtful compromise.”

lincolns cottage location in dc

3. The Exorcist Steps

Film history buffs might want to visit the famous staircase in Georgetown where Father Damien Carras took his famous spill in 1973’s “The Exorcist.” In 2015, the steps were recognized as an official DC landmark. Just be careful not to end like Father Carras as you explore this off-the-beaten-path attraction.

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4. The Mansion on O

“The epicenter of the next generation,” the Mansion on O is a venue for meetings, events, weddings, mitzvahs, and lodging, as well as a museum. Mansion tours are offered daily, allowing patrons to view between 60 and 100 of its rooms, more than 70 secret doors, and more. Proceeds from tours, events, and exhibits support “our heroes and artist-in-residence program.”

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5. The Postal Museum

A museum displaying the history of the U.S. Postal Service might seem like the most boring way to spend an afternoon in the Nation’s Capital. Just take our word for it, you won’t want to miss this lesser-known attraction. Tourists and locals alike agree that it’s one of DC’s best-kept secrets.

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