Portrait of a young businessman with finger on his lips

The obvious things to do in DC are both great and time consuming, so it can be hard to dig a little deeper during a short trip. Here are 15 DC secrets, sourced from long time residents, to squeeze into your itinerary during your next visit.

Blind Whino SW Arts Club

Blind Whino is a non-profit arts club and event space located in the Southwest Corridor of Washington, DC. The organization promotes creativity and community within the District, and rents out five of its rooms for art events, workshops, classes, concerts, and events.

Built on the site of the former Friendship Baptist Church in 1900, the church had been empty for 20 years until Art Whino and Suite Nation decided to purchase it in an effort to bring beauty into the southwest corridor.

Where

700 Delaware Ave SW
Washington, DC

Blues Alley

This jazz nightclub in an alley off Wisconsin Avenue has hosted everyone from Wynton Marsalis to Jimmy Rushing to Dr. John. With live music more than 300 nights a year, you can stop by almost any day for a world-class show

Where

1073 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC

Dumbarton Oaks

This more than 100-year-old estate in Georgetown offers a respite from the chaos of M Street. Designed by Beatrix Farrand (the same gardener behind The White House’s East Colonial Garden and West Garden), the property  is quiet, well manicured, and filled with cherry and magnolia blossoms. The Dumbarton Oaks blog meticulously details the blooms on a daily basis, so schedule your visit accordingly.

Where

1703 32nd St NW
Washington, DC

Drug Enforcement Agency Museum

The DEA Museum isn’t an A list attraction like the Smithsonian museums, but it offers an interesting glimpse into the American drug war. You can learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about things like opium dens, narco-terrorism, celebrities who overdosed, cartel trafficking, and more. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 am-4 pm.

Where

700 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA

Mansion on O Street

DC museums are fairly predictable, but the Mansion on O Street shatters the mold. There are over 100 rooms at the mansion, each with its own theme (a John Lennon room, an entire log cabin built within a room, and the former residence of Rosa Parks just to name a few), a dizzying array of knick-knacks (all of which are for sale), and enough bric-a-brac to make your grandma jealous. There are rooms for rent within the mansion, and more than 70 secret doors and passageways.  

Where

2020 O Street NW
Washington, DC

Angelika Pop-Up Theatre

Union Market has quickly become one of the best places in DC for foodies, and now you can eat great food and watch independent films in one of the most up and coming parts of town. According to Washington Post, the “three-screen cinema is a stop-gap measure and will be NoMa’s destination for foreign films and offbeat documentaries in a neighborhood where food options are proliferating but entertainment possibilities haven’t been as quick to follow suit.” Showtimes and reservations are available on Angelika’s website here.

Where

550 Penn St NE
Washington, DC

Key Bridge Boathouse

You can walk, drive, or bike by DC’s famous monuments, but locals know one of the best ways to beat the summer heat is to head down to Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown. Here you can rent kayaks ($14 an hour), canoes ($25 an hour), or stand-up paddleboards and cruise past the bustling Georgetown Waterfront, Kennedy Center, and the Lincoln Memorial. If you find yourself in dire need of gelato while you’re out, hit up DC’s first floating food truck, Nauti Foods.

Where

3500 Water St NW
Washington, DC

Trusty’s

Located one mile from the Capitol Hill Hotel, Trusty’s is the dive bar of choice for Capitol Hill residents. Head upstairs to the bus (yes, the bar is made from a converted bus) or outside to the deck on a sunny day, and grab one of the 12 craft cans on offer. Standouts include Porkslap Pale Ale and Heinnieweisse Farmhouse Ale.

Where

1420 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC

Titanic Memorial

If you ask a DC resident for directions to the Titanic Memorial, they probably won’t be able to help you because it’s that unknown. Funded by $1 donations from 25,000 women across the US, it was dedicated in 1931 to honor the men who “gave their lives so that women and children might be saved.” It was moved to Washington Channel Park in 1966 to make way for the Kennedy Center, and currently resides between 4th and P streets. Every April 15th at midnight, the Men’s Titanic Society convenes here for a champagne toast to honor those that were lost.

Where

Between 4th and P St SW
Washington, DC

The Pretzel Bakery

The Pretzel Bakery makes incredible pretzels, sliders (made with scrambled organic eggs, sharp cheddar, crisp bacon, and hot everything bagels from the oven), and Nutella Bombs (pretzels filled with nutella), but locals line up for the true piece de resistance-the Hotella. The best hot chocolate you will ever have in your entire life pairs well with an everything bagel, just in case you were wondering.

Where

257 15th St SE
Washington, DC

Kenilworth Aquatic Garden

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are a series of ponds punctuated with lily pads, lotus flowers, and lilies that could have been plucked straight out of Giverny. The best viewing is in spring and summer, but the park stays open year-round due to an abundance of birds and animals that have made the garden their home.

Where

1550 Anacostia Ave NE
Washington, DC

Franciscan Monastery

Need your Europe fix while in the district? There’s a massive Franciscan Monastery in Brookland with the most stunning outdoor garden and cloisters. The gardens are full of blooms during the spring and summer months, so grab a book and head here for peace and solitude.

Where

1400 Quincy St NE
Washington, DC

Anderson House

Anderson House is a Beaux-Art style mansion is located two blocks from Dupont Circle. It contains a large collection of French and English art and antiques, beautiful tapestries, as well as stunning ceilings and murals. Free concerts are held in the massive ballroom, as are some of DC’s most glamorous weddings.

Where

218 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC

Mitsitam Cafe

The National Mall is a desert when it comes to solid lunch options, but the Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian is considered the one exception. It pays homage to Native American culinary traditions, with dishes like buffalo burgers with green chilies, bison steak, poblano soup, and cedar salmon.

Where

4th St and Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC

Jazz in the Garden

The National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden hosts free open-air jazz fests every Friday, May through September. Locals know to arrive as early as 3 p.m. to stake out a prime patch of grass on the six-acre lawn, which is dotted with dogwood trees and works by Miro and Calder. Listeners can pack picnics and bubbly or order a glass of sangria from the garden’s Pavilion Cafe. Click here for a full schedule.

Where

7th Street and Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC