11 Best Things to Do in Washington, DC

11 Best Things to Do in Washington, DC

  • 07/23/23
The first thing that comes to mind when people think about Washington, D.C. — especially living in Capitol Hill — is government. The most popular things to do in Washington DC and Capitol Hill revolve around politics or national history. Visitors and even locals frequent places like the Washington Monument, and a tour of the White House is the closest most people get to the mighty executive branch. You can easily fill a few days exploring the city’s sights, especially if you travel on foot.

Tourist attractions aside, D.C. has many excellent neighborhoods, like Georgetown and Dupont Circle, each with a unique flair. That's another reason realtor Mark Rutstein assembled this guide to D.C. Find out what living in Washington DC offers and all that lies beyond.

Stroll the stacks at Kramers Books

The perception of D.C. as a well-read city (with its collections of politicians and universities) is confirmed at the independent bookstore Kramers Books and the attached Afterwords Café — an iconic Dupont Circle establishment. There are always plenty of political essays, literature, novels, and travel guides (plus a delicious late-night café menu). Kramers Books hosts frequent readings with both up-and-coming and renowned authors, so you could see something special during your visit.

People watch at the Dupont Circle Fountain

One of the District's most well-known sites, next to the National Mall, is the Dupont Circle Fountain. This captivating work of art was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon. It’s a place where all can come together, from lovers and friends to performers, picnickers, and adventurers.

Explore the Potomac

During the hot summer months, Georgetown's waterfront is a hub of outdoor activities for locals. Take your pick from delicious restaurants like Sequoia and Fiola Mare, which feature convenient patio seating near the harbor. When it gets colder, the waterfront is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with an ice rink. Visitors can also choose to kayak on the Potomac River or simply take picturesque strolls around its banks.

Spend an afternoon at the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

Nestled away and flourishing, one might describe the picturesque grounds of this park as being akin to a Secret Garden. Perfect landscaping, meandering pathways, and ornate fountains create an unforgettable experience throughout this 27-acre paradise that's perched on Georgetown's highest hill.

Get a peek at the State Department

Step inside the most luxurious, opulent rooms of the State Department located in Foggy Bottom on a free weekday tour to observe where U.S. diplomats conduct their business. You'll be enveloped by an eclectic mix of American artwork, from landscapes to presidential portraits, as well as exquisite antiques scattered throughout each room. Make sure you don't miss out on seeing the Thomas Jefferson Room — it has a sculpture of its namesake within.

Enjoy green space in Rock Creek Park

Foggy Bottom is the proud host of the southernmost end of Rock Creek Park, a vast 2,100-acre oasis in D.C. This sprawling green space draws people from all over who come to soak up its beauty and partake in activities like horseback riding, picnicking, or exploring miles of trails. In summer months, especially, the park teems with visitors looking for an escape into nature — and they won't be disappointed. There are also plenty of cultural amenities such as a nature center and planetarium on offer here.

Tour the highest court in the land

Step up to take a self-guided tour of the Supreme Court or listen to an argument when the court is in session. The magnificent 1930s neoclassical building shows off bronze doors and columned interiors, the site of much deliberation by the nation’s judiciary branch. When the court isn't in session, experienced guides offer brief free lectures about the structure and its history, as well as the function of the Supreme Court.

Visit the National Mall

The National Mall, the heart of Capitol Hill real estate and history, is a sight to behold. It’s easy to get lost in the palpable sense of history as you gaze upon the splendid Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol Building, and Lincoln Memorial. Come explore this magnificent swath of land dubbed “America's front yard” and uncover inspiring monuments, memorials, and museums.

Not only does the National Mall offer visitors a captivating journey back in time, but it also houses the Smithsonian Museums, east of the Washington Monument. The most recent museum to join this unbeatable lineup is the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Catch a Show at Studio Theatre

For more than four decades, Studio Theatre has produced a diverse selection of cutting-edge and innovative plays, many of which are straight off Broadway. The Theatre has four separate stages in an upcycled commercial building with industrial-style decor. You'll find musicals, avant garde dramas, and new comedies here, plus the edgiest black box space around.

Experience Ethiopian cuisine

U Street has had many names, but one of its most memorable nicknames was “Little Ethiopia” due to the abundance of Ethiopian restaurants lining the street. Although some have since relocated to Silver Spring and Alexandria, a few treasured eateries still remain today that pay homage to this corner of Africa.

Begin your DC journey

Living in Washington DC is an exciting adventure. There are limitless things to do in Washington DC, and if you're looking for Capitol Hill homes for sale, expert Washington DC Realtor Mark Rutstein is here to help. Contact Mark Rutstein today to start your home search.
Recommended reading: Things to do in Arlington

*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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