In a city like Washington, DC, monuments, museums and history are around every corner. Sometimes it can be challenging to decide which attractions to visit during your vacation in DC. If you’re interested in off the beaten path adventures in DC, read on for more information about the city’s hidden gems.
Tour the Monuments by Moonlight
At nighttime, DC lights up and the capital city’s monuments look stunning. For a new sightseeing perspective, take a DC Monuments Tour to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Jr. Memorial, FDR Memorial and the Iwo Jima Memorial fully illuminated. You’ll be amazed by the beautiful lighting and iconic memorials on the tour, and you might even hear about some of the ghostly spirits who haunt the nation’s capital. Along the way, the tranquil evening breeze will cool you down after a long day of visiting DC’s attractions.
Visit the National Museum of Crime and Punishment
First opened in 2008, the National Museum of Crime and Punishment is full of interesting and interactive exhibits. From a crime lab to the filming studios for America’s Most Wanted, this 25,000 square foot museum is packed with artifacts and history about crime and punishment in the United States. Since the FBI Headquarters are currently not open for tours, check out the simulated FBI shooting range inside the museum. Serial killer Ted Bundy’s VW bug is also on display in the museum’s lobby, so don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind museum experience during your time in DC.
Learn About Literature at the Folger Shakespeare Library
The Folger Shakespeare Library is a favorite of visitors, students, families, teachers and scholars alike. A vast collection of Shakespeare’s works are available to study and enjoy, including a display of a First Folio, the only source for eighteen of his plays including Macbeth and Julius Caesar. For children, there are Shakespeare-centric games, puzzles, coloring pages and student resources. The Folger Shakespeare Library is also home to an intimate indoor stage called the Elizabethan Theatre, where visitors can watch plays, concerts and other events in an authentic environment from Shakespeare’s time.
Get Spooked at The Octagon House
The Octagon House was designed by the first architect of the United States Capitol, William Thornton, and was one of the first buildings to incorporate circles, rectangles, and triangles in its architecture. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, the House is the former home of the American Institute of Architects. The Octagon House is also known as the most haunted home in DC, with many spirits said to reside within its walls including Dolly Madison, two of the builder’s daughters and British soldiers. When you visit the Octagon House, you’ll see visionary architecture and possibly a ghostly presence or two!
Take a Day Trip to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
If you plan on spending more time in DC, take a day excursion to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located in Fairfax County, Virginia. Traveling to the Center takes roughly 45 minutes from the DC area, so make sure to leave time in your itinerary for travel purposes. The Center is an extension of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and home to an expansive collection of aircraft and spacecraft. Special exhibits include the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and the Space Shuttle Discovery. Another crown jewel is the SR-71 Blackbird, a spy plane from the Cold War era. There are many extraordinary sights here that can only be explored at the Center, making this hidden gem a must-see.