For those who’ve seen the Smithsonian museums, go to these 6 lesser-known DC landmarks subsequent

Between the world-class Smithsonian museums and the beautiful monuments that gentle up when the solar goes down, our nation’s capital is steeped in American historical past and tradition. Even on a brief journey to Washington, D.C., you may wish to depart time to go to town’s most well-known sights.

However let’s face it — even historical past buffs are susceptible to museum fatigue. For those who’re a repeat customer on the lookout for new websites, there are some excellent, lesser-known historic landmarks within the space. Why not go to former presidents’ houses, a historic restaurant or the good outside as an alternative?

I feel the most effective components of historic sightseeing are the tales from face-to-face interactions. You may discover fewer crowds at these areas, making for a extra instructional and fewer anxious journey.

Mount Vernon

About 15 miles south of Washington on the banks of the Potomac River, our first president’s property is a must-see for vacationers and historical past fans.


Upon getting into the mansion — which is 10 occasions the dimensions of the typical dwelling in Colonial Virginia — you may see a number of key rooms and artifacts. These embody George Washington’s non-public research, the New Room (the grandest house in the home), the important thing to the Bastille (a 1790 present from Marquis de Lafayette, the French diplomat who commanded troops within the American Revolution, serving to the U.S. win independence), many household portraits and the Washington coat of arms.

Fantastically maintained grounds replicate life in Colonial Virginia. Be certain to cross by the 4 gardens, Washington’s tomb, the slave memorial and the working farm.

Mount Vernon’s on-site museum has 23 galleries and theaters that take guests by means of Washington’s life to America’s early historical past. Do not miss the 4D film that explores Washington’s key army victories at Boston, Trenton and Yorktown.

You may should be on a guided tour (included within the worth of admission) to enter the mansion, however you possibly can roam the grounds and museum at your leisure.

Gunston Corridor

  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. to five:30 p.m.
  • Price: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for youngsters, and free for youths 5 and below. For those who e-book your tickets on-line, you may pay a $2 comfort payment per ticket.
  • Getting there: A 35-minute journey from downtown Washington. Parking is free.
  • Time required: One to 2 hours.

Gunston Corridor, the previous residence of U.S. founding father George Mason, gives guests with guided excursions of the mansion. It additionally provides an interesting exhibit on the customer middle that delves into Mason’s life and the wealthy historical past of the Virginia colony.

Join our each day publication

As you stroll up the 12-foot-wide carriage path from the customer’s middle to the mansion, you’re greeted with a grand English Colonial Georgian facade. Contained in the mansion, you may discover some unique objects and furnishings belonging to the Mason household, together with a Mason portrait and the unique chamber pot. Pay shut consideration to the small particulars just like the crown molding and Parisian wallpaper — terribly uncommon options within the Virginia colony.

Whereas Mason’s mansion is not as grand as Mount Vernon, I totally loved the tour. My colleague and I had been one in every of three small events on our tour. It wasn’t rushed, and our docent gave an insightful commentary, encouraging our many questions.


There have been additionally numerous hands-on displays within the mansion. I cherished the first supply quotes.

Though we toured on a Sunday afternoon, a lot of the guests on our tour had been retirees. The docent mentioned households typically come by means of weekend mornings, and faculty teams frequent Gunston Corridor in the course of the week.

Whereas our packed schedule solely allowed for a cursory overview of the displays within the customer’s middle, there have been a number of interactive alternatives to discover Mason’s aims and debate his decisions.

A tour, which is included within the worth of admission, is required to enter the mansion; nevertheless, you possibly can try the customer’s middle displays at your leisure.

Nice Falls Park

  • Hours: 7 a.m. to sundown.
  • Price: $20 for a single, noncommercial automobile and all its passengers or $10 for guests older than 15 arriving by foot, bicycle or horse. These passes are additionally legitimate for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Nationwide Historic Park. The upcoming 2023 free days are Aug. 4, Sept. 23 and Nov. 11.
  • Getting there: A 30-minute drive from downtown Washington.
  • Time required: One hour (or longer, relying on how far you wish to stroll).

With Maryland and Virginia on both facet of the Potomac River, Nice Falls Park has spectacular strolling trails, hikes and views. Select the facet that is extra handy for you (for many coming from Washington, that’ll be Maryland). You may discover cascading waterfalls with 80-foot drops on the Nice Falls Overlook. You may entry the path to the overlook from the Maryland facet.

Within the nineteenth century, the falls served as miners’ key energy supply. Across the Civil Conflict, the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers constructed the Washington Aqueduct, which equipped water to Washington, D.C.

Right now, the park is a well-liked vacation spot for strolling, mountain climbing, picnicking, biking and horseback driving.

On the Maryland facet, you may discover a coated bridge about half a mile south of the customer’s middle and parking zone as you stroll alongside the towpath. For those who proceed following this path, appropriate for walkers and bikers, you may attain Georgetown in 13.7 miles.

Ben’s Chili Bowl

  • Hours: Monday to Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Price: $10 to $20 for a whole meal.
  • Getting there: A fast journey or a straightforward stroll from the Shaw-Howard College Metro station.
  • Time required: half-hour.

Ben’s Chili Bowl is a good historic attraction for those who’re looking for native tradition. There are two full-service shops within the district. Whereas my colleague and I visited the newer H Road NE location (pictured above), diners can nonetheless go to the unique U Road NW location.

Ben Ali — a Trinidad-born immigrant and his surviving spouse, Virginia — based Ben’s on the daybreak of America’s civil rights motion in 1958. Their restaurant grew to become a go-to gathering place for civil rights activists. Outdoors Ben’s doorways, the U Road Hall (generally known as Black Broadway) is dwelling to a thriving Black arts and leisure scene.

Ali donated meals and supplied shelter to these in want in the course of the 1963 March on Washington and the 1968 Washington, D.C., riots.

Diners can take pleasure in the identical half-smoke chili canines, fries and milkshakes whereas additionally taking within the magnitude of this restaurant’s legacy.

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

  • Hours: 9 a.m. to five p.m.
  • Price: $20 for a single, non-public automobile plus a rental automotive.
  • Getting there: Two hours from downtown Washington.
  • Time required: Two to 3 hours.

Harper’s Ferry is a captivating, historic city on the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

It grew to become the notorious website of John Brown’s raid in 1859, which performed a key function in precipitating the Civil Conflict. Harper’s Ferry can be the positioning of the biggest give up of Federal troops in the course of the Civil Conflict and one of many earliest built-in colleges within the U.S.

Harper’s Ferry is understood for its out of doors leisure actions, together with scenic hikes on the Maryland Heights and Appalachian trails.

My cousin and I did a whitewater rafting journey in Harper’s Ferry a number of years in the past. Because it was the tip of summer time, the rapids had been gentle, and we loved taking within the views of the dramatic panorama from the Shenandoah River.

Vacationers preferring one thing a bit much less strenuous can stroll alongside the charming cobblestone streets of the city. Duck into True Treats Historic Sweet — which has sweets from the seventeenth, 18th, nineteenth and twentieth centuries — and cease for lunch at Cannonball Deli to take pleasure in a pleasant out of doors patio.

The Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown triangle

If time permits, lengthen your journey to the historic triangle earlier than or after your journey to Washington, D.C. The triangle ticket contains admission to historic websites, museums and commerce retailers. It is legitimate for seven consecutive days after the primary day you enter.

You can begin your journey by discovering early American roots at Jamestown Settlement, named after King James I of England in 1607.

Within the first years in Jamestown, settlers grappled with hunger and rampant illness, they usually had frequent altercations with the Powhatan Native American peoples. After reinforcements arrived from England, Jamestown grew and later grew to become the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1616 to 1699.

Guests can benefit from the museum, replicated buildings and archaeological websites showcasing the lives of the early colonists.


After visiting Jamestown, head to Colonial Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780 and a modern-day historic reenactment city.

Williamsburg has been superbly restored because the hub of the colony’s social, political and educational exercise. For those who’re , stroll alongside the quad of the Faculty of William and Mary, the second oldest U.S. faculty relationship again to 1693.

Colonial Williamsburg’s essential drag is Duke of Gloucester Road, stuffed with historic buildings and reenactments. Many employees members are uniformed and sporting conventional apparel. My favourite a part of Colonial Williamsburg is the courthouse, the place interpreters educate about justice in the course of the 18th century.

Because it’s troublesome to see the three sights in someday, I like to recommend staying the night time on the Lodge at Colonial Williamsburg — a part of Marriott Bonvoy’s Autograph Assortment. The lodge has Colonial-style rooms with upscale picket finishes, and it is steps away from the primary sights of Colonial Williamsburg.


The following morning, conclude your historic tour with a visit to Yorktown, the positioning of one of the vital vital conflicts within the Revolutionary Conflict.

Do the lyrics “the world turned the wrong way up” from the “Hamilton” musical run by means of your thoughts? That is from the tune “Yorktown,” which refers back to the battle the place Common Washington’s Continental Military and French forces defeated the British military led by Common Cornwallis in 1781. The British surrendered on Oct. 19, 1781 – now the date of Virginians’ annual festive Yorktown day. The Victory Middle (museum) and battlefields are must-see sights.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button