Underrated Spots to Visit in Washington D.C.

If you purchased one of the Washington DC houses for sale, or have visited the nation’s capital multiple times, you’ve probably explored its most famous museums. People come from far and wide to see the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum, as well as sites like Arlington National Cemetery and the Capitol Building. However, there’s much more to D.C. than its most iconic attractions. If it’s time for something new, you might want to check out some of its most underrated places, too.

Arlington House

The Arlington House is best-known as the home of the man who led the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee. It was originally the home of his wife’s family who was Martha Washington’s great-granddaughter and has a strong connection to the nation’s first president, as well. Martha Washington’s son with her first husband, John Parke Custis, purchased the land in 1778, with the home built between 1808 and 1818 becoming the first memorial to George Washington. 

The Greek revival style mansion sits at the top of a picturesque hill overlooking the Potomac River and is surrounded by the Arlington National Cemetery – the very first graves, the oldest in the cemetery, were dug out right on his front lawn.

The International Spy Museum

This Washington DC institution attempts to shed light on the pivotal but veiled roles played by spies throughout history while revealing what has driven men and women to the lifestyle. It holds the largest displayed collection of its kind, including never-before-seen items that are historically significant. Some highlights include the pigeon camera, used for the first time in World War I, which captured shots while the birds flew to their destination and the famous Enigma Machine, an encryption device developed and used to protect commercial, diplomatic, and military communication during the early- to mid-20th century. It was spotlighted in many movies, like 2014’s “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

See and understand firsthand how American currency is printed and checked for defects on a free 40-minute tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It includes an introductory film followed by a tour through the production process. It might not be a destination that most people consider for their first time in D.C., but it is a uniquely fascinating attraction.

The Potomac River

Most people simply view the Potomac, which divides DC from the Virginia shore. When the weather permits, it offers a great way to see the city from another perspective by renting a kayak, rowboat, or canoe at Key Bridge Boathouse or Fletcher’s Boathouse.

Cedar Hill

Cedar Hill is the home of Frederick Douglass, who after escaping from slavery in Maryland, become one of the leaders of the abolitionist movement. He lived in Cedar Hill, located in the Anacostia neighborhood, from 1877 until his death in 1895. Some of the highlights include his one-room stone cabin, “growlery,” where he was able to work in seclusion, and his library which is almost entirely covered in books.

Eastern Market

Visit the vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood to check out this lively marketplace near the Capitol Building that’s been here since 1873. The Eastern Market is made up of multiple markets, including the indoor South Hall Market with everything from meats, produce, cheese, and deli items to baked goods and flowers. The Weekend Farmers’ Line is an open-air market where you’ll find farmers from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia selling fresh produce throughout the year, and The Weekend Outdoor Market sells locally handmade arts and crafts, and antiques.