Unique Places in Washington D.C.

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Washington D.C.

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    Mary Livingston Ripley Memorial Garden

    by razorbacker Written Sep 23, 2013

    This is a restful and pretty floral walkway just west of the Hirshhorn Museum. It is nice to amble through here, taking it down a notch and regaining your equilibrium and breath.

    It is a "quiet oasis" maintained by the Smithsonian.

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    Bureau of Engraving and Printing

    by DEBBBEDB Written Aug 12, 2013

    We had to get up and get to D.C. early because we had a 7:30 a.m. tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. I remember my mom and dad taking us here in the 80's. This time we had a very grumpy guide. In an area with a low ceiling, she yelled at people for reaching up and touching the ceiling. I don't know why. It was an interesting tour, but not much opportunity for photos. Cameras are allowed in the facility, but their use in the tour gallery is prohibited.

    The tour is free and takes about 40 minutes. It includes an introductory film and gallery tour of the production process. The visitor center includes exhibits and currency products for sale.

    Peak Season Hours
    March - August you need to get tickets but they are free

    During 2013, tours will run every 15 minutes from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. from March 4th through March 22nd. March 25th through August 30th, tours will run every 15 minutes from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. with advanced reservations held for large groups between 11:00 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

    The Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (door closes at 3:00 p.m.) in March, and 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (door closes at 7:00 p.m.), April through August.

    Ticket booth located on Raoul Wallenberg Place (formerly 15th Street). if you are not in line by 6:30 - 7:00 a.m., it is unlikely you will get tickets that day.

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  • SPECIAL TOUR OF THE U.S. CAPITOL

    by INTPHOTO Updated Jun 22, 2013

    In February 2013, I was able to take a unique off the beaten track tour at the U.S. Capitol Building that took us to remote areas of the building or places one can’t get into when the Congress is in session.

    The first stop, was deep in the basement of the Capitol building, in a utility room with two marble bathtubs, which are all that remain of the once elaborate Senate baths. These baths were a spa-like facility designed for members of Congress and their guests before many buildings in the city had plumbing. Six marble bath tubs, each three by seven feet and carved by hand in Italy from a single block of Carrera Marble, were installed in the Capitol basement—three on the House side, three on the Senate side. They were quite luxurious. Three bathtubs were shipped from Genoa, Italy in July 1859 and reached the US in November of that year and installed during the expansion of the Capitol. The facilities included several bathtubs, a barbershop, and a massage parlor. It was mentioned that the tubs on the House side have disappeared.
    One of tubs was the "killer bathtub," that was used by Ulysses S. Grant's vice president, Henry Wilson, in 1875. On November 10, 1875, Henry Wilson went down to soak in the tubs, it was reported that he fell asleep and was chilled by the cooling water. Soon after leaving the bath, he was struck by paralysis and carried to a bed in his vice-presidential office, just off the Senate floor. Within a few days, he felt strong enough to receive visitors and seemed to be gaining strength then on November 22, he died in his Senate office. In his memory, the Senate in 1885 placed a marble bust of Wilson by the sculptor Daniel Chester French (best known for the Abraham Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial) in the room where the vice president died.
    It must be noted Carrara marble is the same marble Michelangelo used on the “Pietà” in the Vatican and the David statue in Florence, but here we use it for Senatorial bathtubs! Today they are forgotten, one is covered over with plywood and file cabinets. But one is open to see. Above is a picture tub.

    The real treat of our tour was to go to the Senate cloakroom and then on to the floor of the U.S. Senate. This was my first time on the Senate floor. We then went to a number of special meeting rooms that are difficult to get intro when the Congress is in session. One has an excellent Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington. We also spent time in the Brumidi corridors, here one can see the wonderful work the Brumidi and his team did in decorating the corridors and meeting rooms in the late 1850’s. The tour ended back in the basement at the site that was selected as tomb for George and Martha Washington. When the site was ready for their tombs the Washington family and the State of Virginia said “no” and the remains of the first president stayed at Mt. Vernon.

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    Public Art

    by GentleSpirit Updated Apr 6, 2013

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    For those of us who live here, graffiti is not always a good thing. One artist though is something of a local legend. I remember even during the toughest times you had to be amazed at this guy. You could be walking down the street and suddenly notice his tag on a wall..or a bridge or something totally common. You can see a lot of his work if you ride the Red Line metro towards Silver Spring.

    Since his tags are not about advocating violence or anything like that..he has become a bit of a local legend. You always secretly cheered him when you saw his tag on some out of the way thing.

    Now Cool Disco Dan does interviews and has been featured on tv.
    You're the Man Cool Disco Dan!

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    fredericksburg

    by doug48 Updated Nov 17, 2011

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    a nice day trip from washington d.c. is the historic town of fredericksburg. fredericksburg has a charming downtown historic district with scores of historic homes, buildings and an excellent collection of restaurants, bars and shops. for those interested in early american and civil war history fredericksburg is well worth a visit when in the washington d. c. area. fredericksburg is 50 miles south of downtown on I-95. see my fredericksburg pages for more information.

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    manassas national battlefield

    by doug48 Updated Nov 17, 2011

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    for those interested in civil war history the manassas national battlefield is a worth while side trip from washington d. c. this interesting park covers the first and second battle of manassas also known as the battle of bull run. manassas national battlefield is located 25 miles west of downtown. from washington take I-66 west to exit 47 B then north on hwy 234 north to the battlefield. the address is 6511 sudley road. for more information see my manassas national battlefield pages.

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    Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia

    by ForestqueenNYC Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Don't miss spending a day in this charming town only a few miles from Washington just past Reagan Airport. It is chock full of shops and restaurants and beautiful walks. It has a very southern feel to it.

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    George Washington Masonic Memorial Temple

    by ukmagicman Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Just a mile from the Potomac River, in Alexandria, Virginia and overlooking the nation's capitol, stands the 333 ft. George Washington Masonic National Memorial on historic Shooters Hill.

    The temple is free to enter and to tour and is spectacular inside and out. Most people look at the temple and say wow what a tall building, wonder what it is, and never realize you can go on a free guided tour right to the top of the temple.

    This is a Masonic temple, so is closed during Masnoic meetings. Therefore check the Web site for tour details. Inside the temple you will see lavishly decorated rooms, an amazing statue of George Washington, and many other things as you travel to the top. The cryptic room is a must see and is amazing. A must see that very few people visit.

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    See This Web Page for Ideas

    by soccergrrl Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    See the page (link below) from the Washington Post that's headlined, "You Haven't Lived Here if You Haven't . . ."
    There are some really interesting ideas of things to do in and around the Washington, DC area.

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    Francis Scott Key Park

    by richiecdisc Written Apr 25, 2010

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    While most people may know that Francis Key Scott wrote the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” few know he was a native of Georgetown. The city has commemorated is place in history with a gorgeous city park on the southern boundary of Georgetown. We did not get to fully explore the large park but the small entrance area has a bust of the famed son of Georgetown along with a brief history of his life.

    35th & M Street

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    Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel

    by richiecdisc Written Apr 25, 2010

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    The Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel is in the Gothic Revival style and was designed by Frank Renwick Jr. in 1850. Set on the highest ridge of Oak Hill Cemetery, it is on the National Register of Historic Places and perhaps the most visited site in a very impressive and scenic cemetery.

    We unfortunately had only one afternoon in lovely Georgetown and by the time we got to the cemetery, it was closed for the day. I grabbed this shot though the fence and later learned that photography was not permitted in the cemetery, a tough thing to abide by with such beautiful structures as this within its confines.

    Near the intersection of 29th and R Streets, Northwest

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    Georgetown University

    by richiecdisc Written Apr 25, 2010

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    Though not an Ivy League school, Georgetown University certainly has much of the air of one and alumni that are prosperous in a similar fashion. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States. Healy Hall is the cornerstone building of the old quadrangle which makes up a classic college grassy area for students to relax and soak up all that Georgetown atmosphere.

    I love checking out high end schools since I never could afford to attend one and Georgetown did not disappoint. It was nice for Doreen who is from Germany to see up close one of the United States' more renowned schools too.

    Prospect & 35th Street NW.

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    The Exorcist Steps

    by richiecdisc Written Apr 25, 2010

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    For anyone that has ever seen the movie The Exorcist, a visit to The Exorcist Stairs is a must. This narrow and fairly long set of steps is where the priest rids himself of the devil by hurling himself to his death down the formidable passageway. Today, the same steps serve a more functional and less scary purpose: it is used by countless Georgetown athletes to get into great shape as the 75 steps is the equivalent of a 5 story building. Ten trips up and down should get your heart rate going if you run them. We just did them once for posterity but I can imagine if I lived in the neighborhood (and I wouldn't mind that one bit) I would use them as part of my workouts too.

    Connects Prospect and M Street in Georgetown. Easy to stumble across but hopefully not down. ;)

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    Viewing Stones at the Bonsai garden

    by abi_maha Written Sep 10, 2009

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    These are interestingly shaped stones that look like a landscape scene that the chinese/japanese used for decor purpose. There was a very beautiful display of the same when we visited the Bonsai garden. We were told that the quality or content of the stone was immaterial, but some of their forms were fantastic to say the least!

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    Clara Barton National Historic Site

    by Ewingjr98 Written Jul 7, 2009

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    Clara Barton National Historic Site is located in Glen Echo, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC. This nine acre site features her 38 room house and is managed by the National Park Service. Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, lived here from 1897 until her death in 1912. This house also served as an early headquarters of the American Red Cross, as well as living quarters for many of the organization's volunteer workers.

    Clara Barton was born in Massachusetts and spent her early life as a teacher, later starting one of the first public schools in New Jersey. During the Civil War, she was authorized to transport supplies and treat soldiers as such battlefields as Antietam, Richmond, and Petersburg. After the Civil War, she was tasked to help identify those missing and the unidentified killed in the Civil War. Later, while traveling in Europe, she learned about the International Committee of the Red Cross which had been founded in Europe in 1864, and finally was able to get approval for the American Red Cross in 1881.

    The Clara Barton National Historic Site was established in 1975 and is considered the first National Historic Site dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman. This is a rarely visited part of the National Park Service, hosting just over 12,000 visitors per year.

    A brass plaque on a stone in front of the house reads:


    CLARA BARTON HOUSE

    Has been designated a
    Registered National
    Historic Landmark

    Under the provisions of the
    Historic Sites Act of August 21, 1935
    this site possesses exceptional value
    in commemorating and illustrating
    the history of the United States

    U.S. Department of the Interior
    National Park Service
    1965

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