Neighborhoods / Residential Areas, Washington D.C.
Your first reaction to that heading may be something along the lines of, "What is this idiot doing calling Capitol Hill 'Off the beaten Path'"? Obviously, Capitol Hill and the Capitol Building are high on the list of must see locations for most visitors to our nation's capital but I am strongly suggesting that after you see the Capitol Building you would be well advised to meander through the Capitol Hill neighborhood which began to be developed by Europeans in 1799 and is the largest residential historic district in D.C. Definitely a must-see! And, there is no need to ask your mother if for permission to pop in and out of the little shops and eateries lining lively Pennsylvania Avenue. Simon says, "Don't forget to visit the national landmarks."
Adams-Morgan Day Festival
Adams-Morgan is a pretty cool neighborhood, not too far from downtown DC. The 2nd Sunday of September is an all-day festival on the streets of their neighborhood.
It covers about 4 city blocks on 18th street, between Florida Rd & Columbia Rd. There are 2 stages, one on each end of the streets. The streets are lined down the middle with vendors selling food, art, promoting their profit & non-profit causes. In addition, of course, there are all the establishments that line both sides of the street. It’s a fun time.
For over 250 years, Americans have visited the waterfront port at Alexandria, VA that was established in 1749. Its port on the Potomac offered access to the Chesapeake bay, and Alexandria grew up around it.
It's olden buildings house various restaurants and coffee shops today, but sit inside and notice the rough-hewn beams that belie craftsmenship of an earlier age. Walking around is just what people do here, shopping and people-watching during nicer weather.
Alexandria includes various museums, a haunted house tour, and at one end, the George Washington Masonic Temple, a tribute to the first president of our nation. Alexandria, prior to the establishment of Washington, D.C. was the town that such notables as Jefferson, Washingon, and Mason would visit and talk of the nation.
Now those 200-year old brick townhouses are snuggled against 20 story colonial-looking condo units, all of which cost well over a million dollars. The Alexandria Courthouse is a favorite spot to stop and enjoy the fountains, and the trees are decked out in lights for the holiday season.
Home to various scottish festivals, fine dining, and several Irish Pubs, Alexandria is easy to Access using the Old Town Alexandria stop on the Metro, across the Potomac from the main city. Get off and head east fown King Street, which is the major thoroughfare.
Fort Stevens was constructed during the Civil War to defend Washington DC's northern approaches. In 1864, with the Army of Northern Virginia taking a pounding at Richmond, General Robert E. Lee decided to invade the north for the third and final time (the first culminated with the battle of Antietam, MD, and the second ended in disaster at Gettysburg, PA). A 20,000 man unit, under command of General Jubal Early invaded Maryland and defeated a Union force under General Lew Wallace at the battle of Monocacy Creek in Frederick, MD. Early then moved to Washington DC and attacked at Fort Stevens, just miles from the White House. On July 12, 1864, a day-long battle took place at Fort Stevens, with the Union victorious, ending the Confederate advance. During the battle, President Lincoln arrived at the Fort and watched the action, making him the only US President to ever be present at a battle and under fire while in office.
Fort Stevens is located at 13th and Quackenbos Streets, NW. There is not much at the site, except for some partially reconstructed walls and a few cannon. It is a nice park for a walk or a picnic.
Enjoy an after dark stroll through Lafayette Square at the White House and discover some local ghost stories! You can see the Decatur House which is said to be haunted by the Commodore himself, then stroll past St. John's Church, where ghosts are said to appear on the eve of a national tragedy. Then walk over to Dolley Madison's house and look for her ghost rocking on the porch. There are many other ghost stories in this very haunted little neighborhood! I took a great walking tour that I highly recommend given by a company called Washington Walks. Or do a little reading online first and do your own haunted walk! Lots of fun after sunset. Closest Metro is McPherson Square.
Money no concern? Then I'd stay in Georgetown, eat at Michel Richard's restaurant "Citronelle", but you do need reservations as he is a world renowned Chef, then walk down to the Harbor and get drinks at the outside bar at "Sequoia's", which is on the Potomac, and watch the boats, as well as the people come and go. Chill-laxin'. ~
H Street in Northeast Washington DC was once a thriving black community, then after the race riots of the Sixties, the area became a haven for criminals and drug dealers. Today, the H Street area is undergoing a revitalization of sorts, some new bars and restaurants, rising property values and gentrification. The neighborhood is becoming safer and more hip, but crime is still a problem... a quick drive through the neighborhood and you will feel an edge that other parts of DC like Adams Morgan just don't have. The city is even trying to create a historic district with its own walking trail and even a streetcar route to bring tourists to the neighborhood. Maybe in five or ten years I'll hang out here, but not yet. Not today.
The Atlas District, named after the Atlas Theater, is one of the prime areas of H Street. This is the far end of H Street's three main areas: Urban Living district (between 2nd and 7th Streets NE), the Central Retail District (between 7th and 12th Streets NE), and the Arts and Entertainment District (between 12th and 15th Streets NE).
1) National Arboretum, NE--this attraction is a little difficult to find, which may explain why it does not get as many visitors as it deserves. Nevertheless, this is one of my favorite places in the city. Although it is a park, it has an almost wild feel to it. There is an amazing bonsai collection, a grove of state trees, and other attractions, but the best thing to do here is just get lost and relax.
2) Dukem Restaurant, U St NW--If you go to DC, you must eat at an Ethiopian restaurant. This is the local specialty, and Dukem is the best place to try it. Also check out the surrounding U St area.
3) Buzzard's Point, SW--If you're interested in run-down districts with a strange charm, this is the place for you. It is hard to believe that Buzzard's Point is only a few blocks away from the Capitol. It Check out the dilapidated docks and trash collection points. Take First St SW south to the water.
4) St. Elizabeth's Hospital--This is a huge, creepy mental hospital in Anacostia. Some parts are open to the public. It is amazing how much open space there is inside the District.
5) Eastern Market, SE---OK, this is not really that far off the beaten path, but you should definately not miss this combo flea/food market. Also, one of the best used bookstores in DC can be found in the area.
Take a turn off the main stream amd check out the beautiful home that line the streets. The neighborhoods surrounding the city are filled with some wonderful old home, there's victorian, gothic and many other styles to enjoy. This is a very quiet and relaxing walk with that some one special.
I love to walk the streets of DC just to admire the homes for their architectural details. I love the old brick houses that you find all over this glorious city. So much history is told just by looking at the exterior of the houses.
Dance Place offers youth and adult dance classes in hip-hop, tap, modern, jazz, ballet, african, and other styles as well as master classes with visiting artists.
Thier studio is just a couple of blocks from the Brookland Metro stop on the red line.
They have ongoing classes and encourage adult students to drop in for one class or several. Youth classes are by semester. See their website for details.
Joy of Motion offers youth and adult dance classes in hip-hop, tap, modern, jazz, ballet, flamenco, and other styles as well as pilates and yoga.
There are studios near metro stops in Dupont Circle, Friendship Heights and Bethesda.
They have ongoing classes and encourage students to drop in for one class or several. See their website for details.
I grew up in DC and one of the rights of passage in high school was to go to Georgetown and find the stairs that were used in the filming of The Excorcist movie. The house that was used is at the top of the stairs.
This excursion is best done early in the evening.. dark enough to be scary, early enough to be safe. Go in a group.. it adds to the thrill.
In Georgetown follow the sidewalk down M street all the way past the Rossalyn bridge. There is a gas station on the right hand side of the street. If I remember correctly, the sidewalk ends. Tucked in the corner of teh parking lot of the gas station are the stairs. They are hidden next to a building. Climb up all the flights and look to the left and you will see the creepy house too!
The Old Town Visitors Center, has nice people who will give you info on a walking tour. When we got to the end of the tour at Christs church we sat in George Washington's Pew, there was a wonderful lady there who told us all about the church, it is beautiful. Also the visitors center gave us coupons for the river boat cruise to Mount Vernon, and free parking for the day.
Just two metro stops north of downtown is a great place to catch a glimpse of the real DC. Woodley Park is home to the National Zoo as well as several nice hotels & guest houses. The side streets are tree lined and the row house are some of DC's finest.
Woodley park is a great place to stop for a bite to eat. Street Cafes line Connecticut Avenue and cater to every taste. Like Lebanese Food? Try the Lebanese Taverna, Vietnamese? Siagon Gourment! Thia, French and a nice little Irish Pub round out the mix. You can always eat at McDonalds or Chipotle if you're watching the $.