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 $.
Politics is good theater, and if Congress is out or its a rainy day, take time out to head up to Cleveland Park to catch a movie at the Uptown Theater. The Uptown is one of the largest movie theaters on the East Coast and harkens back to the day when going to see a movie was an event.
This art deco theater seats 840 people and there is no bad seat in the house. Movies are projected onto a large three story tall screen that curves around the audience. Occasionally in the summer, they show old classics.
3426 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
After spending a day or two seeing the sites in DC, take a cab to Georetown to see the University and the town. It is a nice break from the tourist feel in downtown and will help break up the whirlwind type mentality you have experienced in trying to visit all of the sites. Plus, there are great restaurants and shops
Wonderful 1800's houses line the streets behind the Capitol. Some are connected to one another as "row houses". Others are free standing. A lot of this area has been improving in recent years as property values rise. The restored houses stretch further out from the Capitol every time I visit.
I'm always fascinated by the view out the back window of the homes in cities like Washington. People do all sorts of things with their little postage stamp garden space..and then beyond it is the utility of living. Here is where the cars are parked...the trash man comes through...and REAL LIFE sort of shows through.
U Street (Subway : U Street - Cardozo) - Between 13th & 16th there is the Jazz Area from 1920 to 1960 (nickname of the street : Black Broadway).
Duke Ellington lived his childwood here (he lived 1212 T Street). Mile Davis said : 'each musician must postrate before God to thank Him to have created Duke Ellington'.
The Mall is the beaten track, most attractions of Washington are located on this stretch of green. My suggestion to get off from it is to drive around the area where there are embassies. That's another place where I got lost, and was glad to be lost.
My neighborhood Adams-Morgan lies north of Dupont Circle and has its nexus at the intersection of Columbia Road and 18th Street. The cosmopolitanism of Washington is in no place more evident than in Adams-Morgan. Most of the bars and restaurants on 18th Street are foreign-owned. My favorite restaurants were Ethiopian which serve meat and vegetable in spicy and savory sauces. When I went for the first time in 1986, there were neither knifes nor forks on the table, we had to eat with our fingers, a funny experience I did not expect in conservative Washington. Ethiopian food comes on injera, a sort of tortilla, perfect for wrapping up the spicy lamb-dishes in savory spiced-vegetable pastes.
I don't know if people necessary miss this but it can be overlooked because dc has so many great sites. Just take some time and walk up M street to Georgetown and enjoy the quiet streets and beautiful town houses of some of washingtons power players. A nice change of place from the tourist filled main sites.
For those of you interested in how the posh of the poshest live in DC, visit Potomac, Maryland a few miles northwest of Washington, DC. This area is home to wealthy lawyers, corporate officers & businessmen.
Just drive up River Road and see the castles abound...