5 Places to Be a Local Tourist (Without the Crowds)



It’s May, so pretty much every school within bus trip distance is sending groups of students to DC to learn about the Declaration of Independence, check out the Lincoln Memorial, and tour the Capitol Building (spoiler: everything there is haunted!).  

We all know our city is a destination for tourists and we all suffer through the influx of people taking pictures with iPads, shuffling dozens of sullen teens through the Metro during rush hour, and worst of all, esca-lefters. But for all of your familiarity with the DC Tourist Highlight Reel, how well do you really know the city you call home?

Living the #FrayLife means experiencing ALL the city has to offer, even if it means embracing your inner local tourist.

Ready to explore? Get started by checking out these 5 neat places of historical and cultural significance that many people who live here miss.

1. Lincoln’s Cottage

Credit: DC Beer

Located up in Petworth, Lincoln’s Cottage was home to veteran soldiers that played host to President Lincoln and his family during the summers of his presidency. This hilltop home offered President Lincoln the chance to meet disabled veterans living next door, self-emancipated men, women, and children. Offering the ability to see both the cost of the war and the effect that it had on the District on his commutes to and from the White House. This change in scenery and perspective clearly impacted how he thought about slavery, freedom, and his country. Come take a tour and get a peek inside the world of the President who held the country together against all odds.

2. The Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Garden

The estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post (Hillwood Estate) is a hidden gem in this city. Heiress to the Post Cereal fortune, Marjorie Merriweather Post was a savvy businesswoman in her own right. She also became an art collector, philanthropist, and hostess extraordinaire, which her exquisite home reflects. Her interests centered around the French style of King Louis XVI and Russian art purchased after the revolution. If you want to learn more about Russia than Mueller is willing to tell you, check out the Russian Icon Room, Sacred Arts Gallery, or Porcelain Room at Hillwood. Additionally, now that the weather is finally warming up, take advantage of the stunning acreage surrounding the estate and the formal gardens.

#FrayLife Tip: Hillwood Estate hosts gardening related events, like their Herb Garden Workshop, in case you’re trying your thumb at being a #PlantParent. Pick which tour you want and make a day of it!

3. Renwick Gallery

Credit: Smithsonian

Gaining more traction for locals with its Insta-worthy installations, Renwick Gallery has flown under the radar for far too long. Located across the street from the Old Executive Office Building, the Renwick has evolved from the dusty Patent Office Building to the home of David’s Best Temple. It’s a neat gallery to spend an afternoon having a moment to yourself to meditate, and because it’s part of the Smithsonian family, it’s free admission.

4. Postal Museum

Credit: Postal Museum

OK, we know what you’re thinking, Postal Museum? Trust us, it’s more than just stamps (although there are indeed many stamps). There are awesome letters, including one that was delivered to THE MOON. How? Go to the museum and find out. There also are exhibits on the first pilots to deliver mail, soldiers in World War 1, and coming soon to a Postal Museum near you, an exhibit on John Lennon.

5. The Kennedy Center

You may have been to the Kennedy Center for the recent run of Shear Madness or some of the cool programming from the National Symphony Orchestra (shout out to Ben Folds), but what do you actually know about the Kennedy Center? Take the tour to learn more about the work that Lady Bird Johnson and Jackie O put into designing a living monument to the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.

#FrayLife Tip: Plan your tour around the free Millennium Stage show (every day at 6:00 pm!) and enjoy a Kennedy Center experience at Smithsonian prices (aka free).

You live in a city chock full of amazing things, take the time to go see them!  It doesn’t have to be the same four museums you go to when your folks are in town. The weather is beginning to warm up, take advantage and go have a #dcadventure.

Do you have a favorite place to visit that many DC residents mistakingly write off as being too touristy? Show us on social using #FrayLife so we can help inspire others to check it out.

Being a local tourist is a great idea for your next date night. Need other ideas to impress your SO? Check out DC’s coolest places to watch a summer movie.


View More Articles By Catie Merino




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