I always wanted to live in Washington, DC. My family stopped there occasionally on road trips, and I completely fell in love with the city’s marble buildings and enormous parks. I ended up going to university here, and stayed for a few years afterward. While I initially saw DC the same way most people do—the National Mall, the White House, and the Capitol Building—the District quickly became the first place I felt totally at home. It’s an incredible city with wonderful people, and my goal today is to introduce you to five awesome places to visit in Washington, DC that as a local, I know are tourist friendly, but not super touristy.
Here are five awesome places to visit in Washington, DC!
1: Rooftop at the Kennedy Center
A lot of travel guides do recommend the Kennedy Center—and specifically the Millennium Stage, which holds free concerts every night.
But they don’t usually tell you about the rooftop, which offers free access to anyone who’d like to get an incredible, panoramic view of DC and northern Virginia. You can hang out and take in the sights, watch an outdoor concert, or even participate in one of the center’s interactive murder mysteries.
Other cool rooftop spots: City View Room (and rooftop) at GWU, Biergarten Haus, and Donovan House Hotel.
2: Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café
Shameless confession: I chose my first apartment because of its proximity to Kramerbooks. A trendy spin on the traditional bookstore-coffee shop, Kramerbooks is a bookstore-bar-restaurant with live music and like 20 different types of pie.
Located just north of Dupont Circle, Kramer’s is an independent bookstore that’s absolutely thriving—and a favorite hangout for locals. Grab a book and a drink, or just stop by the café for dinner—you’re bound to love it either way.
3: Pizzeria Paradiso/Birreria Paradiso
Continuing the food theme, Pizzerea Paradiso has hands-down the best beer list in Washington, DC. Their Neopolitan style pizza ain’t too shabby either.
I have to admit that I’ve pretty much exclusively gone here for their amazing variety of microbrews and craft beers, which change every week—and their bartenders know more about their craft than most other places in the District. Head out to happy hour in Georgetown or Dupont if you want to stay in the city, or take a break at Paradiso’s third location in Old Town Alexandria.
Other cool bar: Bier Baron Tavern.
4: The Exorcist Steps
One of my all-time favorite movies is The Exorcist, which takes place mostly in Washington, DC. The film’s house and iconic steps are just a few blocks past Georgetown’s main thoroughfare.
This set of 97 stairs is easy to miss, but immediately recognizable—their steep, narrow rise leads you from a tucked-away arch at the bottom of Prospect Street to the top of M Street. Protip: If you’re out for a jog and need to get your heart rate up, this is a favorite sprint for Georgetown and GWU athletes.
Other cool film locations: Pretty much any building made of white marble.
5: Eastern Market
This one always surprises me—the Eastern Market building and its neighboring open-air market are two of the coolest spots in DC, yet I’ve mostly seen locals there week after week! So, it’s a perfect starter spot to explore Southeast DC without running into throngs of tourists. It’s also within walking distance of the Capitol Building and National Mall if you’re up for a day trip.
Located just off the Metro station of the same name, Eastern Market hosts an incredible farmer’s market indoors, with fresh meat, fruits, veggies, bread, and more. Across the street, you’ll find antiques, collectibles, arts, and crafts every Saturday and Sunday.
Other cool markets: Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market, Florida Ave. Market.
So, what other amazing spots would you recommend in Washington, DC? Post your ideas and stories in our community!