Washington D.C. It's the heart of the nation, the capitol of the US, and one of the loudest, noisiest, most touristy places in the country. But that's not to say it has to be. On the contrary, if you play D.C. right, it's not hard to escape the crowds - to see some of the things the city has to offer without feeling like a tourist. The list below is a selection of 5 places just like that: fun, interesting, and dynamic spots that will still make you feel just like a local Washingtonian
5. Shakespeare Theatre Company
Want to see a show in D.C., but don't feel like schlepping to the Kennedy Center? Look no further than the Shakespeare Theatre Company, located at the Harman Center for the Arts. While the shows they put on may be a little more cerebral than their more traditional counterparts, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is unique in its ability to put classical theatre in an American context. Put differently, one of their shows will take Shakespeare and make it so you can understand it, an invaluable cultural experience and one that will keep you safe from the swarms of summer crowds.
4. Women's Titanic Memorial
Are you a fan of monuments, but want to avoid the throngs around the reflection pool? Look no further than The Women's Titanic Memorial, a massive granite structure located right on the edge of the Potomac. While, perhaps, a more somber venue than most attractions, the memorial nevertheless provides a profound emotional experience, added to by the giant stone statue of a person with arms outstretched (movie-style) at the center of the memorial. In other words, while maybe not as impressive as other, more notable monuments, the Women's Titanic Memorial will, nevertheless, stay with you long after you leave.
3. The Philip's Collection
While perhaps more crowded than the average spot, the Philip's Collection remains one of the most underrated museums in D.C. Much less popular than its rival art institutes, the Smithsonian and National Portrait Gallery, the Philip's collection provides some of the best modern art to be found anywhere in the country, exhibiting talents as diverse as Van Gogh, Renoir, and Rothko. Attractions worth particular attention are the famous "Luncheon of the Boating Party," by Renoir, and the host of rotating exhibits which, depending on when you visit, could include topics as diverse as retrospectives on Abstract Expressionism, or a comparative analysis of photographic theory.
Even though this residential neighborhood is usually swarming with tourists and sight-seers, there are still regions of the area where you're almost certain not to run into other travelers. The "Exorcist Steps," home to one of the most famous scenes in movie history, is a perfect example. Nestled right between "M" street and Georgetown University, the steps provide a terrifying experience for anyone willing to brave them. The "Old Stone House" and the gardens behind it also provide a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of city-life, leaving you to explore the city unencumbered by fellow-tourists.
1. Dumbarton Oaks
And, in the number one spot, is one of the prettiest locations in DC, or, quite frankly, anywhere. Dumbarton Oaks, a massive, phantasmagorical garden, makes you feel like you're leaving the real world as soon as you enter, leading you down worn pathways, towards secret alcoves or into massive, sweeping vistas. It is also, luckily, less well-known to visitors, providing the perfect escape from the traditional city-going experience. An added piece of advice: If you're going to visit, try the late-spring or early summer. The famous DC cherry blossoms come into full bloom in that part of the season, meaning your trip will be just that much better.