An alternative tour guide to Washington DC

by Emma Fressignaud

Are you looking for things to do in Washington D.C once you’ve visited the National Mall and the Smithsonian?

Search no more; here are 10 unconventional things to do on a luxury city break in Washington DC.

The Dupont Circle

Although Dupont Circle is a roundabout, it is large enough to host a park where you are not bothered by the noise from the cars around. The place is ideal for picnics, or just relaxing, far from the crowds of tourists on the National Mall. On the east side of the park are 10 chess tables, unofficially known as “the Chess University of Dupont Circle”. If you are any good at chess, consider challenging one of the local figures to a game, such as Tom Murphy (a formerly-homeless chess expert, happy to challenge you for a few dollars) or William Moore, “the Checker Man”. Don’t miss this opportunity over your special weekend break in D.C.

The Phillips Collection

Also part of the Dupont Circle neighborhood, the Phillips Collection is a modern art museum, which deserves as much attention as the National Gallery of Art. Art lovers will be thrilled to find paintings by some of the greatest modern artists including Van Gogh, Picasso or Matisse. This museum is also home to the renowned Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Visit the Phillips Collection as part of your luxury art holiday in Washington D.C.

The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of exotic trees which make up scenic landscapes, perfect for relaxing on a summer day. On the east side is a 20 acre landscape named Ellipse Meadow where you will find the splendid Capitol columns and their reflective basin. Those Corinthian columns used to support the east portico of the Capitol but were removed in 1958 when a new dome was installed. Although fairly unknown, the National Arboretum is one of the most picturesque settings in Washington D.C and among the best outdoor getaways in the District of Columbia.

The Spy Museum

Watching a James Bond movie, you may think those gadgets of his are surreal. The Spy Museum will introduce you to some of the artefacts real spies used – that may seem borrowed from your favorite spy movie. Discover how spies gathered secret information from the Soviets… or for them. Witness how dancer and singer Josephine Baker contributed to the French resistance by smuggling secrets written in her sheet music during World War II. Learn all about spies’ covers, gadgets, and their key roles in events which shaped our world on your leading city break in Washington D.C.

The Kennedy Centre Millenium Stage

Everyday at 6pm, the Kennedy Centre Millennium Stage hosts free artistic performances. They range from dance to music, to plays and comedy. Entrance is free and performances are given by talented artists from all over the world. Past performers include Youssou N’Dour, the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra and Jeff Bradshaw. Make sure you seize the opportunity during your boutique cultural holiday in the USA.

The O&C canal

If you want to discover Georgetown from a different point of view, try kayaking down the O&C Canal. You can rent a kayak for the day at Fletcher’s Boat House (further up the canal) and paddle down to Georgetown, north-east Washington. The towpath along the canal is known among locals, going from red-bricked-industrial buildings in Georgetown to the relaxing leafy canal banks further out. You might even share the canal with a mule-drawn canal boat on your best outdoors getaways in Washington D.C!

The Torpedo Factory Art Centre

The Torpedo Factory Art Centre in Alexandria is a must-see while on a luxury art holiday in Washington D.C. This former torpedo manufacturing factory was transformed into an art centre in 1974 and now hosts 82 local artists and their works. The structure of the building was left untouched and one of the torpedoes manufactured there is still on display. Among other artists, why not check out Matthew Johnston’s Tall Tulips? This artist works at the Torpedo Factory Art Centre since 1977 and his paintings are exhibited around the world.

Adams Morgan

Next to Dupont Circle, the Adams Morgan neighborhood must be visited for its choice of bars, restaurants and shops from all over the world. Adams Morgan is considered one of the major nightlife areas in the District of Columbia by the local young professionals, who enjoy having a drink there as much as smoking a hookah or having a night out on the tiles.

Georgetown Cupcake

Famous in the United States thanks to its TV show, Georgetown Cupcake is heaven for those with a sweet tooth. There you will find a choice of cupcakes baked on-site daily. The permanent selection of 16 flavors is extended by 4 extra flavors depending on the day of the week and up to 10 others depending on the month you visit. There is often a queue around the block that can be discouraging but it’s worth the wait. A safe bet would be a red velvet cupcake while a serious sweetness gourmet should go for the salted caramel one, available only on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Just the thought of them should get you through the wait no matter what your stance on confectionery is, on a special gourmet holiday in Washington D.C.

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