Six things to do in Washington DC that are often overlooked

by Jan 10, 2017Washington DC

How about a change of pace in Washington D.C.? Here are six things to do in D.C. that many visitors don’t get to but should – including The National Gallery of Art free concerts, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Air Force Memorial, and the National Archives.

If you have a trip to Washington, D.C., coming up soon, the Smithsonian Museums are a standard to fill time. But how about a change of pace? Here are six things to do in Washington DC that many visitors overlook – including gardens, memorials and music.

U.S. Botanic Garden – Very close to the U.S. Capitol at the eastern end of the National Mall is a little gem of a garden, the U.S. Botanic Garden. It too is free and one of our top six things to do in Washington DC. Open to the public and in continuous operation since 1850, the U.S. Botanic Garden has both indoor and outdoor exhibits and gardens, including rambling outdoor areas with little nooks and benches to sit and commune with the flowers. Note that due to its proximity to the Capitol Building, it will be closed from Jan. 18-21, 2016, for the inauguration. Click here for general visitor information.

One of the more colorful six things to do in D.C. involves visiting the U.S. Botanical Garden.

National Gallery of Art free concerts – Visit the National Gallery of Art, and then stay for the free concerts. But remember they are first come, first serve. If you are there during the summer, take a look at our story about free summer jazz concerts in the Sculpture Garden outside.)

Free concerts at the National Gallery.

George Mason Memorial – A small memorial that is often even missed by locals, so makes it on our list of six things to do in Washington DC George Mason is a bit of a forgotten founding father who was referred to by Thomas Jefferson as “the wisest man of his generation.” At the memorial, his statue lounges on a bench with his walking stick and books near by as he gazes out at the gardens. Probably thinking! The memorial is not far from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, moving toward the Potomac River on Ohio Dr. SW..

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial – Although not far from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Roosevelt memorial is slightly overlooked too. We think because it is not tall and sweeping but walled in, making it a little secret-feeling find when you get there. It is situated between the Tidal Basin in Potomac Park and the Potomac River.

Air Force Memorial – Outside the traditional traipsing grounds of the National Mall, tucked up on a hillside south of Arlington National Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial is a soaring and moving tribute to our forces in the sky. There are also events and concerts, mostly during the spring, summer and fall. Click here for visiting hours.

Air Force Memorial is one of six things to do in D.C.

National Archives – Have some time? Don’t forget that the National Archives houses records are open for your research. Look for information about your relatives, military records, or explore the nation’s history. There are two primary research facilities in the Washington D.C. area: The main center at 700 Pennsylvania Ave., or the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, which is larger and a haven for researchers looking far back into history. You can also get free access while at the Archives to and online research tools. There are free shuttles that run from the Pennsylvania Avenue facility to the Maryland facility (those are first-come, firsts-serve staff buses). Check the website transportation page for details, as well as required registration and identification.

Another of the six things to do in D.C. involves visiting the National Archives.

Find an entire list of the parks, memorials and historic sites run by the National Park Service in the Washington, DC area.

HITT Tip: A couple of other things you should plan to do in Washington DC  if you have the time are to visit Arlington National Cemetery and also the Korean War Memorial and the Wall of Remembrance on the National Mall. 

You might also be interested in reading:

Don't Let The Sun Set On You!

Enjoy premium stories, photographs and become part of a fun travel community by joining our Subscriber Club. It's FREE! By subscribing to our regular HI Travel Tales Subscriber Club newsletter you'll also be invited to get access to select e-books and recipes plus special discount offers - no spam, ever, promise.


As an affiliate for Get Your Guide,, iVisa, Global Rescue, Think Tank, 5.11, Kuhl, Adorama, and others, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you should you choose to purchase through the links in our posts. It is essential to mention that we only endorse products we believe in and personally use. Your support for HI Travel Tales through these purchases allows us to maintain a sustainable platform for creating valuable and relevant content for you. 


Are you protected IF a travel emergency happens?

Global Rescue Travel Insurance Rescue Banner