Off the Beaten Path Washington, D.C.: 5 Unusual Things To Do

Written by Dana Freeman on

Dana Freeman is an entrepreneur, freelance journalist, and the editor behind Dana Freeman Travels. She is a travel enthusiast from Vermont who is always up for an adventure in a new location. Follow her travels on Instagram and Facebook.

What to Pack for a Trip to Washington, D.C.

Eagle Creek Travel Expert, Jessica Dodson, offers up useful packing advice for a quick trip to DC. Whether on or off the plane, she covers all the bases for full comfortability potential. Featured Products: XTA Backpack (smoky blue) Expanse International Carry-On (twilight blue) Pack-It Specter Tech Garment Folder M (indigo blue) Pack-It Specter Tech Shoe Sac (indigo blue) Pack-It Specter Tech Cube Set (indigo blue) Pack-It Specter Cube SM (brilliant blue) Silicone Bottle Set (with 3-1-1 pouch)

Are you looking for something unusual to do aside from the standard sites in Washington, D.C.? These offbeat hidden gems offer an insider look at what to see beyond the obvious museums and attractions on the National Mall.

There is so much to discover in Washington, D.C. beyond what you will find on the National Mall. Despite the obvious museums and attractions there are several spots that fly under the radar. Leave the touristy stuff behind and check out some of these hidden treasures.


Boathouses line the shores of the Potomac River. They offer everything from kayaks and sailboats to peddle boats and stand-up paddleboards. Whether you rent a boat or take a kayak lesson, there are ample opportunities to get out and play on the water. Right in the middle of the city and just a few blocks from the National Monument, you can rent swan boats to paddle around on the Tidal Basin. Pack your things in a water repellent sport tote, which will keep your belongings dry.

Spies of Washington Tour

Washington, D.C. has been a hub for intelligence activity for over two hundred years. You’ve probably heard about the International Spy Museum in D.C., but what you might not know is that you can go on a spy tour of the city. The Spies of Washington, D.C. takes you behind the scenes with a career Air Force intelligence officer to learn spy stories about espionage and betrayal while visiting famous, and not so famous, sites around town.


Food Truck fanatics won’t want to miss this monthly gathering. Once a month, from April to October, some of the best kitchens on wheels converge at the Bullpen for Truckaroo. Located adjacent to Nationals Park, food trucks at this festival dish out tasty treats like gourmet empanadas, Korean BBQ tacos, crab cakes and homemade ice cream sandwiches.

United States Botanical Garden

Smack in the middle of a concrete jungle sits an urban oasis. The botanical garden was established in 1820 and is free to all visitors. This living plant museum is open for exploring every day of the year. In additional to extraordinary exhibits, the Conservatory, with its two courtyards and ten garden rooms, is always in bloom with plants from around the world. The outdoor National Garden is home to the Rose, Butterfly and First Ladies Water garden.

Horseback Riding

Just a few miles north of the White House, equestrians of all ages and abilities can go horseback riding without ever having to leave the city. Rock Creek Park Horse Center offers both group and private riding lessons for those wanting to improve their horsemanship skills. No experience is necessary for their guided walking trail rides. They even have supervised pony rides for the youngest of riders beginning at age two and half. This is truly a hidden gem in the nation’s capital.

Curious about what to bring on an off the beaten path adventure in the nation’s capital? Don’t start packing your bag without watching What to Pack for a Trip to Washington, D.C. first. It will help you bring just the right things for your trip.

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