United States

7 Unusual Things To Do In Washington D.C.

by Margaret Sessa-Hawkins  |  Published June 21, 2018

While most people come to Washington D.C. to immerse themselves in the city’s historic atmosphere, museums and monuments, there’s plenty more that the city has to offer. Here are seven off-beat things to do in D.C, for when you are tired of soaking in history, or just want to try something a bit different.

The author at trapeze school

The author at TSNY trapeze school in Washington D.C. (Photo: Rex Lee)


When you were a little kid, did you dream about joining the circus? Well, now’s your chance. Trapeze School New York (TSNY) in D.C. offers lessons in all types of circus arts. Soar through the air on their flying trapeze. Jump on the trampoline. Learn to juggle and do acrobatics, or try something a little more exotic like beginner lyra or silks. With a small instructor to student ratio classes are completely safe, so go ahead and challenge yourself. If nothing else, you’ll have some very unique photographs to show off to family and friends when you get home.

2. Crumbs & Whiskers

Do you love coffee? What about kittens? At Crumbs & Whiskers, Washington D.C.’s first cat café, you can have both. Located in an upscale Georgetown row house, this coffee shop is equipped with free wifi, comfy cushions, and around 20 resident cats. The cats lounge, cuddle and play as you sit around sipping a beverage or snacking on a treat from the café menu. All food is made off-site, so there’s no worries about hygiene, while those who care about cats will be happy to hear that Crumbs & Whiskers’ feline residents are fosters from a local rescue. The cats are adoptable, so a visit to this café could get you more than just a coffee…


Passive Transportation in the sky, active transportation on the ground. Gravelly Point offers one of the best views of aviation in the United States

Gravelly Point offers one of the best views of aviation in the United States (Photo: Ted Eytan, CC, Flickr)

3) Gravelly Point

Outside of the Air & Space Museum, Gravelly Point is the best place for airplane enthusiasts in the D.C. area. A charming park on the Potomac overlooking the monuments, Gravelly Point is also right next to Washington Reagan National Airport and when planes come in to land, they pass directly overhead. At this point the planes are flying so low that you can see every detail, from the wheels unfurling to the slight adjustments made in the wings and tail. You can feel the vibration of the motors, and see a slight tuft of smoke as the rubber wheels hit the tarmac. The park is a favorite among locals, with pickup soccer games, softball and picnics being common sights on warm summer nights.

4) Escape Rooms

It’s 11pm, and you’ve just broken into KGB headquarters to find plans for a secret weapon. Everything was going great until you trip a silent alarm. Now you are locked in the office, and enemy operatives will return at midnight. You have one hour to find the plans for the secret weapon and figure out how to get out of the room. This is the type of scenario you will find when you visit one of DC’s escape rooms. The rooms are filled with logic puzzles that teams of four to 10 people have to solve to meet their objective, and get out of the room. With safes to unlock, codes to unravel and hidden clues to discover, it’s a blast racing to figure out all the puzzles before the time is up. As an added incentive, teams that get out the fastest get their names on the leaderboard. You are always monitored closely, so getting out if there’s a real emergency is not a problem. There are three companies that run escape rooms in D.C.: Escape Room Live, Escape Artist, and Escape The Room. All three are on a par, while Escape Artist tends to be less crowded, but more difficult. Unlike the other two, you may need to take a hint to escape.


Malcolm X Park, Meridian Hill, Washington, D.C.

Malcolm X Park, Meridian Hill, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Victoria Pickering, CC, Flickr)

5. Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park

D.C. may be known as the land of monuments, politics and museums, but Malcolm X Park (so-called by locals even though it’s official name is Meridian Hill Park) shows that the city has another side. From impromptu snowball fights to Sunday evening drum circles (that have been going on since the ‘50s), Malcolm X Park is the venue for events that showcase the more interesting side of the city. A gorgeous location in its own right, the park is filled with statues and cascading fountains. Take a stroll around its 12 acres to find some peace and quiet, or visit on a Sunday evening to see the famous drum circle and attendant dancers in full glory.

Paddleboard Yoga sessions on the Columbia River

Paddleboard yoga sessions on the Potomac River (Photo: Benoit Mouren, CC, Flickr)

6. SUP Yoga

Yoga is peaceful and so is Stand Up Paddleboarding. It figures, then, that someone would have the brilliant idea to connect the two. Think you can do downward dog while floating on an SUP board on a river? Now’s your chance to find out. Both Potomac Paddlesports and Boating in DC offer classes. With gentle yoga moves and stable boards it’s not as difficult as you may think, and if trying not to fall into water doesn’t get you focused on a pose, nothing will.

7. Eastern Market

More than just a farmers’ market, Eastern Market is a four-block offering of fruit, veggies, meats, cheeses, soaps, art, flowers, antique furniture, clothes from around the world, and a wide variety of crafts. Located in the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood with a wide selection of cute cafés around the market and street musicians providing an amiable soundtrack, a few hours at Eastern Market is time well spent. Special highlights are Bowers Fancy Dairy Products and Easter Market Lunch, which, with its specialty jalapeño cheese grits, offers pretty much the best brunch around.