8 Great Fun Places to Visit in Washington DC

While most visitors prioritize seeing the amazing museums and the National Mall (rightly so), there is so much more to see and do in Washington DC. Whether you visit Washington, DC often or seek fun places to visit in DC for your first trip there, please enjoy this starter list of fun places to visit in Washington DC. Starter list, because you should discover your your fun Washington DC places. When you do, leave a comment below so others can find more fun DC attractions.

8 Great Fun Places to Visit in Washington DC

Fun Places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
Cherry Blossoms at Tidal Basin are among the fun things to see in DC

Impress me. If you have been to all of these spots, then I will meet you at your favorite places in Washington DC and buy you lunch or a drink.

Visit Washington DC Museums

1. Wilson Center. Unlike other Presidential remembrances around Washington, DC, the Wilson Center is called a ‘living memorial,” regularly hosting scholars from around the world and encouraging non-partisan problem solving of global issues. Explore the displays and exhibits detailing history about Woodrow Wilson, considered one of the most intelligent US Presidents. The Wilson Center is near the Federal Triangle Metro station.

Fun places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
The Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC

2. Folger Shakespeare Library. The Folger Shakespeare Library houses the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare works. The historic building and architectural wonder is located just a block from the US Capitol Building and the Supreme Court. Inside is an Elizabethan Theatre, research library, and an immense collection of other rare Renaissance works. When the weather is nice, request a tour of the Elizabethan herb garden.

Fun places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC

Other lesser known, off the beaten path fun museums to visit include the Postal MuseumPortrait Gallery, and the National Gallery of Art tunnel.

Fun places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
Postal Museum, Washington DC

Outdoor Fun in Washington DC

3. Einstein Statue. The Einstein Memorial at the National Academy of Sciences building is one of my Washington DC highlights. Most tourists visit the nearby Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, then move on to other popular National Mall attractions. On your next DC visit, spend an extra 10 minutes taking an epic selfie with Professor Albert.

Fun places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
The Einstein Memorial, Washington DC. Photo by Julie McCool, FuninFairfaxVA.com

4. Labyrinths: There are several labyrinths in Washington, DC but here are two you can easily visit. The Georgetown Waterfront Park labyrinth is always open. On a nice day, the labyrinth experiences children playing, office workers strolling, and curious people exploring it. McCool Travel bonus tip: One block away is the Exorcist Stairs. Find the other labyrinth on the rooftop of the “10 G” building near Union Station. During weekday business hours, tell the lobby guard you want to visit the rooftop labyrinth and he or she will direct you. More details and exact location are listed on the Labyrinth Locator website.

Fun places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
rooftop labyrinth in Washington DC

5. Lady Bird Johnson Park. Lady Bird Johnson park sits on an island near the Pentagon building. The park is magnificently landscaped with majestic trees and thousands of flowers. Even though it is in Washington, DC, you must access the park from Virginia unless you arrive by water. The Mount Vernon Trail passes through the park, if you are walking or bicycling. By car, it is a little tricky but basically look for Columbia Island Marina signs (official directions are here). A little further along the Mount Vernon Trail and George Washington Parkway is Roosevelt Island.

Fun places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
Lady Bird Johnson Park, Washington, DC

Other lesser known, off the beaten path outdoor fun places to visit in Washington DC to visit include Signers Island, Neptune Fountain at the Library of Congress, and the bridges of Rock Creek Park.

Fun places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
Neptune Fountain, Library of Congress, Washington DC

Fun Places to Eat in Washington DC

6. Senate cafeteria. A reasonable oasis among the expensive places to eat in Washington, DC is the place where your elected officials eat. The US Senate Dining Services operates many dining locations but my favorite is the Dirksen Cafe. Prices are about 30-50% less than nearby options and, in my opinion, the food quality is better. Dirksen serves an epic Thanksgiving lunch in mid November. Plus, you never know who you will see. Senator Bernie Sanders walked right by me one time.

7. Union Station, 2nd floor. Washington, DC’s Union Station is undergoing a magnificent restoration. Gone are the old school food vendors in the basement—alas—replaced by chain eateries you can find in any other city. Visit Union Station during the Christmas season when it is super charming. Spy on the holiday throng or weekday lunch crowd from your second floor perch at Shake Shack or Pizzeria UNO.

8. Union Market. “Union Market is the epicenter of culinary creativity in DC with over 40 local vendors and much more to come.“—says their website. It is a gastronomy incubator, where fledgling foodie entrepreneurs scale their biz until they can set off on their own. Places like Takorean and puddin’ serve absolutely phenomenal food.

Find your own off the beaten path places to eat in Washington DC along H Street Corridor, many other cool neighborhoods, or among the food trucks.

Fun places to visit in Washington DC. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.
Ben’s Chili Bowl, H Street, Washington DC

Tell me some of your favorite fun places to visit in Washington DC.

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20 thoughts on “8 Great Fun Places to Visit in Washington DC”

  1. My husband spent 3 years in DC when he was in school, and loved being in such a vibrant city (especially one that offered so many free things for poor students) I’m sorry to see the overhaul of Union Station replacing food venues with chains. Would much prefer to see it singing the praises of local spots that make the city unique.

    Reply
  2. It’s great to read about some lesser-known attractions outside of the Smithsonian Institutes, especially for those who have time for extended stays in the Capital. Would love to make it back to DC one day, it’s one of my favourite cities in the US

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  3. This is a pretty off the wall set of places to visit in DC. Love it. I have been outrigger canoeing in the in Potomac, ultimate frisbee on the National Mall (under the lights), of course hiking past the Abigail Plantation as I walk from DCA to Crystal City. Lots of fun places to visit that aren’t all crowded.

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  4. I’m impressed! I don’t think I’ve heard of any of these places before. I love exploring the food scene when I travel,so Union Market sounds like the perfect place for me to discover some up and coming chefs!

    Reply
  5. I have not yet been to Washington DC but hope to get there soon. Thx for sharing your list of places to see. I would certainly love to visit the Smithsonian Museums. And my visit will definitely include a stop at the spagNvola chocolate shop. They are true craftsmen.

    Reply
  6. I’ve never been to Washington, but did spend a brief couple of days in New York and Boston on the World Cruise last year. Your ideas of things to do in Washington have of course made me want to visit as I sit here on a cold wintery day in South West Australia 🙂

    Reply

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