Living in DC can be kinda like living in a history book, which is cool, except when the tourist hordes metaphorically and literally block your view. Luckily, there are some sites in DC that aren't on most travel guides' top tourist to-do lists. The secret here, though, is we know they should be. Tour DC like a local and check out these awesome underrated sites:
The Lincoln Cottage
Everyone knows what the Emancipation Proclamation, well, proclaimed, at least we hope so. But not many of us know where it was written. Hint: it wasn't the White House. Instead it was Lincoln's vacation cottage, which was located in...Petworth? Yup, apparently, you didn't get much time off to travel during the Civil War. Today, the home is a museum open to the public. Tickets are $15, which includes the required guided tour, and because it's located on Armed Forces Retirement Home Property, advanced purchase and IDs are required for entry. Get more info here .
The Titanic Memorial
Although the Titanic was destined for New York, its memorial, dedicated to the men who sacrificed their lives so women and children might live, is located right here in Southwest. Composed entirely of granite, it depicts a man (not Leonardo DiCaprio) with his arms stretched out in "I'm the king of the world!" style. Since it's near an open expanse of water, it's most beautiful at dusk. Here are the details.
DC War Memorial
Tucked into a wooded patch of grass just steps away from the heavily touristed World War II Memorial is our city's own less flamboyant but totally charming war memorial. Built much like the Jefferson Memorial, in that it's made of marble, domed and in the round, what makes this memorial special is the fact that you'll most likely be the only one there. A fashion magazine should to do an editorial spread here. Get more info here.
Just north of the mall on a grassy triangle at Constitution, between 21st and 22nd Streets, NW, this statue is one of the few in DC that doesn't have a lot to do with politics. Instead of a stately stance or perched in an armchair, this larger than life Albert is depicted stone-cold chillin', while looking over some equations. Arithmetic 4 life. (Get it?) More info.
The Exorcist Steps
Any local who's been here for even just a few months will inevitably be told about Georgetown's super-steep staircase off of M Street that served as one of the most bone-crushingly scary scenes in The Exorcist. Yet despite the widespread knowledge that a real-life movie set exists in DC, very few of us actually go to see them. That could be because they're hidden behind a gas station. Predictably, they get extra scary at night. Get some detailed history here from 20/20 Productions.
These stairs, located on 22nd Street between R and S Streets, NW, may be less daunting than The Exorcist version, but they're about a billion times more charming. For one, there's no gas station in site. Or demons. Instead, what you'll get is a picturesque backdrop for chillaxing with a sandwich and a good book on a nice day.
The Adams Grief Memorial
Sure, grief may be a sad subject to dedicate a statue to, but the result is beautiful, striking and ripe for reflection. It helps, we suppose, that this breathtaking statue is located in Rock Creek Cemetery, which creates the perfect atmosphere to contemplate life, death and everything in between. And while you should go here just for the beauty, the story makes it even more compelling. Commissioned by author/historian/politician Henry Adams in 1891, this statue is actually a grave marker for his wife, who committed suicide by poisoning herself with cyanide after battling depression. The memorial is located in Section E of the cemetery, just east of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Want to know how to get to all these flying-under-the-radar spots? We've crafted a handy Google map for you:
View DC's Top Underrated Tourist Sites That Tourists Don't Go To in a larger map
P.S. There's a Part Deux!