City Guide / Washington, D.C.

Fun Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

By Bri Hand | Dec 3, 2021
Smiling young woman poses in front of the Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

It’s the heart of American democracy. There’s history everywhere and buildings you see on television and in movies, such as the Washington Monument, the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol Building, and the White House.

But what is there to do in Washington, D.C. that wouldn’t be included in your eighth-grade school field trip?

Plenty! It is more than just a historic location—it’s also a bustling city full of fun ways to spend your time, whether you’re visiting or living in Washington. D.C. This guide will take a look at some fun things to do in Washington, D.C. that your history teacher may not have told you about, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Live theater and music venues
  • Museums
  • Sporting venues
  • Outdoor locales

Let’s get started!

Delicious restaurants

Let’s be real—what separates the true denizens of a city from mere tourists is knowing where to eat. And that means knowing where to get a late-night cheeseburger just as much as a fancy dinner. Thankfully, D.C. has options to satisfy any palate, including: 

  • Rose’s Luxury: This spot earned itself a Michelin star in 2020. Located on 8th street SE, Rose’s Luxury specializes in seasonal New American small plates. That means the menu is constantly changing. But if you can, be sure to try the pork and lychee salad to highlight your meal.
  • Bistrot du Coin: Looking for something classic? How about a French bistro? This spot would be at home on the streets of Paris but happens to be located in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle. Enjoy the house specialty, Merguez Grillées Version Bistrot, a spicy lamb and beef sausage dish served over couscous and Mediterranean vegetables.
  • Buck’s Fishing and Camping: Want a nice neighborhood spot with a great vibe and even greater food? Look no further than Buck’s Fishing and Camping, located on Connecticut Avenue NW. Buck’s has a menu offering comfort fares like fish and chips and a family-style chicken dinner. They also offer a mouth-watering wood-grilled dry-aged beef burger served on a homemade bun with fries. Yum!
  • Anju: A modern Korean restaurant located on 18th street NW, Anju mixes classic Korean culinary concepts with a modern vibe. Be sure to start with an order of Mandu, pan-fried pork, and kimchi dumplings, and from there, go where your heart (and stomach) takes you.
  • Union Market: Have trouble making up your mind? Well, here’s an option with everything (and that isn’t even limited to food!). Union Market has shopping, restaurants, and art exhibits. So, if you aren’t sure what you want to do for the day, head to Union Market, located on 5th street NE, and you’ll find something extraordinary.

Lively theatre and music venues

Now that you have some ideas of where to fill your belly, let’s look at some places to fill your mind. Dinner and a show is a thing for a reason! Check out:

  • Rorschach Theatre: If you want to see innovative work that shows where theatre is going then you’ve found the right place. The Rorschach specializes in new and cutting-edge work performed at the Atlas Arts Center on H Street NE.
  • Signature Theatre: The Signature, located just outside the city in nearby Arlington, Virginia, is a Tony Award-winning company that specializes in new plays and musicals while also mixing in the classics.
  • The Hamilton: The Hamilton neighbors the White House and is a live music and arts venue that is also a restaurant and bar. You can enjoy great musical acts while munching on sushi or quesadillas in a hip, lively environment.
  • Lincoln Theatre: The Lincoln Theatre is a top D.C. venue for some of the biggest live music and comedy shows. Check their upcoming calendar to make sure you snag tickets to your favorites while they’re in town.

This all sounds great—but what’s it going to cost? Check out our blog post on the cost of living in Washington, D.C.

Outstanding museums and collections

Washington, D.C. may be best known for its three Ms: monuments, memorials, and museums. While you should certainly check out all of the famous attractions in the area, let’s also take a look at some of the museums in D.C. that you may not be so familiar with:

  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: Focusing on Asian art, these two galleries have many Japanese, Chinese and Indian masterworks.
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture: Opened in 2016 near the Potomac River, this museum has eight stories of works celebrating African-American history.
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts: This is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to the achievements of women in the arts. This art museum celebrates both past and present contributions of women to the art world.
  • National Museum of the American Indian:  D.C. is the home of American democracy, but any celebration of American history has to include a celebration of Indigenous Americans. This museum is dedicated to celebrating native voices and has branches in D.C., New York, and Maryland.
  • The Phillips Collection: An intimate American art museum that was America’s first to focus on modern and contemporary art, this has been in existence for 100 years and features works on the cutting edge of the art world.

Sporting venues

There’s plenty of culture in Washington, D.C., but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of time to cheer on your favorite sports teams. While you’ll have to travel to Maryland if you want to catch an NFL game, there are plenty of professional sports venues in the city to catch a game, including: 

  • Nationals Park: Play ball! Home to MLB’s Washington Nationals, Nationals Park is a great place for you to catch a game by yourself or with the whole family.
  • Capital One Arena: Home to the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and the NCAA’s Georgetown Hoyas, this is a place to catch a game and enjoy the rejuvenated area that surrounds the arena.
  • Entertainment and Sports Arena: A new and modern arena featuring top-notch amenities, the Entertainment and Sports Arena hosts the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
  • Audi Field: Home to MLS’s DC United, this a modern stadium with plenty of amenities, including menus curated by chef José Andrés, so that the fun can begin before the game even starts.

Beautiful outdoor locales

Some of the best days are spent not going to any specific place but just getting out and enjoying some of the wonders your city has to offer. In that vein, here are a couple of outdoor destinations where you can spend a relaxing day in D.C.:

  • National Arboretum: Located in the northeast of Washington, D.C., The National Arboretum was established by Congress in 1927. It features 446 acres of land and 9.5 miles worth of winding walkways where you can enjoy great foliage. This is an especially lovely place to spend in the fall as the leaves start changing colors. And, perhaps best of all, it is free to the public!
  • Meridian Hill Park: Located on 16th Street and W Street in NW DC, Meridian Hill Park has quite a history. Built as a mansion in 1819, it served as home to former president John Quincy Adams and was used to house Union troops during the Civil War. These days, Meridian Hill Park is home to many attractions like one of the longest cascading fountains in America, which feeds into a reflecting pool, and an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc. Like the National Arboretum, it is free to the public.

Tips From a Landing Member

Landing members Madison and Ivan

“The National Arboretum featured an incredible bonsai tree collection, every state tree, and columns that were once part of the U.S. Capitol Building. We also loved visiting the National Zoo, where we saw pandas up close and personal and my favorite orangutan, Lucy.”

— Madison Liston Gomes, “Our Favorite Restaurants and Free Activities in Washington, D.C.

Explore Washington, D.C. with Landing

As you can see, there’s plenty to explore in Washington, D.C. beyond what you learned in Social Studies class. Thinking about moving to Washington, D.C.? The best way to start your exploration is by finding a place to stay with Landing.

Our furnished apartments in Washington, D.C. allow you ultimate flexibility. So, whether you want to explore for one month or 10, we’ve got you covered. Once you’re ready to move on to the next city, just give 30 days’ notice—there’s no lease to break or transfer fees to pay. If Washington, D.C. sounds like the right place for your next adventure, we’ll help you find the perfect, fully furnished spot to make your stay a great one.

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.