From the Forum – Fun things to do with visiting parents that only locals would really know about

Photo by PoPville flickr user Lucas Keene

Fun things to do with visiting parents that only locals would really know about:

“Hi all!
My parents are visiting this weekend and I would like to do something that is not the usual museum visits. They’ve already been to the major museums and seen the memorials, so I was wondering if anybody has found something that is fun to do that most major tourists don’t have time for?

For example.. I saw at the National Cathedral you can do a Tour & Tea. They give you a great tour and give you amazing tea and a little sandwich spread. Unfortunately this is only done on Tuesday & Wednesdays, but you get the idea.

Thanks in advance!!”

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31 Comment

  • binpetworth

    This past weekend, I took a friend who’s been here numerous time to Lincoln’s Cottage, then we meandered through Rock Creek Cemetery to find Gore Vidal’s grave, before grabbing dinner and drinks at Petworth Citizen.

    Alternatively, head down to King St and do an eating/walking tour of the various shops (like Olio, the Sweet Spot) before ending up at the Torpedo Factory. Then you can take the free trolley back to the Metro (if you Metro).

    • there is also the Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery–my boyfriend and I did the Lincoln Cottage/Rock Creek Cemetery combo one afternoon this fall and it was really nice.

    • burritosinstereo

      woah, where exactly is Gore Vidal’s grave? I live next to the cemetery and frequently jog through it, and I had no idea!

  • Gosh this would be so much easier in the summer, all my favorite “local spots” are outside!
    I think a cool music venue could be fun. Do they like jazz? I Bohemian Caverns or Blues Alley is great. Or there’s an interesting sounding show on Sunday at The Corner Store:

  • Roller Derby at the DC Armory.

  • -Early lunch at Union Market, then stroll around the National Arboretum, and then distillery tour at Green Hat, followed by brewery tour at Atlas (Saturdays only, for Green Hat and Atlas, I believe)

    – tour of the National Basilica, followed by lunch at Steel Plate since you’re going to be in Brookland anyway (and it’s yummy!) and then go on up to see the gardens/shrines at the Franciscan Monastery

    – O Street Mansion in Dupont. I’ve taken a visiting friend and my parents there and they all really enjoyed it. It’s such a bizarre, fun place.

    Have fun!

  • A tour of the Library of Congress – an often overlooked free DC landmark for visitors. The tour is informative, the building is gorgeous, and they usually have a very interesting exhibit in their exhibit hall.

    • … and do LC tours – well worth it, in addition to viewing exhibits independently

      The Smithsonian American Art museum has several great exhibits right now — Richard Estes retrospective and another thematic exhibit on birds in art. That in addition to the Kogod Atrium and the Stephen Colbert portrait in the adjacent portrait gallery provide a pretty rich cultural experience.

  • In cold weather:
    National Cryptologic Museum near Fort Meade. About 20 miles from DC and well worth the trip

    In warm weather months (and closer to DC):
    Kennilworth Aquatic Gardens

  • Emmaleigh504

    My parent’s like to ride the Circulator. They can see different parts of town and my dad is kind of a bus geek.

  • If you’ve never been to the Frederick Douglass house in Anacostia, check it out. It’s amazing and also has great view of the city from across the river. I’m not sure how accessible it is without a car.

    Depending on the weather, I also like to take people to the Georgetown Flea Market on Sundays and then grab brunch. It’s eclectic and usually fun. Eastern market also works for that as well.

    • A German friend took me to the Douglass house after years of my not going (and I live here!) and it was great. I second Colhi that the views are remarkable. The house itself is also beautiful. Reminded me somewhat of Sagamore Hill on L.I.

  • Heurich House at 1307 New Hampshire. It’s great for anyone at all interested in Victorian architecture. Your parents would need to be able to climb stairs, however.

    • Heurich House is closed in January… and it does have an elevator for visitor use, if needed. I agree that its a great place to visit though!

  • – Early lunch at Union Market, then a stroll around National Arboretum, then distillery tour at Green Hat followed by brewery tour at Atlas

    – tour of the National Basilica, then lunch at Steel Plate, then up to the Franciscan Monastery to see the gardens/shrines

    – O Street Mansion in Dupont. It is such a fun, weird place. Every visitor I have taken there – including my parents – has enjoyed it!

    – Free concerts at 6 pm at the Millenium Stage at Kennedy Center.

    Have fun!

  • skj84

    Hillwood Estate is a great place to check out. They usually have events happening on the weekends. Not metro accessible. Agree with visiting Union Market.

  • National Museum of the American Indian. Beautiful building, really interesting, and the food is great.

  • Hillwood Museum and Gardens. It’s a bit off the beaten tourist path.

  • – East City Art (you’d have to google them) puts out a good list of the weekend gallery openings and other art events.
    – Indie film with a beer at E Street Cinema? (or Angelika, which I have not yet gone to…)
    – duck-pin bowling in the burbs.
    – Also, this is generally downtown, and thus might be considered touristy, but I’ve lived here six or so years and still haven’t gotten around to all the theaters in town. And who doesn’t like a good play?

  • -Lincoln’s Cottage
    -Franciscan Monastery
    -National Arboretum
    -National Postal Museum
    -Hillwood Estate and Gardens
    -Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria
    -Congressional Cemetery

  • The U.S. Botanic Garden is a good, free, indoor destination. It’s pretty close to the Library of Congress, which is the also good, free, and indoor.

  • A night driving tour if the monuments. Gorgeous, parking is manageable, and fewer tourists.

    • Alternately, if it’s not too cold out and the parents are able to bike, Capitol Bike Share is a fantastic way to see the Mall. There are docking stations all over, so you can take your time, dock the bike, and grab another when you’re ready to move on. I’ve taken visitors for nighttime monument tours on bike and everyone loves it.

  • My parents have loved:

    -Fall bird watching/ walk around Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (it’s known for the summer Lotus blossoms but it is seriously beautiful this time of year).
    -Stroll through the National Arboretum. You could stop for Coffee at Union Market on your way their (depending on which direction you come from)
    -Ice skating at one of the outdoor rinks
    -Dinner at one of the more neighborhood places (The Argonaut and Boundary Stone have been big hits)
    -Day trip to a DC area destination (Annapolis, Great Falls, National Harbor)
    -The Anacostia Community Museum (totally stop at Nurish Food & Drink before or after)
    -Fredrick Douglas House (actually do both the Anacostia House and FD House, make a ward 8 day trip)
    -The always popular Eastern Market

  • My parents loved the Sunday afternoon drum circle at Malcolm X park. Though that was during warmer weather, not sure if it’s there in the winer months…

  • I always recommend the smaller museums – Hillwood Mansion, Anderson House, Dumbarton Oaks, Dumbarton House, Lincoln Cottage, etc…

    But since you might be looking for non-museum activities, I’d recommend some of the markets. Eastern Market is fun, Congressional Cemetery is interesting, but might be a bit cold. Union Market can be a nice visitor spot. Or you could take one of the cruses on the Potomac or head to Great Falls for a nice view and an easy trail to the falls view. I also recommend King Street and the Torpedo Factory. A walk through the Cathedral Bishop’s Garden is also really nice, that way you can see the cathedral and the gardens.

    Also, even though its a museum, it is off the beaten path, the Kreeger Museum is really neat too.

  • figby

    If the weather is not too bad, a visit to Roosevelt Island is a nice thing to do. It’s not strenuous at all.

  • I’ll second the suggestions to close spots outside of the city–Annapolis, Great Falls, Old Town, Leesburg (there are sone good wineries out there too).

    Informal tours of local university campuses. My mother is an educator, so she loved while here on one of her visits we drove up to College Park–I had no idea how outstanding of a campus U. of Maryland has only 7 miles from my place in Logan. Then inspired, we drove back to the city and walked Howard, GW and Georgetown’s campus’s. Granted, it was late march so 20 degrees warmer than today.

    Last, Mt. Vernon is an amazing activity. It’s only like 20min away and I went with a group of friends who have all lived here over 10+ years, but had never been and we loved it. Drank a bottle of wine in the cafe before we toured the grounds. It was great.

  • Only 2 things to do:
    1. Spend a day visiting the Smithsonian
    2. Take Amtrak up to NYC for some good food and culture.

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