AAA Travel Tips / Washington, D.C., Off the Beaten Path

Washington, D.C., Off the Beaten Path

AAA/Sherry Mims
By AAA Travel Editor Sherry Mims
August 30, 2018
Most visitors wondering where to go in Washington, D.C., immediately consider the White House, Capitol, National Mall and storied Smithsonian museums. However, if you want to see America’s capital city in a new way, then spend a day (or more) at these destinations during your time in Washington, D.C.
This establishment is said to be D.C.'s first rum distillery and offers craft cocktails as well as occasional tours. It's two blocks away from Union Market, a bustling food hall.
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Cotton & Reed
1330 5th St. N.E.
(202) 544-2805
Don’t let the warehouse-looking exterior fool you. This business provides a rollicking good time—a plus if you’re looking for things to do in D.C. at night—in a trendy industrial environment. Boasting “D.C.’s first rum distillery,” the establishment serves crafted cocktails and tastings of its namesake spirits. (Jordan Cotton and Reed Walker, two of the cofounders, worked in the aerospace industry before teaming up with a distiller and barkeeper to follow their passion.) Remember to indulge responsibly. Bonus: Mouthwatering delicacies are only a block away at Union Market (1309 5th St. N.E.).
You can find embassies of many different countries along the stretch called Embassy Row, specifically Massachusetts Avenue N.W. extending toward United States Naval Observatory.
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Embassy Row
Massachusetts Avenue N.W. extending toward United States Naval Observatory
Rows of what look like residential properties, each as distinct as the flapping flags outside, indicate you’ve reached the area around busy Dupont Circle where ambassadors and representatives live and/or work. Known as embassies, these facilities represent their countries, and provide visas and space for collaboration. Some even open to the public on occasion. One of the best things for friends to do is to guess the various countries from their flags (though not all embassies are on Embassy Row).
The International Spy Museum is said to be the only museum dedicated to espionage. It features exhibits on spies and their gear, the diabolical villains of the James Bond movies, and future threats from cyberterrorism.
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International Spy Museum
800 F St. N.W.
(202) 393-7798
If thrillers and real-life intrigues capture your imagination, you’re not alone (as the attraction’s hidden surveillance system will attest). Adopt a cover story, and try your hand at subterfuge. Said to be the only of its kind about espionage, the museum highlights famous spies, gear and current threats, such as cyberwarfare. Pop culture also gets a nod, most notably with an extensive exhibit on James Bond’s devious villains. Note: Relocation to a new building at L’Enfant Plaza (800 F St. N.W.) is scheduled for 2019.
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The Museum of the Bible tells the story of the people and places in the bible as well as highlights its influence on current events.
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Museum of the Bible
400 4th St. S.W.
(866) 430-6682
Known as the Gutenberg Gates, the heavy brass doors display the initial verses of the Book of Genesis as they would have appeared on the Gutenberg press and also hint at what is inside one of Washington, D.C.’s newest museums. Biblical history comes to life with interactive exhibits, art and costumed interpreters. Other experiences, such as a flight simulation called “Washington Revelations,” feature notable biblical references and offer insight about landmarks in the nation’s capital that may interest believers and nonbelievers alike.
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These steps and fountain, circa 1905, are fun things to see in Washington, D.C., especially if you're in Georgetown. Many of the nearby buildings are embassies. Also note the decorative call box across from the steps at Decatur Place N.W., one of many in the Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood.
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Spanish Steps
22nd St. N.W. just south of S Street N.W.
Looking for scenic places in Washington, D.C.? Surrounded by several embassies and tony residences, this small oasis in the Sheridan-Kalorama Historic District features steps and a fountain circa 1905—a fun thing for couples to do in the evening when most museums are closed. Afterward, walk around the neighborhood and enjoy the artistically restored fire and police call boxes. One example can be found on Decatur Place N.W., just across from the steps.
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