Five Awesome Off-The-Beaten-Path Spots in Washington DC
Thanks for the question, Crazyhazey! I’m nearing my 2nd anniversary of arriving in DC, so I’m happy to provide a couple of recommendations for cool places to check out that are off-the-beaten-tourist-path (afterall, anyone can tell you that the Jefferson is pretty nice). Here are 5 of my favorite spots to check out (but shhh…don’t tell too many people!)
1. Kramersbooks & Afterwords Cafe: In an era where so many independent book stores are struggling, I’ve never seen this place without a crowd. It doesn’t hurt that they are open crazy hours — including 24 hours on Friday and Saturday — and that in addition to books, they also have a bar and cafe. Even if you aren’t that hungry, you have to check out their pie. Sure, it may be expensive, but I will say it now: it’s the best pie in the world. And besides, while you inevitably wait to be called for a table, you can browse their books, including a fantastic travel section.
2. HR-57: Named after the House resolution which declared Jazz a national treasure in the US, HR-57 is a jazz club that is all about the music. Though the outside facade hints at a boring brick building, the inside gives the feel of a jazz club that has seen many greats pass through. In addition to the ticket price — usually around $10 — you can also pay a corkage fee of $2 for a flimsy plastic cup and the right to bring in any outside bottles — wine, beer, sake, you name it — to enjoy alonside the music. The performances go on well into the night — as late as 2 or 3AM, and while I’ve never stayed that late, a few hours of top-notch jazz in an intimate setting make for a great way to spend an evening.
3. Mr. Yogato: This might just be the most fun place in DC. All about the silliness, Mr. Y encourages Washingtonians to eschew the typical stuffiness of an evening out in DC and embrace their inner-child. From Geography trivia questions for a 5% discount, to a 10% discount for letting them place a Yogato stamp on your forehead to an even bigger discount for performing the speech from Braveheart, they reward fun behavior. If that weren’t enough, the old-school NES and board games encourage people to have fun while they enjoy their frozen yogurt which can be topped with items ranging from Teddy Grahams to Eggo mini-waffles, and from mochi to oil and vinegar!
4. The Newseum: Sure DC Is the best place in the country to go for free entertainment, so we get spoiled not having to pay for much. The Newseum, though, is one place worth paying for. It’s a fascinating look at the media, but even more than that, how its lens impacts society and vise-versa. Make sure to go to the free museums, but “pay” the Newseum a visit (and enjoy the great views from the balcony)!
5. Jack’s Boathouse: Tired of seeing the monuments from the typical tourist vantage point? Head out on the Potomac! Kayak rentals are $10/hour on the honor system, and there’s even a communal sunscreen bucket to make sure you don’t burn. Kayakers can head down along the Georgetown Waterfront towards the monuments, or head up towards Great Falls to experience some nature. It’s a great way to beat the crowds and see DC from a unique perspective.
What did I leave out? What are your favorite DC spots to check out?