We’ve seen the museums and done the tours, now lets dig deeper into DC and find the Hidden Gems of Washington DC.

#10 – Embassy Row

10 Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Embassy Row
Embassy Row in Washington DC refers to a part of the city where many of the foreign embassies are located. Embassy Row lies along Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., and its cross streets between Thomas Circle and Ward Circle, although the vast majority of embassies are found between Scott Circle and Wisconsin Avenue. Washington, DC has more than 175 foreign embassies, residences, chanceries, and diplomatic missions. For an alphabetical guide of all of the embassies, see Washington, DC Embassy Guide. [map]

#9 – National Postal Museum

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - national postal musuem

Inside rotunda of the National Postal Museum

The National Postal Museum was established through joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution and opened in 1993. Located right next to Union Station, this museum houses many interactive displays about the history of the United States Postal Service and of mail service around the world. Also on display is a vast collection of stamps. Along with exhibits on the Pony Express, the use of railroads with the mail, and even an exhibit on direct marketing called, “What’s in the Mail for You,” that produces a souvenir envelope with your name printed on it and a coupon for the gift shop. As a Smithsonian museum, admission is free. [map]

#8 – Gravelly Point

Hidden Gems of washington DC - Gravelly Point
Located on the banks of the Potomac River, Gravelly Point is the best place in the United States for plane watching. There’s something about a rush when a 747 iron bird flies directly over head at arms length away. Depending on the wind conditions, a plane lands or takes off every three to five minutes. These iron birds fly overhead. [map]

To get to Gravelly Point, take the 14th Street Bridge (I-395 South) into Virginia. Exit onto the GW Parkway, towards Reagan National Airport. Go all the way to the airport and turn back around coming back out onto the GW Parkway towards the way you just came. The exit will be your first right, where you will find the Gravelly Point parking lot.

#7 – Phillips Collection

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Phillips Collection

The interior of a gallery in the Sant Building of the Phillips Collection. Photo courtesy of the Phillips Collection.

The Phillips Collection is an art museum founded by Duncan Phillips in 1921 as the Phillips Memorial Gallery located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Opened in 1921, this was America’s first museum of modern art. Featuring a permanent collection of nearly 3,000 works by American and European impressionist and modern artists, the Phillips is recognized for both its art and its intimate atmosphere. A little gem for artist lovers. [map]

#6 – Society of the Cincinnati Mansion

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Society of the Cincinnati
The Society of the Cincinnati is a historical organization with branches in the United States and France founded in 1783 to preserve the ideals and fellowship of the American Revolutionary War officers and to pressure the government to honor pledges it had made to officers who fought for American independence. The Cincinnati is the oldest military society in continuous existence in North America. A very beautiful mansion hidden among the concrete jungle of DC, the Anderson House is open, free to the public for guided tours, between 1:00pm to 4:00pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays, and by special arrangement at other times. [map]

#5 – Pershing Park

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Pershing Park
We’ve all walked by it probably a 100 times, but this memorial park dedicated to General John J. Pershing is located at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW (right by the white house). The area was an undeveloped tract of land covered with weeds and litter from the inception of the District of Columbia in 1792 until April 1957, Congress decided to do something about the dead area. Finally erected in 1981 with a fountain, and a pond (which turns into an ice rink in the winter). [map]

#4 – Roosevelt Island

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island is and a national memorial located in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. The land is generally maintained as a natural park, with various trails and a memorial plaza featuring a statue of Roosevelt. No cars or bicycles are permitted on the island, only reached by a footbridge from Arlington, on the western bank of the Potomac. This is a perfect go-to place if you’ve seen all of DC’s memorials and museums.[map]

#3 – Renwick Chapel (Oak Hill Cemetery)

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Renwick Chapel Dunbarton Cemetery
Deep in Georgetown lies Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel. Considered an excellent example of Gothic Revival architecture, and often called a “miniature Gothic gem”, this Chapel was designed in 1850 by James Renwick, Jr. [map]

#2 – Oorah! Silent Drill at Iwo Jima (Tuesdays) Drum and Bugle Corps at Barracks Row (Fridays)

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Silent Drill Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima
Since September 1956, the Marine Corps Sunset Parade has been held every Tuesday during the summer against what is claimed to be the world’s largest bronze statue, the Iwo Jima Memorial. The 2012 season of the Sunset Parades is scheduled to kick off June 5 and continue through August 14. They’re held on Tuesday evenings. Most start at 7pm, but the August 7 and 14 parades will start at 6:30pm. They last about an hour. [map]

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Barracks Row Marine Parade
Barracks Row
Also known as 8th and I (metro Eastern Market), is the oldest post of the Marine Corps. personally selected by President Thomas Jefferson and Lieutenant Colonel William Ward Burrows, the first official Commandant of the Marine Corps. Starting May 4, 2012, this show of perfection is not to be missed. [map]

#1 – Capitol Grotto

Hidden Gems of Washington DC - Capitol Grotto
The Summerhouse, a brick structure set into the sloping hillside of the West Front lawn among the paths that lead from Pennsylvania Avenue to the Senate side of the Capitol, has offered rest and shelter to travelers for over a century. Erected between 1879 and 1881, the Summer House was intended to answer complaints that visitors to the Capitol had no place to sit and no place to obtain water for their horses and themselves. [map]

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