Washington, DC "Backdoors"

Old Jan 30th, 2007, 02:10 PM
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Washington, DC "Backdoors"

I've seen the main attractions in DC before. I am going back for a long weekend in April and was wondering if there are any "Must see" sights that most people don't see. What Rick Steeves (of Public Television) calls "Backdoors". Any ideas?
Thanks in advance.
f64club is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 02:20 PM
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A great restaurant is 1789. Rumor has it JFK used to eat here once a week.
Also, the roof at the Hotel Washington is a grat place for a drink. You can see the men on top of the White House from up there.
I also know you can get special tickets for the FBI tour. This is a great tour and with the special tickets, there is no wait!
jallard is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 03:56 PM
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Hmmm, I have not seen Rick Steves, but I am having a hard time reconciling the the concepts of "must see" and "back door." Most of the "must see" attractions here are, by defintion, the ones on everyone else's "to do" list. What I can offer are some suggestions for for ways to see Washington that are slightly off-the-beaten path; whether any of them become "must sees" for you will depend in large part upon your particular interests.

-- The "not as popular" museums -- There are so many museums in Washington that very few people will ever see them all. Even if you think you have already "done" the Mall, look again at your map--have you been to the Freer Gallery? The Library of Congress? (the guided tour of the latter is particularly informative). Then there are the museums that are actually quite close to the Mall, but just far enough away that they land on fewer itineraries: the National Building Museum, the American Textile Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Phillips Collection could all be put in this category. The Anacostia Community Museum and Udvar-Hazy Annex of the Air & Space museum are both part of the Smithsonian but located outside the downtown area. Then there are a number of museum/garden combinations in what used to be the private residences of some of Washington's famous and or wealthy citizens: Dubarton Oaks, Hillwood Museum and Gardens, and the Woodrow Wilson House are a few that come to mind.

--Outdoor spaces: U.S. Botanic Gardens (small gem right on the Mall, but often overlooked); U.S. Arboretum (much bigger space, check the website to see what will be in bloom during your visit--you might be there during azalea time); Rock Creek park for hiking, biking or horseback riding; East Potomac Park to see cherry blossoms (if the time is right) in a setting less crowded than the tidal basin. For the sake of completeness, I will also mention Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in this category, though you will be there too early to see their famous waterlilies in bloom.

-- Explore one or more of DC's residential neighborhoods: there are self-guided "Neighborhood Heritage Trails" that can help you do this here: http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/inf...nformation.htm The Historic Preservation Office has developed some beautiful brochures about the city's various historic districts that you could use to supplement the walking tour information, or use to decide which neighborhood you might enjoy: http://planning.dc.gov/planning/cwp/...av,|33515|.asp
You can also look for neighborhood activies such as the First Friday receptions held at Dupont Circle art galleries, or Eastern Market, where you will found an outdoor food/craft/flea market on Capitol Hill on Saturdays and Sundays.

-- Step back and get a sense of the geography: soemtimes you have to leave the city in order to appreciate its geographic position at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. Crossing, or going out on one of the rivers, is often the best way to do this. In the former category, the LBJ Memorial Grove, Roosevelt Island, Great Falls Park (VA), and a restaurant in Alexandria called Indigo Landing (near National Airport) all offer interesting vantage points, as well as opportunities for walking and biking. In the latter category, there are various types of boat cruises -- big and small, plain and fancy --to be taken leaving from the Southwest waterfront as well as Georgetown. Some will do a simple round trip, and some will take you to Alexandria, VA. One of the longest, but most interesting if you have time, will take you all the way to Mt. Vernon.

--Attend a cultural performance -- There are a number of performance venues in Washington that are historic in their own right, and give a feel for different aspects of D.C. culture: Ford's Theater, the Lincoln Theater, and the Kennedy Center come to mind in this regard. Note that the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage has a free concert of some sort every evening at 6:00 p.m. There are also a number of musical concerts of all types in other venues unique to DC, ranging from free of charge to minimal charge to full charge. The National Gallery, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Natural History, the Hirschhorn, Phillips, and Corcoran galleries, among others, have regularly scheduled concert series, you'll have to check to see what's going in April. The Corcoran often has a Sunday gospel music brunch as well -- call for the schedule. The National Cathedral, the Church of the Ephiphany (downtown on the 1300 block of G Street NW), and many foreign embassies also offer concerts on a regular basis. Blues Alley is a smoke-free jazz club in Georgetown worht checking out. In addition to the websites of the various venues, two good places to find such performance information collected in one place are the Washington City paper (a free weekly that comes out on Thursdays, and also has website: washingtoncitypaper.com) and the website dcist.com.

Good luck and enjoy!

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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 04:06 PM
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Moongirl, you're awesome.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 04:09 PM
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Gosh, thanks Devonmcj -- can you tell I love my city?
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