National Mall? Been there. Smithsonian collections? Done that. If you think you’ve seen it all in the District of Columbia (yeah we’re talking to you, museum-buffs) think again! From giant hairballs to underground tunnels, D.C. is sure to be anything but disappointing if you’re hunting for some out-of-the-ordinary sites and museums to visit on your next trip. So, no need to fret if you’ve checked off all the top attractions on your list; just make your way to one of these beyond-the-norm spots to soak in some more spectacular sights!
Brewmaster’s Castle (Christian Heurich House)
Okay, okay, so this 19th-century mansion is not really named the Brewmaster’s Castle. This palace-like, gothic-style home a couple blocks from Dupont Circle was built by European beer-brewing connoisseur Christian Heurich. After a few years in the United States. Heurich established a massive brewing business (or should we say empire) and soon became the second largest employer in D.C. (the first was the government itself)! After his vast success, Heurich built this home in his namesake and lived out the rest of his 102-year old life in it. Today, his home is a National Historic Landmark and is referred to Brewmaster’s Castle. Although the Christian Heurich Brewing Company closed down, in the spirit of the beer business that led to its construction, many beer events such as Oktoberfests and a monthly beer tasting called “History and Hops” are held here, welcoming beer lovers to grab a pint to sip on while taking tours of the building.
Built in 1886, this unassuming church building in Southwest Washington, D.C. is still standing as a community gathering place; a staple for the residents of its neighborhood. But don’t be fooled by its humble beginnings, this old place is now called The Blind Whino, and is the canvas behind a vibrant mural, painted by Atlanta-based artist Alex “Hense” Brewer. The kaleidoscope of colors that now adorn the outside of this one-time house of worship is matched by an eclectic interior, combining the psychedelic-looking graffiti, continued from the exterior, with historically preserved elements and art exhibits by local artists.
National Museum of Health and Medicine
If you’re excited by the evolution of medicine and love learning about the history medical devices and practices, National Museum of Health and Medicine just outside the city in Silver Spring, Maryland (and which is accessible via public transit) is the holy grail. Visitors can expect to see an encased, massive, stomach-sized hairball; an eclectic collection of military medicine; and the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln, encased alongside bits of his skull (this place is not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure). Opened in 1862, it stands as one of D.C.’s oldest museums until this day.
Mansion on O Street
As a history buff, you’re a devout museum goer– and in D.C., forget about it. Name a spot, and you’ve seen the sights! But why just see history, when you can live in it?? At the Mansion on O Street in Northwest D.C., you not only get to view the many collections within the walls of this quirky museum, but you actually get to stay within it too! The mansion is made up of three connected row houses, that have now been transformed into 100 guest rooms (many of them themed), secret doors, eccentric works of art and guitars signed by celebrities like Eric Clapton. Smack dab in the middle of the building is a two-level cabin, complete with a full kitchen, timber bed, plasma tv and… an aquarium.
The Dupont Underground
Tourist or not, chances are that you’ve walked through the bustling streets of Dupont Circle plenty of times. Once upon a time, under these busy streets was a unique, one-of-a-kind streetcar system. Fast forward to now (after a series of renovations and failed projects including an underground food court) this mysterious 75,000-square-foot space is once again, abandoned no more. In 2016, the tunnels were reopened to the public and is currently undergoing a makeover to become an artistic haven. If you take a gander now, you’ll find graffiti art-adorned walls and art installations, created and painted by local artists looking to gain exposure. If you love art, secret spaces and free sights– you can’t afford to miss this.
What beyond-the-norm Washington D.C. spots have you been to? Let us know in the comments below!