Three things to do in DC that are under the radar

You don't see the National Museum of African Art here behind the Smithsonian Castle because it is underground

You don't see the National Museum of African Art here behind the Smithsonian Castle because it is underground

Listen up vacationers who have Washington DC on the summer destination list. There is more to the United States capital than catches the typical tourist’s attention.

First in a series on places the locals go and recommend was Washington D.C. – Three gems you may not know

Second in the series, suggests three more under the radar things to do and places to go in DC.

Culinary

Instead of heading to a restaurant where out-of-towners go, dine where the locals do. Similar to Chicago, the greater DC area is blessed with a plethora of ethnic restaurants and interesting neighborhoods.

This Malaysian restaurant might not be known to DC tourists but it gave participants on the DC Metro Food Tour an authentic Malaysian culinary experience

This Malaysian restaurant might not be known to DC tourists but it gave participants on the DC Metro Food Tour an authentic Malaysian culinary experience

For those folk who like the neighborhood idea but are unsure of where to go, what to order and are interested in the area’s historical background, Jeff Swedarsky started Food Tour for the DC Metro area and has since expanded to a few other cities. A world traveler, Swedarsky knows first-hand if a restaurant’s dishes are authentic and well-priced.

On a recent visit, participants who chose the DuPont Circle started with a yummy mini crab cake (no filling) in a brioche for an appetizer in a popular, upscale bar. Then, they went on to sample delicious Malaysian dishes in a casual setting, Moroccan holiday foods, and end with a formal-style Japanese tea.  “It’s an experience,” said Swedarsky.

Diners at a Malaysian eatery on a DC culinary tour could see what they will be getting by looking at the menu and checking it out after the food comes

Diners at a Malaysian eatery on a DC culinary tour could see what they will be getting by looking at the menu and checking it out after the food comes

Comfortable shoes are recommended because participants meet at one place then walk with a guide to each of the neighborhood’s destinations. A completed circle might be 1-1.5 miles.  For more information visit Food Tour.

Art and Culture

Visit a Smithsonian museum that is below the Mall instead of on top of it. The National Museum of African Art is easy to pass by unless you know it sits behind the Smithsonian Castle.

Enter street level then go down, and down and down. Masks, carvings, textiles and other art objects from the 1800s through contemporary times fill three levels.

A bonus if going before Feb. 24, 2013 is Revisions, the extraordinary photography, paintings and art installations of Moroccan-born, internationally known Lalla Essaydi. Her work reflects on the cultural expectations, desires and limitations she experienced as a Moroccan, Arab, African, Muslim woman.

The extraordinary art of Lalla Essaydi is on exhibit now through Feb. 24, 2013 at the National Museum of African Art. Photo by National Museum of African Art

The extraordinary art of Lalla Essaydi is on exhibit now through Feb. 24, 2013 at the National Museum of African Art. Photo by National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is at 950 Independence Ave. SW, Washington D.C. For more information visit Africa Smithsonian.

Gardens

At the other end of the Mall, also on Independence Avenue but at First Street, is a great indoor space to see a holiday exhibit of plants, miniature trains and buildings and take refuge from a wintry blast. However, it has plant houses and exhibits worth a stop, year round.

It is the United States Botanic Garden. Established in 1820, it is among the country’s oldest botanic gardens. Outside, is the Butterfly Garden, First Ladies Water Garden, the Regional Garden and the popular Rose Garden.

In the glass Conservatory, walk through the subtropical, tropical and arid rooms to see orchids and even Jurassic plants.

The Conservatory at the US Botanic Garden is a year-round oasis

The Conservatory at the US Botanic Garden is a year-round oasis

Even more of a DC insider space is Bartholdi Park, a two-acre garden area across from the Conservatory. Its centerpiece is the 30 foot tall “Fountain of Light and Water.” This is a place to rest the feet and soul while taking in DC sights. For more information visit US Botanic Garden.

Photos (C) to Jodie Jacobs (except Lalla Essaydi Harem)

Share

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.