Best Lesser-Known Historical Sites In DC

June 18, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Tudor Place Historic House and Garden/Facebook)

Washington, D.C. is known for its numerous monuments, museums and historic buildings. While the city’s most popular destinations, like the Washington Monument or the Jefferson Memorial, attract thousands of visitors each year, D.C. is home to dozens of lesser-known historical sites that are just as exciting and interesting.
olfpostofficepavilion Best Lesser Known Historical Sites In DC


The Old Post Office Pavilion
1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 289-4224

Known as the second tallest structure in D.C., the Old Post Office Pavilion provides visitors with a glimpse into what the postal service was like in the late 19th century as well as offers modern-day amenities like shops and restaurants. Learn about the historic struggle to preserve the historic building, marvel at the Romanesque architecture or sign up for a free tour of the 315-foot clock tower. Afterward, head out to the viewing deck, which offers a 360-degree view of downtown D.C. The building also features more than a dozen restaurant options, a gift shop, bicycle rentals, Segway rentals and more.

octagonmuseum Best Lesser Known Historical Sites In DC


The Octagon House
1799 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 626-7300

It may not have winding lines of tourists waiting to get in, but the Octagon House is definitely a site that should not be missed. Known as the temporary home of President Madison and his wife after British soldiers burned the White House, the building’s architecture features a circle, two rectangles and a triangle to produce a truly unique-looking structure. The American Institute of Architects considers the Octagon House a “landmark of America’s architectural, political and cultural history.” The building is home to a museum devoted to architecture and offers self-guided audio tours on Thursdays and Fridays.

Related: Best Iconic Works of Art in DC

tudorplace Best Lesser Known Historical Sites In DC

(credit: Tudor Place Historic House and Garden/Facebook)

Tudor Place
1644 31st St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 965-0400

Recognized as a National Historical Landmark, the Tudor Place was once the home of George Washington’s granddaughter, Martha Custis, and her husband, Thomas Peter. The 8.5-acre property features gorgeous landscaping, original furnishings from the late 19th century and more than 100 objects originally owned by George and Martha Washington including sculptures and portraits as well as a collection of 19th and 20th century porcelain and silver. Guided tours detail the history of the home and provide a peek at what it felt like to live in the massive estate. Tudor Place also features a self-guided garden tour and gift shop, and hosts various educational programs, lectures and other special events.

fordstheatre Best Lesser Known Historical Sites In DC

(credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ford’s Theatre
511 10th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 347-4833

Historically known as the place where John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln in 1865, Ford’s Theatre shut its doors for more than 100 years after the incident. Today, the theatre offers an interactive educational center, which teaches visitors about the life and legacy of President Lincoln as well as presents his ideals and leadership principles, such as courage, equality and creative expression. The theatre is also a working one, featuring many world-renowned plays and musicals, like “Hello Dolly,” as well as independent theatrical productions that bring the political and social issues associated with Lincoln to light.

Related: Best Unique Museums in DC

Old Ebbitt Grill


Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-4800

Even certain restaurants, like the Old Ebbitt Grill, are regarded as historical landmarks. Established in 1856, the Old Ebbitt Grill is known as D.C.’s first saloon and was frequented by many presidents and politicians including Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant and Warren Harding. It is also said to be the place where British soldiers had themselves a drink after they set the White House on fire during the War of 1812. Take a tour of the restaurant or simply grab a seat and enjoy traditional American fare such as strawberry French toast, Louisiana shrimp and grits or meatloaf. Old Ebbitt Grill also has a delicious, and famous, oyster bar. Many of the foods provided at the Old Ebbitt Grill come from local farms. The restaurant also features a gift shop.

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at