DC’s Best Historic and Cultural Sites
As part of our ongoing “Best Of DC” series, our team has created a list of DC’s best historic and cultural sites. Whether you’re into music, art, history or theatre, there is a fabulous place for you to soak up DC’s many cultural opportunities.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Mount Vernon, VA 22121
Bonnie’s favorite place to soak in our area’s great history is George Washington’s Mount Vernon, eight miles south of Old Town. Visitors can of course tour our first President’s beloved home, but there’s so much more to see. Check out the tombs of General and Mrs. Washington, the slave memorial, scenic gardens, museum, and education center. You can even step back in time for a meal at the Colonial-era Mount Vernon Inn. Mount Vernon also offers great events throughout the year, including a biannual wine festival and candlelight tours during the holidays. Be sure to read more about Bonnie’s favorite historic sites around the DC area.
4155 Linnean Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Visit DC philanthropist and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post’s estate and gardens, which is now a decorative arts museum. Its exhibits, housed in a Georgian-style mansion, include Russian imperial art, French eighteenth-century decorative art, plus Post’s personal collection of apparel, jewelry, and accessories. Hillwood’s spectacular 25-acre garden was designed to dazzle visitors all year long.
Tall Ship Providence
As of summer 2019, the tall ship Providence will be docked in Old Town Alexandria. This reproduction of the first ship authorized to serve in the Continental Navy (and John Paul Jones’ first American command) will welcome visitors aboard to tour the ship, “meet” Jones himself, and experience what life was like aboard an eighteenth-century sloop. It will also offer cruises and tours along the Potomac, including family-oriented adventures and a “craft brew cruise” in partnership with Port City Brewing.
3701 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22305
This Alexandria landmark has been offering an intimate setting for fabulous live music since 1966! It offers a stellar variety of shows by well-known artists like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle Lovett, Dave Matthews, Vince Gill, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and k.d. Lang. Full dinner and bar menus round out the Birchmere experience. Be sure to have one of the smoked meat options, like the smokehouse ribs or smoked Prime Rib sandwich – meats are smoked onsite in the Birchmere’s wood-fired smoker.
901 Wharf Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
The new kid in town, The Anthem, opened in 2017 and is already “the” DC destination for intimate live music performances. While mostly showcasing current alternative artists (Maggie Rogers, Judah & The Lion, Bastille), The Anthem also hosts some more established acts (Sara Bareilles, Peter Frampton, B-52s, David Gray). They’re even hosting the National Symphony Orchestra in June 2019!
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
1551 Trap Road
Vienna, VA 22182
Without a doubt, Wolf Trap is the place to take in an outdoor summer show in the DC area. Sue and Marty are big fans of this venue, which offers musicals, dance, opera, jazz, and popular and country music performances. The best part? Visitors can bring in their own food and drink and enjoy a picnic on the lawn while taking in a show! Traditional seating under cover is also available.
1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Calling itself the “Stage for the Nation” the National Theater has been a mainstay of DC’s cultural scene for nearly 200 years. It offers very high-caliber performing arts, including Broadway shows, musical performances, and kids’ shows. Families, be sure to check out its “Saturday Morning at The National” program of interactive performances, puppets, dance and music for children ages 4-10.
Little Theatre of Alexandria
600 Wolfe Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
This historic theatre, located in a former Old Town blacksmith’s shop, has been offering high-quality theater products since 1934! The Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA), the oldest award-winning theater in the DC area, offers seven productions each year including musicals. Locals adore this hometown theater — even some presidents (Truman and Bush 41) have attended performances at LTA!
The Phillips Collection
1600 21st Street, NW
Modern art lovers, head to the Phillips Collection in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Here you’ll find works by Renoir, Rothko, O’Keeffe, van Gogh, and many more, including contemporary artists. The collection is housed in Duncan Phillips’ original home, an 1897 Georgian Revival, which offers a very intimate setting for the exhibits. This museum also offers a fantastic events calendar, which includes live music, lectures, and film screenings.
Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the Renwick Gallery houses its craft-focused exhibitions. This gem of a museum is housed in a historic building near the White House. The Renwick also exhibits several hundred paintings from the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.
ARTECHOUSE – WASHINGTON, DC
1238 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20024
ARTECHOUSE (Art+ Tech+ House) is a truly innovative art space dedicated to showcasing immersive, experiential, and technology-driven works by artists using new and exploratory art forms. You’ll be amazed at the limitless possibilities of technology, science, and creativity here! Sister museums are located in Manhattan and Miami.
The Bottom Line
Whether you love history, live music, new exhibits, or theater, the DC area has something for you. There is always something new to discover at DC’s best historic and cultural sites! Did we miss your favorite? Please let us know so we can add it to our list.