Off the beaten path

Looking for some off-the-beaten path ideas for summer fun? Look no further than these places.


1. Visit the Woodrow Wilson House

Have you always wondered what President Wilson’s years in D.C. were like? The Woodrow Wilson house is a national historic landmark and a house museum, according to its Web site.

Many tourists who visit the area don’t know about the house, making it a quiet and fun place to wander around on a warm summer afternoon. Located at 2340 S St. N.W., the house is near many of the area’s embassies.


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2. Attend a Capitol Skyline Hotel Pool Party

The Capitol Skyline Hotel is a great place to kick back for some retro fun off of I Street southwest. Home to famed rooftop pool parties, it’s a fun place to head to if you’re sick of staring at the same people in your apartment-complex pool.

After numerous hotel renovations, the Skyline owners met Good Stuff Eatery’s Spike Mendelsohn. He agreed to help host pool parties, and now, for about $10 (which gets you in and a cheeseburger, too), Spike grills poolside on Sundays.

Online magazine Brightest Young Things also helps with getting out the word. Keep an eye out this summer if you’re looking for a fun way to meet people and you enjoy relaxing poolside this summer.

3. See the National Museum of Health and Medicine

The National Museum of Health and Medicine is located in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and is a division on the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

The museum was founded as the Army Medical Museum in 1862 to study medicine during the Civil War. It now is home to many different anatomical and pathological specimens and other great memorabilia for the doctor or aspiring doctor in your group.

Other great off-the-beaten-path museums include the Textile Museum, Renwick Gallery and National Postal Museum.

4. Take a road trip to Annapolis

Annapolis, Md., is only a mere 30 minutes (up to 45 minutes in traffic) away from the D.C. area. It is a quiet oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Home to some of the best crabs you’ll ever taste, Annapolis is great for those interested in sailing and seeing the Naval Academy.

Noteworthy places to try include Cantler’s Riverside Inn, a waterside restaurant shaded by trees and peaceful birds.

5. Survive on D.C.’s food carts

Lately, food carts have been taking the downtown business district by storm. Spend a week or a weekend seeing if you can survive solely on the carts.

A great one to start off trying is the Sweetgreen Mobile. Track its whereabouts on Twitter at twitter.com/sweetflowmobile and get ready for delicious salads and frozen yogurt for reasonable prices. In the morning, they also sell oatmeal with special brûlée topping. (Warning: You must have a sweet tooth for the brûlée.)

There is also Curbside Cupcakes for the mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Visit early, as they tend to run out. They also have a Twitter account at twitter.com/curbsidecupcake.

A great Friday lunch treat is the D.C. Pizza food truck. For those with more adventurous taste, try Sauca’s mobile food truck and Fojol Brothers, serving vegetarian and meat-based meals over basmati rice.

6. Visit the White House Farmers’ Market on Thursdays

The White House Farmers’ Market is a great place to beat the midweek blues. Head down to 15th Street (near the Farragut West and McPherson Square metros) and experience some of the freshest produce you will ever lay your eyes on.

You can make a meal out of food served here — when I visited, a vendor was selling fresh empanadas made with various meats and vegetables. Praline Bakery in Bethesda was also on hand, selling macarons and other tasty treats.

7. Visit Luray Caverns

Rent a Zipcar or take your car out of the garage for a sunny Saturday afternoon and head two hours west to Luray, Va. Home of Luray Caverns, the area is a great place to head to if you’re tired of the same old,  same old in the city.

More than 500,000 visit the caverns each year. The site was discovered in 1878 by a tinsmith and local photographer and now boasts one-hour tours on lighted walkways for you to experience the stalactites and stalagmites illuminated by candlelight.

8. Explore area hotels

For those of us who live in the area, we tend to not go to local hotels, especially in the summertime when many are bursting with tourists.

However, you might want to start exploring some of the hotels in the area, as many are home to great history and beautiful architecture. Be in the shadow of the Capitol Dome at the Liaison Hotel off New Jersey Ave. Duck inside for some good southern comfort food at Art & Soul or take a peek at their rooftop, with breathtaking views of the city.

Other great noteworthy hotels to check out include the Four Seasons in Georgetown and the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel.

9. Go mini-golfing… indoors

Check out the H Street Country Club for a hidden paradise of children’s games you loved as a child. For seven dollars, you can golf a nine-hole indoor miniature golf course designed with a D.C. theme.

Don’t bring your friends who are actually good at mini-golf, because you might get frustrated, as some of the holes are actually quite difficult. Try not to hit any golf balls too hard, either, because many of our parties’ balls (and groups around us) bounced down stairs and into employees-only areas.

There are skee-ball machines and pool tables downstairs, as well. If you’re hungry, H Street Country Club has some great Mexican food to sample during these hot summer months.

10. Explore another neighborhood

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When it’s hot outside, many D.C. residents tend to stick to their own neighborhood. Next time you’re trying to figure out something to do, try one of the many undiscovered places in the area.

The U Street neighborhood has been bustling with nightlife lately. The Friendship Heights Metro now boasts a new Whole Foods market, Tynan Coffee and Tea, and a P.F. Chang’s set to open later this summer.

Dupont Circle has also recently opened a gelato shop, and new restaurants are set to open throughout the area, including Agora, Buddha Bar, Casa Nonna and a new mussels bar by Robert Wiedmaier.