The Atlas Obscura Guide To Washington, D.C.
255 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Washington, D.C.
Updated March 28, 2023
Thereʼs no better way to experience the history of the United States than through the hidden wonders of the capital. From the more unusual inclusions in the Smithsonianʼs collection to Americaʼs very own catacombs, we can help you get beneath the American project.
Unusual Attractions in Washington, D.C.
Cool Places to Eat & Drink in Washington, D.C.
Plan Your Trip
Unforgettable Experiences Nearby
Atlas Obscura Itineraries
9 Places in D.C. That You're Probably Never Allowed to Go
The District of Columbia is home to a number of places that you need to flash the right ID to access. From restricted rooftops to government storage facilities and underground tunnels, the city is filled with places that are off-limits to the average visitor. What’s more, many of them are hidden within popular tourist destinations and densely populated neighborhoods—so you might catch a glimpse of them, but never get any closer. These are a few of our favorite restricted spots in D.C., and the stories behind them. As the pandemic continues, we hope this virtual trip helps you explore America’s wonders. If you do choose to venture out, please follow all guidelines, maintain social distance, and wear a mask.
Washington, D.C. Leaderboard
Recent Washington, D.C. Activity
wants to go to Foundry Branch Tunnel
wants to go to FBI Spy House
wants to go to Peirce Mill Spy Station
wants to go to International Spy Museum
wants to go to George Washington University's River Horse
Stories About Washington, D.C.
7 Unforgettable Stories for Black History Month
The Prohibition-Era Effort To Make Mocktails Fun
When the CIA Spied on American Citizens—Using Pigeons
Podcast: Library of Congress Hair Collection
The Secret History of Female and Nonbinary Occultists
Mary Edwards Walker and the Queer Suffragists Who Changed History
Lists Featuring Washington, D.C.
Novus Ordo Seclorum: 14 Places to Unearth Masonic Secrets
Your best bets for gaining insight into the real history of Freemasonry.
Including Zedekiah's Cave, Masonic Lodge of the Andaz Hotel, and House of the Temple
6 Secrets of the Washington Monument
Lightning rods, hidden hatches, and more.
Including Washington Monument Marble Stripe, Washington Monument Access Hatch, and Washington Monument Lightning Rod
When Stairs and Slides Are Hiding in Plain Sight
Play real-life Chutes and Ladders at these obscure thruways.
Including Secret Tiled Staircase, Esmeralda Slide Park, and Howe Street Stairs