A Non-Tourist’s Guide to Washington, D.C.

When I first moved to D.C. I was determined to find spots around my new home that weren’t typical tourist spots. The Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums are incredible, but being a tourist for five months can get a little old. I googled everything trying to find a list similar to the one I’ve made here but all I could find was “Top 10 Tourist Destinations in Our Nation’s Capitol” or something to that extent. Welp, as one of my childhood favorite movies, Robots, once said, “see-a-need fill-a-need.”

A non tourist's guide.png


1. Adams Morgan

Metro Stop: Woodly Park- Zoo (red line)

Go here for: The Diner (specifically their milkshakes), The Mellow Mushroom (pizza joint with rooftop dining in the evening), the Idle Time Book shop, antique stores, and a laid back atmosphere. The zoo is also only a 15 minute walk from here, and it’s free!

2.Silver Spring

Metro Stop: Silver Spring (red line)

Go here for: A really nice movie theatre, a few indie movie theaters, tons of food places, outdoor shopping mall, live music, and concert venues.

3. The Southwest Waterfront

Metro Stop: Waterfront (Green Line)

Go here for: Sea food (kind of expensive though), pretty waterfront views, boat watching, live music, swings, fun kid activities, and sometimes fireworks.

4. Dupont Circle

Metro Stop: Dupont Circle (red line)

Go here for: Good coffee shops, a nice place to walk around, a plethora of food places, and a Krispy Kreme.


Food and Coffee Shops

1. Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse

Metro Stop: Union Station (red line)

Go here for: A great study spot, free live music, the blueberry muffins, and good coffee.

2. The Coffee Bar

Metro Stop: Farragut North (red line)

Go here for: Smaller setting, chai, artsy/hipster feel.

3. Wok and Roll

Metro Stop: Gallery Place-Chinatown (red line, green line)

Go here for: Sushi, authentic Chinese food good lunch specials on weekdays, and some really quality sweet and sour chicken. You get a ton of food for a pretty good price. Word on the street is there’s karaoke at night.

4. West Wing Cafe

Metro Stop: Union Station (red line)

Go here for: Really good sandwiches. The most options I have ever seen at a sandwich place, it’s really impressive. They also cut the meat right in front of you and no matter how busy it is they’re always really speedy.

5. Peregrine Espresso

Metro Stop: Eastern Market (silver line)

Go here for: Delicious banana-chocolate muffin, good music, tea, Ethiopian and Guatemalan blend coffee.

6. District Taco

Metro Stop: Union station, Tenleytown, Metro Center, and Eastern Market (to name a few)

Go here for: Good tacos, cool soda options, and good queso. At a reasonable price, too.

7. Thirty Fifty Coffee

Metro Stop: Dupont Circle (red line)

Go here for: A cozy and quiet study space.


8. Robeks

Metro Stop: Tenleytown, Farragut North

Go here for: Acai bowls ($10- good price for bowls around D.C.) that are REALLY good. The nutty bowl and the strawberry banana bowl are my favorites, the nutty one has a lot of (good) calories though so be careful if you’re doing this to be healthy.


9. Brick Lane (for brunch)

Metro Stop: Dupont Circle

Go here for: Really good mimosas (bottomless if you pay like $20 I’m pretty sure?), omelettes, pancakes, and burritos. One of the most reasonably priced and tasty brunch places I’ve found here.


1. Friendship Heights

Metro Stop: Friendship Heights (red line)

Go here for: H&M, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Bloomingdales, Old Navy, JCrew, Lord & Taylor, Michaels.

2. Columbia Heights

Metro Stop: Columbia Heights (green line)

Go here for: The biggest Target I’ve found so far in D.C., Bed Bath and Beyond, DSW, Best Buy, Marshalls.

3. Metro Center

Metro Stop: Metro Center

Go here for: Gap, Forever 21, H&M, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Banana Republic, Marshalls, and many others.

4. Silver Spring

Metro Stop: Silver Spring (red line)

Go here for: H&M, marshalls, TJ Maxx, foot locker, Forever 21, and more!



1. The Smithsonian National Zoo

Metro Stop: Woodly Park (Red Line)

Go here for: (Disclaimer: This is borderline-tourist but some people don’t have time for zoo stops when they come here so I’m including it.) Panda bears (!!!), great indoor options for during the summer, FREE ADMISSION, good petting zoo. Best zoo I’ve ever been to.

2. The National Museum of Women in the Arts

Metro Stop: Chinatown (red line)

Go here for: An awesome art gallery that is intersectional and super empowering. Every first Sunday of each month is FREE and admission is typically $10. I suggest taking the time to hang with a tour for a bit, because their guides know their stuff.

3. Hike (or more accurately, walk) around Roosevelt Island

Metro Stop: Rosslyn (orange line)

Go here for: Beautiful scenery, nice walking path in the city that kind of makes you feel like you’re on a hike, and a really neat president memorial right in the middle of it. Roosevelt was a really cool president who made significant strides for conservation and he got a whole island because of it! I liked going in the fall because the leaves looked really nice.


4. Neighborhood Festivals

Metro Stop: I went to a really good one in Adams Morgan (red line) this past September, but there was also one on H Street and a few other neighborhoods too.

Go here for: These are awesome. The connectedness of people within the neighborhoods here is insane, and the festivals are so much fun. They have vendors, really good food, drinks, and they’re always really popular. I highly recommend checking out one of these if you get the chance!


5. Day Trips

This is one of the coolest parts of living in D.C. Next weekend my friends and I are going to New York for the weekend, $25 round trip by bus. There’s also Virginia if you want some beautiful hiking (you just need a car), Annapolis, MD if you want great seafood, and Pennsylvania and Boston about 6 hours away by train or car.


One thought on “A Non-Tourist’s Guide to Washington, D.C.

  1. Interesting to see that you have posts on both, a tourist’s guide and a non-tourists guide – loved it!



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