Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception offers a beautiful display of “God’s Pipes”.  Photo:  Geoff Livingston

While most travelers exploring the capital of the United States of America stick to the usual popular attractions and landmarks, the city harbors many other less known gems and treasures, extremely enticing or interesting for those who venture farther from the National Mall. While not as fascinating or imposing as the stretch of land that glitters in white marble and groves of knowledge, with the US Capitol, White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument or the Smithsonian Museums, these other highlights beyond the Mall are equally amazing and worth exploring.

  • Chinatown – For a distinct atmosphere of Washington DC, although a lot dimmer than it used to be, travelers should also walk through Chinatown, once housing a great Asian community. The Friendship Arch right at the entrance is the largest in the world.
  • Roosevelt Island – A charming natural island on the Potomac River, where tourists rarely end up, the Roosevelt Memorial is the main feature, with fountains and obelisks dedicated to the president. One can see great views of the buildings on the banks.
  • National Zoo – A great attraction for families, the National Zoo is packed with exotic animals and beyond, making it a perfect getaway from the city. It holds over 2,000 animals from about 400 species, including pandas, tigers, elephants and so on.
  • Arlington National Cemetery – Although renowned in the entire country and in the world as the resting place for hundreds of thousands of American soldiers beginning to the Revolution, Arlington is also a deeply emotional travel experience, with organized tours and an insightful introduction into the US history.
  • Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – The largest catholic church in the whole of North America, this basilica is truly imposing and has some interesting architectural highlights, including the cupola, the mosaics or the chapels.
  • Franciscan Monastery – Also known as Mount St. Sepulcher, the grounds of this landmark contain beautiful gardens and interesting replicas of some famous holy sites of the world.
  • Fountains on the Georgetown Harbor.  Photo:  Geoff Livingston

    Georgetown Waterfront Park – An extremely pleasant park right by the river, especially popular for couples and families. If travelers wish to get out of the sun and have a few relaxing hours cruising the shaded lanes or admiring the boats on the Potomac, this is the perfect place.

  • National Geographic Society Museum – While not as rich or of large as the Smithsonian, this museum is definitely an interesting destination, with frequent exhibitions that show the cultural and natural diversity of the entire world.