Top Quirky, Off-Beat Things to do in D.C. (Before You Die/Escape)

I moved around quite a bit before ending up in our nation’s capital and became attached to each place I unpacked my suitcases. D.C. isn’t New York City. D.C. isn’t Berkeley. And D.C. is certainly not Lima. I’ve been here for four years, but I still miss the excitement of The City, the beauty of the Bay Area and the challenges of Peru. HOWEVER, I’ve grown to appreciate this metropolis for what it is. There’s a lot of curious stuff going on here, too—I just had to dig a li’l deeper. This guide is for the hodgepodge of residents who, like me, need more adventure in their lives. In no particular order, I give you the top quirky, off-beat (sometimes free, always fun) things to do in D.C. (before you die/escape):

Sporty Things
Food and Drink Things
Only in D.C. Things
Weird Things
Nerdy Things
Music, Art, Theatre Things
Relaxing Things
Awesome Things
The Best Food in D.C.
Outside and Around D.C.

Active, Sporty, Outdoor Activities in D.C.

  1. Washington Juggernauts: Have some anger issues? Feel like whacking someone with a blunt object? Join the Armored Combat League! Link here $
  2. Zombie Run: Break out the fake blood, torn clothes and let loose your obsession for BrrRRaaaiNsSSS! Links here, here and here
  3. Dragon boat racing: If you angle your paddle just right, you can splash the person behind you until they’re sopping wet. I’m not a bad person. Links here and here
  4. Annual croquet match: I don’t understand it, but I’ll watch it. Link here
  5. Yoga Mortis: The corpse pose is just SO much easier in a cemetery. Link here
  6. Candlelight yoga: And if cemeteries aren’t your thing, do the downward dog in candlelight. Just make sure to watch where you cobra! Link here $
  7. Capitol Clash: Historical European martial arts—bring the ancient art of beating the crap outta people back to the modern era! Link here $
  8. Major League Quidditch: Watch adults run around with broomsticks in between their legs. Link here
  9. Flying trapeze: Are you afraid of heights? Great, now go practice your flips. Links here and here $
  10. American Ninja Warrior-Themed Pool Competition: OMG OMG OMG Link here
  11. Square dancing: This ain’t the day to break in those new boots. Get ready for a workout, yeehaw! Link here and here $
  12. U.S. Air Guitar Championships: “smells a lot like cheap beer, sweaty spandex, and epic shredding of invisible proportions.” Link here $
  13. Archery 101: Because we all want to be Jennifer Lawrence. Link here $
  14. DC Roller Derby scrimmage: Watch these hardcore ladies kick butt! They also have classes and bootcamps so you can attempt to attain their level of badassery. Link here
  15. D.C. Bubble Run: There are bubbles! SO. MANY. BUBBLES, in fact, that you can almost forget the word “run” is also in there. Sneaky. Link here $
  16. Annual tweed ride: Pedal like you got a full-ride to OxBridge! Link here $
  17. Play cornhole: This sport (yeah, I called it a sport) is really more of an excuse to go drinking after (or is it before?) than actually playing, but some people get really into it. As a Best Coast gal, I’d never heard of proper cornhole technique, and it’s fascinating/annoying to hear some tipsy Georgetown boys explain it. Join the movement with this link here. $
  18. Sledding on Capitol Hill: This is a winter must-do! If your partner forgets to buy sleds at the grocery store before they sell out (AHEM), just wrap a large piece of cardboard in a heavy duty garbage bag. Both to my surprise (and the stand-by medic’s) this actually works really, really well. Link here
  19. Try a Capoeira class: Free dance-fighting classes. What are you waiting for?! Check it out herehere and (heavily discounted) here
  20. Netwalking: Netwalking takes The District’s No. 1 obsession—networking—to a whole new level (of ridiculousness). If you can’t figure out how to walk and talk, this event is for you. Netwalking teaches participants to network while they walk a la The West Wing. So get out there! Take what could’ve been a nice, relaxing stroll and turn it into work! Link here $ There’s also the envirorun! Link here
  21. Bastille Day Baguette Race: Running after carbs–>story of my life Link here
  22. Bastille Day French Maid Race: We all know a 22-year-old frat boy came up with this, but, whatevs, santé! Link here $
  23. Free roller skating: Reenact your fav ’80s fantasies here. Link here
  24. Exorcist steps: These iconic steps don’t match the Palisades in their creepiness. They’re actually in a lovely part of the city. See if you can run up and down twice like former president Bill Clinton. Then go get a cupcake—you earned it. Link here
  25. Climb the big toe: You know what they say about feet… THAT THEY’RE GROSS Link here
  26. Acroyoga: Think crazy yoga poses but IN THE AIR. Link here
  27. Paddleboarding on the Potomac: Last one to fall off buys lunch! Link here $
  28. Hike in Rock Creek Park: I’ll summit up nicely for you: just do it! Rock Creek is the country’s oldest national urban park Link here
  29. Ice rink at the Sculpture Garden: There are plenty of ice rinks in and around D.C., but my favorite is the one at the Sculpture Garden. The entire place is lit up like a wonderland, and the ice is consistently fresh and smooth. Link here $
  30. Kayak Around the Ghost Fleet: Mallows Bay is a bastion of old war ships. Pro tip: you can find cheaper guided tours if you shop around. Link here
  31. Get your groove on with dance classes: The Jam Cellar offers a free beginner’s lesson in dances like the Lindy Hop and Balboa. Links here and here (Note: I really disliked the instructor. He was very sarcastic to the point of being unapproachable. Also, you don’t get to keep the partner you bring.) There’s also free salsa lessons every Wednesday from 9-10 at El Centro! Link here More salsa here. Free swing dancing here. Contra dancing here. And don’t forget English Country Dancing Link here National Dance Day is comin’ atcha Link here Israeli folk dancing: Breakin’ it dowwwwwwn! Link here $
  32. Hike the Great Falls: The only place in Maryland that doesn’t smell like Old Bay. Link here
  33. Kickball on the mall: Wear a costume. Link here
  34. Polar Plunge: Hosted by Catholic University, this even raises money for the Special Olympics! Link here $
  35. Breakdancing championship: Thank goodness we have these people to up our “cool” quota. Link here
  36. The future of sports: Sadly, they won’t accept my suggestion for Extreme Knitting. Link here $
  37. Learn to Row: aka get ripped for summer. Link here $
  38. Retro Field Day: Three-legged race, here I come! Link here and here $
  39. Bike for Coffee: Every week, Arlingtonians (is that a word? I’ll roll with it) meet up for a cup o’ joe. Link here $
  40. Free fishing and kayaking: Summer only! Link here
  41. International Day of Yoga: Celebrate the fact that you’re not a pretzel. I’m pretty sure the human body is NOT meant to contort like that. Link here
  42. Aerial Yoga Nidra aka “yogic sleep”: Another form of exercise involving sleep is fine by me! Link here
  43. Critter Yoga: Nicola from “Life is a Zoo Yoga” will guide you through a 1-hour yoga class with some very special guests. Meet baby goats,and here $lambs and bunnies as you flow through your practice. SOMUCHADORABLE! Links here and here $
  44. Hip hop yoga: Think yoga but add Kanye. Link here $
  45. Standup paddleboard yoga: OK, now y’all are going a li’l overboard with this. Link here $
  46. Go ice skating in the summer: Don’t think about all the energy it takes to run that rink. Climate change is for Al Gore to worry about. Link here
  47. Polar Plunge: I feel so alive! Link here $
  48. Georgetown waterfront fountains: They change color. Oooooh, prettttty. Link here
  49. Nat’s game: Watch Teddy lose (again). Link here $
  50. Aqua Pole Dancing: The world is a better place because of aqua pole dancing. Link here
  51. Ice Skating on the C&O Canal: Inadvisable. Link here
  52. D.C.’s ultimate frisbee team: Because every city needs one. Link here
  53. Best bike groups: D.C. bikers! But, ya know, not like those kinds of bikers. These guys wear helmets and attend poetry readings. Link here (and check out this annual firefighter bike ride! Link here $)
  54. Riverpalooza: It has “palooza” in it. Need I say more? Link here
  55. Pillow fight: D.C. has a yearly pillow fight, and you need to get in on this! Link here
  56. Go plogging: There’s just too much do-goodery on this site. Link here
  57. Learn to ride a unicycle: YES! Do this thing! Link here $
  58. Go scuba diving: Make like a fish and scuba. Link here $
  59. Go skydiving: Make like a bird and fall out of the sky, erm… Link here $
  60. Street skating: These people mean business! Link here
  61. Blind Hockey: <3 Link here $
  62. DC Olympic Speedskating: SPEED DEMON Link here
  63. Potomac Curling Club: See, I told you this was a real sport! Link here $
  64. DC Bike Party: Gawds, The District sure loves its bikes. Link here
  65. Do the RBG workout: I mean, if you CAN. Link here and here
  66. DC Double Dutch team: They are the epitome of awesomesauce. Link here
  67. New golfer outing: * cough * miniature golf is way better * cough * Link here $
  68. Yolo Polo: Get your upper class on with a rousing game of polo! Link here $
  69. Axe Throwing: It’s bad axe! Link here
  70. Mini golf FTW: Because golf isn’t just for lobbyists or lazy presidents. Link here and here $
  71. Roam: It’s a dance party and finding it is half the fun. Link here $
  72. Sheep Shearing at Oxon Cove: If this doesn’t automatically intrigue you, we can’t be friends. Link here
  73. Spinning classes… in a pool?!: So this is a thing. Link here $
  74. Visit DC’s slightly disappointing waterfalls: But, hey, it’s all we’ve got so enjoy! Link here
  75. DC Bike Polo: Like regular polo but without the posh outfits and posh horses! Link here
  76. Hot air balloon festival: GORGEOUS Link here $
  77. Garage racing: Ride too quickly around parking garages? This is for you! Link here and here
  78. Ice-a-thon: Break out those skates! Link here $
  79. DC Vault: Learn how to pole vault with the best of the DMV! Link here $
  80. Broomball: Can’t ice skate? Hate sweeping the porch? Want to play something relatively similar to a “sport?” Broomball is here for you. Link here $
  81. District 3-on-3 basketball tourney: Uniting nations with a popular pastime. Link here $
  82. X-treme contra dancing: 10 hours of “blissful dancing” featuring a hardwood floor and fiddlers! Link here $
  83. MudFest: In the words of Ms. Frizzle, “Get messy!” Link here $
  84. Chicks in Bowls: Hardcore roller skating! Link here
  85. Walk the C&O Canal Towpath: And wear LOTS of bug spray. Link here
  86. Snowshoeing basics: If you complete this course, you win REI. Link here
  87. Old Glory: Go see D.C.’s rugby team! Link here
  88. Free, weekly 5k: And when we say weekly, we mean every week. Good luck. Link here
  89. Spinbledon: D.C.’s answer to Wimbledon and tennis. It’s hardcore ping pong in the district. Link here $
  90. D.C. Kastles: Speaking of tennis, did you know we have a team? Yeah, go see them! Link here $
  91. Underground railroad stops in The District: Don’t forget slavery in D.C. Take a walk and remember the brave men and women who fought back. Link here

Food and Drink in D.C.

  1. Ice Cream Luge: Like many great things in life, it’s slightly messy, requires chocolate and involves alcohol. Link here $
  2. Atlas Arcade: Give your inner child beer, and don’t be stingy with the quarters. Link here $
  3. Champagne Saber: A man gets dressed up, brandishes a sword and breaks the neck off a bottle of champagne. Then he pours free drinks for everyone. Every day. (Best. Job. EVER.) Link here
  4. Pickle vodka: I can’t even. Link here $
  5. Fungal foray: Head out into the wilderness with the Mycological Association of Washington D.C. and pluck enough fungi for an omelet! Link here $
  6. Tea with Strangers: Grab tea (with strangers!) and discuss why y’all aren’t drinking coffee. Link here
  7. Pho-eating contest: Pretty much an average Friday night. Link here $
  8. U.S. Coffee Championship: GOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Or, um, something like that. I don’t really know how to play coffee. Link here $
  9. Grab Some Grub From D.C.’s Floating Food Truck: The overpriced deliciousness is unmatched! Link here
  10. Absinthe fountain: Are you hipster enough? Link here $
  11. Drag brunch at Nellie’s Sports Bar: There are no words. Just go. Link here $
  12. Mr. Yogato’s frozen yogurt: Where playing games gets you discounts on froyo! Link here $
  13. Sushi doughnuts: Forget sushi burritos. It’s all about the ‘nuts! Link here $
  14. Board Room bar: Let your competitive side loose and CRUSH Brian at his favorite board game. SUCK IT, BRIAN. Drinks on you, bro! Links here and here
  15. Speakeasy: You are definitely cool enough to frequent one of D.C.’s speakeasys. The question is—can you afford both that vintage wicker chair, mousse for your man bun, those non-iPod issued headphones AND the price of a cocktail? Link here $
  16. Drunk Science: Where CH3CH2OH flows freely. Link here $
  17. Try the Bagel Doughnut: BLASPHEMY! Link here and here $
  18. Visit a store devoted entirely to Peeps: Insert toothpicks into Peep wings. Stick in microwave. Watch them joust. You’re welcome. Link here
  19. Try the world’s hottest pepper: You know you like it hot. Link here $
  20. Fermentation workshop: Hipster power ups available here Links here $ and here
  21. Try mumbo sauce and paw paw: Put the chocolate on the moose. Links here and here $
  22. Office Hours at Ben’s Chili Bowl: Ask a historian your most pressing questions during his office hours. Oh, and grab a bowl of chili while you’re at it! Link here
  23. Book-themed cocktails: Just don’t eat the bookworm at the bottom of the bottle! Link here $
  24. Try fried duck heads in Columbia Heights: They taste JUST like fried duck heads! Link here $
  25. Drink it all in: Drink in a gorgeous garden instead of on your dusty stoop! Link here
  26. Lunch at the American Indian Museum: This is a VERY D.C. thing to do. Check out the menu on their website, and then chow down. Link here $
  27. Food history festival: You can throw a gender reveal party for your food baby afterward. Link here
  28. Turkish Festival: Baklava never tasted so sweet. Link here
  29. Annual ice cream social: Did I mention it’s FREE?! Link here
  30. Cheese Club: For those of you who love eating things that smell like feet! Link here $
  31. Chocolate lover’s walking tour: If you really loved me, this is what you’d get me for my birthday, Greg. NUDGE NUDGE Link here $
  32. Eat Maryland blue crabs at longest continuously open market in US: Head to Maine St Market, buy a bushel of crabs (ask for either male or female depending on the season), chow down! Pro tip: You can ask for samples before you make a purchase. Link here $
  33. Eat crab on a baseball field: This event takes one of my FAVORITE things and combines it with one of my LEAST favorite things. Yay! Link here $
  34. Nosh on edible flowers: No, not edible arrangements. Link here
  35. Beer yoga: Think yoga but subtract health benefits and common sense. Links here and here $
  36. Secret bar: Walk through a freezer door in this Peruvian restaurant. Your cocktail awaits! Link here $
  37. Nog fest: NOG NOG NOG NOG! Link here $
  38. Capital chili cookoff: Come for the chili, leave before the antacids. Link here $
  39. Zoo Uncorked: Yup, alcohol and zoo animals. What could go wrong? Link here $ and check this out Link here
  40. Annual Greek festival: Eat ALL the spanakopita! Link here $
  41. Nicecream: Futuristic ice cream flavors flash frozen in liquid nitrogen. YUM. Link here $
  42. Ice cream for man’s best friend: Let your pup in on the fun with Frosty Paws Treats ice cream! Link here $
  43. Ramen cocktails: I would write something about this, but I’m hitting the Post’s paywall so… good luck, you’re on your own. Link here $
  44. Annual Pumpkin Palooza: Y-E-S Link here
  45. Christmas and Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar: Both over-hyped. Both required visiting to staunch that FOMO. Links here and here $
  46. Freddie’s Beach Bar drag bingo: Reserve a seat ahead of time! Link here $
  47. Happy hour challenge: Some enterprising soul with far too much time on their hands made a database of ALL the happy hours in D.C. Link here and here $
  48. Free Film & Beer at Bistro Bohem: Booya! Link here
  49. Herbs 101: No, not those kinds of herbs. Link here
  50. Gin pong: Because you’re too classy for beer pong. Link here $
  51. DC “State” Fair: Go eat something deep-fried. Link here $
  52. Eat your heart out: D.C. finally has a three-star Michelin restaurant! Link here $
  53. Shark Week specials: (^^^) Link here $
  54. The Whiskey Rebellion: Baltimore was the epicenter of illegal whiskey production. Link here $
  55. The Watergate Salad: Learn all about this mysterious salad, where it came from and why people would ever want to eat something so gross. Link here $

Things you can ONLY do in D.C.

  1. Politicians vs. Press Spelling Bee: It’s ridiculous as it sounds. Link here $
  2. Congressional Baseball Game: Ditto. Link here
  3. Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park drum circle: Does your heart beat to the tune of a different drum? Do you wear your dreadlocks with pride (and beads)? Do you enjoy balancing on a tight rope? If that sounds like you, check out the drum circle. If not, bring a picnic blanket, some snacks and your sunglasses—it’s the HBO of people watching. Link here
  4. Get a library card from the Library of Congress: #nerdcred Link here
  5. The most famous graves in the D.C. area: Smell that? It’s existential dread, and it is STRONG. Link here
  6. Watch a Supreme Court trial: YOU GET TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE RBG! Link here
  7. Presidential debate watch party: Drink heavily. Shout expletives at the screen. Gravely offend the Republican at the next table. Exasperate and annoy the Democrat at the end of the bar. Oh, and watch the candidates debate. It’s a D.C. thing. Link here
  8. D.C. Underground Comedy show: Laugh till it hurts and then keep on laughing because life’s too short to be a fuddy duddy. Pro tip: don’t sit in the front unless you want to be heckled by the performers. Link here Also check out Capital Laughs Link here $ and Press Play Improv Link here $
  9. Easter Egg roll: Unfortunately, there’s no Chinese food involved. I know. I don’t get it, either. Link here
  10. Learn how to fly fish off a building in Arlington: Nothing could possibly go wrong. Links here and here
  11. Take a spin on the Capital Wheel: It’s wheel fun! Link here $
  12. Fourth of July on the mall: You can’t get more American (or sweatier) than this. Brave the crowds and the stifling humidity to experience Washington at its most patriotic! Link here
  13. Changing of the guard, Arlington cemetery: No snark for this one. It’s quite lovely. Respect. Link here
  14. Sunset at Gravelly Point: Bring a blanket + picnic fare and enjoy the sherbet-colored sunset as it illuminates the low-flying planes. * le sigh * How romantic! Link here
  15. Inauguration: You can get tickets via your representative! * fingers crossed * your candidate wins. Link here
  16. All the monuments: Walk ’em at day AND at night before calling yourself a true Washingtonian. (Kayaking the monuments and seeing them from the water is also an option!)
  17. Tree lighting/Menorah lighting ceremonies: Stand out in the freezing cold to watch someone flip a switch! Links here and here
  18. West Wing Tour: Sadly, it’s nothing like The West Wing. I know. * sobs *
  19. White House Correspondents Dinner: Where journalists, politicians and celebs mingle, and there is no conflict of interest whatsoever, uh huh. Link here
  20. Capitol and White House Tour: Book your tickets early. Link here
  21. Protest something: Unless you work for the government or a strict NGO or the press. Then don’t. Link here
  22. Tour of the Pentagon: Check it off your To Do list and then go visit the bra tree. Link here
  23. White House Garden tour: Boring but pretty and one of those D.C. things-to-do. Link here
  24. Climb to the top of Washington Monument: You can live in D.C. your entire life and never make it to the top of the Washington Monument. Put it on your to-do list before the next quake shuts it down (again). Just promise me you’ll leave your selfie stick at home—don’t be THAT person. You can (and should) get tickets online. Link here $
  25. George Washington’s Birthday Parade: Where do you live again? That’s right, show some respect! Plus, the volunteer fire department is usually in attendance. Interested now? Link here

Truly Weird Things to do in D.C.

  1. Giant SpongeBob Squarepants: He’s less annoying in real life, promise. Link here
  2. The Amazing Acro-Cats: Featuring Tuna and the Rock Cats! Check ’em meow-t! Link here $
  3. Running of the Chihuahuas: <insert Taco Bell reference> Links here and here
  4. Menstruation Museum: Move over, Smithsonians, you ain’t got nothing on a museum dedicated to Aunt Flow. Link here
  5. Puppeteering meetup: You’re always pulling strings at work, now do it as a hobby! Link here  
  6. Giant “Jaws” shark: Cue theme song. Link here
  7. No Pants Subway Ride: Dress code is a happy medium between a D.C. power meeting and a nudist colony. Link here
  8. Screaming hairy armadillos: Do I really need to add anything else? Link here
  9. Lock picking class: Nothing is safe. I repeat, NOTHING is safe. Not only will this class teach you how to pick everything from bike locks to front doors, it’ll also instill you with a queasy feeling that none of your worldly possessions are secure in any way, whatsoever. Link here
  10. The D.C. Air Sex Championship: Don’t ask. Just read (it’s safe for work). Link here $
  11. Wiener 500 D.C. Dachshund Race: Everyone gets a first place in cuteness! Link here
  12. HUMP Amateur Porn Festival: Unrelated to the full moon gong bath, but in full support of showing your full moon, Dan Savage hosts an annual amateur porn festival right here in The District. NSFW and not for the faint of heart, porn becomes a communal and (dare I suggest it?) heart-warming experience. Link here $
  13. Floor workshop: You roll around on the floor and somehow that makes you relax. I guess it works for dogs so why not people? Link here $
  14. Giant Adirondack chair: ‘Cause when you’re tipsy, giant stuff is hilarious. Link here
  15. Washington Psychotronic Film Society: You’ll love these films! (Depending on your tolerance to weird.) Link here
  16. The D.C. Weirdo Show: If you’re reading this list, you belong at this show. Link here $
  17. Haunted hospital: Check out this totally haunted hospital… if you DARE. Link here
  18. Full moon gong bath: I got nothin’. Give it a go? Link here $
  19. National Museum of Health and Medicine: Where else can you see a ginormous hairball IN SOMEONE’S INTESTINES? Link here
  20. Say hi to Oscar: He’s that creepy mannequin that’s been staring at you for years. Link here
  21. DC-Henge: When everything aligns just right, you can almost pretend we’re not living in a hellish swamp. Link here
  22. Mushroom House: Check out this crazy architectural wonder! Link here
  23. Death Cafe: Drink tea, eat cake and talk about the Grim Reaper behind his back. Link here
  24. Cupid’s Undie Run: Cupid graduated from diapers to undies. Congrats, dude! Link here
  25. DC forest bathing: It is and it isn’t what you’re thinking. Link here and here $
  26. Hungry Human Hippos: This is all that and more! Link here $
  27. Giant acorn gazebo: It’s available for weddings! Link here
  28. Darth Vader Gargoyle at the National Cathedral: I am not making this one up. Ask one of the docents for a map and binoculars and pay homage to the Sith Lord. Link here
  29. Giant crash test dummy: Because what else are you gonna do with your Saturday? Link here
  30. SlugFest: Celebrate everyone’s favorite(?!) gastropod at the festival of slugs. Enjoy(?!) slime tossing, slug racing and slug skin exfoliation(?!). Link here $

For the Intellectuals (aka Nerdy Things to do in D.C.)

  1. Creative Mornings D.C.: Pretend you’re a morning person and hear some brilliant speakers like NPR’s Adam Cole and the Hirshhorn’s Linn Meyers. Link here
  2. DC science cafe: SCIENCE IS THE BEST. That is all. Link here
  3. Space cafe: Your are not allowed to make Uranus jokes here. My bad. Link here $
  4. Opera on tap: “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here” meets “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.” Link here $
  5. Take a calligraphy class: Now you can support the postal service and send cards (seriously, buy stamps, people). Link here $
  6. DC scrabble club: It’s all fun and games until someone loses an i. Link here
  7. The National Math Festival: Stoke your inner genius. Link here
  8. Architecture Month: Tour cool buildings. Link here $
  9. Free lunch with scientists!: The Broad Branch Road campus of Carnegie Science has shared home-cooked meals with the public every day since 1947. Head to the Merle Tuve Room (dining hall) of the Greenewalt Building at 12:30 for some delectable food cooked by Lunch Club members. Link here
  10. AwesomeCon: It’s awesome. Do I really need to explain this one? Link here $
  11. Jane Austen Ball: If you didn’t ZOMG LOVE the 5-hour showing of Pride and Prejudice, this might not be for you. Link here $
  12. Dungeons & Dragons for newbs: I can’t believe you’ve made it this far in life WITHOUT playing D&D. Link here
  13. Hear authors at Politics and Prose: Where book lovers are forced to hear about politics and politicians pretend they’ve read books. Link here
  14. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text: Soon to replace bibles in creepy motels everywhere. Link here $
  15. Fal(s)e University: A comedy show that makes philosophy (etc.) way more fun than your college profs did Link here $
  16. Nerd Nite D.C.: Be there and be square. Link here
  17. Busboys and Poets 11th Hour Poetry Slam: Roses are red, violets are blue, you should go to this ’cause it’s really cool. Link here $
  18. Petworth Citizen: “…where the cocktails are wonderful and there’s a literal haven for book nerds in the back. Step inside the photogenic Reading Room (the tomes are arranged by color) and peruse the free(!) offerings…” Link here
  19. Think tank discussion: Get a free education and (oftentimes!) free food. Check out the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Links here and here
  20. District trivia: Hang out with friends and coworkers, take advantage of happy hour specials and good noms. If you’re not a walking depository of random facts and arcane knowledge, no worries—the most important part is coming up with a funny team name. Link here
  21. Indie bookstore crawl: Forget about beer (yeah, I said it!), and do a bookstore crawl. Support local bookstores and get some fab new reads out of the deal! Link here
  22. Chill with Robots at the Smithsonian: They’re no WallE, but their interest in art is unparalleled! Link here
  23. Viennese masquerade ball: Get your Edgar Allan Poe on at a masquerade ball. Link here $
  24. Arcade event: Play games invented by Washingtonians. Link here
  25. DMV Pun: It’s SO PUNNY! Link here $
  26. Tombs and Tomes: The Congressional Cemetery’s book club… why does a cemetery have a cooler social life than you? Link here
  27. Monkeys With Typewriters: No monkeys were harmed during the scheduling of this event. Link here
  28. Use a bonafide darkroom: #oldskool Link here
  29. Robert Burns party: You gotta check this out. Pro tip: avoid the haggis! Link here
  30. Walk in the footsteps of spies and traitors (without actually being one): Unless that’s your thing. I don’t judge. Link here 
  31. Rock Paper Scissors Tournament: The most intellectually taxing event you’ll ever attend. Link here
  32. VHS Nostalgia: Refuse to enter the 21st Century? Watched “The Circle” and you’re still freaked out? Welcome! Link here
  33. Dr. Who extravaganza: Fire up your Tardis and beam yourself over to the Black Cat for Saturday night Dr. Who showings and drink specials! Link here
  34. Maryland Faerie Festival: When a festival spells “fairy” the old English way, you know it’s legit. Link here $
  35. Explore the skies: with the National Capital Astronomers. Link here
  36. Drunk education: Just like your college education but less expensive. Links here and here $
  37. Punk archive library shows: This exists. Link here
  38. Shakespeare in the pub: The Great Bard would approve. Link here
  39. Annual D.C. Tabletop Games Convention: Kick some Pandemic butt! Link here
  40. Arlington Puzzle Fest: The most exciting festival you’ll never attend. Link here
  41. Season’s Greenings: Model train shows still exist. ZOMG Link here
  42. Profs and Pints: Go educate yourself. Link here $
  43. Conversational DC: They’re speaking your language. Link here
  44. Monopoly on the mall: Extra points if you bring an old man carrying bags of $. Link here
  45. Three Sheets Lecture Series: Because studies (don’t) show that you learn (and teach!) better when you’re drunk. Link here
  46. Seersucker social:”DC’s dandiest residents turn out for a lawn party filled with great style.” Link here
  47. Library archive tourism: Let your inner introvert go exploring! Link here
  48. The Void: Immerse yourself in another realm with virtual reality AND DO AWESOME STUFF LIKE FIGHT BATTLE N’ SHIT! Link here $
  49. Cult-like video game: Visit Baltimore to see what all the hype is about! Link here $

Music, Art, Theatre in D.C.

  1. 500 harmonica cases: Think your OK Cupid date has a weird hobby? Cut the dude some slack. Can’t get odder than this (and I love it!). Link here
  2. D.C.’s silent disco: ParTAY (quietly)! Link here $
  3. ASL annual song signing competition: This is SO COOL! Link here
  4. O Street Mansion Bluegrass Jam: If you play an instrument you can get in for free. (The electric triangle doesn’t count, Greg, jeeze.) Link here
  5. Cheeseboard painting: Because using canvas is so last month. Link here $
  6. Celebrate textiles: Because EXCITEMENT! Link here
  7. Bluegrass jamming class: Anyone with any musical talent needs to get on this ASAP. Link here $
  8. Rocky Horror Picture Show at E St. Cinema: This was a LOT of fun, and I’d definitely go again. Pro tips: wear nice underwear, and don’t tell anyone you’re a newb. Link here $
  9. Support GOGO: Check out D.C.’s funky music scene. Link here
  10. Museums: Gotta catch ’em all! Link here
  11. Learn graffiti lettering: But stay away from overpasses. Link here $
  12. Opera in the outfield: Unfortunately, there are no angels involved in these performances. Link here
  13. Torpedo Factory: This old munitions factory from WWII has been transformed into an artist’s haven. Stroll through the factory and chat with artists at work. Then hit the waterfront for a relaxing (and tasty!) dinner. Link here
  14. House concert: (Crazy) cool people open up their houses to the masses and host performers from all over the U.S. Link here
  15. West African Drum and Dance Class: What instrument can you play in your head? Ear drums! Link here $
  16. Porch Fest: Porches and stoops are transformed into stages for this yearly event. Link here
  17. Pop-up concert: This event has neither popcorn nor pop tarts, and I think they’ve missed out on a real merchandizing opportunity. Link here
  18. Mobile art gallery: For you artsy types. Link here
  19. Make your own zine: Shut down that Live Journal and make change IRL! Link here
  20. A People’s Choir DC: Who doesn’t love a good sing-along?! Link here
  21. Jazz in the GardenLink here and check this out while you’re at it: Link here
  22. Screen on the GreenLink here and check these out, too! Link here and concert link here
  23. Kennedy Center: Perfect date night. (Pssst, there are free events every evening!) Walk out into the garden area for a beautiful view of the Potomac. Link here
  24. 9:30 Club: The dance-offs here are spectacular! Link here
  25. DC Record Fair: Buy two get one hipster free! Link here
  26. Rosslyn’s bonfire concerts: Family-friendly event involving fire. Link here
  27. Art walk: First Friday of the month in DuPont! Link here
  28. Free concerts/ShakespeareLinks here and here and here and here
  29. Instameet: Obsessed with photography? They are, too. Link here
  30. Academy of Funk: Get schooled. Links herehere and here
  31. Nordic Film Festival: Oooh, I hope they play “How to Train Your Dragon!” Link here $
  32. Daybreaker dance party: Get up early so you can get down! Link here $
  33. 6th and I Historic Synagogue: All the shows are belongs to you! Link here $
  34. PARK(ing) Day: Parking spots around the city are transformed into beaches, art installations and cafes! Link here
  35. Pay what you can nights at Wooly Mammoth Theater: Perfect for students or Bumble dates. Link here $
  36. Wolf Trap: An outside concert venue that encourages music-lovers to pack their own picnics! Link here $
  37. Bootleg Shakespeare: Performers memorize their lines but aren’t allowed to rehearse, and the rule is BYO props. Hilarity ensues. Link here
  38. New York Avenue Sculpture Project: Badass artists who happen to be women, make their mark on NY Ave. Link here
  39. Arlington Chainsaw Art: Family friendly! Link here
  40. DC Murals: Check out some art that’s NOT in a Smithsonian! Link here
  41. Tiny Desk Concert: Go to a mini concert at NPR! While you’re at it, check out their rooftop beehive. Link here
  42. Concert in the blind: A unique way to really listen. Link here $
  43. The Hip Hop Orchestra: What every marching band geek aspires to. Link here $
  44. Parking lot mural: Iz purdy Link here
  45. Rent a drum kit: Let your inner An-i-mal do its thang! Link here $
  46. Free music at Fort Reno: Rock out and chill. Link here
  47. Free museum day: Most museums in D.C. are free, but if you have one on your bucket list that you’d rather not spring for, check out free museum day. Link here
  48. The 48 Hour Film Horror Project: Akin to watching Fox News while visiting with your racist grandparents for the weekend. Scary. Link here $
  49. Movie Mondays @ DuPont Underground: An excuse to chill in DuPont. Link here
  50. Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival: You know what this party needs? MORE BANJO! Link here $
  51. Watch tennis on top of Union Market: WE LOVE YOU SERENA! Link here $
  52. Capital Irish Film Festival: Because who doesn’t love all things Irish? Pass the corned beef and cabbage! Link here $
  53. The Moth @ Howard Theater: Judge storytellers ruthlessly (or nicely, whatevs). Link here $
  54.  Washington’s Premier handbell ensemble: Ring in the weekend with some bell music! Link here $
  55. Transverse the Multiverse: Space and art collide! Link here
  56. Stop Motion: “Stop Motion is a quarterly photography slideshow exhibition in DC.” Link here
  57. Neighborhood music: Arguably the best “piano bar” in D.C. Link here $

Relaxing Things to do in D.C.

  1. Monday night meditation: Get your ooommm on. Link here and here
  2. Cinematery: BYOB to this week’s movie… in the CEMETERY Link here
  3. Ride ducks on the Tidal Basin pond during cherry blossom season: This post is not sponsored by AFLAC. Link here $
  4. Lily Festival at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens: Gorgeous blooms and few tourists. The perfect combo! Link here
  5. Botanic Garden: Come for the gorgeous vegetation. Stay for the corpse flower. Link here
  6. D.C.’s Secret Gardens: You loved the movie, now check out the real deal. Link here
  7. Free Meditation Retreat: Make like it’s the weekend and sit around all day doing nothing. Link here
  8. Coloring Club: Because you can’t do this at home by yourself. Link here
  9. Laughter yoga: Join a group of ridiculously fun people and chuckle, chortle and guffaw your way to happiness. Laughter yoga is a huge stress-reliever. No yoga experience (or spandex) required! Link here (and here $)
  10. World Bonsai Day Festival: Where some of the arborists look like the trees they care for! Link here
  11. National ArboretumLink here and full moon hike here $
  12. D.C.’s got garden game: Check out these transit-accessible gardens! Link here
  13. Doodle in Silver Spring: Monthly doodling sessions for the sort-of-artistically inclined. Link here
  14. Host a puppy party: and have everyone love you forever and always. Link here $
  15. Free hugs: Please wear deodorant. Link here
  16. Humane Society: YOU CAN BORROW A PUPPY FOR THE AFTERNOON! *squeals of joy * Link here
  17. Hug a Tree: Or try giving it a high five. Either way, make sure to check out this list of the top 10 trees you need to visit in D.C.! Link here
  18. Cat Cafe: Drink coffee. Play with cats. Life is good. Link here $
  19. Silent Book Club: Read whatever you want. Talk if you want. Drink if you want. Link here
  20. Crape myrtle appreciation: Move over cherry blossoms, y’all aren’t the only colorful flora in town! Link here

Cool, Awesome Things to do in D.C.

  1. Georgetown Glow: If you don’t mind all the boat shoes and popped collars that populate Georgetown, this looks gorgeous. Link here
  2. Drag Queen High Heel Race: YAS KWEEN! Link here
  3. Palisades Blair Witch Project: Creeptastic lair for witches (or teenagers smoking pot). It’s pretty cool. Definitely worth the (very short) trek! Ladies and gents, bring a bra or two to add to the super cool Bra Tree! Links here and here
  4. Murder mystery scavenger hunt at the National Museum of History: Watson, the company that hosts the scavenger hunts also has Harry Potter-themed hunts and naked-themed hunts (but not naked Harry Potter-themed hunts, sorry). Link here $
  5. SF Hunt: a giant, 100-riddle scavenger hunt. Link here $ (use the code 730DC to get a $5 discount)
  6. Skeleton dressed up with nowhere to go: The Franciscan Monastery is… interesting. Link here
  7. DuPont Underground: A subterranean arts and cultural organization, DuPont Underground takes visitors on a walk through old metro lines under DuPont. Step carefully around ever-growing art installations, explore an old food court and take selfies in front of some gorgeous graffiti. Link here $
  8. Free Masons: Take a tour of the Free Masons Temple. My favorite part? There are dead people buried IN THE BUILDING, which is incredibly stunning and not haunted at all. The history is fascinating and the sexism is abhorrent—did you know they still don’t allow female members? WTAF, people! Link here
  9. Wizards Assemble: They’re like the Power Rangers, but with wands and lacking a catchy theme song. Link here $
  10. The Perfect Liars Club: Where sociopaths can really shine! Link here $
  11. Virginia Gold Cup: WARNING: You have to be willing to part with a lot of money to actually enjoy this. Link here $
  12. D.C.’s Holi celebration: It’s fun because white people are throwing paint at each other with no idea of the significance of the event. *sigh </sarcasm> Link here
  13. Visit the Mormon Temple: Yeah, do that thing. Link here
  14. Free Improv Classes: No previous experience required. Get out there and say yes! Link here
  15. Technicolor church: It’s a nice day for a technicolor wedding. Link here
  16. Newseum: Celebrating the Fourth Estate. Link here $
  17. Ride the trippy Wheaton Station escalator: Just don’t try to run up it, kk? Link here
  18. Ride the Dentzel Carousel: Squeeeee! Link here
  19. Learn to be a doula: The blood and guts and joys of motherhood await! Link here $
  20. Smithsonian The Future is Here Festival: The future has arrived, and it’s wearing gear from the Smithsonian gift shop. Link here
  21. Sparkle: Sparkle is DC’s longest queer running open mic reading series. Link here $ and check this out while you’re at it Link here $
  22. Photo from the top of the GW Masonic National Memorial, the Old Post Office and the highest point in D.C., Fort Reno Park: Selfie! Links herehere and here
  23. Celebrate Atlas Obscura Day: Huzzah! Link here
  24. Annual Sundress Fest: So, basically every day of summer. Link here
  25. Travel around the world in a day: But not really. Sorry. Links herehere and here
  26. Shameless, An Open Mic Variety Show: Lose your open-mic virginity at Shameless. Link here $
  27. Story District: Storytelling at its finest! Link here $
  28. Naval Academy plebes scale a 21-foot obelisk slicked with lard: The Herndon Climb is an annual tradition, according to The Washington Post. The first-year students can’t begin their summer until they replace an underclassman’s “dixie cup” hat at the top of the monument with an upperclassman’s hat. In short, free entertainment. Link here
  29. Capital Fringe Festival: The poster really speaks for itself. Link here $
  30. Boundary stones of D.C.: Leave no stone unturned! Link here
  31. Capitol Steps: It’s comedy, not dancing. FYI. Link here $
  32. Greater Washington Soap Box Derby: You’re safe, Pig Pen, no actual soap here. Link here
  33. Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co.: Learn a new skill! Link here
  34. Glen Echo Park: ECHO ECHo ECho Echo echo… Link here
  35. Pet parade: at the D.C. State (*ahem!) Fair Link here Bonus points if you also participate in the hula hooping competitionLink here
  36. The Lantern Fest: Sadly, the Green Lantern can’t make it this year. Link here $
  37. DistrictCryo: * shivers Link here $
  38. Rehabilitate raptors: aka coolest volunteer work ever Link here
  39. The Spy Museum: Alias is required watching before showing up. Link here $
  40. Smithsonian Folklife Festival: It’s crowded and themed and, um, awesome?! Link here
  41. Neighborhood festivalsLinks here and here and here and here and here
  42. Global War on Terrorism Memorial: The trick is to find it! Link here
  43. Burlesque at the Bier Baron: Twirl your pasties ’round and ’round. Link here $
  44. Circus sideshow: Bring your siblings and leave without them! Link here
  45. Dupont’s bubble party: * insert ridic huge smile here * Link here
  46. Biennial costume sale at the Shakespeare Theatre: ALL the sparkles and spandex are belongs to you! Link here $
  47. Fix (nearly) everything: You’re a regular Bob the Builder. Link here
  48. Small Press Expo: * fist pump * Link here
  49. Navetoberfest: 17th Century life without all the diseases! Link here $
  50. DC Pagan Festival: * insert drum circle here * Link here
  51. Banned book scavenger hunt: Reading is sexy. Link here
  52. Summer camp for adults: The boozier version. Link here $
  53. Become a Citizen Forester: And wield your power LIKE A GOD. Link here
  54. Verizon Center: Beyonce has been here. Attend an event just to breathe the same air she did. (Oh, and there are, like, other concerts and hockey games and basketball games and stuff here, too. If you’re into those kinds of things.) Link here $
  55. Arlington Cinema and Draft House: A DMV fav. Link here $
  56. The YouTube Show Takeover: Because we all need more Google in our lives. </sarcasm> Link here $
  57. Make a noise synth: Gettin’ nerdy with it. Link here $
  58. Big Greek Party: Oompa! Link here $
  59. Marine Corps parade: Ditto. Link here
  60. Arlington Flea Market and Hine Flea Market: Bargain for the coolest old license plates. Links here and here
  61. Celebrate ‘Disco’ Dan: RIP, man. Link here
  62. Mayor’s cup amateur boxing tournament: It’s like Rocky but not. Link here $
  63. Smut Slam DC: Smut smut smut! Link here $
  64. Celebrate National Cat Day: I don’t believe this actually exists. Isn’t every day National Cat Day? Link here $
  65. DC Day of the Dead Fiestas: Beautiful. Link here
  66. Building blocks school: Giving Frank Lloyd Wright a run for his title. Link here
  67. DC Sway Day: Celebrating the end of “Stand Extremely Still Week!” Link here
  68. Stay at the Watergate hotel: Where it all went down. Link here $
  69. The facebook monologues: FB in real life. Because you don’t spend enough time on it as it is. Link here $
  70. Washington International Horse Show: Mr. Ed was unavailable for comment. Link here $
  71. Smithsonian Conservation Discovery Day: Save the planet! Link here
  72. Southwest D.C. waterfront boat-home tour: But what do they do in the winter?! Link here $
  73. Dancin’ in the streets: And hopefully you won’t get hit by a driverless car… too soon? Link here
  74. April Fools Fest: The WORST day of the year. Everyone thinks they’re a comedian. Don’t quit your day jobs, folks. Link here $
  75. Adult Easter Egg Hunt: There’s always alcohol involved. Link here $
  76. Scooter sharing: Just like ice cream and STDs, scooters are meant for sharing! Link here $
  77. DC Auto Show: I named my car Kitty. Link here
  78. #adulting: I’m sort of embarrassed for you. Link here
  79. Join the DC Psychedelic Society: Your brain may or may not thank you. Link here
  80. DC Chinese New Years Day Parade: Gorgeous display of Chinese culture. Link here
  81. Prom for grown-ups: It’s always fun to relive those awkward teenage years! Link here $
  82. ’90s Dance Party: Britney may make an appearance! (She won’t. But it could happen!) Link here $
  83. Fire & Ice Festival: Kinda annoyed that Earth and Wind weren’t invited… Link here
  84. Theodore Roosevelt Island Moonwalk: Sadly, this has nothing to do with the dance move. Link here $
  85. Go hashing: Not as exciting as it sounds. Link here
  86. The castles of the DMV: From hence forth you must speak in Old English, preferably with a Monty Python-inspired accent. Link here
  87. FuckUp Nights DC: Are you a disappointment to your mother? You’re in good company here! Link here $
  88. Tiny house expo: Tour tiny houses! It takes about two seconds. Link here $
  89. DC Puppy World Cup: NEED I SAY MORE?! Link here
  90. Spot the ‘bot: Delivery robots have infiltrated our city. The invasion has begun! Link here
  91. Abandoned sites: Very creepy and very illegal. But still cool—very, very cool! Link here
  92. Snore & Roar Sleepover: Camp at THE ZOO! Link here $
  93. Corgoberfest: Hundreds of corgis waddle their way around DC. DERP! Link here
  94. Vikings at The Wharf: Grab your Viking helmets and head on down to the wharf to check out a real-life Viking vessel! Link here
  95. Navy Yard’s Blue Castle: Let down your hair, dawn your shining armor, kiss a princess (or prince!), and check out the Navy Yard’s Blue Castle! Link here
  96. Teddy’s Garage Sale: Every year the Nats host a “garage sale” with leftover (and highly coveted!) giveaways. Link here $
  97. 3-D printing: The library has 3-D printers THAT YOU’RE ALLOWED TO TOUCH! AMAZING! Link here
  98. Annual DC Rickey Competition: For those who love competition AND alcohol. Link here $
  99. National Cat Day: Go pay your respects to some felines… for FREE! It’s all fluff and zero ruff. Link here
  100. Period Portraits: “Not back in time but the bloody kind.” Link here $
  101. Go stickering: An easier (and less illegal) way to make your mark on the DMV. Link here
  102. D.C.’s Kaleidoscopic Tower: “The squat stone building projects a rainbow of colors at night.” Link here
  103. Be a twitcher: That’s ornithologist-speak for “bird watcher.” Link here
  104. Rent the National Zoo: Party with real-life party animals by renting out the National Zoo for your next birthday bash! Please invite me. Link here $
  105. Mermaid convention: Detailed knowledge of “The Little Mermaid” soundtrack required. Link here $
  106. Esports: Check out Washington Justice—way cooler than sportsball Link here $
  107. Indie pro wrestling: Ticked off at any/all politicians? Watch some peeps battle it out and pretend that you’re the one putting that politico in a headlock. Link here $
  108. Head to your local ANC meeting: aka Advisory Neighborhood Commission. It’s way better than watching reality TV, and you have the added bonus of potentially making a difference in your community. Pro tip: bring some popcorn Link here
  109. BINGO: “Trivia is hard. Bingo is fun.” Link here
  110. See a basketball legend refereeing rec games: Go ahead, ask for an autograph. Link here
  111. Pay your respects: at DC’s first pet cemetery. Link here
  112. Meow DC: DC has its own CAT FESTIVAL! <insert pun here> Link here $
  113. Indigenous history: Learn about D.C.’s original inhabitants. Link here
  114. Literally cool: Beat the heat at one of D.C.’s cooling centers and check out these three cool getaways. Links here and here

BONUS: The Best Food (According to Me)

  • Sandwiches: Secret Sandwich Society in Richmond, VA
  • Waffles: Open City chai waffles in Woodley Park
  • Korean BBQ: Honey Pig in Falls Church
  • Cupcakes: Georgetown cupcake
  • Themed bar: Bonfire
  • Dumplings: Bob’s Soup Dumplings
  • Doughnuts: Astro Donuts (go right before closing for free doughnuts with your purchase!)
  • Burger: Rebellion korean burger
  • Milkshake: Ted’s Bulletin
  • Vietnamese: The Four Sisters in Falls Church (don’t go to their other chains, poor quality)
  • Chicken and waffles: Founding Farmers (after 11 a.m.)
  • Crab CakeDennson’s Grocery in Colonial Beach
  • Coffee: Killer ESP and/or Cafe Tryst
  • Karaoke: Hill Country
  • Diner: Silver Diner in Arlington

Cool Stuff to do Outside and Around D.C.

Oftentimes, the best way to appreciate D.C. is to leave D.C. Let’s face it, the weather is only nice for a few weeks (if that) in the spring and fall, but even that’s ruined by the multitude of tourists who don’t understand crosswalks and can’t figure out that they need to STAND ON THE RIGHT. If you’re a little wound up from all the crazy (tourists/politicians/press briefings/take your pick) then get out of town and head to:

Have recommendations? Advice? Cautionary tales? Message me at news@mbloudoff.com or via twitter.

Photo Credit: Delete