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10 Hidden Gems to Explore in Washington DC

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Did you know that Washington DC is one of the most visited cities in the world? Yet while the US capital might be known for its deep political roots and fascinating history, it is also home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, hipster food markets and stellar nightlife.

If you're looking to experience local life during your trip here, look no further as we've got you covered with some of the best hidden gems to add to your Washington DC bucket list...

1. Dupont Underground

19 Dupont Cir NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States

The Dupont Underground was built in 1949 beneath Dupont Circle, one of D.C.’s most culturally vibrant neighbourhoods (and where you can find us!). Previously an underground streetcar system, the space sat empty and abandoned for over 55 years before local artists got to work in 2016 and transformed the underground tunnel walls into dynamic graffiti displays and stimulating art installations.

From street art to photography, light shows to paintings, this repurposed urban infrastructural space is now home to a range of exhibitions and events from some of the city’s best creatives and is definitely worth a visit during your time in the city.

2. Ben's Chili Bowl

1213 U St. N.W., Washington, DC 20009, United States

Hungry? You’ve got to head to Ben's Chili Bowl. While the restaurant’s bright red and yellow facade means it's not quite so 'hidden', this local D.C. chain is known for serving up authentic chili dogs and half-smokes (half-beef, half-pork smoked sausage smothered in chilli). Having become somewhat of a cultural landmark, it has served hungry Washingtonians for over 58 years (including a pretty well known former resident who goes by the name of Barack Obama...).

3. Union Market

1309 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002, United States

Located in the up-and-coming NoMa neighbourhood, Union Market is a year-round local market featuring a variety of artisan products, street food vendors, pop-up restaurants and more. Hugely popular with locals, the warehouse-like area is the ideal spot to grab a coffee or kombucha while browsing the boutique stalls or indulging in some people watching. While it might be a little way from Downtown, this place is well worth the detour. The market is open every day from 8am to 9pm.

4. Graffiti Cliffs

3600 Water St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States

Dubbed an Instagrammer's dream, the Graffiti Cliffs of Georgetown are a hidden cove of cliffs marked by years of colourful graffiti by local artists. Climbing onto the rocks (and we don't mean to sound like your mum but, be careful) will enable you to discover years worth of artwork as well as take in the views of the Potomac River and the cityscape.

5. Torpedo Factory Art Center

105 N Union St, Alexandria, VA 22314, United States

Art lovers out there need to pay a visit to the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria. The Torpedo Factory houses a number of working studios where artists and sculptors can be seen producing their work, as well as sharing ideas with anyone who walks through the door. The arts centre is now home to over 105 artist studios, several exhibition spaces and a gallery that sells unique pieces from local artists - the perfect souvenir to take home with you.

6.Cafe Integral

1900 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States

Looking for a quality coffee to kickstart your day? Our very own Cafe Integral is the go-to spot to pick up a cup of the good stuff. The menu showcases a variety of Nicaragua’s finest coffees, local tea purveyors, fresh juice and other delicious beverage options. We also have a range of tasty 'to go' breakfast options - made with fresh, seasonal ingredients - for you to pick up and enjoy!

7. Adams Morgan Neighborhood

Just a stone's throw away from our doorstep at Generator Washington DC, you will find the neighbourhood of Adams Morgan. Known as being at the very heart of DC's melting pot of cultures, this area is the true definition of ‘size isn't everything’ as despite being less than 5 square miles, there is tonnes to explore. While it might be pretty famous for its lively nightlife (don't miss late-night karaoke at Muzette to live out your Queen-Bey moment), be sure to stroll along 18th Street by day and stop by the unique boutiques and eateries that line its streets.

Local recommendations: If you're looking to seek out a few vintage treasures, head to Meeps which is a particular favourite and has been around since 1992.

8. Meridian Hill Park

16th St NW &, W St NW, Washington, DC 20009, United States

If you're looking to escape the bustle of the city, take a trip up to Meridian Hill Park. This local favourite is only a short drive from our doorstep and offers beautiful views of the surrounding row houses and residential DC, along with some of the more popular sites in the distance.  For history buffs out there, the park is home to a number of world leader memorials to pay a visit to, including former US Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Also, don't miss taking a picture for the 'gram with the park's famous cascading waterfall fountain (geek fact alert: it's actually one of the largest waterfalls in the whole of the USA!).

9. Culture House

700 Delaware Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, United States

This quirky art space is so much more than just your average art gallery - and when you sneak a peek at the exterior of the building, it's easy to see why (hint: it has been fully painted by renowned Atlanta-based muralist HENSE). Known as DC's most colourful church, the space has been transformed into a home to art of all kinds and welcomes artists from around the globe. Culture House also often hosts live music, events and artists workshops so remember to check out what's on during your time here in the capital.

10. The Mirror

1413 K St NW, Washington, DC 20005, United States

Have you even been to Washington DC if you haven't visited a speakeasy? While this spot is quite literally a hidden gem, it's well worth the search in downtown DC. To find the entrance, you'll need to head down a flight of stairs where you'll come face-to-face with your reflection. Take a minute to check you are looking on point (of course you are) before pushing past the mirror and you'll have made it. This speakeasy is a simple, no-frills spot to enjoy a few classic cocktails before hitting up more of DC's vibrant bars and clubs. We'll take an Old Fashioned please...

All set now for your trip to Washington DC? We can’t wait to welcome you.

Save money to explore the city and stay with us at Generator Washington DC. Just around the block from the Dupont Circle Metro and a short walk from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Embassy Row and Adams Morgan neighbourhood, our Washington DC hotel is perfectly situated to explore the capital.

Fancy a piece of the action in Washington DC?

Now that you have caught a glimpse into what the city of Washington DC has to offer, start to plan your next trip.