Unexpected Gems of D.C.

Posted on Sunday, Aug 13, 2017

I came into this summer excited to visit the famous monuments and museums that make D.C. so iconic. However, some of my favorite memories ended up involving lesser-known places that I hadn’t considered visiting before. Below, I’ve listed a few of my favorite unexpected discoveries from my time here.

National Postal Museum- I don’t know if I’ve ever been less excited to visit a museum, but my friend Gabrielle was going and I thought, “Why not?” Turns out, the mail is a lot more interesting than you would expect.  Our favorite exhibit was “Post Secret”: a huge display of postcards with anonymous secrets written on them, sent in from people all over the country. Reading people’s deepest secrets was alternatively awful and uplifting. I wasn’t expecting to be so affected by a museum about the mail, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the display for the rest of the day. 

Renwick Gallery- On my lunch break a few weeks ago, I took the 15 minute walk from my office to the Renwick Gallery, a small Smithsonian art museum near the White House. I hadn’t heard of anyone visiting this museum, so I had no idea what to expect. I was happy to find that the Renwick Gallery’s small size and unique collection made it the perfect breath of fresh air for my lunch break. Apparently, they just added a new exhibit, so I’ll have to check that out on one of my few remaining breaks.

Pentagon Memorial- After work, my friend Kiaya and I got off at the Pentagon metro stop and visited the 9/11 memorial there. It’s a secluded, beautifully landscaped area with 184 benches each placed over a small pool of water. I really enjoyed the serenity and singularity of this memorial, and there’s an added bonus: no one seems to know about it.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception- In my opinion, this basilica has the most beautiful interior of any building in D.C. and one of the most impressive exteriors as well. Mosaic artwork covers every inch of the walls and exquisite chapels to Mary representing regions all over the world line the sides. This basilica blew me away, and I consider it a must-see for anyone interested in art, architecture, or religion.

D.C. is a spectacular city filled with world famous wonders and unexpected surprises. I have been so thankful to live in a place like this for 11 weeks, and I hope to return one day to uncover even more of what D.C. has to offer.

Clare Elizondo
American Public Human Services Association
Washington, D.C. | summer 2017

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception