Anacostia, Washington Activities

Part of our Washington travel guide; our list of the best attractions in Anacostia, including Library of Congress, The Anacostia Community Museum and Nationals Park.
  • The best activities in Anacostia Washington: Library of Congress

    Library of Congress

    101 Independence Ave SE
    Originally founded by the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, this grand building, also called the Jefferson Library, has the largest collection of books in the world. The most popular points of interest are the massive main reading room and Great Hall. On the Winter and Summer solstices the Great Hall is filled with an odd silver glow that gives the impression you are surrounded by floating clouds, and this makes those days the most crowded. The main reading room is known as the Sacred Room, and is absolutely stunning. You must be 18 or older to use the reading rooms and have a user card, which can be obtained by presenting a driver's license or completing a self registration form. Guided tours will not bring you into the reading room, but will take you up in the dome, where you can see the room in its full glory. There are also a number of rotating exhibitions from the Library's vast collection on display at any one time, as is a Gutenberg Bible.
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  • The Anacostia Community Museum

    The Anacostia Community Museum

    1901 Fort Place SE
    The Smithsonian's least visited museum, far from the Mall, is a small but superbly exhibited tribute to Anacostia and D.C. "East of the River", and also to African-American history.
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  • Nationals Park

    Nationals Park

    1500 South Capitol St SE
    Nationals Park is brand new, having opened just in 2008, and is home of the equally new Washington Nationals baseball team, The Nats. The Nationals, though, have history beyond its latest 2005 beginnings—D.C.'s first baseball franchise from 1891-99 bore the same (interchangeably with the Washington Senators), as did its two other successors throughout the twentieth century. None were very successful though. The first disbanded after nine years with a 0.366 win percentage; the second and third eventually left the city to become the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers. And the modern incarnation was formerly the Montreal Expos. Following in the D.C. tradition, the latest incarnation of the Nats performed progressively worse with each passing year, until 2010, when the team finally started turning itself around, and acquired a bonafide superstar-prodigy in pitcher Stephen Strasburg. The games are fun, and are a great excuse to spend the latter half of a day in the Waterfront District, and to enjoy the new stadium. The stadium is big, with comfy seats, an enormous scoreboard, and happily vendors from venerable D.C. food establishments like Five Guys, Ben's Chili Bowl, and Dogfish Head and Flying Dog Brewery.
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  • National Book Festival

    National Book Festival

    National Mall
    One Saturday and Sunday in Mid to Late September. Sponsored by the Library of Congress, this festival celebrates books, authors, and reading. Highlights include listening to your favorite author speak, queuing up to have a book signed, taking the kids to visit their beloved PBS Kids characters, and collecting stamps from all the US states and territories in the Pavilion of the States.
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  • DC United

    DC United

    2400 E Capitol St SE
    Directly related to the RFK Stadium entry, the DC United are the last sports team remaining at the stadium. A founding member of the MLS, and with four MLS cup titles under their belts since 1996, United matches are always exciting. With a rabid and diverse fanbase, relatively inexpensive tickets, and an excellent tailgate atmosphere in lot 8 before the matches, these are not to be missed. Tickets run $23-52, and for most matches only the lower bowl is on sale, so all seats are good. Premium matches (such as friendlies against European clubs) can run slightly more, and the upper bowl opens for these. For the full experience, hook up with some members of the Barra Brava supporters club before the match in lot 8; as long as you're friendly, sporting black (do NOT wear the colors of the opposing team), and willing to stay on your feet, jumping up and down and learning their chants, they'll gladly hook you up with a $32 ticket that gets you into their designated sections, 135-138. These special tickets are cash only, and become available 15 minutes prior to kickoff; you must be accompanied by a member to purchace.
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  • Arena Stage

    Arena Stage

    1101 6th St SW
    A highly acclaimed not-for-profit theater devoted to modern and contemporary American theater, with an emphasis on politically engaging, intense, and often edgy drama. One of the city's great theaters, it has just completed a $125 million renovation, and is currently a real hot "destination" among locals.
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  • Fort Dupont Ice Rink

    Fort Dupont Ice Rink

    3779 Ely Pl SE
    public skating: F noon-1:50PM, Sa-Su 3PM-4:20PM (most of the facility's time is used up for private lessons, ice hockey teams, and public school phys-ed programs). Admission: $4-5, Skate rentals: $3. A very nice non-profit-run public ice rink (the only indoor public ice rink in the city, actually), located in Fort Dupont Park. While it's probably not worth the effort to get way out here just for ice skating, if you're in the area, it's fun.
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  • National Air and Space Museum

    National Air and Space Museum

    Independence Ave and 6th St SW
    The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world in 161,145 square feet of exhibition floor space. It was established in 1946, as the National Air Museum, and opened its main building in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and spaceflight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics. Almost all space and aircraft on display are originals or backups to the originals. It operates an annex, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, at Dulles International Airport. The museum currently conducts restoration of its collection at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland.
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  • Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

    Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

    7th St & Independence Ave, SW
    The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an art museum beside the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., the United States. The museum was initially endowed during the 1960s with the permanent art collection of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. It was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was conceived as the United States' museum of contemporary and modern art and currently focuses its collection-building and exhibition-planning mainly on the post–World War II period, with particular emphasis on art made during the last 50 years. Notable artists in the collection include: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Hans Hofmann, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, John Chamberlain, Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning, Milton Avery, Ellsworth Kelly, Louise Nevelson, Arshile Gorky, Edward Hopper, Larry Rivers, and Raphael Soyer among others. Outside the museum is a sculpture garden, featuring works by artists including Auguste Rodin, David Smith, Alexander Calder, Jeff Koons and others.
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  • Freer Gallery of Art

    Freer Gallery of Art

    1050 Independence Ave SW
    The Freer Gallery of Art joins the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery to form the Smithsonian Institution's national museums of Asian art. The Freer contains art from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Islamic world, the ancient Near East, and ancient Egypt, as well as a significant collection of American art. It is located on the south side of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
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  • East Potomac Golf Course

    972 Ohio Dr SW
    Nine holes: $10-13, eighteen: $26-31. The point at the western end of the Waterfront District, just south of the Tidal Basin, is mostly covered by the 36 hole East Potomac Golf Course. The courses are a little crowded and boring (completely flat), but the views of the monuments more than make up for these deficiencies. The golf course also houses an old mini-golf course, and is ringed by a jogging path popular with bikers and roller bladers.
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  • Voice of America

    330 Independence Ave SW
    Tours: M-F 12PM,3PM. Free. The Voice of America is an international multimedia news broadcast facility operating around the clock, famous around the world, especially for broadcasts conducted throughout Nazi-occupied Europe and later the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. The tours here are another one of those undiscovered gems—you get to watch televised broadcasts going out to all corners of the world, and you'll see that one room where all presidential handshakes with foreign heads of state are filmed. The 45 minute tours are conducted in English, but tours can be conducted in Spanish or Mandarin Chinese upon advance request. You can also advance request a special "kid's version" of the tour. Reservations recommended, although you usually can get on a tour without one.
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  • Friendship Baptist Church

    900 Delaware Ave SW
    This attractive white Romanesque church has been the center of the southwest's African American community from its construction in 1886 until the urban renewal project.
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  • Folger Shakespeare Library

    201 E Capitol St SE
    M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Plays: $20-50 (occasional student discounts). A library, performance venue, and a museum all rolled into one. The library is the single most impressive feature—it houses the largest collection of the Bard's works in the world—although the library itself is geared towards researchers, not travelers. The Shakespearean performances here are top-notch, and occasionally outshine the bigger Shakespeare Theatre Company in the East End (although the performances here can be more uneven). There are also frequent lectures, musical performances, etc., which can be a good excuse to visit. The small museum has a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and an Elizabethan garden in the back, and is nice to visit combined with a performance.
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  • Saint Elizabeth's Hospital

    2700 Martin Luther King Jr
    Why visit a mental hospital? Because the historic grounds and buildings are beautiful (if a little run-down and creepy). On top of that, you can see some great views from here of the D.C. skyline. The hospital was founded in 1852 as the first major government-run mental institution, and at its peak housed 7,000 patients, which at one point included both President Lincoln's and President Garfield's assassins. The hospital still operates, but on a much reduced scale. The Department of Homeland Security plans to relocate here in 2010 (and to destroy most of the architectural heritage in the process), so drive by to see the grounds while you still can. You aren't really supposed to drive into the facility, but a little smooth talking at the gate can get an architecture buff inside.
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  • Mount Zion Cemetery

    27th St & Q St NW
    Mount Zion Church served Georgetown's once large African-American community (today the neighborhood is nearly 100% white outside of the university) which once offered free burials for Washington's African-American population. The church remains in operation (with only a handful of families still in the area; most of the congregation commutes to mass), and is located at 1334 29th St NW.
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  • Fort Dupont Summer Concerts

    Fort Dupont Dr SE
    8PM Saturdays, July-August. Free. The National Park Service puts on well-attended weekly summer jazz concerts at the Fort Dupont Park Theatre. To get to the stage, turn right on Fort Dupont Dr off of Randle Circle (at the intersection of Massachusetts & Minnesota Aves). Check the events calendar on the website for specifics.
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  • Congressional Cemetery

    1801 E St SE
    All sorts of notables from American history found their final resting place here, from composer John Sousa to FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover.
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  • Thomas Law House

    1252 6th St SW
    A 1796 mansion commissioned by speculators betting on a neighborhood development that never occurred. The building is named after its first resident, who was married to Elizabeth Custis, granddaughter of one Martha Washington.
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  • Honfleur Art Gallery

    1241 Good Hope Rd SE
    T-F Noon-5PM; Sa 11AM-5PM. The Honfleur Gallery has one foot in the world of international contemporary art, and one foot in Anacostia. The world inside, with its large, beautiful space stocked with a surround sound system and flat screen TVs, looks like it would be more at home in Manhattan than, well, Anacostia. But it is run by a local nonprofit dedicated to promoting the arts in the world just outside, and in bringing them together with its annual East of the River showcase of local artists' work.
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  • RFK Stadium

    2400 E Capitol St SE
    's long-time stadium, with a location seemingly planned by L'Enfant, and once one of football's greatest venues, but its age is starting to really show. And that's not just the building—the tenants are all jumping ship. First the Redskins moved to Maryland, then the new Washington Nationals headed for the Waterfront. D.C. United (see below) is still here, and their games are about the most fun you'll ever have at a soccer game in the U.S., kept raucous by both the area's enormous Latino population and the enduring success of the club. But they too are planning an exit strategy—possibly to Poplar Point in Anacostia. If you come here, for soccer, a concert, or another big event, remember that while it may not look so pretty, in its heyday it was one of the greats.
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  • U.S. Botanic Garden

    100 Maryland Ave SW
    The national conservatory is one of the least visited attractions around the Mall, and that is one of the best reasons to visit. The botanical collection is extensive, the climate is often a welcome respite, and the catwalk through the leaf canopy in the jungle room is a favorite. Bartholdi Park, south of the conservatory, is small but majestic, centered around the Bartholdi Fountain.
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  • Anacostia Community Museum

    Anacostia Community Museum

    1901 Fort Pl SE
    The Anacostia Community Museum (known colloquially as the ACM) is a community museum in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C. in the United States. It is one of nineteen museums under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution and was the first federally funded community museum in the United States. The museum, founded in 1967, was created with the intention to bring aspects of the Smithsonian museums, located on the National Mall, to the Anacostia neighborhood, with the hope that community members from the neighborhood would visit the main Smithsonian museums. It became federally funded in 1970 and focuses on the community in and around Anacostia in its exhibitions.
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  • Longworth House Office Building

    Longworth House Office Building

    Independence Ave
    The Longworth House Office Building is one of four office buildings used by the United States House of Representatives. The building is located south of the Capitol, bounded by Independence Avenue, New Jersey Avenue, C Street S.E., and South Capitol Street, in southeast Washington. It covers an area of 599,675 square feet and has a total of 251 congressional offices and suites, five large committee rooms, seven small committee rooms, and a large assembly room now used by the Ways and Means Committee.
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  • Arts & Industries Building Smithsonian Institution

    Arts & Industries Building Smithsonian Institution

    900 Jefferson Dr SW
  • National Museum of the American Indian

    National Museum of the American Indian

    4th St & Independence Ave SW
    The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. It has three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which opened on September 21, 2004, on Fourth Street and Independence Avenue, Southwest; the George Gustav Heye Center, a permanent museum in New York City; and the Cultural Resources Center, a research and collections facility in Suitland, Maryland. The foundations for the present collections were first assembled in the former Museum of the American Indian in New York City, which was established in 1916.
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EDIT THIS ITINERARY Our list of activities in Anacostia Washington uses some content from Wikipedia and Wikivoyage.