Lately, Washington DC is a mecca for must-see TV — House of Cards, Homeland, Scandal and Alpha House. But Washington has always been one of the best places for the imagination to flourish. We have so many inspirational places marking great thinkers and writers. Here’s a list of memorable sites and spaces around town with a connection to important American stories:
–The Exorcist Stairs– in Georgetown on M Street NW, just steps above Key Bridge. You can look down or climb up the stairs where the courageous Priest Karras in the award-winning horror film, The Exorcist, took his fatal tumble. A few blocks away, the movie St. Elmo’s Fire used The Tombs by Georgetown University for several bar scenes.
–Book a room at Akwaaba, a charming Bed & Breakfast in a 1890’s historic townhouse near U Street, NW–Duke Ellington’s former haunt. Each room is named for a different African American writer like Toni Morrison or Walter Mosley.
— Visit the F. Scott Fitzgerald gravesite who was laid to rest beside his wife Zelda, along with his mother and brothers in St. Mary’s Church cemetery in Rockville, Maryland, 20-minute ride from DC on Metro. It’s always interesting to see what visitors leave behind when they pay their respects.
— Josiah Henson wrote his memoir about life as a slave. He lived in a cabin on Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda, 15 minutes outside of Washington. The memoir was inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Visit the tiny cabin, a national historic site and part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
— The Jefferson is a luxury boutique hotel near the White House with a cocktail bar and lounge called Quill. In one of the Quill’s private nooks are bookshelves filled with hundreds of signed books by authors who were guests of the hotel. Thomas Jefferson is the namesake and inspiration behind the hotel’s design, and a few of his letters are framed in the lobby. When kids visit, they can participate in a Jefferson Scavenger Hunt and are rewarded with their own Jefferson bobble head doll.
— Dine at Eatonville, the restaurant inspired by Nora Zeale Hurston who lived in Washington DC and attended Howard University. Or visit on of the four Busboys and Poets locations that are a nod to the great poet Langston Hughes who cleared tables in the Capital City. The historic Hay Adams Hotel in Lafayette Square was formerly a mansion where Henry Adams and John Hay worked and wrote.
— City of Words – On the monuments, inside the Library of Congress, on the walls of the Metro Subway stations, and many other places are memorable words spoken and written by the renowned including Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, Zadie Smith and Mahatma Gandhi. Visitors love climbing on the Albert Einstein statue on Independence Avenue, a few blocks from the Vietnam Memorial near the National Mall.
— Of course, The Library of Congress, America’s biggest library, is on Capitol Hill, along with the stunning collection of William Shakespeare’s plays and historical artifacts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The National Archives on the National Mall is the place to see America’s founding father’s original documents including The Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution, as well as the Emancipation Proclamation. The best genealogy library in the country is at the Daughters of the Revolution Museum near the White House.
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.