If you come on a Trip Hacks DC tour, we’re happy to point out some good angles of the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, and other standard Washington, DC photo spots. But if you want to impress your friends with some cool-lesser known shots, these are some off-the-beaten-path Washington, DC Instagram hot spots.
To make them as easy as possible to find, we even made this Google map of the sites you’ll read about in this article.
CityCenterDC is a new-ish development in Downtown DC. It’s a mix of apartments, high-end restaurants, and shopping—along with the Conrad, a very stylish and fancy hotel. Frankly, all of CityCenterDC feels like it was designed for Instagram. For example, its big colorful statues that you can pose with.
But the most popular Instagram-worthy features by far are the lights that hang over the walkway. The lights change seasonally, so in the spring you might see the famous DC cherry blossoms. In summer, you might see beach balls. In the winter, snowflakes—you get the idea. In all, it’s a perfect place for some Washington, DC Instagram shots.
2. Kogod Courtyard
This is a favorite Trip Hacks DC spot and we’ve recommended it many times as a good place to go with kids and as an underrated Smithsonian site. The Kogod Courtyard is a beautiful glass ceiling-covered passageway that unites two Smithsonian museums: the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum.
The courtyard is located about a mile north of the National Mall, so it’s not quite on the main drag, but both museums are fantastic, especially if you’re into history or art. The amazing architecture of the courtyard is an Instagram-worthy bonus.
3. District Doughnut
If you’re a foodie, then taking pictures of food for your Instagram feed is a must. As a lifelong doughnut enthusiast, I personally like District Doughnut for two reasons: (1) they’re delicious and (2) they encourage Instagramming and even have their own hashtags: #HappinessFound and #DoughFace. If your Instagram is particularly good, it might get printed and posted on their social wall.
4. Ben’s Chili Bowl Mural
There are a lot of cool murals in DC—and murals generally make for some very good Instagram content. One of the best known murals is located at the historic DC landmark Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street. No Washington, DC Instagram is complete without a shot of this historic cultural landmark.
The mural features prominent African Americans who have contributed to the history of the city and of the neighborhood, but it has changed in recent years. Today’s mural features famous faces like comedian Dave Chappelle, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Mohammed Ali. It also features some more locally known figures like DC’s delegate to Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton and Jim Vance, a former local TV news anchor.
Note: This is not the only cool mural in DC, but unlike in some other cities, they’re pretty spread out. So if you’re desperate for DC murals on your Instagram, you may have to travel a bit if you want to hit them all.
5. Culture House DC
Culture House DC (formerly The Blind Whino) calls itself the city’s most hidden gem in the arts and cultural community. It’s located about a mile south of the Capitol in an area where very few tourists tend to venture. If it looks like it’s a church, it’s because—once upon a time—it was. Nowadays it’s used as a community art and event space.
If you want to Instagram this spot, plan ahead because the gates stay locked except for a limited number of hours on the weekend. That said, the limited hours mean you’ll have even greater Instagram bragging rights if you can get a shot of this gem.
6. Watermelon House
The story of the Watermelon House goes like this: the owners hired a painting company to come out and paint their house “fire engine red.” Unfortunately, when the owners got home and saw the painters’ work, “fire engine red” looked more like “Pepto Bismol pink.”
Rather than have the painters come re-do it, the homeowners grabbed a bucket of green and black paint and turned it into a watermelon. Pretty rad, right?
The Watermelon House has existed in this form long before Instagram came around, but nowadays it’s such a popular spot that they added an official hashtag onto the side of the house that you can use when you go: #watermelonhouse.
7. Yards Park Bridge
The best-known park in DC is obviously the National Mall, but close behind is Yards Park. It’s located southeast of the Capitol, near the Nationals Ballpark. So if you’re coming to a ballgame, this is an easy Instagram spot to hit beforehand. Folks especially love to Instagram the bridge that spans the pool—and I admit, it is pretty daggone cool. It’s an especially impressive feather in your Instagram cap if you can get it at night.