Four Quirky Things To Do In Washington, DC

on November 5, 2013

"The Exorcist" steps - Washington, DC

There are a few unusual things going in Washington, DC, and we don’t mean those that take place inside the White House or Congress. If you want to take a break from the historic and often-packed-with-tourists attractions, below are four suggestions for quirky, even “off-beat” things to do Washington, DC.

  • The National Museum of Health and Medicine: There are a lot of museums in Washington, DC, but only this one has the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln on exhibit. Established during the Civil War as the Medical Army Museum, museum staff have contributed to the study of medicine and medical procedures, from war-amputations to the discovery of yellow fever. The National Museum of Health and Medicine‘s exhibits may contemplate some pretty serious subjects, but to the average layperson (and as far as museums go), these may seem a little out of the ordinary (i.e. civil-war era bones, mummified human remains, etc.). Open daily from 10am-5:30pm, admission is free.
  • The Exorcist‘s steps: If you have seen the film, you will inevitably recognize these as the steps where the priest met his demise. Located on M street, near the intersection at 36th Street NW, the steps are favorites with runners and horror fans. Take a photo recreating part of the scene, but be careful not to fall to a similar fate – the steps are quite steep. There are seventy-five steps with a few landings in between, in total about as tall as a five story building. You’ll notice the house is missing (or at least further back) from the top – that’s because the movie makers built a facade for the scenes here to make it seem like it was closer. There is no sign to direct you here, but you’ll recognize the steps and stone arch above them. Check them out at night for extra-creepiness.
  • Sit with Albert Einstein: Just outside the National Academy of Sciences (and just steps from the more serious Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and Lincoln Memorial) is the Einstein Memorial. It was unveiled on April 22, 1979, a day which would have been the genius’ 100th birthday. At 12 feet tall and weighing 4 tons, this rather large and somewhat peculiar image shows the renowned genius sitting on three white granite steps, his hands holding a paper that contains three of his most famous equations. The statue’s fairly ample lap is a favorite spot for visitors to sit and take pictures on.
  • The National Capitol Columns: You may be already familiar with the National Capitol – but a lesser-known landmark is a collection of original columns from the 1828 Eastern entrance. Removed from their original location because they appeared not to be able to support the large dome eventually built above them, they now sit, hauntingly arranged in rows in the middle of a meadow at the National Arboretum. The columns eventually found their way there in 1984, and are now reminiscent of ancient ruins, reflected in a nearby pool.

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