10 Awesome Hidden Gems in Washington, DC

Washington DC’s major attractions are among the most recognizable in the country: the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Institution. But if you’re looking to get out of the National Mall and explore some of the hidden gems in Washington, DC, you have plenty of options.

We’ve put together this list of 10 hidden gems to get you started, ranging from public spaces that anyone can visit, to private venues you can rent for a party or retreat through Peerspace. Peerspace is the largest online marketplace for hourly venue rentals. Our platform makes it easy to discover and book hidden gem venues in cities across the globe. And our D.C. spaces are extra special, in our opinion.

Whether you’re planning a family reunion, a corporate outing, or a wedding — or you just want to get some cool Instagram shots on your trip to DC — it’s worth stepping off the beaten path to see some of these lesser-known locations in Washington, DC, that are sure to inspire you.

1. A painted church near SW Waterfront

Outdoor Photoshoot Locations in Washington D.C.
Source: Peerspace

An artist named Hense has transformed this traditional church building into a multicolored mural. If you’ve come to DC looking for one-of-a-kind street art, this church is a must-see stop on your visit. It also serves as the home of Culture House, a community center for visual, musical, and performance artists.

If you want to see the inside, check Culture House’s Peerspace listing to see more pictures. They also have an on-site recording studio and an organic catering company.

2. A contemporary art space near Union Market

hidden gems in washington dc
Source: Peerspace

This hip, modern art space is the perfect venue for a photoshoot, art exhibition, or an intimate wedding. The venue includes 1,200 square feet of space, including two all-white gallery rooms. Huge windows that let in natural light and gallery lighting overhead add to the decor. This is a space for any occasion. Just reach out to your host to find a preferred caterer or bartender, or choose one of your own.

And check out this rave Peerspace review from a past renter: “First of all! DC needs more Hosts like Nicola. Graceful, helpful and very pleasant! Her Art Gallery was perfect for my clothing brand launch! The artwork made the event even more beautiful. I would book again in a heart beat! Money well spent!”

3. A rooftop racetrack in Alexandria, VA

Rooftop running track and outdoor gym washington dc rental
Source: Peerspace

Unique rooftop venues can be hard to find. If you’re looking for something other than a rooftop bar, consider this Alexandria racetrack for a unique outdoor gathering. It’s suitable for an office outing, a fitness class, or even a photo or video production. You’ll have access to a ⅛-mile track, an outdoor gym including sit-up benches and a pull-up bar, and comfortable lounge seating.

Need a unique space for a business or personal gathering? Then here’s how to find an Airbnb for events in DC!

4. Lovers’ Lane Pool at Dumbarton Oaks


This beautiful spot is the perfect hidden gem in Washington DC for anyone who loves gardens. It features a shallow pool surrounded by stands of bamboo and cast-stone columns.

Previously, it was home to an art installation called “Bamboo Counterpoint,” which used multiple speakers to create an immersive soundscape. Take a look at the Dumbarton Oaks website to find out what exhibits are currently open, as well as upcoming events and concert series.

5. A bright and stylish historic warehouse in the Northeast

bright and stylish historic warehouse dc washington dc rental
Source: Peerspace

In the heart of DC’s Eckington neighborhood lives this modernized historic warehouse space. It’s a bright and cheery 2,500 square feet of space that boasts an open layout, an all-white color scheme, sliding glass garage doors, and skylights.

Most importantly, this venue is equipped with a variety of amenities, including a kitchen that your caterer can use, a conference room, and some parking. Plus, the host offers an array of stylish furniture and props to enhance your production or event.

“The space was great. Very transformative,” shares a Peerspace reviewer. “The staff are very accommodating and flexible to changes that may need to be made last minute. This shoot was in the middle of July so the AC works pretty well. I would definitely recommend this space for events or shoots!”

6. An inspiring rooftop in Northeast DC

Rooftops in DC
Source: Peerspace

This spacious indoor and outdoor rooftop venue is one of our favorite hidden gems in Washington, DC for stunning views. The indoor space includes projection screens, a sound system, a catering kitchen, and plenty of seating. Outdoors, there is yet more flexible seating and even a lush garden.

Choose this venue for a gardening workshop, an outdoor yoga class, or a video production in a memorable setting with unobstructed Capitol Hill views.

7. The National Bonsai Foundation

Caring for bonsai is an art, and this free museum in the US National Arboretum will teach you all about it. Previous exhibits include “CSI: Bonsai,” which investigates the ways you may have accidentally killed your bonsai. In addition to seeing healthy examples of bonsai up close, you can take part in mindfulness workshops, including yoga and tai chi among the gardens.

8. An award-winning music venue on the DC strip

hidden gems in washington dc
Source: Peerspace

We love this moody, brooding music venue when you’re looking for hidden gems in Washington, DC with a punk rock attitude. It’s a 1,600-square-foot venue complete with a stage, a bar, a full sound system, and club lighting. There’s also a furnished roof deck for your use. Overall, it’s a wonderful option for private events, podcast recordings, performances, and more.

These are the most Instagrammable places in D.C., all perfect for your next event or production!

9. A modern penthouse in Silver Spring, MD

unique production space dc washington d.c. rental
Source: Peerspace

This architectural marvel is available for video productions, receptions, showers, and more. The fourth-floor penthouse includes modern amenities including a kitchen and Apple TV. But the appeal of this space is the outdoor deck with its stylish wooden frame, which provides plenty of unique opportunities for a photoshoot. Beside the deck is a sloping garden that looks like a cascading waterfall of plants, lending the space a vibrant modern aesthetic in downtown Silver Spring.

A Peerspace reviewer who booked an event here shares: “Space was beautiful, Spacious, and accommodating! Checked in so smoothly and the concierge Mike was amazing with making sure we had everything we needed. Definitely will be booking again!”

10. A historic garden hidden in plain sight

hidden gems in washington dc
Source: Peerspace

In the heart of Kalorama Heights, you’ll find this garden at the historic Waddy Butler Wood. It’s a 10,000-square-foot upper and lower garden space that includes landscaping, flowers, and stone features.

Whether you’re hosting a corporate event or wedding reception, or just want a private tour, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a space with this much history and atmosphere that’s available for private rentals. This beautiful space is also popular with Peerspace users for its professionalism, with one reviewer sharing: “Literally the best venue and staff!!”

Hidden gems in Washington, DC: conclusion

Mario Birthday Party Ideas
Source: Peerspace

This list of hidden gems in Washington, DC, is only a small snapshot of what the city can offer.

For more ideas, browse Peerspace and then search by event type, capacity, and other filters to find the perfect place to host your event or photoshoot in DC. You’ll find even more hidden gems where you can avoid the crowds and experience this historic city on your own terms!

Find more hidden gems in Washington, DC, on Peerspace

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