Who knew Washington has more than monuments and steakhouses? Among our top-secret spots: a grotto, a terrace with a view, and a gargoyle carved in the shape of Darth Vader.
THE SUMMER HOUSE ON THE CAPITOL LAWN. This is a great place to rest after you’ve exhausted yourself trying to find out where the heck the entrance is to the Capitol tour. It’s a shady, brick hexagon on the West Lawn, designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and completed in the late 1880s. There’s a bubbling fountain and even a grotto.
THE PEACOCK ROOM. This is a great place to get away from the Smithsonian’s tourist crowds. It’s a sumptuous green and gold dining room created in the 1870s by the American artist James McNeill Whistler. Very Oriental and Arts-and-Crafts-like. It’s in the Freer Gallery, which is east of the Smithsonian castle, on the Mall.