Why put together a list of DC scenes to photograph besides the National Mall? There is so much more to see and photograph in the DC area beyond these tourist favorites. The region is ripe with incredible architecture, cool neighborhoods, and even amazing natural vistas.
Sure, every local and traveling photographer cannot resist the call of the national mall, including me. And can you blame us?
That said, once you get a taste for metro DC, you come to appreciate the incredible character the region has to offer beyond monuments and federal buildings. With that in mind, let’s show you a little of what the city has to offer. Whether you favor street, nature, or travel photography, there is something in here for you.
Geoff Livingston is a professional photographer in the Washington, DC Area. He provides photojournalism, portraits, engagement shoots, and journalistic wedding photography. You can see more of his work on his website.
The National Cathedral
Both inside and out, this cathedral offers a taste of Europe with incredible buttresses and more traditional gothic architecture. The Cathedral also happens to be the sixth largest in the world. So no, it’s not Vatican City, but it sure is impressive.
DC has many great neighborhoods, but few are as well known as historic Georgetown. Come see the stomping grounds of JFK and Jackie O, as well as some of DC’s brightest students. From Dumbarton Oaks to the C&O Canal (currently under construction), there is much to see. One of the best places for DC street scenes.
If you are looking for murals, hipsters and cool neighborhoods, make sure you check out Shaw. The neighborhood is vibrant and fun, filled with good restaurants and neat scenes. Make sure to check out Blagden Alley, too.
Great Falls offers beautiful nature vistas with wonderful hiking just north of the Beltway on both the Maryland and Virginia (pictured above) sides of the Potomac River. If you venture on the Maryland side, don’t miss the Billy Goat Trail, a challenging difficult hike that offers many views of beautiful Mather’s Gorge.
Old Town, Alexandria
Old Town Alexandria is filled with lovely federal style town homes, boutique shops, and its own small but scenic waterfront. You can easily spend an entire weekend visiting George Washington’s hometown.
The Navy Yard
When Nationals Stadium was built more than 10 years ago, this neighborhood was just scary. Now it has been redeveloped and has lots of new buildings and scenes to check out.
Take a walk through time and visit historic Glen Echo. There is great fun art deco signage to photograph, a gorgeous carousel, and of course, The Spanish Ballroom. It also happens to have a pretty cool photo gallery and school, Glen Echo Photoworks.
The National Arboretum
From cherry blossom trees to azaleas to the Capitol Columns, there is much to see in the National Arboretum. So if you need a nature break inside the city, just drive east on New York Avenue and enjoy the sights.
The U Street Neighborhood
From the original Ben’s Chill Bowl to street murals to cool theaters to hipsters, it’s all there. Many good street photography sessions have started for me on U Street.
By the way, this was a close one, I could easily have substituted NoMa for U Street. Both have great DC scenes.
The Wharf Waterfront Area
The Wharf is DC’s newest shopping and entertainment district. It has some fun alleys and scenes, and neighboring southwest DC offers worthwhile off the Mall federal architecture.