Self-Guided D.C. Scavenger Hunt

Note: Even though the scavenger hunt event is past, you can still use the below clues on your own to explore each D.C. quadrant. Happy exploring!

Scavenger hunts are one thing that helped me fall in love with Washington, D.C. It’s a chance to explore parts of the city in one day, and hopefully, have fun doing it. In honor of the first-ever guide to all 131+ D.C. neighborhoods, let’s do a scavenger hunt on June 15, 2024.

Below are four things- 1) How the hunt works, 2) Scavenger hunt clues, 3) Events throughout the day, and 4) Prize packages from local businesses and makers.

Here’s how it works.

  • This is a photo scavenger hunt.
  • There are four scavenger hunts- one per quadrant. Pick one or do all four.
  • You have from 7:30 am to 3:30 p.m. to solve as many clues as possible.
  • Follow the instructions on what photo to take at each stop to earn points.
  • Each point equals one entry into a raffle to win prize packages from local businesses. Additionally, showing up at one of the five meetups below will get you five points. There are 20 prize packages and 20 winners. (Prize packages are at the very bottom of this post valued at $3,630.)
  • All photos must be submitted by 3:30 pm ET in one of three ways.
    • If you have a public Instagram, upload them to Instagram Story, tagging @AustinKGraff. (This way, I’ll see them and tally up your points.)
    • If you have a private Instagram, direct message your photos to @AustinKGraff. (I can’t see Story tags from private accounts.)
    • If you’re not on Instagram, email your photos to
  • Show up at the after party at La Cosecha from 5-7 pm to hear the winners announced. (If you aren’t there, I’ll email you how to redeem your prize.)

Scavenger Hunts:

  • Northwest
    • Clue 1: Cash only, this tiny bagel shop is open every day starting at 6 a.m. It’s often named “the best bagel shop” in the city by locals. Take a photo in front of the shop for one point. Earn an extra point if you buy a bagel and include it in your photo.
    • Clue 2: A true neighborhood park with views of Rock Creek Park, the Obamas could easily walk here from their D.C. home. Find the enclosed park and snap a photo in front of the Little Free Library inside the park for one point.
    • Clue 3: Harvard University owns the museum side. Find the public park with the same name as the museum. Find the Forsythia Gate that separates the museum/gardens from the park. Snap a photo in front of it for two points.
    • Clue 4: There’s a beer garden (open today from 12-8 p.m.) inside this castle’s back garden, a nod to its former owner’s business where the Kennedy Center now stands. Take a photo with the castle in the background for one point.
    • Clue 5: Winston Churchill stares into this oasis honoring a famous author and poet. Take a photo sitting on one of the garden’s benches for one point.
    • Clue 6: The real thing is in New York City, but there’s a miniature replica in front of the ambassador’s residence of the country that gifted the real thing to the U.S.A. Take a photo in front of the fence with it in clear view for one point.
    • Clue 7: This block of row houses used to house Rosa Parks when she was in Washington, D.C. Today, it’s part hotel and part wonderland with over 80 secret doors. Take a photo with the Alice statue outside to earn one point. Don’t forget to tag them in your photos and be respectful as it’s along a residential street.
    • Clue 8: The site of the city’s first unofficial Pride celebration, it’s more park than beach. Along Rock Creek Park, snap a photo with the nearby Gothic Revival church in the background to earn one point.
    • Clue 9: Inside a small park is a memorial to an Irish patriot. Surrounded by embassies, find the memorial and snap a photo with the statue to earn one point.
    • Clue 10: Before there were Serena and Venus Williams, there were the Peters sisters, who won 14 American Tennis Association championships in the 1940s and 1950s. Find the courts where they once played and snap a photo on the courts to earn one point.
    • Clue 11: Rome has the most famous version, but don’t discredit the city’s first steps connecting two streets. Built in the early 20th century and originally called Decatur Terrace, snap a photo by its fountain to earn one point.
    • Clue 12: The oldest artist-run gallery in Washington, D.C., stop in on Wednesday through Saturday to see contemporary art. Snap a photo outside to earn one point.

  • Northeast
    • Clue 1: At 65 feet tall, this mural is among the tallest in Washington, D.C. Painted in 2017, it honors the people who helped build one of the city’s most iconic memorials. Every day, thousands pass it on bike, foot, or via the Metro. Snap a photo with the mural in the background to learn one point. 
    • Clue 2: Across the street from a beloved pizza alley bar and right next to a logo the world recognizes is a small alley. Walk down it and find a yellow motorcycle hanging from a wall and a piece of art that looks like mosaic, the old studio of photographer Steven M. Cummings (@chocolatecityrip on Instagram). Take a photo with the mosaic art for one point. 
    • Clue 3: It’s easy to miss, but across the street from the old office building of one of the world’s largest non-profit organizations and one block south of a popular NoMa Indian restaurant with an outdoor patio is a flag mosaic from legendary Jim Bachor. Take a photo of the mosaic for one point and tag @JimBachor on Instagram for an extra point.
    • Clue 4: Easy to miss among the Union Market development is a store that sells Italian wine, cheese, and other products. There’s a well-liked deli in the back. Take a photo with an Italian flag inside or out of the store for one point. Buy an item from the store and include it in the photo for an extra point.
    • Clue 5: Named after someone who was once enslaved and the first person to lose their life during the Boston Massacre, this 1.06-acre oasis is completely hidden by rowhouses. It’s technically in Northwest, but very close to the Northeast border. Find it and snap a photo on one of its benches for two points.
    • Clue 6: Connected to one of the Smithsonian’s most beloved museums by locals, this federal building was D.C.’s first to be named in honor of a Black woman thanks to the championship of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Snap a photo in front of it for one point.
    • Clue 7: It’s usually found on a tree, but this version is larger than life. Created by Barbara Grygutis, it comes with a poem by a former Poet Laureate of Washington D.C. Snap a photo with it for one point.
    • Clue 8: A couple opened this popular Eckington gathering spot along a popular bike trail. Inside an industrial building, their magic flows from taps. Snap a photo in front of their sign for one point. Buy a drink to include in the photo for an extra point.
    • Clue 9: With views of the city skyline, this place is a popular spot to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. First opened in 1926, its gym used to host the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team. Run or walk up its hill and snap a photo with the Washington Monument in the background for two points.
    • Clue 10: It’s hard to see, but around the corner from one of the city’s largest murals along a popular bike trail is old etching in stone honoring the old advertising office of the National Geographic Society. Find it and snap a photo for one point.
    • Clue 11: Most campers won’t know this building once housed the Beatles’ first U.S. large-scale concert. Posters near outdoor gear prove it. Find one of the posters and snap a photo for one point.
    • Clue 12: Kids love this neighborhood market’s prehistoric mural by Chloe Rubenstein (@crubens01 on Instagram). Candy, sandwiches, cleaning supplies, they have it all. Snap a photo by the mural for one point. Buy something big or small inside the market to include in the photo for an extra point.

  • Southwest
    • Clue 1: With red rocking chairs and a multi-level Free Little Library, this beloved neighborhood space is more than a body of water. It’s home to many community events and parties. Snap a photo in one of the rocking chairs to earn one point.
    • Clue 2: $4 for a sandwich is a steal and every visit helps feed refugees. Their second location is near water, often confused for a river, but really it’s near a channel. Take a photo outside of this spot for one point. Include a purchased item in the photo for an extra point. 
    • Clue 3:  LJB’s VP once lived here, a grand building designed by one of the country’s first woman architects. It incorporates three historic sites and runs near the water. Snap a photo with the building in the background to earn one point.
    • Clue 4: Technically, three bodies of water meet here, but stay on its land. There’s a sand volleyball court and views into an 18th century military fort. Snap a photo with the view of the nearby water for one point.
    • Clue 5: Named after an explorer, this building has art outside honoring the Indigenous peoples along the Anacostia River. Some know this organization because of its “raptor ambassadors.” Snap a photo out front for two points.
    • Clue 6: It first opened in 1805 making it the oldest of its kind in the country. It has changed over the centuries, but it’s still a loved place among locals. (Just look at the 9,000+ reviews on Google Maps.) Find it and take a photo once there to earn one point. For an extra point, buy something to include in the photo.
    • Clue 7: With views of the U.S. Capitol from its playground, it’s one of the few places in the city where you can spot a whale. Find one of the old murals on its campus and snap a photo for one point.
    • Clue 8: One block north from a historic white house once belonging to a beloved pastor and community leader who was born into slavery is a mural by Rose Jaffe honoring a trailblazing Black woman in aerospace. Snap a photo with the mural, tagging @Rose_Inks, for one point.
    • Clue 9: Although opened in 2021, it’s one of the most uniquely designed of its buildings. Its walls are covered with old photos of the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood and its shelves lined with knowledge. Snap a photo outside for one point. If you’re not already, become a member by obtaining a card inside to include in the photo for an extra point.
    • Clue 10: Martha Washington’s granddaughter lived inside this 18th century house during her honeymoon dubbing it the “Honeymoon House.” It still stands as among the oldest buildings still standing in the city. Snap a photo out front to earn one point.
    • Clue 11: Even though this memorial honors men, it was funded and designed by women. It used to stand where the Kennedy Center is now. Its pose helped inspire a famous scene in one of the world’s most successful movies. Find it and snap a photo in front of it for one point.
    • Clue 12: Across the street from a 1960s co-op designed by the same architect behind Alexandria’s mid-century modern Hollin Hills is among the oldest buildings left in Washington, D.C. Find the row’s plaque and snap a photo for one point.

  • Southeast
    • Clue 1: The tiles on the floor of its main door proves this building was once a department store. Today, it’s a cultural and arts center with a number of Black-owned businesses worth visiting. Take a photo outside or in for two points. Buy something from one of its businesses to include in the photo for an extra point.
    • Clue 2: It’s the only of its kind in Washington, D.C. and within a national park. On weekends, local DJs play music and rentals are always free with an I.D. throughout the week. Take a photo with it in the background to earn two points.
    • Clue 3: In the same area as the oldest Marine barracks in the country is a secret alley. Within it is a rooftop gin garden and many murals. Find one of the murals and snap a photo to earn one point.
    • Clue 4: What started out as a giant promo is now a D.C. landmark. You won’t find anything like it anywhere in the city. You can’t sit on it, but snap a photo with it in the background to earn two points.
    • Clue 5: Two blocks south from a place that sells twisted pastries is a court with murals of trailblazing women. Created by muralist Mimi Ton, snap a photo with one of the women celebrated here to earn one point, tagging @MimisMasterfulMurals on Instagram.
    • Clue 6: Here, you can see the city skyline from its front yard. With one of the city’s most famous Black heroes as its previous owner, snap a photo with the house in the background for two points.
    • Clue 7: Close to a historic cemetery saved by dog walkers is an alley. Inside is a community garden. Find Nils Westergard’s garage mural nearby supporting Ukraine. Snap a photo with the mural for one point, tagging the artist @NilsRVA on Instagram.
    • Clue 8: His parents once owned a West African restaurant in D.C. Now he’s bringing the same food and one of the most affordable fried chicken sandwiches to the city inside a tiny shop with orange walls near the city’s biggest chair. Take a photo outside. Get an extra point if your photo includes an item purchased from his small shop.
    • Clue 9: The quickest way to this themed playground is by crossing the bridge on the same site of an old bridge that was burned by the U.S. army during the War of 1812. Take a photo at the helm of this playground.
    • Clue 10: When this bakery opened in 2011, it was the first of its kind in D.C. Philly-inspired, they open at 8 a.m. every day except Monday. Take a photo inside or out. Earn an extra point if you buy a pastry and include it in the photo.
    • Clue 11: It’s a little tricky to find, but when you do, you’ll notice the small sign denoting it as the country’s oldest Black yacht club. Take a photo next to its historical sign with a thumbs up for this club’s commitment to beautifying the Anacostia River to earn two points.
    • Clue 12: This one block street is known for its tight community and a pandemic wedding that made headlines. Take a photo with the lights strung across the street in the background for one point.


Throughout the day, I’m hosting the five meetups below. Join for one or all. For every meetup you join, you’ll receive five points toward the scavenger hunt raffle.

  • 9-10 am: Congressional Cemetery at 1801 E Street SE. (Meet at the chapel straight down the path from the entrance.)
    • Brief overview of Congressional Cemetery.
    • Short tour of a few places within the cemetery.
    • Peregrine coffee.
    • Bubbles for kids.
  • 10:30-11:30 am: Titanic Memorial along the Washington Channel near P & 4th Streets SW.
    • Brief overview of Southwest Waterfront.
    • Bubbles and sidewalk chalk for kids.
  • 12-1 pm: Anacostia at the parking lot at W Street SE and MLK Jr. Avenue SE. (Look for The Big Chair.)
    • Brief overview of Anacostia.
    • Art to Go-Go shuttles every 25 minutes to explore Southeast D.C.
  • 2:30-3:30 pm: Tabard Inn at 1739 N St NW. (Meet in the back patio.)
    • Brief overview of Tabard Inn.
    • Coffee and doughnuts compliments of Tabard Inn.
  • 5-7 pm: La Cosecha at 1280 4th St NE. (Meet in the glass box inside the main food hall space.)
    • Food for purchase within La Cosecha, a Latin American market and food hall.
    • Announcement of scavenger hunt winners.
      • The winners will be chosen via raffle. Once you win one prize package, you can’t win another.


The below prizes valuing $3,630 are made possible by the generosity of D.C.’s business community. Please support them and tag them on social media when you redeem your prizes.

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  1. I think I found this website on my FB page. I lived in the DC area from 1969-2011 and retired to south Florida. I haven’t been to DC in quite some time and am being told I will be shocked with the change. I’m coming up to DC during the Labor Day weekend for a convention. There will be 15-20,000 people attending, maybe more. I think a scavenger hunt would be a fun thing to do for an “excursion “. What are your thoughts?

    1. That is a long time to live in D.C.! I’d be curious to see how you find it now. Many parts have changed! I think this scavenger hunt would be a fun “excursion.” The NW and NE hunts aren’t terribly far from the convention center assuming that’s where the conference is!

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