Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

#20 in Best Things To Do in Washington, D.C.
 picture
Chesapeake Bay Program/Flickr

Key Info

1411 W. St. SE

Price & Hours

Free
9 a.m.-4:30 or 5 p.m. daily

Details

Free, Parks and Gardens, Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Like other parts of the South, the Washington metropolitan area – which includes Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. – was once home to numerous plantations with slaves. To learn more about one of the region's most famous former slaves, visit the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in the district's Anacostia neighborhood.

At this historical site, you'll learn all about Frederick Douglass, a former slave who fled from Maryland to New York City in 1838. After becoming a free man, Douglass devoted his life to speaking against slavery, producing abolitionist newspapers and writing about his experience as a slave. In 1872, Douglass and his then wife, Anna, moved to the district, where they lived until Douglass' death in 1895.

Today, you can tour the late abolitionist's home when you visit the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Inside the restored structure, you'll find artifacts that belonged to Douglass and his loved ones, including diaries from Douglass and his second wife, Helen. Plus, you can explore 8 acres of the original estate's grounds, as well as watch a film about Douglass.

According to recent visitors, this historic site offers a welcome break from the district's more crowded attractions while providing an excellent overview about Douglass. In fact, many called it one of the area's must-see sights thanks in part to its informative guides and well-maintained grounds. However, some warned that complimentary tour tickets, which are required to go inside the house, run out fast (especially during the peak summer season), so consider paying $1 to reserve your spot in advance.

If you don't reserve a tour ticket at least one day before you arrive, you can get one on a first-come, first-served basis at the on-site visitor center. Tours cover both floors of Douglass' home, last about 30 minutes and are available starting at 9 a.m. daily. The last tour begins at 3:30 p.m. during the offseason or at 4 p.m. from April through October. You can visit the property every day (excluding New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day) from 9 a.m. to 4:30 or 5 p.m., depending on the season. Plan on driving and parking for free in the lot by the visitor center. Or, take the Metro's Green Line to Anacostia Station – you'll find the property eight blocks away from the station. Learn more about the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site by visiting the National Park Service website.

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