Walking Tour: Instagram-Worthy Murals in Washington, D.C.
When you think of taking a trip to Washington, D.C., what comes to mind? Is it visiting the White House or the iconic Lincoln Memorial? Maybe it’s walking around the National Mall (hopefully not in the pouring rain, like us), or wandering around the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for hours, taking in everything and feeling extra small next to the cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex attacking a Triceratops:
Seriously, dinosaurs are wild.
When my boyfriend and I took a quick weekend getaway to our nation’s capitol this past June, we were certainly excited for all of that and more, but one of the highlights of our trip was booking an Airbnb Experience for the first time to take in some of the city’s street art.
For less than $30 each (some experiences cost even less than that, btw), we were paired with Korey, a super friendly D.C. local who was willing to give us a street art-focused walking tour of the Logan Circle neighborhood, pointing out all of the amazing murals and sharing their interesting stories along the way.
Below are a just few favorites we hit on our mural tour- be sure to book your own tour with Korey by using this link, because it really was awesome.
PS: As always, if you’re new to Airbnb, you can use my referral code when signing up to save some monies on your trip.
The Watermelon House - 1112 Q St NW
The story of how the Watermelon House in D.C. came to be is pretty simple: the longtime owners wanted to spice up their home’s exterior with a coat of red paint. When it came down to it, though, the color turned out more Pepto Bismol-y pink than the red that they had hoped for. Instead of repainting it, they decided to make the best of their situation, and thus, the Watermelon House mural was born.
It’s since been repainted to look a bit more representative of actual watermelon colors, but even still, locals and tourists alike flock to the small alley next to the house all year long for the Instagram-worthy opportunity that the wall presents.
The kiwi wall I’m standing in front of in the image below was added after the fact as a fun little continuation of the fruit theme. Look closely to find a few different shapes in the kiwis’ centers- one is an outline of D.C. itself!
Logan Circle Fence Mural
Welcome to Logan Circle!
Scurlock Photography Mural - 1800 ½ 11th St. NW
Addison Scurlock is widely known in Washington, D.C. as “the premier documentarian of D.C.’s African-American elite in the early and mid-20th century.” Through photographing influential people like Duke Ellington and W.E.B Du Bois, he helped provide a visual narrative for the neighborhood’s growing African-American identity.
This mural is located on the side of the building where Scurlock ran his first studio, and more of his work can also be found at Nellie’s Sports Bar, which was repurposed in the building that he worked in for many years.
Artist: Carla Fuentes
Washington D.C. Jazz Heroes Mural - 624 T St NW
Artist: Kate Deciccio
“No Kings Collective” Stella Artois Mural - 631 T ST NW
More of an advertisement than a mural, “No Kings Collective” was unveiled during a Stella Artois event in D.C. called “The Art of the Chalice.” According to an article written about the event: “No Kings Collective’s mural reflects the city’s political history as well as the cultural liveliness, incorporating red and white colors that are iconic to both Stella Artois and Washington, D.C.”
Whether or not you buy into that is up to you, but hey, it’s a cute photo opp nonetheless.
Girl + Her Monkey Mural - 636 Florida Ave NW
Take Me Out TO THE Go-Go Mural - 636 Florida Ave NW (Next to Girl + Monkey)
In case you’re like me and had no idea: Go-Go music has been a Washington, D.C. staple for nearly half a century now.
Even as the neighborhood has increasingly gentrified over the years, locals are proud to commemorate old-D.C. culture through the music’s Afro-centric beats. Which is exactly why outrage ensued among longtime locals when complaints from residents in a newly-built apartment complex led to a local CD & music shop having to “mute” their beloved music, which was usually played through a speaker outside the store for anyone passing by to enjoy.
This eventually led to the #DontMuteDC hashtag/movement, and with the help of the community, the music came back. A temporarily happy ending, but the future of go-go is still unclear as gentrification and demographic changes don’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.
This story was certainly eye-opening for me as I walked through the streets of Logan Circle. I acknowledge that I’m privileged enough to not really have to think about any of this on a day-to-day basis, but the people that live in this neighborhood, especially those who have lived here for their entire lives, face it literally every time they walk outside.
Rubber Ducky Mural
“Chasing Dreams” - 905 U Street NW
The artist behind this serene mural, James Bullough, was a high school teacher for many years. Always encouraging his students to chase their dreams, he finally realized over time that maybe he needed to start practicing what he preached. Bullough ended up quitting his job to move to Berlin and pursue a career as a full-time artist, leaving this mural here in D.C. as a sense of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
“Bohemian Caverns” - 2001 U ST NW
U Street Mural - Directly Behind Bohemian Caverns (Same Parking Lot)
Ben’s Chili Bowl Mural - 1213 U St Nw
Home of the Washington D.C. signature half-smoke sausage, Ben’s Chili Bowl celebrates notable African-Americans through this mural on the side of their famous location on U street. It’s changed many times throughout the years, but today it features public figures like Barack & Michelle Obama, Chuck Brown, and Dave Chappelle, among many others.
“Kindred” Mural - 1210 V ST NW
According to the artist, Alberto Clerencia, the message behind “Kindred” is rooted in similarity and solidarity, claiming that “we may fall in opposite ends of the spectrum, but beneath the stereotypes and prejudices of our outer layers, we are still humans.” In particular, the line through the girls’ eyes signifies that though we may not always see eye to eye, we are, at the core, still the same.
This mural is massive in person, and though cars are typically parked in front of it, I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in D.C.
What did we miss? Leave your favorite Washington, D.C. murals & other Instagram-worthy spots in the comments so I can check them out next time I’m in town!