Washingtonian.com’s 61 Hidden Gems highlights a treasure trove of less familiar destinations. Some of our favorites include:
Dig for buried treasure at Gunston Hall, George Mason’s 18th-century estate in Fairfax County. The staff gives volunteers tools and basic archaeological training, then lets them go to work. Among the many artifacts that been have found are coins, glass jewelry beads, and a two-tined fork with a bone handle from the 1760s. The field season goes from April to December; in the winter, volunteers can work in the lab, dating and categorizing unearthed objects. The house, designed in Chesapeake Georgian style, is also worth a visit. The intricate carvings in the Palladian Room are marvelous, and Mason’s writing desk sits in the Little Parlor. 703-550-9220;gunstonhall.org.
See the sofa where John Wilkes Booth was treated at the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House. Restored to its 19th-century condition, the white clapboard house sits on a 197-acre farm in Waldorf and looks much as it did the night Booth arrived there after shooting President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Docents in period costumes give tours of the house and its outbuildings, one of which is still used to dry tobacco. You’ll also see a collection of Mudd’s medical instruments and a pair of tables he built in prison. You might even meet some of his descendants, who live near the farm and help run the museum. Adults $7, ages 16 and under $2. 301-274-9358; somd.lib.md.us