Most of us think of guidebooks as something for tourists, which is true enough, but the following guidebooks are full of tips on things to do and see that most locals might never stumble on in the natural course of events.

For example:

Do you know that the cherry trees in Kensington are as lovely as those by the Tidal Basin and much easier to get to by car?

Have you toured the caves beneath the Lincoln Memorial and seen the stalactites and stalagmites there? (Call 426-6841 after Sept. 7 for tours beginning Oct. 1)

Did you know that you can call 652-1088 and find out which birds have been spotted in and about Washington lately (including three pelicans early in June)?

Next time you're suffering from ennui, pick up one of these guidebooks and make like a tourist. Washington is a great town to visit, even if you live here. General Guides

Fodor's Washington D.C. and Vicinity, David McKay Co., $6.95. Introduction to the city, plus informative sections on hotels, restaurants, shopping, transportation and local sites.

Frommer's Washington, D.C. on $25 a Day, by Beth Bryant, Frommer/Pasmantier, $7.25. Sensible and breezy, with particularly good sections on low-cost eateries and places to stay (including an $11-a-night guest house on Connecticut Avenue).

I Love Washington Guide, by Marilyn J. Appleberg, Collier, $4.95. A pocket-sized Yellow Pages for tourists, with 2,500 listings in tiny type, and unreadable maps.

The Walker Washington Guide, by John and Katharine Walker, Guide Press, $4.95. An old standby, with clever maps, good history, and a section on how the government works.

Washington, by Joan Schreiber Mann, Kodansha, $5.25. Nice photos, letter-to-Aunt-Eva text.

Washington, D.C.: The Complete Guide, by Judy Duffield, William Kramer, and Cynthia Sheppard, Random House, $6.95. An emphasis on logistics and graphics makes this a good book for people who appreciate only half a page on the history of the Lincoln Memorial and a page telling how to get there and park ("competitive parking . . . the roadway design is demonic"). Good information for the handicapped. Washington for Children

Going Places With Children in Washington, edited by Katherine S. Tippett and E. Susan Parsons, Green Acres School, $4.95. Museums, nature centers, toy shops, restaurants that like children and vice versa.

Washington, D.C.: A Guidebook for Kids, by Carol Bluestone and Susan Irwin, Noodle Press (1346 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 727), $2. Written for kids, with quizzes.

Washington for Children by Ray Shaw, Scribner's, $3.95. Out of print and in need of updating, but full of ideas (available in some libraries and at garage sales). Food and Nightlife

Night Life Wash. D.C. & Metro Area, by John R.H. Cotter and staff. Entertainment Research, $3.95. Good on nightclubs and other diversions, particularly for singles.

The Shoestring Gourmet, by Erik Kanin, Nancy Turner, and Andrea Lubershane, Andrik Associates, $5.95. Descriptions of restaurants where two can dine for $20 or less. Washington and the Arts

Official Guide to the Smithsonian, $2.95. A useful guide to the Smithsonian's many galleries and museums, also available on tape and in Braille.

Washington Cultural Directory: A Guide to the Arts and Artists of Metropolitan Washington, by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, 805 15th St. NW, Suite 419, $10.95. Descriptions of more than 400 organizations and 600 individuals.

The Washington D.C. Art Review: The Art Explorer's Guide to Washington, by Frank Getlein and Jo Ann Lewis, Vanguard Press, $8.95. Descriptions of 16 museums and 70 galleries, their styles, artists, and exhibits. Historical Washington

Above Washington, by Robert Cameron, Cameron & Co., $19.95. Nostalgic as well as contemporary aerial photos of the city.

Building Stones of Our Nation's Capital, U.S. Geological Survey, stock number 024-001-02707-1, $1.75. Urban geology! The three layers of marble in the Washington monument are from Texas, Massachusetts, and Maryland--not Italy.

Capitol Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings, by James M. Goode, Smithsonian, $19.95 paper, $37.50 and $100 hardcover. Amazing photos, graceful text, first-rate scholarship.

The Capital, Government Printing Office, stock nunber 052-071-00621-4, $6.50. A pictorial history of the Capitol.

A Guide to the Architecture of Washington, by William Coxe et al., McGraw-Hill, $6.95. Architecture as history, with walking and driving tours.

Mr. Lincoln's City: An Illustrated Guide to the Civil War Sites of Washington, by Richard M. Lee, EPM Publications, $12.95. 63 in-town sites, two out-of-town tours. 68 forts, 15 maps, 130 photos.

Old Alexandria, by Nettie Allen Voges, EPM, $5.95. Four walking tours that focus on historic buildings, cemeteries, archeological digs.

Old Washington, D.C. in Early Photographs, 1846-1932, by Robert Reed, Dover, $7.95, and 32 Picture Postcards of Old Washington, D.C., Dover, $2.75. Amusing companions and souvenirs.

A Walk Through Georgetown, by Kevin Delaney, $1.50. A four-hour walk. The Book Annex, 1239 Wisconsin Ave. NW, carries several walking guides to Georgetown (and an excellent selection of guidebooks in general).

Washington Itself, by E.J. Applewhite, Knopf, $15.50. Anecdotes and little-known facts about the city's buildings and monuments.

The White House: An Historic Guide, $4.50, and The Living White House (contemporary), $9.50, published by the White House Historical Association, sold at GPO bookstores and the National Geographic Society Bookstore. Outdoors in the City

City of Trees, by Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Polly Alexander, Acropolis Books, $24.95. A botanical and historical guide to more than 300 species of trees in the capital.

Greater Washington Area Bicycle Atlas, by Alan Berkowitz and Dave Gilbert, $4.65 from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, 1332 Eye St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005; 393-2555. Bike trails in the District, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and advice on bikes and biking.

The Landscape Architecture of Washington, D.C., by James Matthew Evans, Landscape Architecture Foundation, $8. Interesting idea, not quite satisfying.

Natural Washington by Bill and Phyllis Thomas, Holt Rinehart and Winston, $6.95. A nifty guide to popular and little-known parks, wildlife sanctuaries, trails, gardens, nature centers, swamps and wild places in the city and within a 50-mile radius.

The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C., by James M. Goode, Smithsonian, $15 and $8.95. Over 400 pieces of local sculpture, with details on the subjects, artists.

Washington on Foot, edited by Allan A. Hodges and Carol A. Hodges for the American Planning Association, Smithsonian, $6.95. 23 walking tours of the District, Old Town, and Annapolis, with tips on nearby eateries. Nearby Pleasures

Civil War Sites in Virginia: A Tour Guide, by James I. Robertson Jr., University Press of Virginia, $4.95. A paragraph per site.

Country Inns of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, by Lewis Perdue, Washington Book Trading Co., $5.95. A charming and reliable guide to country meals and overnight stays.

Blue Ridge Voyages, One-Day River Cruises, Virginia and West Virginia, by H. Robert Corbett Jr. and Louis J. Matacia Jr., $3.95. Ten white-water canoe trips.

Hikes in the Washington Region, $3. Half-day hikes within a 40-mile radius of the Zero Milestone in downtown Washington, part of an excellent series (including hiking maps) on hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Available from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, 1718 N St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; 638-5306 evenings, and at major outfitters.

Hiking Virginia's National Forests, by Karin Wuertz-Schaeffer, East Woods Press, $6.95. A hiking guide for 50 trails in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails, by Edward Gertler, Seneca Press, $7.95. A canoeist's and kayaker's guide to floatable streams.

Maryland: A New Guide to the Old Line State, edited by Edward C. Papenfuse et al., Johns Hopkins University Press, $5.95. A 1976 update of a 1940 WPA Writer's Project Guide, describing 45 tours and many side trips, covering 6,500 miles.

Virginia White Water, by H. Roger Corbett Jr., Seneca Press, $8.95. Thorough guide to white-watering in the state.

One-Day Trips Through History: 200 Excursions Within 150 Miles of Washington, D.C. by Jane Ockershausen Smith, EPM, $9.95. A new book from the author of the useful but somewhat dated One-Day Trip Book (EPM, $4.95) tells you how to follow John Wilkes Booth's escape route and how to monitor water traffic on the Anacostia River from a working submarine periscope.

Potomac Trail Book, by Robert Shosteck, Appalachian Books, $2.95. Hiking trails in the Potomac Valley, in and out of town.

A Sierra Naturalist's Guide to the Piedmont, by Michael A. Godfrey (son of Arthur), Sierra Club Books, $9.95. Natural history and ecology of the scenic area from the eastern coastal plains to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Ski Resorts Within 5 Hours of Washington & Baltimore, an annual magazine guide for D.C./Baltimore skiers, $2.50 from Entertainment Research, 8150 Lakecrest Drive, Suite 819, Greenbelt, Md. 20770.

Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal, by Thomas F. Hahn, 4 volumes, $3 each or $10 for the set. Classic guides, with wonderful old photos, available at bookstores or direct from American Canal and Transportation Center, Box 310, Shepherdstown, W.Va. 25443 (add $1 for shipping, and ask for a list of their many canal-related titles).

Weekender's Guide, by Robert Shosteck, Potomac Books, $4.95 (revised edition in preparation). Places of historic, scenic, cultural and recreational interest within 200 miles of Washington and Baltimore. For the Handicapped

Access Washington: A Guide to Metropolitan Washington for the Physically Disabled, $1 (plus 63 postage) from the Information Center for Handicapped Individuals, 1413 K St. NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005; 347-4986. Invaluable for people in wheelchairs.

The Deaf Person's Quick Guide to Washington, free from the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW (you have to pick it up, and they'll also explain how to use their services).

A Tactile and Large Print Atlas of Greater Washington, D.C. by Margaret Rockwell and Joseph Widel, $5 at the Map Store. Maps for the visually impaired. Maps

Alexandria Drafting Company publishes street atlases for the District, Northern Virginia, and counties in Maryland and Virginia (about $7 each), a wall map of D.C. and a 50-mile radius ($6.95), and a series of boating and fishing maps, from "Freshwater Fishing in Virginia" to "Boating in Maryland Waters" ($9.95 each).

The D.C. Department of Transportation publishes an enormous map of the metropolitan area. Free from the Office of Transportation Policy and Plans, Room 519, 415 12th St. NW; 727-6562. To order by mail, send a stamped (88 ), self-addressed, 7-by-10-inch envelope.

The Flashmaps Instant Guide to Washington ($2.95) is a handy booklet of 46 maps showing Metro routes, hotels, theaters, museums, etc.

Maps of the Metrobus system ($1) are available from many drugstores and from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 600 Fifth St. NW.

The U.S. Geological Survey publishes fascinating topographical maps that ignore political boundaries and recognize latitude, longitude, and prominent physical features. Room 1028 in the GSA building (not Interior), on F Street, between 17th and 18th Streets; 343-8073. Calendars of Events

Do You Know?--published monthly by the D.C. Department of Recreation--lists local happenings from sports events to free concerts. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope for one free issue, or $4 for a subscription, to D.C. Dept. of Recreation, 3149 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20010.

Fairs and Festivals: A Smithsonian Guide to Celebrations in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., by Elizabeth Rees Gilbert, $4.50, Smithsonian Institution Press.

Kiosk, a free listing of local events in the national park system, (most outdoors and many free) is available from National Capital Parks, 1100 Ohio Drive SW, Washington, D.C. 20242; 426-6700.

Calendars of current events and exhibits can be found in The Washington Post (Wednesdays in the Weekly section, Thursdays in the Washington Home section, Fridays in the Weekend section, and the last Sunday of each month when the Book World section publishes a calendar of literary events) and in the Where and When section of The Washingtonian magazine. Free Visitor Services

The International Visitors Information Center (IVIS), at 801 19th St. NW (872-8747) and at Dulles Airport, provides information to international visitors from a language-bank of 49 languages.

The Washington Convention and Visitors Association provides free maps and brochures on places to stay, restaurants, and sites, plus the giveaway magazines Capital, This Week, and Where, which tell about things to do and see. Second floor at 1575 Eye St. NW; 789-7000. Newsletter

American Urban Guidenotes, a quarterly newsletter about guidebooks, plans a special feature on guidebooks to the Capital in a forthcoming issue. Single issues are $2.50, subscriptions for four issues, $9, from John Fondersmith, Editor, American Urban Guidenotes, Box 186, Washington, D.C. 20044.