Special thanks to Olivia Cox for the recommendations
It’s the capital, the mecca, the melting pot of intellect and people. Washington DC, land of the forefathers of the United States, is one of the busiest historical cities in the world. If museums are your thing, there are no shortage in DC. Whether you’re a history buff or an art aficionado, DC has an exhibit for you. If not, you can always peep famous landmarks and still make happy hour at Capitol Hill. Who knows, you might even run into your state representative?
Things to Do
Artechouse: Insta-worthy, fully immersive art exhibit. Hottest ticket in town, get yours in advance!
Anthem Concert Hall: Catch a show at the newly opened Wharf, or 9:30 Club in the U Street Corridor.
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden: Pack a picnic and catch (free!) jazz in the garden every summer Friday starting at 4:30 pm. Don't fret, during the winter there’s an ice skating rink.
Newseum: Engaging and interactive museum of news and media.
Sporting Events: Catch some basketball and hockey when the Wizards or Capitals play at Capital One Arena, or catch nine innings at National's Park. Before any game, stop into the Bullpen for cheap beer and live music in a tailgating atmosphere.
Shop in Georgetown: Vintage and chic shopping to satisfy every budget. Stop into Laduree, Sprinkles, or Olivia Macaroon for a sweet treat to keep you going.
Union Market: Shop local vendors and food stands in this expansive and eclectic market in NE DC.
Walk the monuments: Walk around the National Mall and check out the Washington Monument, WWII, Lincoln, Jefferson, Vietnam, and MLK Jr. memorials, just to name a few. Head to free Smithsonian museums on your way out.
Places to Eat
A Baked Joint: Bustling bakery, coffee shop, and hangout -- great for a quick breakfast. Home to some of the sweetest and inexpensive cupcakes around.
All Purpose: Located across the Convention Center in Shaw, they serve decked oven-fired pizza, antipasti and drinks. Get any of the artisan pizzas, the crispy brussel sprouts, or the antipasti salad. Moderately priced.
Bad Saint: Intimate, Michelin Star-winning, Filipino restaurant in Columbia Heights. Critically acclaimed and highly reviewed.
Chaia: Delectable farm-to-table vegetarian taco joint in Georgetown.
Dukes Grocery: Casual, English-style gastro-pub in a Dupont Rowhouse. Go for The Proper Burger that’s awarded “Best Burger in DC” year after year. The Truffle Mac n’ Cheese and the Corn Elote Locos are crowd-pleasers, great to share with the table.
Maydan: Flavorful Middle-Eastern dishes served inside a rustic, brick house near U Street.
The Dabney: Located in Shaw’s Blagden Alley. Another Michelin Star-winning restaurant, it combines upscale Mid-Atlantic comfort food with a relaxed atmosphere. Small plates, but on the expensive side.
Places to Drink
14th St. NW Bars:
If you’re looking for happy-hour spots or low-key drinks with conversation 14th Street is your block.
Nestled right next to one another, Pearl Dive, Ghibellina, and Black Jack all have revered ambiance, drink specials and appetizers.
If you’re looking for a more romantic setting with craft cocktails, head downstairs to Sotto where you’ll likely catch live music.
Want to sit outside and catch some sun with suds? Try Red Light or Garden District.
18th St. NW Bars:
Not for the faint of heart. Heavily populated with recent college grads, 18th Street in Adams Morgan offers handfuls of fun dive bars.
Madam’s Organ has live music and 4 stories of dance floors. Right across the street is the more laid-back Roofers Union, with an unparalleled roof and view of the neighborhood.
A hip pocket of DC that's got an edge to it.
Check out the authentic German-style beer garden, Dacha. They serve dozens of brews in boots with solely outdoor seating. Be prepared to wait in line, especially on a beautiful spring day.
Off the Record: (At bottom of Hay Adams)
In the basement of one of DC’s world-renown hotels, this dimly lit, mahogany lined bar is perfect for history and political buffs. Only steps from the White House, you might catch a politician or two --but remember, that's off the record.
U Street NW Bars:
A bustling area that comes alive at night with endless bar options.
Grab a strong margarita and tacos at El Ray. Or, share a giant Moscow Mule for four on the roof of 801. If you're looking to get a little active, play cornhole on the patio at Wet Dog or hit the dance floor and jam to throwback hits at Local 16.
The best part about this area is if one bar is too crowded or not the vibe you’re looking for, an alternative is mere steps away.
Places to Stay
Northwest DC: Favorite neighborhoods to explore are Dupont, Adams Morgan, Logan Circle/ U street, or Shaw. The monuments and National Mall are accessible from NW DC, yet have non-touristy places to shop, eat, drink and stay.
Lots of hotels near Dupont Circle.
Airbnb options are plentiful.
The Metro system can be somewhat unreliable, especially during weekend hours when trains come less frequently. Still, can be great for getting to museums, the National Mall, or to and from DCA, the airport.
Ubers are great for getting neighborhood to neighborhood. But if you're feeling up for it, walking isn't unrealistic.