If stuffy politicians and historic monuments are all you think D.C. has to offer, you’re sadly mistaken. The nation’s capital is not only home to years of American history, but it’s also got plenty of shops, restaurants and happenings to keep just about anyone entertained. When you’ve finished up with your landmark rounds, there are a few places we think you’d enjoy seeing.
Hot Hoods To Visit
A mini-guide to D.C.'s most popular areas.
If you’re unsure of where to begin your journey in D.C., this is the perfect place to start. This eclectic, cosmopolitan neighborhood is home to trendy galleries, restaurants, coffee shops and retail outlets that are sure to keep you entertained. While the area offers all the conveniences and culture of a city, it still manages to maintain a cozy small-town feel. Plus, it ranks high on the list for people watching -- and who doesn’t enjoy that?
What’s a trip to our nation’s capital without a little sightseeing? South of the White House and west of the Capitol is where you’ll find National Mall. This area houses the majority of the city’s famous landmarks including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and WWII and Vietnam Veterans memorials. It’s also where you’ll find throngs in tourist, but we assure you, it’s well worth the iconic sights.
The vibrant neighborhood of Georgetown is considered one of the city’s top destinations for dining and nightlife. Plenty of upscale shops, restaurants and bars line the cobblestone streets. When you’re done shopping 'til you drop, head to the serene Georgetown Waterfront Park to take in the Potomac River views.
This hipster neighborhood is home to funky furniture stores, chic clothing outlets and cool boutiques like Lettie Gooch and Junction, making it a “capital” place to shop. The area has one of the highest concentrations of apartments in the city, but they come at a steep price. Restaurants aren’t hard to find, especially healthy ones, and thanks to easy access to the metro, your car won’t be necessary.
Adams Morgan holds a special place in D.C. history as the first racially integrated section of Chocolate City. This neighborhood is home to plenty of bars, nightclubs and restaurants, which attract D.C.’s young and fashionable to 18th street.
Capitol Hill has evolved into one of D.C.’s hottest neighborhoods. On weekends, head to Eastern Market, one of the city’s liveliest open-air arts and crafts markets. 8th Street SE, also known as Barracks Row, is home to plenty of antique and book shops. The farther you stray from the market, the more residential the area gets. After working up an appetite, seek refuge in the trendy cafés, bars and restaurants the neighborhood has to offer.
Georgetown just got a few degrees hotter; and for once, global warming isn’t to blame. The new A BAR at Avenue Suites is the epitome of sleek sophistication. Go for the luxe comfort—the couch-surrounded terrace fire pit alone is worth dropping in for—and stay for the sexy drinks, like the Midnight in Paris, which twinkles with a sparkling brut, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lime juice, and chili grenadine syrup. The small plates also please, with chilled corn and crab chowder and unexpected flatbread combinations in the mix. 2500 Pennsylvania Ave., abardc.com
As you walk into the Day of the Dead themed eatery known as Bandolero, you know right away that it’s not your typical Mexican resto. The latest addition to the Georgetown scene serves contemporary Mexican food and offers an extensive stock of tequilas and mescal. Classic favorites like Mahi Mahi tacos, empanadas and taquitos pack an unexpected punch of flavor and concoctions like the prickly pear frozen margarita are sure to hit the spot. Dishes err on the small side, so be sure to order a few selections to fill you up. 3241 M St. NW, 202.625.4488
A firehouse converted into a brunch and dinner hit, this Alexandria spot serves American comfort foods with a Southern tinge in a bright atrium setting. Generous portions all around, from the spicy tall glass of Bloody Mary that you'll guzzle in 25 seconds, to the goat cheese-sundried tomato omelette, and three-tiered portobello club. Other signature menu items include the caldron-sized pot of mussels, Angus burger with cheddar, bacon, and Firehouse sauce (ooh!), and the waffles and fried chicken, with gravy and guilt-assuaging kale. Festooned with residual firehouse accoutrements, such as dark wood, exposed brick, poles, and (gasp!) a fireplace, this spot knows how to welcome you. The genial service and complimentary fluffy cornbread helps too. 109 South St Asaph St., 703.683.1776, columbiafirehouse.com
Considered to be a top-10 contender for best DC restaurant and we know why. Modern upscale trattoria features showstoppers like wild hare ragu and prosciutto wrapped veal chop. Interiors are cool, bright, and contemporary- just like the crowd. Though Fiola is certainly not on the cheap side, they don't skimp on ingredients, service, or energy. A meal well worth the extra Benjamin. 601 Pennsylvania Ave., 202.628.2888, fioladc.com
Having technical difficulties with your camera while touring our nation’s capital? Sure, you could just use your camera phone instead, but why not use the moment as an excuse to upgrade? When it comes to cameras, most photographers will agree that it doesn’t get any better than Leica. And now, with its first ever store in the U.S., fans can get a chance to experience the beauty of Leica up close and personal. Peruse through the brand’s full line of current products and test out the greatness first-hand in the demo area, fully equip with professional lighting and backdrops. If you find yourself getting depressed by the price tag (they don’t call it the Rolex of cameras for nothing) make your way to shop’s gallery to admire breathtaking photographs taken by Leica cameras. Living vicariously through photos never hurt anyone -- or their wallet. 977 F St. NW, 202.787.5900, leica-store-dc.com
Whether you’re a site-seeing tourist in seek of refuge from big crowds, or a power-suit work-a-holic in need of some unwinding, Capitol Hill’s only open-air rooftop bar will definitely meet your needs. The seasonal venue features handcrafted specialty drinks and quick eats. With the weather cooling down in temperatures, the pool isn’t your best bet, but the happy-hour specials and views from up above still make it worth visiting. 415 New Jersey Ave. NW, 202.638.1616 affinia.com/Liaison
In a city swarming with men in suits and ties, Suitsupply provides sophisticated D.C. men the unique opportunity to fit in while standing out. Located in the heart of Georgetown, within the Four Seasons, the Amsterdam-based company maintains its tradition of offering the finest Italian fabrics and European styling at an attainable price. From suits and cufflinks, to pocket squares and scarves; there’s no short supply of items that will have you turning heads -- from the boardroom to a night on the town. 2828 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.800.7800, suitsupply.com
In collaboration with the Smithsonian, the African-American Art Since 1955 examines the evolution of art spanning 60 years. The work of renowned artists like Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden and Sam Gilliam and risings stars such as Kara Walker, Lorna Simpson and Chakaia Booker will be available for your viewing pleasure.
Get your weekly fix of Go-Go music with Wake Me Up Chuck! Mondays. The ongoing series, in honor of the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, will offer up tunes from artists and icons who inspired Brown and influenced by him as well. This Monday, the series will kick off with the funk master George Clinton as well as appearances from Brown’s daughter. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $17.50 or at the door for $22.50. Visit the Howard Theater website for more details.
The Taste of D.C., one of the city’s most coveted food festivals, is making its return this weekend. More than 50 of the city’s best restaurants and over 30 local, national and international beers will be on hand to satisfy your gluttonous cravings. Local chefs will be putting their skills to use with live demonstrations and the festival will have plenty of entertainment and games to keep the little ones occupied. Tickets can be purchased online for $8.99 or $10 at the door; thetasteofdc.org
For more places to venture to in the nation's capital, head over to Uptown’s Washington D.C. Guides page for listings.