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The nation’s capital may be the country’s political epicenter, but beyond the museums and monuments, you’ll find a young, hip community complemented by vibrant street art, local distilleries, and the one of the most exciting culinary scenes in the United States in this surprising city.
Washington, DC’s diverse neighborhoods offer unique and individual experiences within the big city itself. Here’s the best way to explore what each has to offer.
This cosmopolitan neighborhood is home to a large LGBTQI+ community and fabulous cuisine where you can stroll down Embassy Row, have lunch with your nose in a book or browse contemporary art.
To immerse yourself in the multicultural culinary scene, take a beer-in-hand tour of Heurich House, once home to DC’s largest beer brewer; taste top-notch Japanese dishes at the famous Sushi Taro; or experience Michelin-starred dining at Residents or Astoria.
Local institution Kramerbooks offers a cozy cafe upstairs for breakfast or cocktails, while Tatte Bakery and Café is a local favorite.
Nearby, explore the trail system at Rock Creek Park. If you’re in town in October, the 35th Annual Dupont Circle High Heel Run is great fun.
Discover the magic of live music at The Anthem. Photo: Destination DC
Capitol Riverfront and Wharf
Catch a pro baseball game, let the kids go wild in waterfront parks, and see iconic DC landmarks from the water.
Rent a bike for a ride along the Potomac River at The Wharf (phase two opens in October) or take a free ferry to East Potomac Park for a round of golf or a game of tennis.
A SUP monument tour includes a paddle around Theodore Roosevelt Island before ascending to the steps of Watergate for stunning views of the Lincoln and Washington memorials. Next, browse the historic fish market.
The Wharf and Capitol Riverfront are full of family restaurants, waterfront parks with fountains and splash areas, kayaking and fishing.
You can cheer on DC United at Audi Field or buy same-day baseball tickets at Nationals Park. After the game, head to the Blue Jacket Brewery located in the Washington Navy Yard’s 1919 Boilermaker Building for craft beer and burgers.
Back along the waterfront, hop on a water taxi with City Cruises to historic Georgetown for a bike ride along the scenic C&O Canal.
Stroll cobblestone streets, admire historic homes and sleep in style at some of the city’s most luxurious hotels in DC’s oldest neighborhood.
Georgetown offers tranquil views of the Potomac River, shopping on M Street, seasonal ice skating under neon snowflakes, and waterfront restaurants where oysters, crab cakes, and lobster rolls are on the menu.
Georgetown institution Tony and Joe’s, overlooking the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, serves clam chowder. From there, the National Mall aka “America’s front yard” is easily accessible by the DC Circulator.
Stretch your legs by visiting at dusk (a good way to avoid the crowds). Covering more than 100 acres, from the United States Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, you can roam the White House, Smithsonian Museums, Tidal Basin, and monuments commemorating America’s wars.
It’s also the pick of the spots to take in all the beauty of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, with the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument the perfect backdrop for Instagram-worthy moments.
When the sun goes down, join the spooky, family-friendly DC Ghosts tour. Those with kids will also love the interactive museums like the National Air and Space Museum, or live out your own 007 fantasies with a ‘covert operation slumber party’ at the International Spy Museum.
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a favorite of foodies around the world, including Barack Obama. Photo: Destination DC
Shaw – U Street Corridor
In this artistic neighborhood, you can immerse yourself in African-American history and explore the alleys brimming with street art and trendy bars.
See a show and attend concerts at the 9.30 Club, Howard and Lincoln Theaters on “Black Broadway”; delve into the U Street Corridor’s colorful past with a ‘Music and Mural’ tour; or join a savory food tour celebrating DC’s diverse cuisine and jazz era.
Also featured is Ben’s Chili Bowl, famous for its signature semi-smoky: sausage on a hot dog bun with mustard, chopped onions and house chili. So good that even Barack Obama ate here.
Ivy City and NoMa
DC’s booming northeast neighborhood is where breweries, distilleries and immigrant chefs are jostling the capital’s culinary scene.
Sample local beers like City Winery and Republic Restoratives (the only female-owned and operated distillery in town) or hit a bar along the Whiskey Rebellion Trail.
Farm-to-table cuisine with a strong penchant for seafood can be found at Michelin-starred Gravitas, while tasty seafood treasures await at Ivy City Smokehouse.
In NoMa (north of Massachusetts Avenue NE), foodies will love Union Market – the epicenter of DC’s food scene – with its mix of street food (try a poke bowl from The District Fishwife) and its weekly farmer’s market. Meanwhile, picnics and cocktails are the order of the day at the Hi-Lawn rooftop.
Nearby, join a magical full moon hike through 180 acres of moonlit gardens, meadows and woods, including the nation’s capital columns at the glorious US National Arboretum.
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