Washington DC

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You never know who (or what) you might see in DC

How To Get There: DCA Regan, Dulles or BWI Baltimore airport.

Soundtrack: Tom Petty, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springstien. 

Best For: All ages. Foodies. History. Art. Culture. 

Tips: Stand on the right, walk on the left (on the escalators). 

Good to Know: Your Congress person. 

Attire:  Jeans, solids, stripes, flats. 

 

SLEEP:

  • The Hive - new mico-hotel near Georgetown/Foggy Bottom, good for solo travelers
  • The Line - new trendy hotel in Adam's Morgan in old church, not near metro but worth a visit at least
  • Cambria - apartment style, modern hotel in Shaw, great for families
  • Darcy - new boutique hotel by Hilton, great location and lots of perks (complimentary cocktail hour, free bikes to use) 
  • Mason + Rook - newly-remodeled Kimpton hotel with rooftop view, walking distance to restaurants and shops

SEE:

Hassle Free

  • National Portrait Gallery  – see all the Presidential portraits and a variety of modern and traditional art. Cool atrium in the middle with cafe.
  • Sculpture Gardens – outside and near the mall. A great place to catch your breath and take a break in the pavilion cafe.
  • National Postal Museum – history of the mail system, just outside of Union Station.
  • Smithsonians – from the Natural History to Air & Space Museums. Something for everyone!

More Touristy

  • Archives – see the Declaration and the Constitution. It’s free but plan to wait in line or get tix ahead of time to skip ahead.
  • Newseum – very cool retrospective on the world of media with rotating new exhibits. Worth the price of admission and then some!
  • Spy Museum – supposedly great for kids, and if you’re into spies and such.
  • National Building Museum – a history of the nation’s buildings and the building of our nation.
  • Holocaust Museum – free but during peak season, you’ll need to get tickets.
  • Bureau of Printing and Engraving – visit the Money Factory to see where they print the currency notes. Free but must get tix during peak season.

Must see

  • Washington Monument – It just re-opened to visitors in May 2014. Get tix to go to the top at recreation.gov
  • White House  –  it’s magnificent to see from the outside or you can schedule an East Wing tour via your state representative or if you know some federal employees.
  • The Capitol – visible from almost any part of town. To get a tour, make reservations ahead of time – free but you need to reserve a time slot.
  • Library of Congress – right next door to the Capitol, free and open to the public, no reservations needed and worth a pop in if you’re in the hood. Be sure to go up to the viewing area and look into the research room.
  • Supreme Court – also right next to the Capitol/Library of Congress.
  • Monuments – Jefferson (across the Tidal basin), Lincoln, MLK, etc…
  • Memorials – Vietnam Memorial & WWII

If there's time 

  • Arlington National Cemetery – take the metro or drive to get there. Then walk around the grounds and be sure to catch the changing of the guard ceremony at the top of every hour.
  • Mount Vernon – Estate of our First President. Must drive to or you can take a ferry from Georgetown or Alexandria. Be sure to stop by the Gristmill and Distillery (2 miles down the road, admission included with your ticket).
  • Alexandria – Lots of charming shops and restaurants along the water. Check out the Torpedo Art Gallery.
  • Marine Barracks – if you’re there on Fridays in the Summer they do a special night time parade and color show.  Free and very cool.
  • National Cathedral – north of town and worth a drive by if you are on the way to the Zoo
  • Smithsonian Zoo – great for kiddos!

Drink 

Beer

  • Dacha – outdoor beer Garden, lots of locals hang out here for happy hour. No restrooms, but they’ve got brats and pretzels!
  • If you have a car and extra time, you can do a brewery tour on the weekends – start at Three Stars and make your way back to DC Brau and then Green Hat Gin & Atlas.

Cocktails 

  • The Gibson 
  • More coming soon!

EAT + DRINK:

You really can’t go wrong when it comes to food in DC. From chains like Shake Shack to four star restaurants by big names and Top Chefs like Mike Isabella, Spike, Tiffany, Carla and Bryan Voltaggio. There are so many good options, almost too many to name.

But dining out in DC is pricey – about double what you would expect to pay in many other cities. Unless it’s a casual spot, be sure you make reservations or expect a wait.  And don’t worry, if you have dietary restrictions, most places in DC are pretty accommodating for gluten free/vegan.

Best Bites

  • Founding Farmers – amazing farm to table food and always packed. Make a reservation and so worth it for lunch or dinner!
  • Graffiato – Chef Mike Isabella’s flagship restaurant – Italian menu and not super pricey – but be warned it’s mostly woodfired pizzas & pastas (not gluten free but lots of yummy veggie apps and salads).
  • Jaleo – Chef José Andrés does spanish style tapas. Amazing. Get the mini potatoes with dipping sauce (gluten free and veggie!) They will melt in your mouth.
  • Le Diplomat – French food, on pricier side but really good brunch!
  • Barcelona – Spanish tapas — delish! Michelle Obama’s favorite.
  • Kapnos – Greek Tapas by Top Chef Mike Isabella.
  • Baby Wale – a nice dinner place in Shaw area.
  • Red Hen – supposedly the best meal in town!
  • Ana - new near Navy Yard inside District Winery (brunch is incredible)

Classics

  • Martin’s Tavern – 4th generation owned classic in the heart of Georgetown. JFK proposed there and many presidents/famous people favorited this spot.
  • Clyde’s – another classic oyster place in Georgetown – watch them shuck!
  • Old Ebbitt Grille – an establishment in DC.
  • The Good Stuff Eatery/We the Pizza – one pizza, one burgers. Both Spike (Top Chef)’s restaurants and casual (order and sit down). The original locations are on Capitol hill but he’s expanding to other spots like Georgetown.
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl – Stand in line and get a taste of one of DC’s most iconic spots!

Casual Grub

  • Union Station – there is something for everyone. Thankfully (for Matt), they have Bojangles.
  • Union Market – something for everyone, a hipster/foodie paradise!

Authentic

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  • El Rey – Tex Mex in shipping containers w a big outdoor patio, right near the U street Metro. Some of the best tacos in town and it’s easy to get to.
  • Thai X-ing – Reservations required for this hole in the wall (literally). Fixed menu served in a family’s home near Shaw.
  • Doi Moi & Daikaya – Asian food, haven’t been but it’s supposed to be phenomenal!

Food with a View

  • POV – Rooftop of the W hotel, photo opps of the monuments and see the snipers on top of the White House.
  • The Warf– New area of DC with a variety of restaurants on the water!

Special Occasion

  • Rose's Luxury - must wait in line to dine at this Michelin restaurant in Eastern Market. Limited seating and menu.
  • 1789 – Dine where the presidents did, a true treat in Georgetown!
  • Odyssey – dinner and lunch cruises along the Potomac. Prices range from $50-75 but it’s a great way to celebrate and sight see while at sea.

Desert

  • Coco Sala – there is a storefront which sells chocolates or you can visit the sit-down restaurant which serves your favorite sweets with a twist.
  • Georgetown Cupcakes – as seen on TLC. Great dessert spot but there is ALWAYS a line wrapped around the corner, have never actually been for that reason!