Washington D.C.

The American capital is a pretty well-balanced, sophisticated and all-round good city to visit. The obvious reasons for people to go would be political work, or seeing the big monuments that fill the city. However if you go deeper and look beyond the Mall, you discover a thriving city with many great neighbourhoods, urban revival, a great restaurant scene and engaged, friendly people.

Rated by Lonely Planet guide as #1 city to visit in 2015 to visit – this is definitely a great option to see the contrasts between east and westcoast life.

Arriving

If you’re flying in internationally, you’ll most likely come into Washington Dulles International Airport. This airport is about 45 mins drive outside of the city, and unfortunately not well connected to the transport system. The easiest is to take an Uber or Lyft car into the city (around $50). There is also a pretty much dedicated road servicing the airport, so this makes the transfer pretty seamless. Once you’re in the central areas, it’s pretty easy to get around.

Getting Around

DC is very much a walkable city. Being pretty much flat, and with neighbourhoods flowing seamlessly from one into the next – it’s an all-round pleasant experience. This way you also get a much better feeling for the city. Sometimes the distances can get a bit much in which case the metro would be the fastest option, provided that there’s good connections to where you’re heading. If not, you’re back onto Uber or Lyft. The “Lyft Line” or “Uber Pool” services  are also good options when you’re not in a rush as it’s normally a fraction of the price.

The city also has a great bike-share programme, with excellent coverage. There are stations all over the main neighbourhoods, and bike lanes are constantly expanding.

The main areas with interest to travellers are:

National Mall

This is basically and entire neighbourhood filled with monuments & galleries.

Capitol Hill

Located just to the east of the National Mall. Here you will find the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. Also the main Union Station is here if you’re connecting somewhere via Rail.

Over weekends there is Eastern Market flea- and farmers market for local produce and some antiqueing.

Lafayette Square

Lafayette Square lies to the north of the National Mall -it’s the area surrounding the White House.

Georgetown

Georgetown is known for the university and hundreds of shops and restaurants, an its historic homes. M street and Wisconsin Avenue corridor is where all the shopping happens, however move beyond this ans explore some side streets.

Dupont Circle

This hoo is best known for being filled embassies (Massachusetts Avenue or “Embassy Row”) and a lively restaurant and night scene.

Adams Morgan

Adams Morgan is a hip neighborhood in NW DC, peaceful during the weekdays but pumping at night and on the weekends.

U Street Corridor

Known as the Harlem of Washington this is home to legends like Ben’s Chili Bowl and was a haven for African American artists. U Street is undergoing hopeful revitalization, with efforts to retain the historical significance.

EAT

Washington has an excellent food scene, with both established places and ever-expanding with new ones it’s worth consulting a local guide. It’s worth heading to 14th Street for many good options.

  • The Red Hen (NE) – an excellent representation of american cuisine, hearty yet refined. Bar seating options makes it great for single-dining.
  • Rose’s luxury – Cocktails and a tight, good, menu.
  • Pineapple & pearls – fine dining. Voted #1 by Tom Sietsema in 2016.
  • Taqueria Nacional – what will the states be without Mexican food.
  • Le Diplomate – French-style brasserie.
  • Little Serow (NW) – A great little Thai prix fixé.
  • Masseria – Italian dining at Union market.
  • All purpose – For some easy pizza.
  • El Centro (NW) – Taqueria and rooftop margaritas.
  • Milk bar – Momofuku’s bakery cafe serving ice cream – go for “cereal milk soft serve”.
  • Ben’s Chilli Bowl – in my opinion not amazing, but an institution no less, so brave the flourescent lights after a night out, fall into the queue and get that burger with chilli cheese fries.

DRINK & PARTY

Plenty of good watering holes along U street and Adams Morgan

  • Barcelona – A (restaurant) wine bar with a super selection of mainly european wines. They also serve some excellent tapas-style foods. Perfect to start the evening or a weekend brunch.
  • The Gibson – old fashioned speak-easy with great drinks.
  • All souls – Neighbourhood bar. Booze & a jukebox in utilitarian surroundings.
  • Capitol Skyline Pool – hotel pool with a party every Saturday & Sunday.
  • The Black Cat – Club & Concert venue. Check the site for what’s on.
  • Number 9 – a cocktail-style bar for the gays and their friends.
  • Trade – hipster gay dive bar

SHOP

  • West Elm – for some curated designer homeware, also check out the print work from 42pressed
  • Union market – lots of food things in the area – great on a Saturday
  • Georgetown – Has some great shopping highstreets.
  • Le Labo – the New York perfumerie has a store here, and remember to bring your empty bottle for a discount on the refill.
  • Kit and Ace – from the founders of lululemon comes more activewear – washable cashmere. Get some for chic comfortable travelwear.
  • Capitol Books – the shop (like the website) is an absolute gem. Visit on a sunday along with the Eastern Market.

DO

Galleries

  • renwick next to whitehouse. Craft
  • National gallery – imk
  • Porchard gallery
  • Georgetown university

Museums

  • Aerospace
  • Indian

Monuments

  • 17th street
  • Library of congress
  • Botanical gardens

Gym – If you want to work off some of the good food, or try a rooftop pool, try a daypass at Vida Fitness, U street.

STAY

There’s plenty of good hotels at great rates. Airbnb’s also aplenty.

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