• map exit
  • A A visit to DC comes with lots of perks; most of our museums and monuments are free and open to the public, and there are several decent options to get around. But once you’ve gotten teary-eyed over our nation’s history, be sure to leave the school kids and politicians behind (well, we can’t promise that) and check out the capital’s other neighborhoods. We’ve put together your mini itineraries to the best of them, so supplement those history lessons with some good old fashioned fun. 
    Morning
    Shutterstock

    Morning

    National Mall

    6:30am: Work out with Abe at the Lincoln Memorial
    Rise and shine because there’s no better view while you feel the burn, and it’s all within view of Honest Abe, who is just sitting there (not fair). Try to time your visit on a Wednesday morning when dozens of workout nuts come together for The November Project, a year-long exercise class that’s free to anyone who joins.

    8:30am: Take in the view from the top of the Washington Monument
    Head east to the Washington Monument, where the early bird gets an elevator ride to the top of the Washington Monument. (And let’s face it, you’re in no shape for stairs by this point.) The National Park Service distributes free daily tickets promptly at 8:30 am, so get in line for up to six tickets per person, or… sleep in and order them online for a small fee.

    10am: Get breakfast at Campono
    Load up for the day with wood-fired, Neapolitan pizzas, including one with a whole fried egg in the middle. View on Map

    City Center DC

    10am: Ham it up at the White House
    To get beyond the gates, you have to speak nicely to your member of Congress for tickets. But nothing is stopping you from taking pics on the other side (just don’t piss off the Secret Service with your selfie stick). The North Lawn offers some of the most iconic views of the building itself, and the surrounding Lafayette Park area is surprisingly tranquil.

    10:30am: Explore the Renwick Gallery
    The current experience art exhibit, WONDER, is currently one of the the most Instagrammed spots in the city. It runs through July, after which the museum will reintroduce the permanent exhibit -- on-hold since some pretty extensive renovations to the building. The best part? This, like all the Smithsonian museums, it’s 100% free. View on Map

    12pm: Grab lunch at David Chang’s Momofuku CCDC
    Virginia native David Chang is mostly known for his New York restaurant empire, but he came back home this fall -- or close enough. Ever since, tables have been filled with happy patrons downing bowls of ramen and beef noodle soup. Tables are hard to nab for dinner, but lunch is considerably easier, when our nation’s tireless legislators are eating sandwiches at their desks. View on Map

    Georgetown

    11am: Brunch Viennese-Style at Kafe Leopold
    If there’s one thing DC knows how to do, it’s brunch. Class it up a bit with a Viennese style breakfast, and if you can swing it, a seat by the fountain. The coffee and drinks in general are strong, and the cafe is adjacent to some of Georgetown’s best shopping. View on Map

    12:00pm: Paddle board the Potomac
    Head to the Key Bridge Boathouse for rental kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. And while D.C. is pretty populated, you’ll have the river to yourself (not many tourists here) and just a few other row boats as you head north and west towards the Three Sisters, an area of jagged rocks, where boaters will hang for sun, fun, and a swim.

    1:30pm: Overdose on oysters
    You’ll be ordering all the seafood at Fiola Mare. Try the “Frutti di mare platter” and get ready for an overwhelming amount of oysters, mussels, and lobster. There’s also a top-notch wine and cocktail list to go with it. View on Map

    Afternoon
    Jonathan Gagle/Flickr

    Afternoon

    Capitol Hill: 1pm - 5pm

    2pm: Hike to Kingman Island
    On the east end of Capitol Hill is Kingman Island, a small wetland marsh and island that sits in the middle of the Anacostia River. Time your visit right, and you can participate in a nature hike or a kayaking excursion on the river.

    3:30pm: Drive a hard bargain at Eastern Market
    The only operating traditional market left in DC is the spot for fresh produce and food, and bargains aplenty at the Saturday-Sunday flea market. Don’t be afraid to haggle! View on Map

    5pm: Line up for Rose’s Luxury
    Okay, this is serious. Dinner at Rose’s Luxury is not for the faint of heart. If you want to ensure a table at this no-reservations restaurant, run by Chef Aaron Silverman, line up at 5pm. It’s well worth the wait; Silverman is a 2016 James Beard award-winner, for dishes like his pork sausage, and habanero-lychee salad. View on Map

    U Street

    1pm:  Drink lavender latte at Compass Coffee
    Yes, a lavender latte may seem a bit out there, but trust us here and you’ll wonder how you ever coped with non-herbaceous coffee up til now. Compass Coffee is also the type of place where you can take advantage of some free wifi, like the many regulars who make this their daily work spot. View on Map

    2pm: Explore the African-American Civil War Museum
    Get up on some important history at this tribute to the more than 200,000 African-American soldiers who fought for the Union in the American Civil War. Then check out the war memorial across the street, directly adjacent to the U Street Metro station. View on Map

    4pm: Down a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl
    It’s practically a rite of passage to eat at the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, and the half-smoke is something unique to DC. It’s a half-pork, half-beef sausage that’s usually covered in globs of chili. Ben’s gets credit for being the original, so pay your respects, saddle up to the bar, and try not spill chili on yourself. View on Map

    Dupont Circle

    2pm: Get lost in a stack at Kramerbooks
    Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle has a whole section dedicated to Washington authors, should the city have whet your appetite. If you’re in for the long haul, there’s also a cafe and restaurant located in the rear. View on Map

    4pm: Escape to the Iron Gate
    Take your new book to the back patio of Iron Gate and order up some Greek snacks cooked by Chef Tony Chittum. The restaurant’s terraced grape vine that provides ample shade (no, we can’t help you with the humidity -- nothing can). View on Map

    6pm: Indulge at Larry’s Ice Cream
    Who says you can’t have ice cream for dinner? End your day with a double scoop in a waffle cone. At Larry’s Ice Cream, decadence is actually flavor; it’s a dark chocolate concoction that’s been on the menu for decades. Take your ice cream to-go, and sit by the Dupont Circle fountain. Did someone say “Instagram moment”? View on Map

    14th Street

    4pm: Play bocce at Logan Circle
    A few professional leagues routinely play bocce ball games at Logan Circle,  just off the 14th Street corridor. If you don't have your own set -- and have the skills to not completely embarrass yourself -- ask to join a game!

    5pm: Grab a cocktail at Two Birds, One Stone
    Bartender Adam Bernbach is obsessive about a good drink. He designs and hand-draws his cocktail menu each week, which should tell you everything. Two Birds, One Stone is also the kind of place that’s just hidden enough -- in the basement of sister restaurant Doi Moi -- to stay on the chill side of too crazy. View on Map

    7pm: Dine like a Parisian at Le Diplomate
    Get ready to be transported to France at this legit bistro, which serves some of the best Foie Gras mousse and ratatouille in the city. View on Map

    Foggy Bottom

    2pm: Skip the meat (or not) at Beefsteak
    This fast-casual restaurant by Chef Jose Andres isn’t vegetarian, but veggies and grains are the star component here, so get your 5-a-day. It’s usually packed during the lunch-rush, so time your visit in the early afternoon. Order up a beefsteak burger -- a thick slice of perfectly ripened beefsteak tomato between two buns. View on Map

    3pm: Explore DC on two wheels
    DC is a particularly bike-friendly city, with tons of designated bike lanes across the downtown area, and of course, the fact that the city is relatively flat. Just outside the Foggy Bottom Metro Station, you’ll find dozens of bikes to rent-out for the day. Pay the day-rate and pedal towards the Potomac River, where bike paths will offer a new perspective on some of the city’s most iconic buildings and monuments.

    6pm: Take in a free concert at the Kennedy Center
    After you return your bike, head over to the Kennedy Center for the free, daily concert series, held at the Millennium Stage. The show starts every evening at 6pm, and you can check the schedule beforehand to see who’s playing. View on Map

    Evening
    David Claypool/Dacha/Facebook

    Evening

    Shaw

    9pm: Get das boot of beer at Dacha
    Start out at this outdoor German-themed beer garden, open from March to November, and whenever winter temperatures are oddly spring-like. Dacha is most notably the place where you can buy gigantic steins and boots of beer, which are always fun, especially with a sausage platter on the side. View on Map

    11pm: Rooftop of DC9
    This small music club plays hosts to local rock bands and DJs, and the fun dance vibe is a constant. If the current act isn’t your thing, still head there for the killer rooftop. View on Map

    1:00am: Ivy and Coney
    A Chicago- and Detroit-themed bar that specializes in tubed meat does exist, and it’s right here. Order up a Chicago dog or Coney dog for just $4, chat with a a Midwestern transplant (always a good bet), and catch the Cubs or Tigers baseball games. View on Map

    Shutterstock

    Bloomingdale

    7pm: Taste some whiskey at Boundary Stone
    This neighborhoody bar is all about whiskey without the snobbery, and offers its very own brand beside the usual Scottish, Irish and American suspects. Pair your selections with fried pickles, pork nuggets, or honey hot wings. View on Map

    8pm: Get dinner at The Red Hen
    Save some room for The Red Hen, as Chef Mike Friedman makes a mean bowl of pasta, like… squid ink linguini and ricotta cavatelli. Sit at the bar for views of the open kitchen and wood-fired grill. View on Map

    10pm: Make last call at Showtime
    Close out the night at this cash-only dive bar, which serves beer for $3 a can. It also has one of the best jukeboxes in the city, especially if throwback Motown is your thing. Even better, song selections are free. View on Map

    Campono
    Foggy Bottom
     

    Campono from Bob Kinkead offers 16 creative pies divided into two categories: Pizza Bianca and Pizza Rosso. Try The Levante which brings a bite of the Eastern Mediterranean with its spicy ground lamb and l...more

    You have Chef David Chang to thank for bringing this New York favorite to DC. His popular ramen joint lives at the chic CityCenter development, where you can grab a seat at the bar, noodle bar, in the main...more

    Waterfront view? Check. Fresh fish flown in daily from just about every ocean? Check. All the TLC that Fabio Trabocchi typically folds into his food? Also, check. Caviar, stacks on stacks of frutti de mare...more

    Compass Coffee takes their brew seriously. At this minimalist space in Shaw, two former Marines roast their own beans on-site, with multiple blends and single-origin options to choose from. The team travel...more

     

    Ben's Chili Bowl has been an iconic part of the DC food landscape since first opening its doors in 1958. Its hot dogs, burgers, and subs are time-tested, Obama-approved classics. Of course, you're really t...more

    Rose's Luxury
    $$ Capitol Hill
     

    Situated in a converted townhouse on Capitol Hill, Rose's Luxury is a twinkle-lit, farmhouse-chic restaurant that draws crowds for its bold small plates. Unfortunately for those crowds, it doesn't accept r...more

    Iron Gate
    $$$ Dupont Circle
     

    This is easily one of the most beautiful restaurants in DC. From the lamp-lit stone entryway to the back courtyard complete with a gazebo, Iron Gate in Dupont Circle was made for dining al fresco. Chef Ant...more

    Beefsteak
    $$ Foggy Bottom
     

    Considering its name, you'd expect this Foggy Bottom-adjacent spot to be a masculine, meat-centric spots where artery-clogging, beefy burgers and juicy steaks reign supreme. However, it's quite the contrar...more

    2 Birds 1 Stone
    Logan Circle
     

    Situated in Logan Circle, 2 Birds 1 Stone may be hidden beneath Doi Moi off bustling 14th Street, but it’s far from unknown in the DC cocktail world thanks to its expertly crafted concoctions. The chic, of...more

    Le Diplomate
    $$$ Logan Circle
     

    Le Diplomate is a Logan Circle brasserie from acclaimed restaurateur Stephen Starr, meaning you can count on its traditional French dishes to be consistently excellent. From hors d'oeuvres like fresh oyste...more

    Named for the mile markers that once shaped the city, Boundary Stone encapsulates DC style with exposed brick, original tin ceilings, oak bars, and even a stained glass DC flag. The Bloomingdale American...more

    The open kitchen, bare brick walls, and simple, maple furnishing make you feel like you're in your own home when you eat at The Red Hen, as does the comfort of their classic Italian and American dishes. Ju...more

    It turns out Russian owners Ilya Alter and Dmitri Chekaldin know a lot about German beer -- their friendly, open-air Shaw garden offers a broad selection of international suds, plus a menu that not only fe...more

    U Street's favorite venue's just unveiled an all-new, all-wood roofdeck nicknamed "The Sauna Bar": it's got a 20'x30' standing area, will host occasional DJ'd concert after-parties, and has a fully stocked...more

    Ivy and Coney is a homey dive bar in Shaw that delivers a relaxed neighborhood vibe, delicious hotdogs, and a menu that includes nothing over $6.

     

    The Renwick Gallery is a part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, showcasing mostly contemporary artists. The exhibitions switch up regularly, so it's worth multiple visits, especially considering that...more

    Kafe Leopold
    $$ Georgetown
     

    With a menu filled with hard-to-pronounce dishes, Kafe Leopold + Konditorei serves some of the best European-style cafe food for miles. If you're looking for breakfast near the University, look no further...more

    If you ever find yourself looking for something to do in the Georgetown area, heading out on the Potomac is a great way to enjoy the sights and get away from the city. The Key Bridge Boathouse offers renta...more

    The African American Civil War Memorial & Museum pays tribute to an underappreciated group in American history: Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Exhibits include first-hand accounts of soldiers...more

    Eastern Market
    $$ Capitol Hill
     

    The Eastern Market is a massive celebration of all things food, centered around a huge indoor market selling any ingredient you could hope for. Add to that a Tuesday farmer's market, a weekend outdoor mark...more

    While Kramerbooks is something of a literary haven in of itself, the adjoining (aptly named) Afterwords Cafe draws a whole new crowd of bibliophiles to the landmark Independent book-depot. Offering an all-...more

    Larry's Ice Cream
    $$ Dupont Circle
     

    Larry's Homemade Ice Cream is exactly what it sounds like and more: delicious homemade ice cream with tons of unique flavors (try the "Decadence" flavor), plus cookies, cupcakes, a baklava. They can be a b...more

    This Bloomingdale spot is one of DC's most beloved dives, thanks to its funk & soul jukebox, weekly live music, and dirt-cheap beer. Painstakingly curated by owner & DJ Paul Vivari, the jukebox contains mo...more