Washington, D.C., United States
- Local Time
In D.C., all roads lead to the Capitol building, just as Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed it back in 1791. The United States’ capital is chock full of must–see monuments, free museums and tangible history. It’s also one of most diverse cities in the country – it has the nation’s largest Ethiopian and El Salvadoran communities – making international dining de rigueur.
Where to Stay
- The Jefferson has tall arched glass ceilingsThe JeffersonFor the old-world luxury
- A queen bed at the cozy Thompson HotelThompson Washington D.C.For the dining scene
- A chic seating area at The DarcyThe DarcyFor the business amenities
- A sun-filled artsy suite at The LineThe LineFor the art-forward design
- The tall white facade of Hotel Hive's front entranceHotel HiveFor the budget-friendly rooms
Eat & Drink
All things Italian at Officina A café, trattoria, year–round rooftop patio and gourmet food market come together in this three–storey Italian culinary destination in the Wharf. The Salotto – a five–seat bar with handsome leather stools – has an impressive collection of vintage and rare bottles of amaro, while the Trattoria (led by Michelin–starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli) focuses on homemade pastas and other traditional fare.
Modern American fine dining at Annabelle Former White House chef Frank Ruta heads up this posh eatery in Kalorama, an upscale neighbourhood on the outskirts of Dupont Circle. Sit at the tiled bar or beneath the skylight in the plant–filled garden room for coffee–and–cardamom–cured salmon followed by Wagyu beef in Béarnaise. Save room for a slice of goat cheesecake served with huckleberry–balsamic sorbet.
All–day dining at Little Pearl You can spend an entire day on the verdant back patio of this Capitol Hill eatery. For an afternoon pick–me–up, pair a cortado or banana latte (a house specialty) with a homemade snickerdoodle cookie or savoury financiers. As evening rolls around, chef Aaron Silverman’s Michelin–starred $49 prix–fixe menu takes centre stage, with wine pairings to match.
Elevated Burmese street food at Thamee This female–led intergenerational joint in the H Street Corridor is the city’s only full–service Burmese restaurant. Drop in for plates of pickled tea–leaf salad, curried prawns and mushroom coconut–lentil noodles in a vibrant space bursting with bold patterns. Things get creative for Sunday brunch – think mango mimosas and catfish hash with a side of lemongrass congee.
Middle Eastern sharing plates at Maydan Meaning town square in Arabic, Maydan is an eclectic Michelin–starred restaurant where chefs grill lamb shoulder, salmon kebabs and halloumi with Egyptian dukkha over an open firepit. Fresh toné bread serves as the centrepiece of the meal – it goes with everything and servers don’t slack on the free top–ups.
Bagels at Call Your Mother Deli Good wood–fired bagels have finally arrived in D.C. with this casual Jewish – emphasis on the “ish” – spot in Parkview. Take your pick of schmears (from hummus to candied–salmon cream cheese), along with latkes, a nostalgia–heavy pizza bagel and challah–roll sandwiches. They’re not overly concerned with tradition here, so go ahead and top your bagel with bacon instead of pastrami.
Speakeasy vibes at Chicken + Whiskey Bird is the word at this Peruvian and Venezuelan joint where their signature spit–roasted chicken gets brined for 12 hours. Pair a quarter, half or whole bird with yuca fries and sweet plantains, and head to the discreet whisky bar in the back for a selection of 99 varieties of whisky, bourbon and rye.
What to Do
Black history at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Opened to the public in 2016, this museum celebrates African–American history and culture. Exhibitions range from the Civil Rights movement and the history of activism (see the Woolworth’s stools from the 1960 Greensboro sit–in) to slavery and the Underground Railroad (don’t miss the silk and lace shawl that Queen Victoria gave Harriet Tubman around 1897).
Local finds at Shop Made In DC Discover D.C.’s crafty side at any of this retail initiative’s three outposts that stock nearly 5,000 locally made goods from more than 200 makers, including Dorpare’s spicy ginger tea, Miks Letterpress + greeting cards and Yinibini Baby’s kids’ clothes. Sign up for a workshop and try your hand at embroidering, calligraphy or upholstering.
Instagram–worthy plants at the United States National Arboretum Home to the Instagram–friendly sandstone National Capitol Columns, this landmark features nearly 7,000 types of plants and shrubs, including bonsais, azaleas and dogwoods. The arboretum hosts rotating exhibitions, public events and guided tours. If you’re in town during a full moon, join a two–hour nighttime stroll through the garden and its surrounding forests.
A bit of everything at Union Market NoMa’s community–centric shopping hub brings together a slew of local favourites under one roof. Check out Salt & Sundry for eclectic home decor and jewellery handmade in D.C.; smarten up at beloved independent bookstore Politics and Prose; and grab an Israeli eggplant burger from Shouk or coffee from the socially conscious Village Cafe.
Intergalactic discovery at the National Air and Space Museum Get ready for takeoff with the world’s largest collection of all things space and aviation. Gawk at Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit and Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B before journeying into orbit on a rocket at the IMAX theatre or taking a topsy–turvy flight–simulator ride – don’t eat the dehydrated astronaut ice cream from the gift shop beforehand.
Luxury duds at Relish Owner Nancy Pearlstein has been stocking her high–end Georgetown boutique with on–trend womenswear for over 20 years. (In 2019, it was the only outpost in town for fashion icon Carolina Castiglioni’s breakout collection, Plan C.) Shop mainstays like Marc Jacobs alongside avant–garde options like Dries van Noten and French label Maison Margiela.
Famous faces at the National Portrait Gallery Climb the imperial staircase to the second floor where the America’s Presidents exhibition features Kehinde Wiley’s painting of Barack Obama. Then, check out the 20th Century Americans exhibit, complete with striking portraits of Toni Morrison and Robert F. Kennedy. Let it all sink in over a cup of espresso in the glass–covered courtyard café.
Books galore at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Along with featuring a rotation of picks from knowledgeable staff, this literary haven in Dupont Circle hosts readings, story times, book clubs, comedy shows and live jazz. Once you’ve stocked up on fresh reads, head to the shop’s café for avocado toast or a slice of salted caramel vanilla cake.
Paddling adventures at the Key Bridge Boathouse Located where the Potomac and Anacostia rivers meet, D.C. has no shortage of places to paddle. Head to the Georgetown waterfront to kayak, canoe or paddleboard your way past famous sites like Theodore Roosevelt Island, the Kennedy Center and the Watergate Hotel. In the springtime, spot the city’s famed cherry blossoms along the shore.