Washington, DC has much more to offer than powerhouse politicos and suited and booted lobbyists. It is a vibrant city with fantastic history, culture, an incredible food scene, and so much more. There are so many reasons to visit the USA’s capital city, but here are a few standouts.
There are tons of free things to do
Get a dose of history and culture in the city. Visit the Smithsonian Museums; view the poignant Lincoln, Jefferson, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials; get a free tour of the US Capitol; check out art at the National Gallery of Art; and get a look at the original Declaration of Independence at the National Archives. The best part? All of this is completely free.
The spring weather is glorious
Springtime in DC is fantastic: sunny days, no humidity, blue skies, and the burgeoning cherry blossoms. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, a month-long celebration, is a great mix of culture, music, art, film screenings, and more.
The bustling food scene
Gone are the days when DC only had steakhouses and stuffy white tablecloth joints. We now have the Michelin Guide, have been named the food city of the year by Bon Appetit, and have new places opening seemingly every other day. Try Kyirisan for French-Chinese fusion, fire-kissed Mid-Atlantic cuisine at The Dabney, spicy Laotian flavors at Thip Khao, Michelin starred Tail Up Goat, or local fast casual favorites & pizza and Cava Grill.
The Dabney – 122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC, +1(202) 450-1015
Thip Khao – 3462 14th St NW, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 387-5426
Tail Up Goat – 1827 Adams Mill Rd NW, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 986-9600
Distilleries, breweries, and a strong cocktail game
Take a tour at local distilleries such as Republic Restoratives or Jos.A.Magnus; sample craft brews at Atlas Brew Works and Right Proper, and drink cocktails at fantastic cocktail dens The Gibson and Left Door.
Republic Restoratives – 1369 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC,+1(202) 733-3996
Jos A Magnus – 2052 West Virginia Ave NE, Washington, DC, +1(202) 450-3518
Atlas Brew Works – 2052 West Virginia Ave NE #102, Washington, DC, +1(202) 832-0420
Right Proper Brewing – 624 T St NW, Washington, DC,+1(202) 607-2337
Left Door – 1345 S St NW, Washington, DC, +1(202) 734-8576
We take bottomless brunches seriously
Weekends, we brunch. Plenty of restaurants offer bottomless food AND drink (typically between $35 -$40), or other fantastic deals if you just want endless Mimosas or Bloody Marys. Some local favorites are Ambar for a Balkan spread , El Centro for Mexican, and Vinoteca for a modern Spanish wine bar.
Ambar -523 8th St SE, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 813-3039
Vinoteca – 1940 11th St NW, Washington, DC, +1(202) 332-9463
We also take happy hour seriously
DC is not a late-night party town, but it’s definitely a post-work happy hour city! You are bound to find a good happy hour in any part of the city, so make sure to partake in some evening fun. Try Ghibellina for pizza and brews, Truxton Inn for cocktails, and Espita Mezcaleria for mezcal.
Ghibellina – 1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 803-2389
Truxton Inn -251 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 733-4952
Espita – 1250 9th St NW, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 621-9695
You’ll find some of the best Ethiopian food here
DC has a large Ethiopian population, which means some of the best Ethiopian food is to be had here. Try Dukem or Chercher in the Shaw area for a taste of the spicy stews, vegetables and spongy injera bread (and no cutlery!)
Chercher – 1334 9th St NW, Washington, DC, +1(202) 299-9703
8. You can watch the Supreme Court in action
Okay, seriously, where else can you do this? When the court is in session between October – April, visitors are invited to visit and attend the oral argument sessions. It’s free to visit the Supreme Court itself anytime it is open, whether there is a session or not.
Partake in spy games at the International Spy Museum
You are in Washington, DC after all. Channel your inner spy by checking out the gadgets used by spies in years past at the Spy Museum. Then, participate in interactive spy experiences via “Operation Spy”, a live action adventure, or take it to the streets and see DC through the eyes of a spy with their spy tours.
International Spy Museum -800 F St NW, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 393-7798
Propose at the restaurant where JFK proposed to Jacqueline
Georgetown’s Martin’s Tavern (booth #3 to be exact) is where you need to go if you want to get engaged in the same place JFK did! It’s a popular spot for proposals, but is also a piece of DC history. No proposal necessary.
Martin’s Tavern – 1264 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC, +1(202) 333-7370
We have giant pandas
The National Zoo is home to giant pandas and a conservation program. Is there anything cuter than a giant panda frolicking in the grass and chewing on bamboo? We don’t think so.
National Zoo – 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 633-4888
It’s pretty great for shopping
Georgetown has the big brand names, as does the new City Center. But we also have a ton of quirky local stores throughout the city. Home Rule for quirky finds, Salt and Sundry for beautiful home goods, Capitol Hill Books for bookworms, and Lettie Gooch boutique are some notables.
Home Rule -1807 14th St NW, Washington, DC,+1(202) 797-5544
Salt and Sundry – 1625 14th St NW, Washington, DC, +1(202) 621-6647
Capitol Hill Books -657 C St SE, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 544-1621
Lettie Gooch -1921 8th St NW #110, Washington, DC, +1(202) 332-4242
Watch airplanes come in close to your head
Pack a picnic and head across the water to Gravelly Point Park in Arlington, Virginia, just next to National Airport. Get close-ups of planes landing (or taking off), along with fabulous river and DC views.
It’s easy to get around
A grid system in each quadrant makes the city easy to navigate, whether you are walking or biking around on the Capital Bikeshare. Public transportation is great too, with the metro and buses taking you pretty much everywhere you need to go.