A Design Lover's Travel Guide to Washington, D.C. In a Day

Drift by Matthias Pliessnig is one of the installations at the Renwick Gallery
Drift by Matthias Pliessnig is one of the installations at the Renwick Gallery | © soomness / Flickr
Photo of Kirsten Ballard
19 April 2018

Washington, D.C. is a trove of wonderful architecture and design. You have memorials created in the Roman style, bright graphic street murals – heck, even the metro arches are eye-catching. Here is the comprehensive guide to D.C. in a day for design lovers.

Brunch at the Salt Line

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
Map View

Start your day at the Salt Line. This New England-inspired restaurant has a clean and marine aesthetic. Get reservations for brunch and order a jaw-dropping, gravity-defying Perfect Storm Bloody Mary. It is both a culinary and architectural masterpiece. Make sure to add it to your Instagram story!

Historic morning walk

cherry blossom szn > formal szn

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Walk off brunch with jaunt around the National Mall. Start by taking in the Capitol’s rotunda before making your way to the obelisk Washington Monument. From there, gaze at the Roman-style Lincoln Memorial. From the Lincoln, head toward the White House and take in the French Second Empire-style Eisenhower building next to the White House. It houses 553 rooms and two miles of black and white tiled corridors. (Fun fact: It was originally considered a monstrosity and compared to an asylum.)

Pop into the Renwick Gallery

Museum, Shop
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The Renwick Gallery is dedicated to contemporary craft and is a National Historic Landmark | The Renwick Gallery is dedicated to contemporary craft and is a National Historic Landmark
The Renwick celebrates contemporary art styles and crafts. Walk among larger-than-life exhibits and learn about the innovative artists that make it all possible. And for those of you who enjoy architecture and history, this was the first building in the United States built with the specific purpose of being an art museum.

Explore the National Building Museum

Building, Museum
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Hive | © National Building Museum
Dive into architecture and design exhibits at the National Building Museum. Unleash your inner kid with the interactive exhibits, especially during the summer block party installation at the National Building Museum. Previous years have seen a giant ball pit, a bee hive, and a giant iceberg.

Grab Lunch at Union Market

Charcuterie, Market, Contemporary, $$$
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Union Market | © Union Market
Union Market is part Farmers’ Market, part shopping center all within an amazing warehouse-style location. Browse pop-up shops as you munch on empanadas. You can pick up some great D.C.-made home wares at the Salt and Sundry location in Union Market.

Enjoy Sangria and Jazz at the Sculpture Garden Pavilion Cafe

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Jazz in the Garden | Jazz in the Garden
During the summer, share a pitcher of sangria and enjoy live jazz music at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. Before the concert, explore the outdoor sculptures and waterside views.

Commemorate your trip with a poster

Day 2 of @craftybastards is on! We’ll be here till 5. Booth 154 @thisismadeindc

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Support local artists and instead of buying from the museum gift shop, pick up a poster from Victory Dance Creative. Artist Anthony Dihle created a bright and funky neighborhood series so you can order one that reminds you of your trip and brings a little bit of D.C. design to your home.

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