Explore your world
© NCinDC/Flickr
© NCinDC/Flickr

The Top 10 Things To Do In Dupont Circle

Picture of Kate McMahon
Updated: 9 February 2017
Dupont Circle is a vibrant neighborhood of Washington, DC where residential vibes meet business. However, the neighborhood has witnessed a stark transformation over the decades. During the 60s and 70s, Dupont evolved from a hub of anti-war activism to an LGBTQ+ community stronghold. The neighborhood became a haven for a myriad of social justice causes — the Black Panthers, for example, had an office in Dupont in the 70s. The area is no longer the activist hub that it once was, but Dupont still boasts a large LGBTQ+ population, and the neighborhood retains a spirit and energy that pays homage to its rich history and diverse residents.

Eat At Bagels ETC

The beloved neighborhood bagel shop is currently celebrating its 30th year. The quaint eatery offers some of the freshest bagels available in the city for not-so-DC prices. Bagels ETC is a narrow, hole-in-the-wall spot on a busy street, but the friendly-family staff and loyal cliental keep the business thriving. Order a super bagel for $5, and you’ll get plain cream cheese, sprouts, tomato, onion, and optional avocado. Packages of day-old bagels are available for purchase, but the stock is usually gone by noon. Important to know: it’s cash only, but there’s an ATM inside that you can use for a $1.50 withdrawal fee.

Bagels ETC, 2122 P St NW, Washington, DC, USA

Take In The Phillips Collection

Opened in 1921, the Phillips Collection was America’s first modern art museum. The collection houses a wide variety of impressionist and modernist paintings, featuring works from famed artists like Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko, and Vincent Van Gogh. Unfortunately, since it’s not a Smithsonian affiliate, there’s an entrance fee. And, with a cluster of world-renowned free museums in their backyard, Washingtonians are really, really opposed to visiting museums with a price tag — even if it’s only $12.

Philips Collection, 1600 21st St NW, Washington, DC, USA

Drink At The Big Hunt

The Big Hunt: a refreshing dive bar situated in a slightly-too-upscale scene. The low-key bar features weekly comedy nights that give anyone the chance to perform and discover their inner Louis CK. After making a fool of yourself, scramble for quarters to use on the retro skee ball machines. The taps include a wide selection of craft beers that are perfect to sip on the back patio.

The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC, USA

Lounge In Dupont Circle

The neighborhood gets its name from The Dupont Circle, which refers to the fountain and grassy park in the center of a traffic circle. It’s a great picnic spot for soaking up some rays and people watching. Sit down and play a game of chess with a stranger — chess tables are permanently installed in the park. During the winter months, the circle provides the perfect locale for city-wide snowball flights.


Dupont Circle Snowball Fight | © bootbearwdc/Flickr

Dine At Kramerbooks & Afterwords

The dual bookstore/cafe is a staple of the Dupont Circle community. Dupont has dramatically transformed in the last few decades, and Kramerbooks stood soundly through the changes. Peruse the bookstore, buy a favorite, and then dine in the cafe with your nose in a book. And order a cocktail.

Kramerbooks & Afterwords, 

Read At Second Story Books

The local used bookstore offers everything from mainstream favorites to rare gems. This is the place to go for expert, insider book recommendations. Trained employees perform book appraisals, and the store boasts a wide selection of out-of-print antique books. Other items in store include a decent record selection, household antiques, and unique trinkets. Outside, carts filled with discounted books sit on the sidewalk, enticing passers-by to take a peek at the $2 novels.

Second Story Books, 2000 P St NW, Washington, DC, USA

Battle At The Boardroom

A bar with board games! Drink beers and argue with some friends over a match of Settlers of Catan — the bars offers the extension pack for even more fun. There’s around 50 board games that are yours for the taking (renting) at a flat fee of $2. Don’t worry — the bar is roomy enough to keep the drinks safely away from both games and any fists pounding in defeat.

The Boardroom, 

Walk Around Embassy Row

Dupont Circle houses embassies from four continents. The embassies of Indonesia, India, Estonia, Luxembourg, Turkmenistan, Togo, Sudan, Bahamas, Greece, and Ireland line the blocks on Massachusetts Avenue. They often host international galas and festivals, and the buildings incorporate unique styles of architecture.

Shop Local At The Farmer’s Market

The Sunday farmer’s market is a vibrant local gathering that allows residents to easily support local businesses. Peruse the fresh fruits, veggies, and artisan cheeses, while practicing consumer conscientiousness. Stop by between the hours of 8:30am and 1:30pm.

Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market, 20th St NW, Washington, DC, USA

Admire Poetry At Dupont Circle Metro

Dupont Circle’s metro stop is as grandiose as underground tunnels can come. A colossal escalator leads to the outside world, passing through a dome inscribed with a Walt Whitman quote. Created as a memorial to caregivers during DC’s AIDS epidemic, policy makers selected the lines from Whitman’s “The Wound Dresser” for their discussion of the sick and dying during the Civil War. The text reads:

Thus in silence, in dreams’ projections/Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals/The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand/I sit by the restless all the dark night — some are so young/Some suffer so much — I recall the experience sweet and sad.