Travel Guide: Washington, D.C.
Is A City To Savor
Despite what the pundits and politicians claim on TV, Washington, D.C. is not a destination to run from, but one to run toward.
Nothing can ruin your appetite for Washington, D.C. faster than cable news chatter. Pay it no mind. Our nation’s capital is in the middle of a restaurant renaissance with a growing list of fresh eating experiences that range from fine dining to fast bites. The food scene, coupled with generous helpings of museums, gardens, hotels and historic sites, make now the perfect time to visit.
What To Eat
Plates at the Puglia-inspired Masseria by Nicholas Stefanelli prove that The Smithsonian doesn’t house the only masterpieces in town. Hazel, Convivial, Maketto, The Dabney, Yona and Kinship make for delicious nights out. Other items on a D.C. To-Eat list should include a cupcake from Baked & Wired, a loaf at Bread Furst and pie fries from The Den, a new coffee house attached to the Politics & Prose Bookstore.
Stop for a gin lemonade at Kapnos by Mike Isabella on the restaurant-rich 14th Street, a stuffed sandwich from the Red Apron Butchery counter at Union Market and fry bread at Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe. While you’re at it, make a reservation for Pineapple and Pearls on 8th NW for an extraordinary 15-course dining experience.
Craving something more casual? Pop by Fare Well, a vegan diner-style bakery, bar and bistro, on H Street NE. And if you get hit with late-night hunger pangs, head to Adams Morgan to join the past-midnight crowd at the original Amsterdam Falafelshop, where cramming toppings into your pita is something of a competitive sport.
Where To Stay
The new Mason & Rook Hotel, with its trendy rooftop lounge and pool, is an easy walk to restaurants, clubs and theater on 14th Street NW. Glover Park Hotel is a good choice if you prefer a quieter part of town, and the all-suites Cambria Hotel near the convention center caters to a young and hip business clientele as well as travelers in search of more space to spread out.
The Watergate Hotel reopened its historic doors recently after a years-long closure. The famous hotel has transformed itself from old world charm to luxurious modern. Housed in a former embassy, the 11-room Embassy Circle Guest House, complete with delightful hosts and homemade breakfast, is a good alternative for those in search of something lower-key.
Where To Play
Lesser-known attractions in town worthy of your time: Rothko Room at The Phillips Collection, the water lilies at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, and the blooms at the U.S. National Arboretum. A visit to the gardens and grounds at off-the-beaten-path Hillwood Estate offers a peaceful timeout.
The Darth Vader gargoyle is a favorite highlight of the Washington National Cathedral’s gargoyle tour. The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site flies below the radar of many visitors and locals. For $1.50 a National Park Service guide walks you through the house and highlights of one of the country’s most important abolitionists and Civil Rights advocates.
Where To Wonder
The Renwick Gallery‘s Wonder exhibit, the first since its two-year renovation, transformed the entire museum into a tribute to ordinary objects crafted into larger-than-life art installations. Visitors couldn’t get enough of the installation and so the Renwick acquired three of the pieces from the exhibit for its permanent collection. Among them is Folding the Chesapeake, a map of the Chesapeake Bay made from thousands of glass marbles glued to the museum floor and walls.
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Beth Kanter‘s books and articles help visitors and locals experience the tastes, sights and unique feel of the nation’s capital. The Washington, DC Chef’s Table is Beth’s third book about her favorite city. Beth’s essays and articles have appeared in a variety of national newspapers, magazines and online. When not writing about her hometown, Beth teaches writing workshops. Follow her on Instagram @beekaekae and Twitter @foodloversdc.