A Local’s Guide to Washington, D.C.
Collected by Julee K. , AFAR Local Expert
A stuffy, sleepy government town? Far from it! Come tour the museums and historic landmarks, but don’t stop there. Experience daily life in the city's cosmopolitan neighborhoods. And sample the sights, sounds, and tastes of cultures from around the world.
515 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
For decades, this rooftop terrace bar situated at the W Hotel (formerly the Hotel Washington, circa 1918) has provided some of the most stellar views of the White House, monuments, memorials, and beyond. P.O.V. is open year-round, unlike many...
555 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
Poste Brasserie is known for many things, from its Poste Roast and its outdoor garden with weekday happy hours, to its Sunday brunch with a full Bloody Mary bar. We were given the choice of regular or bacon-infused vodka. Of course I chose bacon,...
1750 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
National World War II memorial honors the hundreds of thousands who fought and who died during World War II. I snapped this photograph of the Freedom Wall, which contains 4,000 gold stars to honor the over 400,000 Americans who died during World...
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
The Newseum is an interactive, ever-evolving tribute to our First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Powerful exhibits such as eight sections of the Berlin Wall (the largest display outside Germany) provide...
1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
Many people visiting the King National Memorial in Washington, D.C. wonder why it is so small. What they don't know is that this memorial is a result of a fundraising initiative. The U.S. federal government did contribute to the building of the...
1309 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002, USA
Union Market is the perfect D.C. destination if you're searching for a weekend brunch spot, craving a snack on your way to visit the Capitol, or, you know, hungry. Oyster bar, bakery, taqueria, soda shop, sandwich shop, Korean taco grill—all...
700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408, USA
If you're a history buff, then you'll want to visit the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C. The Archives houses the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. The Archives also have a large online database,...
511 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
No theater in America has had a more tragic history than Ford's. During an April 14, 1865, performance, 26-year-old stage actor John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as he sat in the flag-draped presidential box. Shuttered for nearly a...
701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
In the heart of D.C.'s Penn Quarter, Zaytinya serves up a variety of tapas inspired by traditional dishes from Greece, Lebanon, and Turkey. It also has a selection of wines from such Eastern Mediterranean countries and seasonally serves a hot tea...
4th St SW & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
During three years of living in Washington, D.C., I made it my mission to visit as many museums as I could, and the National Museum of the American Indian quickly won me over. I was greeted by a live dance performance and welcomed into a circular...
Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565, USA
A bronze thinking rabbit, a stainless steel tree, and a cherry-red abstract horse—these may sound like characters from a modern-day version of Alice in Wonderland, but are actually highlights from the National Gallery of Art Sculpture...
Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565, USA
With two buildings and a sculpture garden, the National Gallery of Art is a treasure-filled trifecta where each person’s gems will only be uncovered through an immersive day (or more) of cultural exploration. The West Building is a...
700 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
Aside from fictional spies like James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Austin Powers, few of us know much about the world of espionage and that’s probably very deliberate. After all, you can’t expect any good spy to be giving away their trade...
1320 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA
I’ve had a life long love affair with pork so when a friend suggested that we go for dinner at a place called The Pig, how could I say no? The Pig serves up its dishes as small plates, so it’s the perfect place to go with a group of people and...
101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, USA
Established in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal institution in the United States. The library was destroyed by British troops just 14 years after its conception, and Congress used Thomas Jefferson’s collection of 6,487...
16 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242, USA
Having grown up in the DC-area, cherry blossom season translates to one of the most chaotic times of the year around the National Mall. Swells of tourists and fanfare bombard the Tidal Basin in early spring. There are however narrow windows of...
16th St NW &, W St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
Once an encampment for Union troops during the Civil War, 12-acre Meridian Hill Park is now a central gathering space for friends and fitness enthusiasts. Running groups, yoga classes, and personal training sessions all meet at this urban hilltop...
2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
D.C.'s most recognized landmark—and the world's tallest freemasonry structure—transports visitors on a 70-second-long elevator ascent to its 500-foot observation deck. A National Park Service Ranger accompanies you and shares the...
1850 West Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242, USA
This was my favorite memorial in DC. FDR's thoughtful, hopeful quotes emerge effortlessly from the warm slabs, across waterfalls, and behind flowering shrubs. The entire memorial glows with tranquil energy, and is not somber or reflective like...
400 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
From the hilltop of the U.S. Capitol to the riverfront behind the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall is “America’s Front Yard.” Lined with museums and accented by monuments and memorials, the 1.9-mile stretch of green space is...
First St SE, Washington, DC 20004, USA
The U.S. Capitol Building is the epicenter of all D.C. political action—this is where the country's most important battles are fought. Home to the House of Representatives and the Senate's meeting chambers for more than two centuries, it's...
700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA
If what you’re looking for in a hotel in D.C. is a central location—with easy access to all the major sights and public transportation and in a part of town where there are lots of shops and restaurants, then the place you will want to stay is the...
8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
An undulating steel and glass canopy wows visitors who enter the Kogod Courtyard. Inside you'll find diners from the museum's café, tourists soaking their weary feet in the shallow fountain running across the space, and students taking...
225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA
The Eastern Market, now a National Historic Landmark, opened in 1873 to serve the Capitol Hill neighborhood (an 1805 version, located down by the Navy Yard, was a casualty of the War of 1812). The brick market hall, packed with butchers, bakers,...
3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA
The Washington National Cathedral stands high over D.C. as a beacon of faith for the nation. The impressive Gothic architecture evokes comparisons to Notre-Dame (despite being built more than half a millennium later). Flying buttresses, spires,...
1299 New Jersey Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA
"Ready!" I grip the bar tightly and lean forward. "Set!" I bend my knees and my heart starts racing. "HUP!" Before I have time for doubts, I take a deep breath, and jump off the platform. The next 40 seconds are a pure adrenaline rush as I soar...
1632 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
D.C. offers a lot of choices for getting about the city. If you are cyclist, consider renting a bicycle to supplement travel by public transportation. Not only is it cheaper than Metro (either subway or bus) and cab fare, but also you’ll avoid the...
1739 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
When you only have one evening to spend in D.C., you'd better make it count, and checking in to the Hotel Tabard Inn will do just that. Opened in 1922, the hotel has 40 elegantly appointed sleeping rooms in which no two are exactly the same. Top...
1661 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006, USA
Like many people these days, I need a cup of caffeine to get me going in the morning. Most mornings I’m a tea person, but every once in a while, I need a cup of coffee. Luckily for me, M.E. Swing is just a short two blocks away from my office....
2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA
The Lincoln Memorial has the hushed and solemn air of a sacred place, and indeed, many of its six million annual visitors behave like pilgrims arriving at a shrine. They linger in the soaring marble space, contemplating the 19-foot tall statue of...
110 S Payne St, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA
Fleurir prides itself on creating local chocolate completely from scratch. They use locally-sourced ingredients and feature artists on their uniquely designed wrappers. The flavors of the chocolate are anything but conventional. You may find...
900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
What I loved most about my recent walk in Washington, D.C., was the Korean War Veterans Memorial, with larger-than-life stainless steel statues of American soldiers caught as though in the middle of war. Located in West Potomac Park, the memorial...
3500 Water St NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Key Bridge Boathouse is the go-to launching point for paddlers of all skill levels. Whether you're in a kayak or a canoe or on a stand-up paddleboard, time on the water is transformative. Its classes, tours, and rentals offer a unique perspective...
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