The Best Shopping in Washington, D.C.
Although D.C. style has historically leaned conservative, it doesn’t mean that shoppers can’t find the latest clothes, home furnishings, or food items. The nation’s capital has a number of high-end stores, independent boutiques, and outdoor markets to satisfy the shopaholic, whether you’re looking for designer suits, crafts, or vintage whatnots.
1625 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
From painted ceramics to patterned throws, screen printed bags to small-batch foods, Salt & Sundry’s assortment of artisanal treasures inspires the creator and designer in us all. Its curated boutique on the bustling 14th and U Street Corridor is a welcome opportunity to slow down, pick up, flip through, and try on. All the items in the store have a story, and the thoughtfulness that goes into making, selecting, and presenting each one will emanate tenfold in its new home. Whether shopping for yourself or someone else, a gift from Salt & Sundry is an original accent to the home or outfit. Check its calendar for events with local chefs, mixologists, authors, and more.
3316 -3318 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
In D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, Cady’s Alley is a cluster of shops and design firms specializing in high-end home furnishings, kitchens, and baths. If you’re a jewelry lover, head to JewelersWerk—they offer one-of-a-kind, contemporary design pieces. The pedestrian-only alley part of Cady’s Alley is reminiscent of a European shopping street. If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping area of Georgetown, come here. Do a bit of window shopping and then take a break at Kafe Leopold Konditorei, a nice Austrian eatery located in the center of the alley. You really can’t go wrong with a well-brewed cup of coffee and a pastry.
3212 O St NW #5, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Hugh & Crye is a men’s clothing store based in Georgetown that knows how to make shirts that fit just right. It offers quality dress shirts that follow a special sizing system to match varied body types and heights. Styles are versatile enough for K Street professionals and Petworth urbanites. The store is found near O Street and Wisconsin Avenue, tucked behind the salon and down the stairs.
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, vegetable markets, cheese vendors, flower kiosks, and a lunch counter, is bright and charming. Under the shed roof outside, additional local produce is displayed and sold. On weekends, booths selling vintage goods and handmade jewelry, housewares, and clothing do a brisk business down the center of 7th Street. Crowds spill out of the cafés, taco joints, and bagel shops occupying the first floors of the row houses along the block, adding to the lively mix at the market.
645 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA
Now, this is a game shop. Not one for the electronic gamer-types, this Capitol Hill store offers nearly 6,000 games including Archimedes’ Stomachion (the World’s Oldest Puzzle), handmade wood puzzles, board games like Chess, Clue, Scrabble, and the Settlers of Catan, brainteasers, jigsaw puzzles, role-playing, strategy, and collectible card games. A wide variety designed to stimulate and engage the minds of toddlers to adults. Head to the back to the store and you’ll find employees hosting after-school programs for students and nightly and weekend gaming events such as Wednesday “RPG Night” and Thursday “Board Game Night” whereby you can choose from over 400 games to play. Outside the store, weekly riddles and brainteasers are posted. Correctly solve them for free prizes.
1517 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
One of Washington’s most beloved independent bookstores, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café is just as much a D.C. institution as the city’s historic monuments. Opened in 1976, Kramerbooks was the first bookstore/café in the United States to feature espresso, cappuccino, a full bar, and food. Popular with students and other assorted night owls, it’s open all night on Friday and Saturday, and late into the evening during the weekdays (there’s often live music). This is the place to savor the final pages of that new book you don’t want to end—and maybe a glass of red wine or a slice of one of their decadent cakes. Check out the events calendar before you go to catch a reading from a political big shot or your favorite new fiction writer.
2311 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
For years, while she was attending graduate school and waitressing part-time at her family’s Italian restaurant, young Isabella Polles dreamed of opening a clothing store of her own. That dream came true in 2012 when she threw open the doors at Gypset, her consignment and high-end vintage clothing store located in the Woodley Park neighborhood. The store, which Isabella decorated herself, has a cool yet warm vibe to it. Dull wooden stairs have been painted a vibrant shade of blue, with quotes on the risers and photos of her family scattered about. Isabella’s mix of American and European background influences her clothing, jewelry, and handbag selections, as do her travels. (The company name references “via,” Italian for street, as in street markets, and a combination of “gypsey” and “jet set.”) The first floor has name-brand designer clothing. Looking for a Chloé dress or a classic coat by Lagerfeld or pants by DKNY? You’ll find it on the first floor, whereas the second story carries more affordable vintage items. The store carries mainly women’s apparel, but there is a smaller section for menswear. Isabella and her staff are friendly and glad to share the interesting stories behind their items.
1626 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
Miss Pixie’s has been a trove of a seemingly endless influx of vintage and unusual home furnishings since 1997. Frequent inventory turnovers due to estate sales and auctions make it a place to visit and browse often. From mid-century dining tables to pine cabinets to quirky accessories like wooden signs, beer steins, old schoolroom posters, and Hot Wheels cars, the shop can help to accentuate any type of home.
1351 H Street Northeast
Inspired by vibrant Southeast Asian night markets, D.C. chef Erik Bruner-Yang (of Toki Underground fame) and D.C. streetwear mogul Will Sharp created a sleek, two-story indoor/outdoor space that’s part menswear store, part café and restaurant. The first level is all about shopping, and the floor is lined with glass-encased displays featuring Sharp’s clothing line, Durkl, as well as a library full of designer sneakers. Upstairs, sip locally roasted Vigilante coffee while snacking on Frenchie’s pastries and desserts. The best part, though, is when you step onto the patio and take a seat at the open kitchen serving up Yang’s blazing hot and flavorful Cambodian and Taiwanese cuisine. Don’t miss out on the American Wagyu tartare, the Khmer tamarind salad, the steamed pork bao buns, and zha ji pai (Taiwanese fried chicken).
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 of the food is here waiting for you. The 47,000-square-foot space is a throwback to the original Union Terminal Market, which opened in 1931 with more than 700 produce, meat, fish, and dairy vendors in airy indoor stalls. The market moved to a warehouse in the 1960s and closed in the 1980s before reopening in 2012. When you’re finished stuffing your face, you can shop for home goods and vintage finds at shops like Little Leaf and Salt & Sundry.
1001 H Street Northwest
City Center DC is a newish downtown destination with more than 30 upscale brands, including Kate Spade, Paul Smith, and Burberry. Shoppers can revive with a sugar rush at David Chang’s Momofuku Milk Bar, famous for its crack pie and vanilla rainbow birthday cake, or Dolcezza Gelato and Coffee.
1600 20th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
There’s no better way to experience the seasons of the Mid-Atlantic than through the samples offered by local farmers and producers at the FreshFarm Dupont Circle Market. This vibrant community gathering brings together up to 50 local vendors every Sunday with their fresh bounty of produce, meats, eggs, cheeses, and more. Artisans, including local coffee roasters, brew masters, picklers, and bakers, share their specialties with warmth even in the cold winter months. Bring a reusable bag and fill it with the day’s finds, then fill yourself up with a huge pancake from S&S Maple Camp, topped with their local maple syrup.
2475 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
Songbyrd is a one-stop destination for the multidimensional music lover in us all. Part record shop, part music venue, and part DJ-spinning restaurant/bar and café, this space is for musicians, music fans, and those who simply want a good sound track with their cup of locally roasted Swings coffee. Only a few years old, Songbyrd feels like it’s been here for ages and embodies the retro funkiness of the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Concert posters line the walls, microphones act as tap handles at the bar, and there’s even a vintage Voice-O-Graph you can use to record and press your own record.
1350 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
What started as a simple hat shop has grown over the years to a full-scale boutique with a wonderful range of women’s clothing from local designers. And you’ll find accoutrements such as scarves, gloves, bags, and umbrellas, stationery sets, coffee table books, cute odds and ends for the home, as well as children’s books and clothes. However, the hats still reign supreme—with fedoras, cloches, caps, and berets from hatmakers like Bailey, Christy’s, and Goorin Brothers.
2467 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
Idle Time Books has been an Adams Morgan fixture since 1981 and carries a quality selection of used, recent, and out-of-print books, as well as vintage greeting cards, newspapers, records, and CDs. The best way to explore this little gem of a bookstore is to wander the three floors without an agenda. More times than not, you’ll encounter something quirky that you never knew you wanted but you now just have to have. For me, it was an out-of-print book on canapé recipes and, for my friend, a handful of science fiction novels. Between the bookshelves are plenty of nooks and crannies and comfortable chairs where you can plop down to read.
1743 L St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
It’s your last day in D.C. and you haven’t picked up a “thank you” gift for your lovely Aunt Julee. I know your Aunt Julee well, and I can tell you that the White House snow globe that you were hoping to pick up at the airport is not going to do the trick. So what to do? Head to Chocolate Moose, a gift shop full of imaginative, fun, and funky kitsch. For Aunt Julee, get the Elvis cutting board. She’ll love the image of Elvis done with veggies. (What can I say? You have a weird aunt.) For your favorite cousin, Omar, who acts like he’s seven, I suggest either the MooPopper or the PigPopper. And don’t forget to pick up a card when you’re in the store; you need cards to match the funky gifts. And for yourself, I vote for one of the impossible puzzles that will keep you busy on that long trip home. You can reward yourself for being so thoughtful by treating yourself to some of the chocolates that the store also sells.