Insider’s Guide to Your Washington DC Weekend
When people think of Washington DC, what usually comes to mind is either their eighth-grade field trip or the epicenter of politics. In actuality, in Washington, DC, you can also explore international cuisines, visit a plethora of museums and monuments, and enjoy the spectacular scenery. If you’re a DC weekend warrior, well, you’re in luck! I’ve interviewed my fellow agents here at The Goodhart Group to compile a comprehensive list of must-visit destinations in DC. We want to show you exactly where to stay, hang out, see, eat, and shop during your weekend in DC. If you don’t believe us, here’s an insider’s guide to your Washington DC weekend that will turn your perception of DC upside down.
Friday 10 PM Stay
800 16th Street, NW
With its luxurious amenities, unique location, and impeccable service, the Hay-Adams has been a historic classic for almost a century. From the moment you enter, you’ll be wowed by the wood-paneled lobby, walnut wainscoting, and Renaissance-style ceiling. Prominent politicians, affluent businessmen, and other bigwigs often frequent the Hay-Adams, including Barack Obama, who stayed there for several weeks before moving into the White House. Allison even had her wedding reception on the roof! She strongly recommends checking out Off The Record, a historic bar in the hotel’s basement offering a variety of cocktails. Also, if you want to enjoy some epic views of the White House, make sure to reserve a Federal Suite in advance!
The Watergate Hotel
2650 Virginia Avenue, NW
Yes, it is the most famous (and infamous) hotel from the Nixon era. If you want to stay out of the busy downtown area, this luxurious, five-star, 336-room hotel in Georgetown is perfect for you. It offers an elegant atmosphere, stately surroundings, and rooftop with a birds-eye view of the neighborhood. You can even stay in the original Room 214, now known as the Scandal Room, which has been decorated with memorabilia from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, including binoculars, a manual typewriter, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, along with modern-day furnishings.
The LINE DC
1770 Euclid Street, NW
As the epicenter of DC’s Admas Morgan neighborhood, the LINE has something for everyone: boutique shopping, arts and culture, and cuisine from five continents. With three restaurants, two bars, and a 24-hour room delivery, the hotel attracts not only tourists but also foodies. Make sure to check out James Beard Award winner Spike Gjerde’s A Rake’s Progress, using Mid-Atlantic ingredients, from Chesapeake seafood to rice grown in Maryland.
Saturday 10 AM See
You probably think visiting museums is the most basic and unoriginal thing to do in a new city, certainly not recommended by locals. In sharp contrast, DC museums are truly for everyone. To avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting when they open in the morning at 10 a.m. sharp.
The National Museum of Natural History
10th Street & Constitution Avenue, NW
If you want to marvel at the wonders of our natural world, start at the National Museum of Natural History and explore over 140 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts. Of course, dinosaur bones and ancient Egyptian mummies make it by far the kids’ favorite!
The National Gallery of Art
Constitution Avenue, NW
The National Gallery of Art collection features ancient and contemporary masterpieces from across the globe. The gallery also highlights distinctive artists like da Vinci, Degas, and Calder. If you appreciate art forms other than paintings and photographs, then the Sculpture Garden should also be a part of your visit.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
A somber tribute to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime, the museum documents one of the greatest tragedies in history. You’ll learn the historical narrative through artifacts, videos, letters, and memoirs. A special exhibition named Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story will give you the opportunity to further understand the monstrosity of Nazism from the perspective of a young boy. Emotions run high with some visitors, who’ve been seen leaving the museum in tears.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture
1400 Constitution Avenue, NW
The city’s newest Smithsonian museum preserves and promotes the African American heritage with an imaginative architectural design and a wealth of exhibits. You’ll walk through different eras of history, from the oppressive slavery to the uplifting civil rights movement to today’s extraordinarily sophisticated pop culture. It’s an eye-opening experience for all who visit.
The National Air and Space Museum
600 Independence Avenue, SW
The museum displays the world’s largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft including the Wright brothers’ original 1903 flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module. It also vividly recounts stories of courage and perseverance, as humanity continues to expand the scope of knowledge of the universe. For example, a special exhibition called Boeing Milestone of Flight Hall brings the museum to new heights (haha!) by celebrating the most notable aviation achievements in the past century.
12 PM Eat
675 15th Street, NW
This iconic restaurant is a “must” for any DC weekend. Located in former B. F. Keith’s Theater (now the Beaux Arts building), this restaurant has the feel of an old-time Washington saloon, complete with a collection of antiques and memorabilia. Dine on some amazingly fresh Chesapeake Bay seafood or stick to a classic lunch salad or burger. You can’t go wrong!
1837 M Street, NW
Craving exotic cuisines? Boqueria’s Cod with Manilla clams will take you all the way to Barcelona! For landlubbers, try Executive Chef Marc Vidal’s signature dish, roast chicken with salsa verde, accompanied by potato chips, freckled with orange zest. Also, the restaurant’s bubbly atmosphere makes it the go-to destination for avid foodies in the nation’s capital.
633 D Street, NW
If you’re an adventurous diner, this Indian restaurant is definitely the right place for you. The Michelin Guide recommends crispy palak chaat tossed with raita, tamarind, and date chutneys, as well as crunchy okra–a firework of sweet and sour flavors in your mouth!
3462 14th Street, NW
“Go to the jungle!” urges the Laotian restaurant’s menu. Thip Khao, however, is not for the faint-hearted. The menu seeks to expand the limits of the human diet with options like grilled chicken hearts, fried pig ears, and minced alligators. Even the seemly innocuous green papaya can bite back–it’s extremely spicy! At the same time, you don’t have to be Bear Grylls to appreciate herbal pork sausage and coconut rice for example.
1503 17th Street, NW
Literally meaning “I will leave it to you,” Omakase is a Japanese tradition that allows the chef to flex his culinary creativity. All DC sushi connoisseurs know that Sushi Taro’s omakase menu guarantees an unforgettable dining experience. Here, the meal is far more than just excellent dishes–it is composed of ingenuity, art, and close interactions with chefs Nobu Yamazaki and Masaya Kitayama. Because they cater to just a handful of customers, you’ll have to make reservations online 30 days in advance. The menu usually includes grilled marinated tuna cheek and squid ink-tinted soft-shell crab tempura, as well as customers’ traditional favorites like an immense selection of sashimi.
If you’re looking for something more casual, fast and budget-friendly, check out the incredible lineup of food trucks along the National Mall. From crepes to tacos, from BBQ to milkshakes, you really will find whatever you’re craving here.
2 PM Get Outside
Growing tired of the national landmarks? Then get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of DC.
The United States National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
For example, the National Arboretum features a truly amazing horticultural display. Its conifer collection, for instance, showcases a wide range of colors, forms, textures from different climates. If you’re not yet dazzled, check out the cute, miniature Japanese and Chinese trees or the cherry blossoms!
The Tidal Basin
Wish to capture breathtaking pictures of cherry blossoms? Just stop anywhere on the banks of the Tidal Basin. The blossoms usually peak at a different time than the ones in the National Arboretum, so here’s your second chance! If you take the time to do a full loop around the area, you can visit many of the aforementioned national landmarks. Be sure to check out our list of other places to see cherry blossoms around town.
Rock Creek Park
Widely visited by local residents, the park offers a variety of activities like running, hiking, biking, horseback riding, tennis, and golf. Not an outdoor enthusiast? Just sit, read a book, and enjoy a moment of tranquility. Love to hike? Here’s our list of the best hikes around DC.
Old Town Alexandria
To explore Old Town, hop on the free trolley and make your way along the historic King Street? With stops every two blocks from the waterfront to the Metro Station, the trolleys provide easy access to more than 180 restaurants, boutiques, and attractions.
6 PM Eat & Drink
If you really want to get an authentic feel of the local life, you should take advantage of the “DC Happy Hour.” After a full day of work, people escape the hustle and bustle of downtown and flock to nearby restaurants and bars with friends. But not all happy hours are created equal–while some symbolically save you some pocket change, others allow you to relive your most epic college nights. You can check out our team’s favorite happy hour spots here.
1346 Florida Avenue, NW
The fiery DC eatery ignites North African and Middle Eastern flavors with spices, showering goat meat with cumin, cinnamon, coriander, parsley, mint, and cilantro. The restaurant suggests eating everything with bread and a touch of hummus. If you closely examine the menu, you’ll discover that Maydan is a journey across different countries, from Lebanon through Egypt and Morocco, and all the way to Iran and Georgia.
1405 T Street, NW
At Colada, for example, you can sip a silky-smooth daiquiri or snack on the house-baked spinach-and-cheese empanada. You’ll have so much fun socializing in a place where the atmosphere is as vibrant as the flavors on the menu. Colada is also kind to your bank account. While it already offers some of the best deals around the area with its $8 cocktails, during the happy hour, you’ll enjoy another $2 off.
750 15th Street, NWIf you’re eager to impress your traveling companion, go to Joe’s. Just one block from the White House, the restaurant stands out with its soaring marble columns and a black granite bar. During the happy hour from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., all cocktails, wines, craft beers, and oysters are at half price.
1511 17th Street, NW
If you love spicy food and want to try one of the most consistently top rated restaurants in DC, try Little Serow, which is Allison’s personal favorite. Be ready for a seven-course family-style tasting menu that will light up your taste buds! You’ll probably start with salted fish or sour fruit to set your tongue on alert. From there, anything goes: Maryland crab fried rice, chicken with palm sugar and crispy garlic, and a jumble of fried tofu cubes tossed with red peanuts and fresh ginger. You can finish with frozen custard as the “fire extinguisher.” The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so I recommend that you arrive before 6 PM or after 8:30 PM. Pro tip from Allison: If you’re waiting for your table to get ready, stop by Hank’s Oyster Bar DuPont location around the corner and get a drink and some oysters while you wait! Hank’s also has locations in Capitol Hill, the Wharf and Old Town, Alexandria. It is a vibrant place where you can enjoy regional favorites, as well as New England classics like lobster rolls and meat ‘n’ two.
Sunday 10 AM See
The Washington Monument
2 15th Street, NW
What a delight it is to gaze up at this dual-colored marble obelisk and admire the monument to the first U.S. President. It’s perfectly okay to feel a bit patriotic while you’re here!
The Jefferson Memorial
16 E. Basin Drive, SW
As you continue to explore the lasting legacy of America’s Founding Fathers, why not pay homage to Thomas Jefferson? The grandiose, neoclassical structure is absolutely picturesque and well worth a visit.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial
900 Ohio Drive, SW
Unlike many other memorials that tend to glorify U.S. victories, the Korean War Memorial offers a more accurate depiction of war with its 19 soldier statues. Outfitted in full combat gear, each represents a branch of the military. If you look closely, you’ll soon realize that they all look exhausted and terrified. But despite a lack of naive triumphalism, the memorial continues to remind people of the veterans’ heroic sacrifice in the “Forgotten War.”
The Bottom Line
Your insider’s Washington, DC weekend is complete! What are your top picks for the best places to visit? Are they iconic monuments, exotic restaurants, vibrant breweries, or tiny jazz clubs? If you think we missed out on anything, please let us know so we can add it to Washington DC weekend guide!