Known for being the capital of the States and a cultural centre, there are few cities in the USA where history, diverse cultures and eclectic neighbourhoods intersect the way they do in Washington DC.
Here you’ll find walkable neighbourhoods with some of the most beautiful architecture in the USA, a buzzing creative scene and some of the best restaurants in the world.
While getting into all the nooks and crannies of DC during a holiday would be impossible, you can dive beneath the surface if you hit certain neighbourhoods.
There are a couple of dozen neighbourhoods patchworking together the map of DC, each with a very distinct feel. Once you’ve walked the chic streets of Downtown, get your shop on in the endless boutiques of cobblestoned Georgetown, spurred on by its exquisite landscape of historic houses, fine art galleries and waterfront.
Check out the Logan Circle neighbourhood, where the main drag of 14th street is lined with DC’s hottest eateries and home décor stores.
If it’s the weekend, start the day like a local with brunch at Le Diplomate.
The French brasserie gives major Paris vibes with subway-tiled dining rooms, gorgeous crown moulding and arguably the best steak tartare this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Walk off brunch with a stroll up 14th street, stopping to admire the quirky vintage home furnishings at Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot and the futuristic-looking light fixtures at Urban Essentials.
Get funky (and foodie) in left-of-centre Shaw, stay up late on U Street, and of course, get your walking shoes to tour infamous massive monuments, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, on the National Mall. And don’t miss nightly free shows at the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, set amongst the green space of university area Foggy Bottom.
One must-see, in the eclectic, once-industrial NoMa district, is the mid-century food hall-turned-hip centre Union Market; stroll amongst the street art, craft distilleries and vintage clothing stalls and fall in love.
Then head over the Penn Quarter and Chinatown and catch a basketball game – the Washington Wizards and Mystics teams both call Capital One Arena home, with the surrounding streets filled with sophisticated eats and a never-ending neighbourhood buzz.
Things can get a bit spicy in a town like DC, sure, and that includes the food. Run, don’t walk, to Ben’s Chili Bowlon U Street, take a leaf from the book of Barack Obama himself and order a half-smoke; it’s DC’s signature sausage, smoked then grilled, and served up hot-dog style with onions, cheese and chili sauce. Scope out historical and mural-lined Blagden alley for bars and restaurants beloved of locals.
At the more rarefied end of the scale, there are no less than 16 DC eateries sporting Michelin stars; for the full three-star experience, hand over your wallet and your heart at the impeccable The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia.
So where to stay? The Hay-Adams is an elegant hotel on Lafayette Square that sports the tagline ‘where nothing is overlooked but the White House’. Enjoy incredible city views, plush linens and make sure to tuck into a corner booth at the subterranean bar, Off the Record.