When I first moved to New York, I used to make my way down to Washington DC at least once a year. My brother was living there as was my Godmother and I loved escaping NYC for a change of scenery. Fast forward, it’s been about four years since I visited so earlier this month it was so nice to spend a weekend there.
How to Spend a Weekend in Washington DC
What to Do:
There’s no shortage of things to do in DC and due to some rainy weather, we made the most of the museum scene in addition to bopping around some of the popular neighborhoods.
This somewhat small, but beautiful museum focuses on American craft and decorative arts from the 19th to the 21st century. I was blown away by David Best’s temple exhibition which brought tears to my eyes.
National Museum of Natural History:
This was my first time seeing the gems and minerals gallery and it was so fun to drool over the beautiful precious stones. And hello, Hope Diamond! I also loved the photography exhibit of wildlife. So many amazing photos!
National Museum of American History:
There’s no shortage of exhibits for everyone at this museum. My favorite were the exhibits on the fashion of our First Ladies and also the one about the Presidency. It is eye-opening to realize how far we’ve come as a nation and how much has changed under every single President. At this museum you can also peek at a pair of The Wizard of Oz’s ruby slippers and Julia Child’s kitchen.
National Portrait Gallery:
This museum is a favorite of mine because I love the wing that is home to portraits of all of our past Presidents. It’s a walk back through time (and a history lesson for those of us who didn’t ace history classes! Did you remember we had a president named Chester Arthur!?) The new portraits of former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are also on display now here.
The Georgetown neighborhood is full of charm and I never tire of walking around the surrounding streets of charming, colorful and historic homes. I think the Georgetown campus is also worth a tour for its striking old buildings. The main street (M street) also has loads of great shops (I popped into see one of my brand favorites: J.McLaughlin and also loved the clean beauty store Take Care) as well as restaurants.
National Mall & Lincoln Memorial:
I loved that our hotel was in walking distance from the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial
Want to get your steps in? A loop around the Tidal Basin is a beautiful way to take in views and enjoy the outdoors. (One of these years I’ll make it to see the cherry blossoms in bloom here!)
Where to Eat and Drink:
When I asked for recommendations on restaurants and bars on Instagram Stories, I was blown away with the sheer amount of recommendations of amazing sounding spots! We hit up as many as we could and below are my favorites.
This was the most recommended spot and for good reason! I am still dreaming about their fried eggplant noodle dish but actually everything we ordered was delicious. We showed up at 5:45 and nabbed the last two spots at the bar and were able to avoid the otherwise long wait for walk-ins.
Morris American Bar:
A stone’s throw from Tiger Fork, this spot was the perfect pre-dinner drink locale. It’s vintage interiors will have you harkening back to another time in American history and their cocktails are delicious.
Grace Street Coffee:
Tucked off of a cute alley away from Georgetown’s bustling M street, this minimalistic spot serves simple and and delicious coffees.
Baked & Wired:
My longtime favorite from previous stints spent in Georgetown, these cupcakes never disappoint. Karen’s Birthday was my favorite (chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting) but you really can’t go wrong!
The interiors of this place were so striking! It was also a great rest-stop following a walk along the Mall and the Tidal Basin. Highly recommend any of their pastas and also an Aperol Spritz. Walk around the bustling Wharf area afterwards which seems to have had loads of expansion of late.
Oh man were these good doughnuts!! There are a few locations and I highly recommend the confetti doughnut holes.
The Dabney Cellar:
Lots of you guys recommended The Dabney so it is on my list for my next trip but we did have time for a post-dinner glass of wine at their sister spot The Dabney Cellar. I loved the cozy, dark vibes of this spot.
Chez Billy Sud Bar a Vin:
Years ago I dined at the original Chez Billy Sud but loved knowing they recently opened a sister wine bar. We saddled up to the bar and had great cocktails in the beautiful space in Georgetown. They also boast a great wine list and have a happy hour.
It seemed everyone was at Filomena on Friday night as we entered this big underground Italian institution. Be advised the dishes are absolutely enormous! We were so pleased our waiter advised us against ordering two pasta dishes. We had the meatball/ravioli combo dish and it was excellent.
When I heard this spot offers fancy pop tarts, I obviously had to go. Not only were the pop tarts so good, I made a mental note to go back for brunch given the hopping scene when we arrived for to-go pastries.
If you know me, you know I love burgers. A few people recommended this spot and the burger did not disappoint.
This is a favorite Georgetown lunch and brunch spot I’ve frequented over the years. The menu is a bit eclectic but they boast a beautiful courtyard for eating al fresco in addition to their indoor dining room.
A delightful and charming Georgetown restaurant offering seasonal fare and some French inspired classics. It’s a great spot for dinner or an afternoon of wine and charcuterie.
Where to Stay
The Dupont Circle
Nestled in one of my favorite neighborhoods of the city, The Dupont Circle is a jewel of a hotel. It has a fabulous restaurant, The Pembroke and bar, The Doyle on property that I highly recommend you check out whether you’re staying at the hotel or not. But the rooms are also beautiful with thoughtful amenities. I love that the location has you a stone’s throw from the major museums and tourist destinations but also allows you to explore the charming, more local neighborhoods of Dupont Circle and Georgetown.
. . .
On my list for my next visit? Thomas Sweet for ice cream, Dumbarton Oaks Museum, a drink atop the W Hotel rooftop and pastries at A Baked Joint.
It’s been awhile since I played tourist in DC. Your post makes me want to go back soon!!
Hope you get to! I was so impressed with the food scene!
Laughing out loud at the number of food & beverage establishments we managed to fit in during a 48 hour stay! Makes for the best weekend itinerary!
Was truly a feat!
I lived in DC for 8 years (Georgetown for undergrad and med school) and wow, you really went to all the best spots, no tourist traps!! I LOVE Kafe Leopold, Baked and Wired, Filomena, and Grace St Coffee. Couldn’t get in to the Dabney the one time I tried to go because the wait was so long. Definitely stop by T Sweet’s next time, there may be a long line but it’s so worth it!
I am honored by this comment haha! It really comes down to having the best readers as almost everything we hit up were based on recs via Instagram Stories! Can’t wait to try the T Sweet ice cream on my next trip!!
It has been a while since I have been to DC, maybe like 8-9 years for me ahah. But, I am dying to go back to explore now that I am a bit older, and appreciate a fun exploration trip! Thanks for this guide. I really want to check out all the places!!
So glad the guide got you excited to visit!
Oh this makes me so nostalgic for my DC days! I haven’t been back since 2010, so definitely need to plan a return visit soon. Thank you for this lovely little virtual vacation!
I hope you get to return soon! I’m sure it has changed so much!
Literally just moved here for the summer (and hopefully post-grad!), so this is actually a perfect guide to food/drinks! So many places that I get overwhelmed.
Oh yay! So glad to hear this! Enjoy every minute!