Washington D.C. Suggestions…?


Happy Monday dear readers! I’d love some advice — I just found out I’m being whisked away to D.C. for Labor Day weekend (someone knows museums are the way to my heart…) and I’m dying to hear your recommendations on where to eat/drink/visit/tour/etc. We’ll be staying in Georgetown and I want to experience the best the city has to offer (especially when it comes to art, architecture, and dessert). Can’t wait to read your suggestions! Thank you in advance!

(image via Pinterest)

49 comments on “Washington D.C. Suggestions…?

  1. Victoria

    You must go to Le Diplomate! It’s fabulous for dinner, drinks, or brunch. Also, wander around Eastern Market if you have a chance -it’s great for people watching and shopping around.

  2. Katie Armour Post author

    Victoria – Two of my girlfriends recommended Le Diplomate this morning! Clearly it’s a must! And the Eastern Market is being added to my list. Thank you so much! :)

  3. Sarah

    Baked & Wired in Georgetown has delicious coffee and cupcakes (and great atmosphere). The National Portrait Gallery is my favorite museum, and Poste (which is just across the street) has some fantastic cocktails. I also think you’d like Old Town Alexandria – it’s a few miles away, but has great shopping & dining. Founding Farmers is also a great spot for brunch or dinner – farm-to-table fare, excellent cocktails, and a slice of red velvet cake as big as your head. Enjoy!!

  4. Caitlin

    So jealous you’re flying off to my old stomping grounds! I’m still compiling a list of places, but try and check out the Phillips Collection! Also stop in at Baked & Wired in Georgetown on Thomas Jefferson (right off M St) and get the vanilla vanilla cupcake (the best I’ve ever had).

  5. Casey

    Kate! So sad to miss you, I’ll be in Seattle that weekend. I second (third? fourth?) the Le Diplomat recommendation, it’s delicious. Make your reservation now, though! Definitely set aside some time to eat, drink, and shop your way up and down 14th St NW; there’s lots to see and do.

    Be sure to enjoy the new(ish) Georgetown waterfront park: it’s one of my favorite parts of the city, and always bustling.

    My favorite secret Smithsonian spot is the Luce Foundation Center, somewhat hidden in the American Art Museum. It’s a great place to step away from the crowds and browse through astounding amounts of artwork and collectibles (and maybe witness some restoration in progress): http://americanart.si.edu/luce/about/

  6. melissa

    I third Baked and Wired. The best cupcakes in town. Just forget about Georgetown Cupcakes, so over-rated!

    I live in Cap Hill and also second Eastern Market on the weekends. Great neighborhood to walk around. Check out H St. NE at night. We like Boundary Road. The President has dined there, great food and atmosphere.

    My favorite museum is the National Portrait Gallery. But I’m partial to it since I worked on it’s renovation.

    If you get a chance, hop over to the 14th St area. Shop at some of the fun shops there; Little Miss Pixies, Good Wood, Home Rule. Check out Cork or Estadio for dinner.

    So much to do here, so little time….

  7. Sarah

    I second Dumbarton Oaks! I may be biased (as I work there) but it is an amazing place – a beautiful museum and gorgeous gardens!

  8. ania @The New Diplomat's Wife

    Le Diplomate is all the rage now for food on 14th Street but also absolutely make time for champage and sliders at “off the record”, the bar at the Hay Adams hotel for some legit DC, have a pastry and legit Austrian coffee (or brunch) at Kafe Leopold on Cady’s Alley after doing a little furniture browsing in Georgetown, pack a picnic for the Kennedy Center and enjoy with wine on the terrace overlooking the potomac (you might even catch Marine One on the flight path), pick up Georgetown Cupcakes or Pie Sisters and enjoy at the Old Stone House in Georgetown, and definitely try Dumbarton Oaks…paddle boats on the tidle basin to work on your tan…milkshakes from Ted’s Bulletin on Capitol Hill or Balkan Tapas at Ambar on the hill as well…and if you really like less known museums, try Hillwood Estates, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s home – have a feeling you would enjoy. Have a great trip!

  9. Kate Premo

    So fun! It’s not a destination, but… If you are wandering around Georgetown in the evenings (or in the early mornings) take a stroll on Olive Street NW. This tiny, beautiful, two-block street was home to BOTH Julia Child and Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)! It’s not far from the main part of Georgetown and definitely worth a detour. Enjoy!

  10. Page

    You’ve gotten excellent recommendations so far.

    A museum that is a hidden gem, but my favorite is the Kreeger. I highly recommend taking the time and effort to visit even though it is off the beaten path.

    In Georgetown, Leopold’s has a great breakfast/brunch with European flair.

    2 Amy’s has excellent pizza if you want a casual dinner in a more residential part of town.

    DC is a wonderful city with a lot to offer. I hope you have a great visit!

  11. Kealan

    I fourth Le Diplomate! And the neighborhood that it’s in (U Street) is very fun. Lots of cute shops and restaurants, great bars. And I second Eastern Market! You will absolutely love Capitol Hill. In Georgetown, I highly recommend Cafe Bonaparte (French) and Kafe Leopold (Austrian). Georgetown has a great flea market on Sunday’s, too.

    As for art, don’t miss the Portrait Gallery – it’s a great building with amazing architecture and they have a very cool modern art section, too. National Gallery is gorgeous. More accessible than the Met in my opinion. Phillip’s Collection in Dupont is lovely. Don’t miss the Hirshhorn – people tend to for some reason and I don’t know why. It’s fab! Corcoran is worth checking out if they have a good exhibit going on.

    Hmm – maybe I should visit my parents in DC over Labor Day…:)

  12. Jess (JessinBelgium)

    The Dean & Deluca’s on M Street is way too much fun to wander around and Baked and Wired is a must. But don’t plan too much, my favorite Georgetown past time will always be a wander through the back residential streets, gaping over the architecture and looking for Madeline Albright’s house! Half the fun is discovering it on your own.

  13. Maggie

    I’m your girl! I’m a museum professional and DC resident. I agree with everything mentioned so far. My favorite museum in DC is The Phillips Collection–DC’s first Modern Art Museum–fantastic European Modern Art Collection, including a Rothko Room. Baked and Wired is the best cupcake shop–I love Karen’s Birthday Cake. Try dinner on the Georgetown Waterfront at Farmers, Fishers, Bakers–a sister restaurant to Founding Farmers. Great American food with an imaginative twist. That’s basically my dream date right there. Have fun!

  14. Courtney

    Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown is an absolute must (if the weather is nice). Farmers and Fishers on the water doesn’t disappoint. Avoid Georgetown Cupcake. If you have time, visit The Newseum, it’s worth the admission fee (Groupon has discounted tickets).

  15. Sarah B.

    Amazing! I live in DC and have made it my mission to learn this city through my stomach. Some favorite restaurants: Zaytinya (trendy Mediterranean tapas), 2Amy’s (cozy pizza spot), Restaurant Nora (high-end organic cuisine), Founding Farmers (farm-to-table/there is something for everyone — they also have a sister restaurant: Farmers Fishers Bakers), Open City (casual and delicious open-air diner), Le Grenier (vintage-y French eatery). Oh goodness, the list could go on and on! I hope you all enjoy your visit. You’ll have to let us know where you go!

  16. Katie Farber

    Blue Duck Tavern for dinner. Hands down one of my favorite restaurants of all time. I lived in DC for 2 years before moving to NYC, and I still miss that city.

  17. Katie Armour Post author

    THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! I am compiling all of these into a long list! I am so thankful/excited for this little vacay and all your amazing recs! Keep them coming! :)

  18. Brigid Rayder

    As a college student in DC my favorite place to go is the National Gallery of Art! I love the atmosphere and the location is strategically on the National Mall! And as earlier said the Eastern market is always a fun place to go and it has a bunch of cute restaurants in the area!

  19. Maggie

    my top picks (many mentioned by kindred spirits above):

    Georgetown specific:
    Thomas Sweet for [oreo] froyo
    Fleurir for local chocolate bars
    Macaron Bee for.. what else?
    Best to devote lots of time for strolling: definitely along P street (west side of Wisconsin) for the old trolley tracks and Cambridge Place near Dumbarton Oaks because it’s a lovely, quiet street. you can also follow lots of Kennedy history and see one of Julia Child’s homes.

    Cork Wine Bar on 14th street for flights and avocado toast
    Sunday farmers market in Dupont Circle – try the Maryland Crab Cakes
    Cafe Dupont for pre dinner cocktails: sparkling rose and their snack tray
    2Amys for pizza
    Rasika for Indian
    Central for gougeres and burgers

    art & architecture:
    Phillips Collection
    Corcoran Gallery of Art
    OAS Aztec Garden
    Dumbarton Oaks


  20. Katie Kelly McCormack

    A few of my favorites:
    Corcoran Gallery of Art (I’m an alum of their graduate program in interior design)
    The Renwick Gallery (hidden gem)
    The Phillips Collection
    National Portrait Gallery
    National Museum of Women in the Arts
    Be sure to check ahead since not all of these spots are open daily. Hope you have a fantastic trip! -KKM

  21. Krista

    If you get there by Friday afternoon, head to the Sculpture Gardens right by the Smithsonian. On Friday evenings they play jazz music and everyone swings by after work to catch up with friends and enjoy pitchers of sangria!

    (Second all the suggestions for Eastern Market!)

  22. Martha Susan

    Tour of the Capitol – would be happy to set one up for you!

    Brabo in Old Town, Off the Record in the Hay Adams near the White House for drinks.

    Newseum – tickets are good for two days! And they have an amaze JFK exhibit right now!

  23. Maggie

    Definitely 2 amys- sit at the high tables in the bar area for minimum noise with maximum ambiance! Baked and wired is delicious but popular– make sure you’re there early! We love to bring coffee and savory scones (cheddar bacon jalepeno- yum!) to the waterfront and see the potomac before it’s too crazy. I love founding farmers and farmers fishers bakers- a must for celebrity sightings! And cocktails at the W hotel rooftop bar are absolutely the most glamorous thing I have done this year.
    If you’re taking the train- they dont condone (but they dont discourage) bringing your own provisions, especially champagne and grapes and cheese and chocolate. Have a wonderful time- We cant wait to hear about your new beau!

  24. Hanna

    The Portrait Gallery and the Renwick Gallery are both fabulous (and as a bonus the Renwick is right near the White House). The Building Museum is a great architectural destination – the atrium is gorgeous and the exhibits tend to be great as well.
    If it’s not too crowded, Founding Farmers is definitely worth it for dinner or brunch.

  25. Jade Sheldon-Burnsed

    I adore DC and have been lucky enough to visit a few times. Hoping to plan a trip there with my husband since he has never been. I really love the The National Museum of Women in the Arts and The National Portrait Gallery. The Holocaust Memorial Museum is also incredible. And be sure to stop by the Library of Congress.

  26. Kristin Andrews

    I have one more to add to the growing list- Union Market! A fun new spot in town with great eats and a beautifully curated shop called Salt and Sundry.

  27. Elle O

    I am so jealous reading these great suggestions–I used to travel to DC often for business but was always working too much to take advantage of all of these fun places! I did, however get to have a dinner at Founding Farmers and agree with the other commenters that it was great and the atmosphere was really fun. Have a good time!

  28. AKS

    I lived in DC for several years, and if you enjoy long walks, here’s one of my favorites that you might enjoy: from Georgetown, walk up Wisconsin Ave., go right on Naval Observatory Circle, then right down Massachusetts Avenue (“Embassy Row”). When you get to the Mosque, you can keep going straight and walk down to Dupont Circle, or hang a left and meander through the Kalorama neighborhood. Either route will take you past many beautiful embassies, ambassador’s residences, and private homes.

    Also worth a visit in the Kalorama/Dupont Circle neighborhood:
    – the Spanish Steps
    – the Textile Museum
    – Restaurant Nora
    – Teaism (great for a snack break before or after visiting the Phillips Collection)

    Have fun on your trip! : )

  29. Audrey

    Oh I love DC! You’re a lucky girl! I am going to second/third the girls and recommend Newseum and lunch at Raskia (delish, slightly upscale, Indian restaurant nearby.) If you go to Rasika get the fried spinach…it sounds gross but its GLORIOUS.

  30. Caroline

    All of these suggestions are fabulous, but here’s a list with a few repeats and some new options:

    – DEFINITELY Baked and Wired over Georgetown Cupcake. No question.
    – Sea Catch for seafood on the Georgetown Canal, but also Farmers Fishers Bakers on the Waterfront.
    – Kafe Leopold for brunch/lunch can’t be beat- you’ll feel like you were transported to a back alley in Vienna.
    – Surfside in Glover Park for yummy, fresh, “beachy” Mexican food. Very laid back.
    – Upper Georgetown on Wisconsin Avenue(near Dumbarton Oaks): Sassanova, Sherman Pickey, Patisserie Poupon for coffee/salads/sandwiches, Dandelion Patch Paperie, Marston Luce Antiques, A Mano

    Capitol Hill:
    – Eastern Market (don’t miss the used bookstore, Capitol Hill books on C St) and Barracks Row (lots of great places to eat on Barracks Row (8th Street)….Ted’s Bulletin, Belga Cafe, Chesapeake Room, Matchbox if you’re in the mood for pizza
    – Burgers at Good Stuff Eatery or salads at SweetGreen are also a good option.
    – The Sweet Lobby for Macaroons/Sweets
    – Hill’s Kitchen (kitchen store)

    14th Street Corridor:
    – Le Diplomate, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Cork Wine Bar, Estadio for tapas
    – Miss Pixie’s Antiques, Home Rule

    – Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
    – Hillwood Estate (former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post)
    – National Gallery of Art
    – Library of Congress
    – Phillips
    – Kreeger
    – Corcoran!!!!
    – Sackler
    – Decatur House (White House exhibits)

    Also, a fun trip is to take one of the boats that leaves from Georgetown Harbor down to Mount Vernon (home of George Washington). Plan for Mt Vernon in the AM and then on the way home, get off at the Old Town Alexandria stop and walk down King Street, exploring the shops. Once you cross N. Washington (more inland) there are a ton of cute shops. The boat ride provides great views of DC and it’s more enjoyable than driving…

  31. AWD

    Beuchert’s Saloon is a must! On the hill, go while you are over there for Eastern Market!

    Sunday mornings in Georgetown there is a Flea Market (up Wisconsin at the middle school)- get there early!

    Baked & Wired is amazing- Raspberry Crunch bar is a must.

    The Four Seasons bar- Bourbon Steak has great people watching too!

  32. Tannkka

    National Portrait Gallery is my fave!

    For breakfast I love Serendipity, which is right in Georgetown, but you since you’re a New Yorker, you may have already overloaded on them.

  33. Laura

    I love Off the Record at the Hay Adams – classic DC bar (think darknred walls and leather booths and the feeling of power deals) in the Hay Adams, a very charming hotel.

  34. Rachael

    I second Cafe Bonaparte! Their crepes are amazing – I could eat 10. Or Central Michel Richard for 5 star food, expense but so amazing.

    The Natural History Museum is probably my favorite – I grew up going there.

  35. Jenna

    You’ll be staying in my neighborhood! I could go on and on, but my top recommendations are as follows:
    Eat and drink in Georgetown – CafĂ© Bonaparte on Wisconsin Avenue, Leopold’s on M Street in Cady’s Alley, Los Cuates on Wisconsin Avenue (has the best Mexican food and white queso dip in the whole mid-Atlantic region, in my opinion) and Stachiowski’s deli the corner of P and 29th has the best sandwiches and charcuterie in the city — there is also a small park nearby and it’s one of my favorite things to take my sandwich over there, sit on a park bench and enjoy the weather. If you’re going with a boy, he will probably enjoy drinks at Rye Bar, an old school whiskey place.
    To see and do in Georgetown – You can’t go wrong simply walking around and taking in the beautiful scenery and architecture! Dumbarton Oaks has beautiful gardens and a fantastic Orangery, but I also recommend Tudor Place at the corner of 31st and Q Street – I live right next door and had my engagement photos taken there. It was built by George Washington for one of his granddaughters and was in that family until the 1960’s! I haven’t seen any other posters suggest this yet but I think you would also like the Woodrow Wilson House nearby – it is 1920’s glamour at its finest. Also, there is a fantastic flea market in the school parking lot across from the Safeway on Wisconsin Avenue and W Street every Sunday from 9 to 2 – I always, always walk away with some kind of found treasure.

    Other recommendations: Le Diplomate for sure, it’s my favorite place in the city! One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend day is to start with brunch there(definitely make your reservation now, that place books up fast!), then walk up 14th Street and visit all the vintage and home goods shops like Miss Pixie’s, Good Wood, and Home Rule. Then I pop into Cork for some small bites and a glass of wine before heading to nearby Union Market to explore and have ice cream. If there is time, I go about 15 minutes north to Throv, my absolute favorite home good store in the whole D.C. area — it is absolutely worth a visit!

    Elsewhere: I highly, highly recommend an afternoon in Old Town Alexandria – you would love the history and ambiance there, and strong urge you to make a reservation for drinks at PX, which is an authentic speakeasy with the BEST gin and tonic and other cocktails I have ever, ever had, anywhere, ever. Back in D.C., I second a previous commenter’s recommendation to visit the National Portrait Gallery and then Poste across the street – it is in the center courtyard of the Dorothy Draper-esque Hotel Monaco and it is magical. Kramer Books (a restaurant in a used book store) in Dupont Circle is another favorite, especially for breakfast. If you can, tour the Capitol for sure! Enjoy our wonderful city!

  36. Concrete Jungle DC

    Try Etto on 14th St (tiny pizza place with those most amazing daily small plates), drinks at Gibson or Columbia Room if you want something fancy and fun, MalMaison..French bakery and restaurant in Georgetown, Bandalero in Georgetown for a great margarita and excellent people watching, Dolcezza in Georgetown for artisinal ice cream, Hu’s and Hu’s shoes in Georgetown for high end shopping and window wishing, National Gallery of Art for the Ballet Russe exhibit, Natural History Museum gem room to see the Hope Diamond. Enjoy your trip!

  37. Sarah

    Ah! DC is so wonderful. I second all the recommendations for Le Diplomate and Rasika (crispy spinach is to die for). Also: Pearl Dive for oysters, Mintwood Place for brunch (escargot hush puppies!), Tryst for an afternoon coffee or drink, and Capital Bikeshare for a less-exhausting tour of the museums and monuments on the National Mall. The weather has been gorgeous lately!

    So excited for you to visit this city. I fell in love with it in just a weekend four years ago and haven’t looked back ever since.

  38. Gypset

    Tabard Inn in Dupont for brunch or drinks – a very DC “thing”
    Pearl Dive Oyster Bar or Rappahannock River Oyster Bar for local Oysters
    1789 (or the Tombs) for old Georgetown feel – and the campus is gorgeous, so take a walk through!

    Martin Luther King monument, WWII monument and the Vietnam War Memorial…all very moving!

    Founding Farmers is a chain…skip it and go for the authentic places!!!!

  39. Ali Burtt

    Just wanted to say welcome to DC! You’ll love it and you’ve gotten a ton of great recommendations. You’ll probably like Random Harvest in Georgetown, which is the only place I can think of that hasn’t already been mentioned. It’s up on Wisconsin, away from the lovely, but common chains in the design-oriented Kady’s Alley on M Street.

  40. Ailee

    I’ll second what many others have said – go to Founding Farmers. My husband and I were just talking about our trip to DC recently, and we both agreed it was one of our favorite meals ever. He got the meat loaf and I had a house-made veggie burger. I’d recommend Busboys and Poets for an amazing brunch – also Ted’s Bulletin for a less healthy breakfast. For dinner, Rasika has some of the best Indian food I’ve ever tried (definitely make a reservation). Try the spinach appetizer! xo

  41. Ali

    Definitely check out Paul for breakfast; it’s a French bakery and it’s absolutely amazing! If you want Greek, go to Greek Deli. And for dinner, Circa at Dupont is always great :)

  42. Jenni

    Coco Sala is a must fo a sweet tooth. I worked at Martins Tavern in Georgetown for years. It is the oldest family owned restaurant in the city, has served every president since Truman, with the exception of Obama (still have a few years to get him in), and booth 3 is where JFK proposed to Jackie. Try the bread pudding :)

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