Washington, D.C. :: Eat | Drink | Do

Kelli Nakagama touring the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Touring the Pentagon.

Washington, D.C. is a intense city full of history, politics and iconic landmarks.  It’s filled with people from all over the world, both living and visiting the city, providing a vibrant mixture of culture.  It’s tiny in size but bursting with things to do, places to go and restaurants to try.  Here are some of my suggestions.

Touring the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Touring the Pentagon.

Logistics :: The summers are brutally humid and dense with tourists, so aim for spring or fall.  I visited during winter without complaint, but the winters are unpredictable and snow will shut down the city if it happens to make an appearance.  There are hotels everywhere; the closer to the National Mall the more expensive.  I stayed near Logan Circle (a 15 minute walk to the metro or 25 minutes to the Mall) at The Rouge, an affordable boutique hotel with huge rooms and friendly service.

The metro will easily take you to most of the points in the city, although stations aren’t as spread out as in some cities so prepare to do some walking.  Cabs are everywhere for lazy days or late nights and most take credit cards.

The Old Ebbitt Grill, all dressed up for the holidays, in Washington D.C.
The Old Ebbitt Grill, all dressed up for the holidays.

Eat :: D.C. is dedicated to its food.  The Old Ebbitt Grill is one of the nation’s oldest restaurants, a political favorite across from the White House.  (The food isn’t as memorable as the location and atmosphere.)  Birch & Barley boasts more than 550 beers and the food is good, too.  I also liked Zaytinya for Mediterranean.  Go to Founding Farmers for an incredible brunch (I hear their dinner is equally as awesome).  Stop for a burger at Good Stuff Eatery near the Capitol and have late-night ramen at Daikaya near the Verizon Center.  Hit Hank’s Oyster Bar, a friendly neighborhood place, for happy hour oysters.  If you’re willing to splurge (both your wallet and your calories), the 24-course dinner at Rogue 24 is mind-blowing.

Beer at Birch & Barley in Washington, D.C.
Beer at Birch & Barley in Washington, D.C.

Drink :: I didn’t get a chance to try out many bars with the exception of Blue Alley, the intimate jazz bar in Georgetown.  But friends told me to hit Bar Dupont, in Dupont Circle for people-watching, the Jack Rose Dining Saloon for whiskey and Roses Luxury for cocktails and small plates.

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Do :: You’re here for the history and the museums, but it’s hard to see them all no matter how long your stay is.  The Smithsonian has 19 massive museums so pick the ones you want to see the most and start there.  The Newseum, focusing on media and journalism, was a favorite along with the somber Holocaust Museum.  Most museums are free except the Newseum and National Geographic museum.  Be prepared to go through medal detectors at every one.

I'm obsessed with taking photos of doors.
I’m obsessed with taking photos of doors.

Tour the White House, Capitol, Supreme Court and Pentagon.  All require written request from your senator weeks in advance, but most are approved.  The Library of Congress was my favorite building; don’t miss the National Archives‘ display of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and Arlington National Cemetery was one of the most memorable places I went.

Next time I visit Washington, D.C., I hope to try Vidalia, GBD for their famous fried chicken and Little Serow for Thai food.  And I’m dying to see the opera, since I only caught the ballet this trip!

What are your favorite D.C. places to eat / drink / do?  I’d love to hear in the comments!

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