VISITING DC: Hitting Up All The Cool Spots, Like A Local


Had an amazing time in DC last weekend. I’ve been there many times before so no interest in checking out the tourist attractions (although seeing the Capital as we walked here and there, was awesome).

Here are my top five recommendations:

1. The Shaw Neighborhood

All – and I mean ALL – of my favorite bars and restaurants are in Shaw (and Derek Brown seems to be the man who is almost single-handedly putting the area on the map in terms of bars and nightlife).

Many people consider it the most interesting, hip and up-and-coming neighborhood in DC. Most of the action is around 7th Street and the U Street corridor.

It’s a 20 minute walk from Logan Circle.

Read on below for more about Shaw as well as my other recommendations including the sites I found most useful in planning my visit.

In Shaw, I especially love Blagden Alley with its rowhouses, former stables and pre-Civil war architecture. Check out my post from Friday on the restaurant and bar scene in and around this alley.

Shaw is also integral to African-American history and the civil rights movement. Howard University is nearby. Duke Ellington was born here.

Top left: Blagden Alley, Bottom left: rowhouses, Right: Scene from the Cherry Blossom Pub with Mario Bros. bartenders


2. Logan Circle


While Shaw has more of a Brooklyn vibe, Logan Circle feels more like Tribeca or Soho with its Shinola store, Filsons, Whole Foods, Le Diplomate (which is Stephen Starr’s take on Balthazar). Lots of restaurants and bars  – but a little shinier and more of a young professional vibe vs. the more creative and hipstery Shaw.

One of my favorite activities over the weekend was taking long walks along 14th Street towards the Capital and the National Mall. On foot is always my favorite way to explore.


3. Contemporary Art

If you get to DC prior to May 14, the MUST-SEE is Yayoi Kusama’s Retrospective at the Hirshhorn. More on how to snag walk-in passes from my post on Saturday, link here.


Another top recommendation is Blind Whino.


Other shows that were on the itinerary but we lacked for time:

  • Polly Apfelbaum at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (til July 2, 2017)
  • George Condo at the The Phillips Collection (til June 25, 2017)


4. National Mall


Lots of fun and seasonal events happen here e.g. last weekend it was the Blossom Kite Festival with hundreds of people flying kites. Supposedly the international pillow fight competition was also held here. We ran into a few guys with pillows but nobody knew where the event was taking place. One of the guys thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke (it wasn’t).


5. Experience DC like a local

I ALWAYS start following cool local sources on twitter in preparation for my trips. Building those recos into my schedule gives me an insider’s perspective and makes me feel less like a tourist.

Here are some of my best DC twitter sources:

  • CityPaper (@wcp) e.g. currently touting the Francophile inspired cocktail and food menu for Spring at  Derek Brown’s Columbia Room (in Shaw). Also, the Easter Peeps Diorama Contest.
  • Washington Post Going Out Guide (@goingoutguide) – their Hot List each month is great.
  • Hirshhorn (@hirshorn)
  • DCist (@DCist)
  • Washingtonian (@washingtonian)
  • WashingtonDC (@washingtondc)
  • Eater DC (@eater_dc)
  • Free in DC (@freeinDCblog)


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