25 Things to Do in DC By Neighborhood

Dupont Circle rowhouses
 Dupont Circle

How is it already March?! We’re officially in the month of “What are you doing for Spring Break?” as the #1 most common topic of conversation (well, maybe #2 around here, following “Did you get tickets to the d00k game?”). I’m pumped  to be Spring Break-ing somewhere warm for the first time because I’ve only ever gone north. Oddly though, a bunch of people I know are making the trip up to DC for break this year. So, by popular demand: here’s a list of 25 ideas for your itinerary as a second, third, maybe even fourth-time visitor to the Nation’s Capital.

World War II memorial
World War II Memorial at night

I’m no authority on DC because I’ve lived in suburbia my whole life (until college). That said, you could say I’ve been around the block a few times between growing up in the area and interning downtown. The monuments and museums are beautiful, but once you’ve explored the National Mall – which is way cooler at night, by the way – there is so much more to DC than just history and politics and museums. The food, for example… okay well, mostly food.


  • Pedal boat right up to the Jefferson Memorial in the Tidal Basin.

Tidal Basin Paddle Boats

  • Spend a rainy day at interactive Newseum. It’s one of my favorite museums and I’m not a museum person! On a non-rainy day, enjoy the view of the Capitol from the balcony.
  • Get your afternoon pick-me-up with a latte or artisan gelato from Dolcezza in the beautiful Palmer Alley.
Palmer Alley in CityCenter decked out with pink lanterns for the National Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Join the masses of Washingtonians who brunch at Founding Farmers, a farm-to-table restaurant where everything is green, LEED-certified, seasonal, local, etc. etc.  I prefer the vibe of the Tysons location, but the Pennsylvania Ave location (Foggy Bottom metro stop) is delicious too. Be sure to make a reservation!
  • If you’ve never had Shake Shack, take a side on the east vs. west coast battle of the burger chains – In n Out (California based) or Shake Shack (New York based)? I’ve frequented the Union Station and F street locations, but there are a few more scattered around the city.

Adams Morgan

*Adams Morgan isn’t super accessible by Metro, but it’s central to Woodley Park (the Zoo), U Street, and Dupont. Fun fact: it’s also right by the neighborhood the Obamas now live in, Kalorama!

  • Watch Orangutans climb overhead on the O-line at the National Zoo – admission is free! (Woodley Park-Zoo metro stop) Check the Smithsonian website to see if your visit coincides with fun events like Brew at the Zoo or Zoo Lights (in the winter months!)
  • Stroll along 18th street and admire the colorful restaurants and shops.
18th Street
  • Enjoy Happy Hour with a rooftop view of 18th Street at Roofers Union (in the summer… I think they open the rooftop after Memorial Day?).
  • On my list: I’m looking forward to watching Carolina basketball games at the Ventnor Sports Cafe next year – they serve drinks in the iconic Blue Cups from He’s Not (a bar in Chapel Hill)! It’ll definitely be weird not to be surrounded by students cheering on the Heels, but hopefully it’ll feel a little more like home 🙂

Dupont circle

  • Take a photo in front of the angel wings mural under the staircase of the Embassy Row Hotel.
Colette Miller Angel Wings Project DC
Colette Miller’s angel wings are part of a global project to remind humans that we are the angels of this earth
  • Have a literary cocktail (Gin Gatsby, A Cocktail of Two Cities, etc. ) – or dessert – at Kramerbooks & Afterwords, a vibrant bookstore/bar/cafe all in one.
  • Stuff your face with Nutella stuffed churros at Boqueria, a tapas establishment (not included in the $39 bottomless brunch but worth the extra).
Nutella-stuffed churros at Boqueria

Capitol Hill

  • Peruse the vendors at Eastern Market for food, fresh produce, arts and crafts, etc. and the flea market outside for antiques and other fun odds and ends.
  • Grab a sandwich at Spring Mill Bread Company – make sure to try the apple streusel bread if they have samples!
  • Browse the books and laugh at the chaos and wit of Capitol Hill Books.
  • If it’s a weeknight, try to snag a seat at the bar at Rose’s Luxury – probably the best restaurant experience I’ve had in DC and so worth the hype! I could (and will) write an entire post about it.

Rose's Luxury

  • If waiting to eat is not your cup of tea (it’s not mine either, but trust me Rose’s is worth it), make a reservation for brunch somewhere on Barracks Row (Ted’s Bulletin, Ambar, Lavagna, etc.) – brunch is a monster of its own in DC, but luckily the Bitches Who Brunch have your back on brunch reviews!
  • Watch your Crème Brûlée donut get blowtorched to form the crunchy caramelized sugar top at District Donut.


  • Share small plates (must-have: the jalapeno mac & cheese) at Tico – another cult-favorite tapas place that’s great for brunch, drinks, and dinner.
Tico’s Jalapeno Mac & Cheese
  • On my list: bar hopping along the U Street Corridor to people-watch the hipsters (or people who think they’re hipster?). I’ll be the first to admit I know nothing about DC nightlife yet, but I’ll be sure to report back in a few months 😉


*Also unfortunately not on a Metro line, but not a bad walk from Foggy Bottom on the Orange line to M street.

  • Window shop at designer stores and boutiques all along M street. And if you’re a broke college kid like me, then actually shop at the stores you can afford like TJ Maxx and H&M.
  • Decide for yourself if Georgetown Cupcake lives up to its hype during the cupcake craze.

Georgetown Cupcake

  • Rent stand-up paddleboards, canoes, or kayaks from Key Bridge Boathouse and paddle along the Potomac River . Be prepared to get wet! (They have lockers you can rent).
  • If water sports aren’t your thing, watch the sunset at Waterfront Park. (full disclosure: the Potomac isn’t exactly the Mediterranean Sea, and by that I mean, I don’t blame you for not wanting to risk falling in.)
Sunset at Georgetown Waterfront Park
Sunset at Georgetown Waterfront Park
  • Sorry to beat a dead horse with the brunch thing, but the buffet brunch (including bottomless mimosas) at Pinstripes on Sundays is well worth the $30 – I’m not sure you can do better than that in Georgetown. Try to get a patio seat if it’s nice out. You can also play bocce ball or go bowling inside the restaurant.

I can’t wait to live a short Metro ride away from everything else the city has to offer! I’ll definitely blog with new recommendations when I move into the city for work after graduation. Fellow Washingtonians/NoVA natives – did I miss any must-sees?


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