This is part of a series of travel articles composed by myself and Kendra Thornton of Thornton Public Relations
I moved to Washington D.C. seven years ago from Charleston, South Carolina, in need of a life change. When an opportunity dropped in my lap to work for a national organization, I said yes, because after years of living in Charleston, I was ready to leave the small city for a more cosmopolitan life, and the truth is, something always fascinated me about our nation’s capital.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Charleston, it’s my hometown, but I’ve come to calling D.C. now home. When many people think about D.C. the first things that come to mind are the museums on the National Mall, the memorials, the capital and of course, the White House. But, what makes D.C. so unique are the neighborhoods beyond the Mall within the city and outside of it.
14th Street/ U Street Corridor
In a city, where most people tend to wear formal black and gray business suits, you may be surprised that there is a hipness and coolness to our city. In my opinion, it has some of the same characteristics of New York City’s meat packing district. A mix of boutiques, restaurants, bars and art galleries, this area tends to draw more locals then tourists. Some of my favorite places include:
- Cork Restaurant and Wine Bar: There is something cozy about this restaurant. Maybe it’s the brick walls combined with the low lights, but the ambiance paired with the restaurant’s exquisite wine list and menu makes it the perfect place for a girls’ night out or a fun date night!
- Estadios: One of two popular Spanish tapas places on the street, this is a fun place to hang out. The menu features an array of Spanish inspired dishes. My favorite dish—the grilled octopus paired with potato caper salad.
- Pearl Dive Oyster Palace: This is another popular place for locals. You’ll find Hill staffers enjoying happy hour here. It’s got a casual vibe compared to other places in the district.
- Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar: a new restaurant to enter the scene, is another Spanish restaurant just a few blocks away from Estadios. My top favorites—the Spinach-Chickpea Cazuela and the Wild Mushroom & Leek Risotto are delicious!
DuPont Circle is another favorite neighborhood. You can spend an afternoon meandering through the neighborhood, taking in the architecture, stopping in the shops or enjoying a meal or drinks somewhere. If you’re in the neighborhood, you may want to:
- Spend a couple of hours at the Phillips Collection: The museum is a privately owned museum featuring a variety of art collections. The famous Renoir painting, “Luncheon at the Boating Party,” has its own special place in the museum. The Phillips also features traveling exhibits of some of the world’s most renowned artists like Van Gogh and Degas.
- Take a docent led tour of the Anderson House. One of the city’s most exquisite mansions, the mansion served as the winter residence of Larz Anderson, an American diplomat, and his wife, Isabel, an author and benefactress. The home was the setting for many diplomatic affairs, performances and galas. During the docent-led tour, you will be transported back the area.
- Enjoy drinks at Circa after a day of meandering. Perfectly located in the heart of DuPont Circle, you can enjoy a drink and some appetizers after a day of wandering. Another great place is Kramers Books & Afterwords Café.
Old Town Alexandria
If you’re looking to spend an afternoon outside the city, a fun area to check out is Old Town Alexandria. Located off the George Washington Parkway or off the Metro, Old Town Alexandra offers something for anyone in the family to enjoy. In addition to strolling through some of the local shops, you can:
- Enjoy ice cream on a warm summer day or a nice cup of coffee at the harbor that overlooks the Potomac River.
- Check out the Torpedo Factory. The building features exhibits and galleries of local artists’ work.
- Sip some wine and enjoy some appetizers at Grape & Bean. The local wine bar also hosts some fabulous events. They’re not your typical wine events at all!
- Take in some music at the Piano Bar at the Morrison House especially if you’re a fan of Sinatra and Dean Martin. You’ll definitely dig this place.
Whether you live in the DC Metro area or are a tourist, try to check out places beyond the mall. DC is filled with some pretty neat neighborhoods. They may surprise you and you’ll come to a realization that DC isn’t just a political city filled only with men and women in suits.