Washington D.C. broke its own record for highest number of visitors the city had ever seen in 2014 with over 20 million guests to the Nation's Capital. As the nation’s capital, it’s a top destination spot for American tourists and travelers from around the world. Not only is DC home to some of the United States’ oldest national treasures, but the city is also the mecca of all things politics, a hub of art and culture, and a birthplace of ideas. The city exhibits a fascinating culture of hard work and just-as-much play, which is why there are so many eclectic venues and events that exist in tandem with the work environment.
Here are some of the best neighborhoods to stay in Washington, D.C., whether you want a view of the national monuments from your window, or reside a stone’s throw from the best brunch spots and bars in town.
6 Great Neighborhoods To See in Washington, D.C.
1. Adams Morgan
Adams Morgan is a residential neighborhood by day with a hopping party scene on the weekends. This neighborhood seems like it exists in its own bubble of locals until the floodgates open on the weekends and outsiders flood the restaurant/bar scene. If you want quiet mornings and adventurous evenings, Adams Morgan provides the best of both worlds. The neighborhood also has great brunch spots, and what better way to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon than sipping on bottomless mimosas before checking out the local farmers market?
After the sun sets, you can join the young professionals who loosen their ties and kick back at one of the numerous restaurants/bars in the neighborhood. Adams Morgan was known as the center of D.C. nightlife back in the 1980’s and 90’s, according to urbanturf.com, a source for D.C. real estate. While it is still a dynamic neighborhood, its vibe is that of a hip older sibling that is letting younger neighborhoods claim its title as the “center of D.C. nightlife.”
This neighborhood is located in Virginia, but can easily be mistaken as a part of D.C. One of the perks of staying in Arlington is its proximity to the airport. The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is an international airport located in Arlington, Virginia, that’s just 3 miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.
The area is residential, with large numbers of military families living and working in the area, so it provides more quiet and family-friendly accommodations. Arlington, Virginia also has its sights to see, such as the Pentagon, Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Arlington National Cemetery. Even if you don’t plan on renting a car, Arlington is easily accessible from D.C. via metro, and just a few stops away from D.C.’s classic sightseeing destinations like the White House and the Washington Monument.
3. Capitol Hill
Staying near Capitol Hill will give you quick and easy access to many museums, Chinatown, Union Station, and the White House. Not to mention the view of the Capitol building, which looks amazing at night. Imagine very long walkways (sidewalks with a very scenic view) winding around the brightly lit Capitol. It’s clearly the beacon of this neighborhood, and all else dims in comparison.
There is a cluster of hotels a mile north of Capitol Hill near Union Station, a hub of transportation that provides Metro and Amtrak services. This area is much more lively than Capitol Hill at any time of day, especially with the cacophony of taxicabs and travellers passing through.
Though hotel accommodations on Capitol Hill itself are scarce, its proximity to the National Mall and other Hill attractions makes it a great neighborhood for tourists who enjoy sightseeing. For those of you who enjoy hustle and bustle during the day and quiet evenings in, you can’t get much more peace and quiet than on Capitol Hill at 9 p.m.
4. DuPont Circle
DuPont Circle is a neighborhood with a unique personality. It is partly residential and partly commercial, with a different vibe as you move from one block to the next. DuPont Circle itself, a rotary that encompasses a small “park,” is quaint, with a hodgepodge of must-see attractions and must-do activities all within a few blocks. A few well-known secrets among the locals is Trivia night, which usually happens on a weekday at a low key bar. Kramer’s bookstore is another little gem of the neighborhood, open 24 hours during the weekend to keep you going with their colorful selection of books, events, and caffeine.
DuPont Circle is also home to Embassy Row, Washington D.C.’s largest concentration of international embassies. After a stroll along Massachusetts Avenue to see the embassies, pick another street that crosses the circle to see if it’s your home state. Bonus points if you can name all the states the streets are named after. Then, head over to quench your thirst at Brickskellar’s, where they say they have the world’s largest beer collection, or immerse yourself in the world of art at the Phillips Collection gallery.
5. Georgetown/Foggy Bottom
This neighborhood is ideal for those who appreciate quaint avenues lined with shops and red-bricked sidewalks crowded with people. This is a neighborhood that shopaholic locals frequent and where dazed tourists wander. It’s a neighborhood where you can meander aimlessly for hours, or stick to the directory of stores for shoppers on a mission.
If you happen to see a queue of people standing around in rain or shine, they might be waiting in line for the infamous Georgetown Cupcakes or the equally delicious Baked and Wired. Weekends are prime time for this neighborhood to shine, when students take a break from their studies, and visitors pass through this increasingly popular tourist destination. Although it’s a bit of a walk to get to a Metro stop, Georgetown is right along the waterfront, offering a spectacular view of the Potomac River.
6. Penn Quarter
Tourists congregate towards Penn Quarter because it’s at the center of so much action. Verizon Center, where the NBA’s Washington Wizards shoot hoops and a myriad of non-sports related performances take place, is in Penn Quarter. Or rather, the Penn Quarter/Chinatown area is more commonly referred to as “near the Verizon Center.”
Penn Quarter has a lively social scene with its restaurants, bars, museums, and theaters. A number of festivals take place in this neighborhood, for those of you into food, wine, art, or culture. Theatergoers have so many options to choose from, including the famous Ford’s Theater, which also doubles as a museum. Artists and fans of art can check out the National Portrait Gallery or Donald W. Reynolds Center For American Art And Portraiture, both of which offer free admission. And even if you aren’t into any of the above, Penn Quarter is bound to have something that sparks your interest.
This article was written by Hanna Choi.