Wknd Guide: Washington DC

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Recently my husband and I visited our nation’s capital, the city itself is amazing whether you go for the food, the sightseeing or simply to just get away make DC a priority on your list of places to visit....

BUDGET HOTELS ($0-149 AVG PER NIGHT)

MOUNT VERNON SQUARE BED AND BREAKFAST:   this charming bed and breakfast is within walking distance of some of the best attractions the city has to offer. The restored building is well over 100 years old and trust me your stay includes a lovely family-style breakfast served daily. There are just five rooms available that contribute to the B&B's cozy and warm vibe, but rooms do book up so be sure to reserve well in advance!

THE CAPITAL SKYLINE HOTEL:  the capital hotel is a budget - friendly option in a notoriously expensive city, but that doesn't mean it's short on any of their amenities. For example, the outdoor pool transforms into a lively party over the weekends in the summertime, Wi-Fi is free, shuttle service to landmarks is also provided. So, if you’re looking to save more and still have all the bells and whistles then, you have found the place.... your welcome.

DUPONT STAY: if you’re not going to rent a car or Uber it around then the Dupont is your place considering the fact that it is close to public transit. The Dupont is a comfortable hotel with stylish quarters and elegant touches all while having a beautiful restaurant and cocktail bar for those of you who would like to just relax and enjoy your first night in DC also in addition to many other restaurants and shopping options all within walking distance.


MID-RANGE HOTELS ($150-300 AVG PER NIGHT)

DONOVAN HOUSE: with its city views and a pool on the rooftop free wine every evening, and for those of us who want to bike around the city this hotel offers free complimentary bike rentals, the Donovan house offers great amenities to its guests. There are in- room spa services available, a 24-hour fitness center, and above all its pet friendly. In addition to all this the Donovan is right down the street from many of DC's most popular restaurants and bars.

THE LIAISON: with its sophisticated rooms and upscale bistro this hotel is a pure delight! the service goes beyond your expectations! you are truly treated as a special guest. Just being a stone's throw from the capital building, the liaison has inviting rooms, a fantastic restaurant, and one of the best hotel pools in the city. you'll be close to barrack's row, a lively street in the Capital Hill neighborhood. This is the ideal spot if you're apt to take a train during your stay, as it's just steps away from union station.


SPLURGE HOTELS ($301-500 AVG PER NIGHT)

MANDARIN ORIENTAL:  Kimpton properties are synonymous with luxury, and the DC outpost is no different. located close to all the DC hot spots, this hotel is conveniently located though you'll more than likely have trouble dragging yourself out of your dreamlike hotel room. the beds are plush, the views are simply beautiful, and the hotel houses one of the best spas in the city.

THE HAY ADAMS:  although it's hard to fathom ever staying across the street from the white house, but that's exactly where you'll be at the Hay Adams. This lovely hotel is perfectly located for those who want to spend ample time exploring the national mall and experiencing all the must-see DC spots like the capital building and (of course) the white house. The rooms are elegant and classy, also when booking this classic hotel you'll have the option to choose which view you'd like your room to face. although that iconic Washington monument view will cost you, it's definitely worth the splurge.


THINGS TO DO

ENTERTAINMENT:  E Street Cinema not your standard cinema experience - and certainly not your standard movie lineup. While they do show some of the big hits, e street cinema also focuses on indie films that may fly under the radar, as well as cult classics you want to see in theater again. One of their best perks is?  You can order from a food menu that is complete with beer (for those of you who do drink beer) or wine options, the perfect adornment to your flick.

9:30 CLUB: For those of you who still like to shake your "groove thang", then 9:30 club just may be for you. often lauded as one of the best music venues in the entire country, 9:30 club is a great stop for any music lover visiting the city. Whether you want to see a local act or internationally acclaimed artist, you're guaranteed to have a good time here. unlike a lot of venues, a solid variety of food and craft beers are also available for purchase.

THE SMITHSONIAN: this is a broad category as the Smithsonian is made up of several different museums and galleries throughout DC. I recommend choosing a few favorites rather than trying to squeeze them all. major highlights include big bus sightseeing tour, Washington DC hop on/ hop off tours, the national museum of African American history & culture, Martin Luther King Jr memorial. The national portrait gallery, and the Hirschhorn museum and sculpture garden. There's something for everyone within the Smithsonian and, best of all, most of these museums are FREE to visit.

EASTERN MARKET: located in the capitol hill neighborhood, eastern market is a food and arts market that is a hub for fresh produce and local artisans. Visit on the weekend and you'll find it bustling with locals and tourist alike. There is both an indoor and outdoor market to explore.

ROCK CREEK PARK: this park is absolutely breathtaking, it's one of the oldest national parks, and is home to great trails and incredible scenery. An ideal trip here is spent hiking part of the park's 30+ mile trails and enjoying a picnic right after.

KEY BRIDGE BOATHOUSE: Ah the summertime, the ideal reason to get outdoors while still enjoying great views of the city, is on the Potomac river. Key bridge boathouse rents kayaks and paddleboards to experience the great outdoors in DC. There's something very surreal about paddling past Watergate or the Kennedy center, and it's a lasting experience not to be missed if you visit during the warm weather.

GREAT FALLS NATIONAL PARK:  although great falls is in Virginia rather than DC proper, it's so worth a daytrip- being just 15 miles away from DC so you won't have to travel very far. Here, the Potomac river flows into the Mather Gorge, allowing visitors to see the dramatic falls from many different overlooks. whitewater boating is also permitted here.

RENT A CAPITAL BIKE - SHARE BIKE: DC has an extensive bike-sharing network (if you want to call it that) and it can be one of the best ways to get around the city, especially if you want to avoid traffic and metro delays which can be hectic and you should try to avoid at all costs. There are over 300 stations so it's easy to find one regardless of where you are! Also if you're only in DC for the weekend, a three-day membership is just $17. my tip? View the station map in advance to plan your trip.

MERIDIAN HILL PARK:  Meridian Hill Park was designed to look like an Italian garden, and as a result you feel like you have been transported to Europe upon arriving. Although the park is not large at all it is easily accessible and a great spot to enjoy the outdoors on a nice day. Locals frequently picnic here on the weekends, and on Sunday afternoons you'll be able to listen to the famous drum circle that's assembled here regularly since the 1950's.


RELAX AND INDULGE

MANDARIN ORIENTAL: this just may be the most relaxing place in all of oz....lol ok DC, and you will want to make sure you have a good amount of time to spend at this spa facility. All guests who book a body treatment or facial are welcome to use the facility's vitality pools, showers, steam rooms, and sauna, which makes for all -encompassing spa experience. This spa is definitely a bit of a splurge, but your body will thank you.

NUSTA SPA:  with Nusta being the first LEED certified spa in the world, so their commitment to sustainable practices is impressive. they use natural products and have created a spa that allows for wellness and beauty to converge with nature. Treatments range from nail care to massages.

REVIVE MASSAGE DC: if your serious about getting a massage, revive massage is your place. located in DuPont circle area, revive is a smaller spa that focuses on providing top-notch massages to patrons. I recommend their signature massage- a combination of deep tissue and Swedish massage.

AVEDA INSTITUTE DC: if you're on a tight budget, head on over to the Aveda institute for the most affordable spa treatments in the city. Because the staff is in training, you'll get deeply discounted services. but rest assured, there is always a supervising staff member alongside, so you won't end up with sub-par services.

FOUR SEASONS SPA: this spa has some seriously great options to choose from, whether you're looking for a quick facial or a full bod treatment. There are also some seasonal spa services. Which is nice if you're looking for something a little different. There is also a pool, sauna, and steam room to take advantage of. Plus, the Zen like atmosphere will have you feeling relaxed in no time.


WHERE TO SHOP

CURRENT BOUTIQUE: considering that there are a few different current boutique locations in the DC area, each spilling over with amazing pieces of clothing at very reasonable prices. this consignment shop has a great selection including premium designers. The clothing is in good shape and their stores are well organized, so you won't spend a long time digging through piles of clothes.

UNION MARKET:  a market in every sense of the word, union market has a large array of delicious restaurants, high-quality grocers, and locally run retailers. This selling bazaar that holds food stalls, informal restaurants and everything else in between is the ideal location to get your houseware needs, shopping essentials and you can't miss food experiences at union market.

KRAMER BOOKS AND AFTERWORDS: this is a bookstore with a lot of character and all the reads you are looking for! Kramer books has best sellers as well as curates specific collections to help you broaden your reading horizons, once your done making your purchases head on to the back where the cafe is and grab your self a piece of cake and a coffee.

GEORGETOWN SHOPS: Georgetown is admittedly a large area, but it's one of the best spots to do some serious shopping in the city. On m street, Wisconsin Ave, and the neighboring side streets, you will find just about anything and everything you could possibly want or need. although there are so many larger chain shops here (Rag & Bone, TJ Maxx, Club Monaco, to name a few), plus there are local shops as well.


WHERE TO EAT

BEN'S CHILI BOWL:  simply put....it doesn't get much more DC than this iconic landmark Ben's chili bowl located on u street. on the weekends especially when it's by far in the warmer season's Ben's see lines leading out the door while you wait for one of the famous half-smokes. Be ready though to grab you order and sit at one of the tables surrounded by photos of hundreds of famous faces- many have visited this unofficial DC landmark! 

GLEN'S GARDEN MARKET:  this super cute place represents something of a radical food idea. every single item in the store is sourced from the Chesapeake Bay watershed area, with no exception, and that distinction is evident in its offerings. Head on over to the deli counter and order one of the delicious sandwiches or salads for a meal that is healthy, locally sourced, and affordable.

FAIDLEY SEAFOOD: if your anything like me seafood is a must have...but crab is at the top of that list. (well mine's anyway), if your visiting DC and you have the time to spare do yourself a favor and travel to Baltimore's Faidley Seafood and try some of their delicious crab it is truly some of the best I have tried. This place is by far one of the oldest and best-known purveyors of fresh and prepared seafood in the Chesapeake region.

MAKI SHOP: this cute place takes the do-it-yourself to another level by giving you the means to roll your own sushi! This casual style restaurant lets you pick from fresh raw fish delicacies to more inventive variations such as curry chicken or beef short ribs, yes, made all in a sushi hand roll and ready for you to devour. this is a great, affordable spot perfect for a light snack or lunch. enjoy! 


BEST DINNERS AND BRUNCHES

LE DIPLOMATE: the definitive destination for DC Francophiles, le diplomate could have easily been uprooted from the center of Paris and dropped right into DC. The classic bistro decor and sight of freshly baked goods as you walk in gives off a very authentic feel to this quaint spot. As it doesn't end there the menu offers an array of French classics from beef bourguignon to great local cheese plates. the addition of side walk tables are perfect for a nice glass of wine and people watching, but make sure to make reservations!  this spot fills up quickly.

MAKETTO: the restaurant itself is a garage-like structure that is open to the outside during the warmer months, and serves up a nice interpretation of Cambodian and Taiwanese cooking. Start with either the leek or pork bao buns, and then get a little adventurous with your other choice by indulging in bone marrow or savory curries. In addition to the restaurant, Maketto also houses a fantastic cafe upstairs, as well as a shop, making it a really fun spot to check out and spend a few hours.

ROSE'S LUXURY: at this family owned establishment in barracks row the food is daring in both concept and flavor. If you aren't sure about the menu or what to order, the knowledgeable staff will surely guide you, depending on your tastes and likes. though the menu often changes, the pork and lychee salad is a must order! TIP: arrive early as they do not accept reservations. the line begins to form more than an hour before opening, probably because rose's luxury was voted the best new restaurant in America in 2014 by bon appetit. Here's something else I bet you did not know but President Obama even ate here for his birthday in 2015. 


WINE BARS AND NEIGHBORHOOD EATERIES

ROOM 11:  it's definitely worth a trip out to the Columbia Heights neighborhood to check out this amazing little place. Having a relaxed, neighborhood vibe it's a good low-key destination when you want to chat with you mate, friends or locals over a glass of wine. The outdoor patio makes for the perfect spot to catch up and relax. during the day stop by for coffee and snacks, as well as for brunch on the weekends.

COPY CAT CO.: the bar sits in a comfortably on a second floor in the ever-changing h street corridor. the professionals behind the bar are clearly artisans- they take your drink very seriously, so you're in for an incredible treat of a cocktail experience. The menu is often written down on a sliding chalkboard that lists hundreds of variations on different cocktail classics. And if you haven't had dinner yet, the bar lets you order dumplings, steamed buns, and meat skewers from the small restaurant downstairs.

PROOF: wine lovers should make a beeline to this spot as soon as they set foot in the district. as you walk in, you will notice the wall of wine bottles this spot boasts and immediately wish you had the same setup at home. you can certainly grab dinner at this wine connoisseur's dream, but you do just as well posting up at the bar for drinks and snacks. The wine list is seemingly never-ending, and there's something for everyone taste regardless of the pickiest picker. They have great happy hour during the week, so take advantage if you can.

SOUTHERN EFFICIENCY: an extensive whiskey list from bourbons to ryes and a menu with classic southern comfort food? The cocktails are delicious and change regularly depending on the season. They also have house-made sodas that you can spike with the spirit of your choice. Not a liquor fan? (neither am I) if you choose you can still grab a beer or a nice glass of wine here to enjoy.

Trina Smith