If your obsession with House of Cards hasn’t convinced you to move Washington, DC to the top of your US travel bucket list, then your love of gorgeous music venues, rooftop bars and farmers’ markets will have you booking a trip ASAP. Sure, DC is definitely the place to head if you want to strike up a convo about environmental election issues with a stranger, but the city isn’t all politics. These nine picks will have you appreciating the trendy, artistic and beautiful sides of the US capital in just two days.
1. Rent a Capital Bikeshare bike. The DC bikesharing program was the first of its kind to launch in North America, and they do it right. With over 300 stations to pick up and drop off bikes, you can see a ton of the city without being beholden to rush-hour traffic or metro delays. Also, a lot of DC is relatively flat, so you won’t have to hustle up hills. Download the app before your trip so that you can find stations easily wherever you are. One-day and three-day memberships are only $8 or $17, respectively. (Photo via Alex Wong/Getty)
2. Spark some major patriotism. So, we have to tell you to visit the (free!) US monuments on Capitol Hill. Not only will a stroll around monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, National WWII Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial make you feel like you’re at the center of history, but the sheer size of the limestone statues makes for some pretty epic views across the reflecting pool, cherry blossoms or not. To catch one of the best 360-degree views of DC, sign up at 8:30am for a ticket to the top of the Washington Monument.
3. Visit Bloomingdale to eat like a local. If you visited DC more than five years ago, you won’t recognize Bloomingdale now. A 10-minute walk from the nearest metro station, the area transformed from a residential neighborhood with a wonderful weekend farmers’ market to a full-blown hipster foodie paradise.
Grab some java at the long-standing local coffee spot Big Bear Cafe, eat a delicious dinner fit for foodies at The Red Hen or grab a local DC brew at Boundary Stone Public House (and follow it up with a honey hot wing sandwich). Then head to the quirky local bar Showtime to catch the in-house Sunday night band, Granny and the Boys, which stars an 83-year-old keyboard-playing grandma (amazing). (Photo via The Red Hen)
4. Go to brunch. A weekend mimosa is the unofficial DC mascot. Washingtonians love brunching, and maybe that’s because there are so many incredible options. Try the Fainting Goat, Bayou Bakery or Le Diplomat to brunch as the locals do. It may be all those high-stress government jobs, but DC residents don’t wait ’til nighttime to start boozing.
If you’re a Bloody Mary connoisseur, Tabbard Inn is a must-visit. You’ll also find plenty of great all-you-can-drink brunch deals around the city, like Vinoteca (bonus: bocce ball) and Boqueria. If you want to just drink your breakfast (Sunday Funday, right?), try Wonderland Ballroom, where mimosas are front and center, and the make-it-yourself waffle setup is in the corner.
5. Find some flea market gems at Eastern Market. On the weekends, Eastern Market is a buzzing outdoor-indoor market, featuring talented local makers selling everything from art to funky trinkets and furniture. Head inside for some delicious locally produced cheeses and meats, and grab a mouth-watering lunch like sausages and crab cakes. On Sunday, the market draws an even bigger crowd to attend the flea market next door. If you don’t find anything to take home — which may be impossible — head to nearby Capitol Hill Books for an hour of browsing through their stacks-upon-stacks of used books. (Photo via Eastern Market)
6. Go to concerts at two of the best venues in the US.Billboard has been saying for years what Rolling Stone just figured out — 9:30 Club is one of the best venues in the US to see your favorite band (or any performer, really). With two balconies and a max capacity of 1,200, you don’t have to wear your heels all night to see the stage. For a cozier experience, check out Black Cat or Rock & Roll Hotel. During the summer, the nearest outdoor amphitheater, Merriweather Post Pavilion, also tops national best amphitheater lists every year.
7. Take in some *really* affordable high-brow art. You’ll find everything from painted masterpieces to modern installations and impressive photography in DC — for free. Check out the Renwick Gallery, the newest addition to the Smithsonian (a reopening, to be exact) that showcases contemporary craft and decorative art, then have a coffee in the gorgeous atrium at the National Gallery of Art and visit the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden for an uber-cultural day.
8. Enjoy the beats at Meridian Hill Park. It’s designed partly in the style of a classic Italian Garden and partly in French Baroque style, so you can’t help but feel like you’ve been transported to Europe as you stroll around the park. On Sundays, you can also catch some live music and dancing (sometimes professional, sometimes just locals jammin’) at the famous Drum Circle, being held at the park since the 1950s.
9. Visit a green oasis in the heart of DC.Rock Creek Park is a beautiful slice of nature that cuts through Northwest DC. With over 30 miles of trails, you can run, walk, rollerblade or bike through thick trees and gurgling streams that make you feel miles away from the city. Since you’re in the nation’s capital, it’s only appropriate to really take advantage of the National Parks Service and go on a ranger-guided tour of the local wildlife or Rock Creek Park Planetarium, right?
What are your favorite local spots in DC? Give us the deets @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)