48 Hours in Washington, D.C: A Local‘s Guide

Washington DC (by Nicolas Raymond)

Washington, D.C. (by Nicolas Raymond)

The capital of the United States, Washington, D.C., is a vibrant city, which proudly houses the country’s federal government. Sometimes it seems that this city is speaking without words: you only need to look at its buildings, explore the hidden corners and you will feel the special vibe that Washington has. It’s not only a politically powerful city, it has a vibrant city life with welcoming locals. Washington, D.C. treats its guests as warmly as its inhabitants do, making you feel at home.

Washington DC (by Jason OX4)

Train Station in Washington, D.C. (by Jason OX4)

A true local’s vibe and insider tips, that’s what we are all about! Our local Spotters are more than ready to take you on a 48-hour journey around their beloved city. No need to rush, enjoy Washington at its best!

Day 1: 09:00 – 13:00

Le Caprice (by Le Caprice)

Le Caprice (by Le Caprice)

Say ‘Good Morning’ to Washington! The city has a lot to offer, so let’s make sure you get a proper breakfast! “A welcome addition to Columbia Heights”, says our Spotter Andrew about Le Caprice. It’s a French bakery and coffee shop, managed by a lovely family who moved from France to Washington, D.C. a while ago. Even though the breakfast menu is quite simple, the food is amazingly delicious. La Caprice offers sandwiches, baked goods, cookies, pastries and, of course, coffee. Andrew says that he has already tried lots of goods from this bakery and he has never been disappointed! Most of the food is really inexpensive, starting at about 60 cents. But, keep in mind: because of the great food and low prices, La Caprice can get really crowded!

LeDroit Park (by Josh)

LeDroit Park (by Josh)

After your breakfast (we hope you bought some croissants to go), our Spotter Mirna suggests you get to know the historic neighborhood of the city, which is called LeDroit Park. She writes, “A good place to start is at the gate that carries the name of this small area, on 6th and Florida Avenue NW, strolling down T street until you reach the Anna J. Cooper Circle on 3rd Street NW”. The most historically and architecturally significant houses are located on T street NW. LeDroit Park is a perfect place if you’re aiming to get to know the city a bit better. The best way to explore the neighborhood is by bike, you can rent one at Capital Bikeshare – it’s cheap and super convenient!

14th Street NW (by Ted Eytan)

14th Street NW (by Ted Eytan)

We do think that street art is the face of a city. One of the most impressive murals in the city is located at 1502 U Street NW. It’s called Silenced George, which is, as our local Laetitia explains, “a large white drawing of a gagged George Washington commissioned by D.C. Vote”. The mural was painted by artists Aniekan Udofia and Liz Brown of Midnight Raven Design. An interesting fact: the city’s street art is funded by the local government, citizens and businesses. The murals often have some kind of political message and have a tendency to pop when you don’t really expect it. Although the city is full of impressive murals, the Silenced George is Laetitia’s personal favorite!

Ok, let’s keep exploring the city at its best! Next stop – 14th Street NW. It’s a super-entertaining street during the daytime as well as nighttime (just so you know, during the evening/night this street is an awesome spot to hang out at). During the day, there are plenty of options to choose from: you can explore the area with historic buildings, visit art galleries or local stores, for instance, Salt and Sundry. A very useful tip from our local Mirna: “When strolling on 14th Street NW, turn west on P Street NW for more shopping and restaurants and east for the Logan Circle”. By the way, don’t forget to drop by Dolcezza Gelato – it’s a super cozy cafe, where you can get some amazing homemade gelato!

Day 1: 13:00 – 19:00

Stoney’s Lounge (by Stoney’s Lounge)

Stoney’s Lounge (by Stoney’s Lounge)

Lunchtime! While visiting Washington D.C., you definitely can’t miss Stoney’s Lounge. As our Spotter Aparna says, “Life in DC would be much harder without Stoney’s Lounge”. And that’s probably the absolute truth since it is one of the most popular hotspots in the Logan Circle area. First, you might be surprised: when you enter Stoney’s Lounge it looks more like a bar and not a fancy restaurant… BUT this place makes legendary (that’s what Aparna says) grilled cheese sandwiches with “Perfectly thick buttery bread, a plentiful amount of melted cheese, onion, tomato and crispy bacon”. Yes, you may completely lose your mind while eating one. Say no more, it’s a cheesy piece of heaven… If you are not a huge fan of sandwiches, Stoney’s Lounge also offers some great pizzas, burgers and other goodies!

Dupont Underground (by Laetitia-Laure Brock)

Dupont Underground (by Laetitia-Laure Brock)

We know that it may be difficult to leave Stoney’s Lounge and their finger lickin’ sandwiches, but it’s about time to head further. Our next stop is called Dupont Underground. It’s a unique urban space in DC. and you really can’t miss it. Before being transformed into a cultural spot, with lots of concerts, art exhibitions and other events, Dupont Underground was a trolley station and even a fallout shelter. If you want to take part in the various events that are organized at this urban space, keep checking their Facebook profile!

Georgetown University (by Filippo Diotalevi)

Georgetown University (by Filippo Diotalevi)

After visiting Dupont Underground, our Spotter Andrew wants to take you to the oldest part of the city – The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (which is now called the National Historical Park). Andrew shortly explains: “Running from the Georgetown neighborhood to Cumberland, Maryland 185 miles away, the canal operated from 1831 to 1924, shipping coal, lumber and other cargo to and from western Maryland and Pennsylvania to the growing capital city”. However, soon railroads became more useful than the canal and eventually it was completely abandoned. Later (luckily), The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was turned into a National Historical Park. Nowadays, it’s a peaceful place for long walks while enjoying the former industrial historic port. Also, at this area you can find some homey cafes, restaurants and local shops. So, no need to rush!

For the next spot we have to head a bit further, to 37th and O Street, where the Georgetown University (established in 1789) is located. The immensity of the University building is very impressive. The main building is called Healy Hall (pictured above) and inside you can find Riggs Library and Gaston Hall, which you can always visit for free! However, it’s not just the building itself that makes this spot worth visiting. The University is located on a hill that overlooks the Potomac River. Our local Megan mentions that it’s one of her favorite places, because it has one of the best views in Washington, D.C.

Day 1: 19:00 – 23:00

Thunder Burger Bar (by Megan Crain)

Thunder Burger Bar (by Megan Crain)

We hope you are a huge fan of burgers, because you are about to have a real dinner treat. Let’s head to Thunder Burger Bar. The first thing which may catch your attention is the gothic style furniture and luxurious chandeliers (what a fancy interior for a burger bar!). The choice of dishes is really wide (salads, starters, entrees, sandwiches), but the crowned king of this spot is the burger, for sure. When you start to read their menu, that’s when the real fun begins. ‘Devil’s delight’, ‘Pig in a cow suit’, ‘Love me tender’… Those are just a few names of the burgers that Thunder Burger Bar offers. Our local Megan recommends being adventurous and trying one just for its name! The place also offers a sufficient list of drinks: drafts, bottled beers, wine and cocktails. A perfect spot to start your evening!

Bier Baron (by anokarina)

Bier Baron (by anokarina)

Get ready to grab some beer, because Bier Baron has A LOT to offer! Our local Ryan gives a short preview of this place: “The Bier Baron is the second generation of the historic Brickskeller Saloon. After 50 years of operating, the Brickskeller changed ownership, but kept its allure by maintaining the original feel”. The bar’s vibe has remained super positive, so locals choose this spot for a guaranteed pleasant evening. The Bier Baron is located in the basement of the hotel with the same name. So, what is so special about this bar? Well, if you call yourself a die-hard fan of beer, then this place is a match made in heaven. The Bier Baron has a massive selection of booze. Ryan notes there are 600 various sorts of bottled beers and 50 beers on tap. Insane! And now listen carefully: the bar has a happy hour (every day of the week), from 17:00 to 19:00, when you can buy a burger and any draft beer for only 10 dollars!

Day 1: 23:00 – …

Tropicalia Club (by Tropicalia)

Do you want to dance your shoes off? You really do? Then let’s head to Tropicalia, for a wild dance! This place can be considered as super international since Tropicalia plays music from all around the world: reggae, salsa, afrobeat, hip-hop… Our Spotter Ryan mentions African dance nights (that occur one Wednesday every month), hip-hop concerts, Latino nights and so on. You should check the list of events on Tropicalia’s Facebook page, but rest assured, whenever you go there, you will definitely find a crazy party! By the way, most of the time entrance is completely free!

Day 2: 09:00 – 13:00

Woodward Takeout Food (by Andrew Wiseman)

Woodward Takeout Food (by Andrew Wiseman)

So, what’s for breakfast? Sandwiches it is! Woodward Takeout Food is a top-notch spot. Here you can find a variety of homey sandwiches, made with fresh ingredients. Our Spotter Andrew suggests you try the Merguez sausage sandwich, which is his personal favorite: “It’s got spicy sausage with a snap, grilled broccoli rabe, spicy harissa aioli, arugula, cilantro and roasted red peppers”. Woodward Takeout Food uses a homemade Italian bread or pita for their sandwiches, which makes them extra delicious. You can have your breakfast inside the cafe or take it to go. If the weather is great, just head to the nearby President’s Park. And don’t forget to try their homemade potato chips, they are awesome!

US Botanical Gardens (by m01229)

US Botanical Gardens (by m01229)

The city of Washington, D.C. has a lot of spots where locals love to take a break from their busy lives. One of those places is the US Botanical Gardens. This place, located at 100 Maryland Ave SW, is often forgotten by tourists (although it is right next to the US Capitol). US Botanical Gardens is a peaceful oasis where you can find a variety of different and remarkable plants, as well as flowers, divided into various sections according to their species. Our local Aparna claims that “The best part about the place are the smells – with all the plants and flowers, the entire garden really smells lovely. I especially love the medicinal plants section!”. So, if you want to take a short break from the hectic city, don’t forget about US Botanical Gardens!

However, the garden is quite small and it won’t take a lot of your time, so you may feel the need to explore the city more (before your lunch break!). Not far away you can find Sculpture Garden, which is located near the Archives Metro Station and the United States Naval Monument. The Sculpture Garden is simply amazing: here you can find lots of amusing sculptures as well as a huge and oh so beautiful fountain! By the way, during winter, the fountain turns into an ice skating rink! Keep in mind that there are six public entrances to the Sculpture Garden: one on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, three on 7th Street (one directly across from the Gallery’s West Building entrance), and two on the National Mall between 7th and 9th Streets NW.

Day 2: 13:00 – 19:00

Chinatown Express (by Elvert Barnes)

Chinatown Express (by Elvert Barnes)

Are you ready for lunch? We know just the place! Let’s drop by the city’s Chinatown, where you will find Chinatown Express. It’s known as ‘a noodle place’ among the locals. Chinatown Express is a family-run restaurant where you can find really delicious home-made noodles, soups and a variety of dishes that include meat (pork, duck, chicken and so on). Everything is really low-priced, you can have a proper meal for $ 6.95. However, if you are not a huge fan of the Chinese kitchen, you can drop by another spot – Beef and Bread. The name of the eatery speaks for itself, right? Here you can find some top-notch beef sandwiches (themed by different U.S cities/states). Our local Megan boldly says: “To be honest, I could have just shoved my face into a vat of the beef without the toppings or the bread for that matter”. Although the dishes are on the pricey side, but they are absolutely worth trying!

National Portrait Gallery (by NCinDC)

National Portrait Gallery (by NCinDC)

When you are visiting DC, you probably want to get to know it thoroughly. And there is no better way to familiarize yourself with it than through its museums. Our Spotter Laetitia suggests to visit her personal favorite: National Portrait Gallery. She says that “The museum tells the history of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture”, artists, politicians, scientists, and inventors. She goes on to say that you shouldn’t miss The Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard inside the gallery. It is a large public space, which is covered with a beautiful glass/aluminum ceiling. The gallery is really worth your attention and, surprisingly, it is absolutely free!

Do you have a sweet tooth? We hope you do, because Coco Sala is a real chocolate paradise. It’s a perfect place to grab a dessert and have a moment of pure delight. Coco Sala offers some unusual combinations says Aparna, “Creamy Mac n Cheese topped with a slice of chocolate covered bacon – savory and flavorful. I also love their Four Cheese Fritters, which are soft and crunchy, served with an incredible chipotle chocolate sauce”. If you are not up for the sweet/salty combination, then try some spot-on desserts, for instance, the dark chocolate gelato and mousse!

Mr. Brainwash mural (by Laetitia-Laure Brock)

Mr. Brainwash mural (by Laetitia-Laure Brock)

We’ve already mentioned DCs street art and mural paintings, which often have a strong message behind them. Every piece of art reflects various viewpoints and reveals some issues that the country is coping with. One of the murals to spread an important message is located at 5th Street Northeast 1309. The Mr. Brainwash mural was initiated by the country’s First Lady Michelle Obama. Our Spotter Laetitia explains: “Michelle Obama marked International Women’s Day and the first anniversary of Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative aimed at educating girls around the world, at Union Market”. The author of the mural is Thierry Guetta, also known as Mr. Brainwash. The mural combines several pieces: lots of colorful hearts are connected with inspiring slogans such as “Never give up” or “Follow your heart”.

Really close to Mr. Brainwash’s mural you can find the so-called N Street Murals Project. It’s three different and colorful murals in the NoMa area. Each mural was painted by a different artist: Momo, Kyle Hughes-Odgers and Rubin. So, what do they all have in common? Actually, the N Street Murals Project is a collaboration between the Art Whino Gallery and the JBG Companies. According to the artists, “The project’s mission is to activate a block on N Street using Murals as the primary vehicle for activation”. The project aims to revive NoMa’s neighbourhood and make it more appealing. The murals are really eye-catching, so you should definitely see them if you are hanging out close to NoMa!

Day 2: 19:00 – 23:00

Boundary Stone Public House (by Boundary Stone DC)

Boundary Stone Public House (by Boundary Stone DC)

You’ve had quite an active day, so you’ll need a proper reward – a fulfilling dinner at Boundary Stone Public House! Although this place is well-known among the locals as a bar, it serves really delicious and high-quality food. The dinner menu offers lots of mouthwatering treats: salads, chicken honey wings, fried pickles, quesadillas, burgers and falafels. The menu changes once in a while, but the dishes still keep their quality. Furthermore, the bar offers some healthy food like salads or yoghurt. Boundary Stone Public House recently doubled in size, so now they organize live music concerts (check out their list of events!). Double the size, twice the fun!

American Ice Company (by American Ice Co.)

American Ice Company (by American Ice Co.)

This next spot is a perfect place to spice things up before hitting the road to the club. It’s called American Ice Company, which is located at 917 V Street NW. This bar was established in a former garage, with a rustic interior, but with a perfectly positive vibe. Our local Andrew says that whenever you drop by, you always have a lot of fun: “<…>it seems like people are extra friendly – it’s the kind of place where you can have a conversation with the folks next to you”. So, a perfect place to meet some great locals, right? American Ice Company serves delicious meals, so if you skipped the previously mentioned spot, you can have proper dinner right here (including vegetarian dishes!). But if you come here only for the booze… Well-played then! The beer comes in Mason jars, you can choose from draft beer as well as beer in a can (no bottled beer!). Usually the bar gets very crowded, but that makes the atmosphere even more vibrant!

Day 2: 23:00 – …

9:30 Club (by Matthew Straubmuller)

9:30 Club (by Matthew Straubmuller)

Do you know which music venue was rated as the best and the most successful in the world (three years in a row!)? It’s 9:30 Club. You just CAN’T miss it! The club is located in an old warehouse, so the exterior may look a bit off-putting, but when you enter it… Well, let’s just say that that’s when the real fun begins. Some of the best acts in the country take to the stage at 9:30 Club, such as Bob Dylan, Radiohead or the Beastie Boys. Basically, you can always find something super interesting going on here! The list of events is really wide and the club offers eye-catching events every day of the week. But keep in mind: if you desperately want to hear your favorite band playing live, buy the tickets as early as possible!

This weekend, Washington, D.C. local Laetitia will take over our Instagram account to take you on a 48-hour tour of Washington, D.C. Follow us on Instagram to see her favorite spots during #weekendbylocals.

For more always up-to-date tips by our Washington DC locals check our Washington, D.C. blog, or download our 100% offline app.

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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)