If you don’t want to leave DC empty-handed, take some time to explore the city’s retail scene. From local designers to one-of-a-kind crafts, DC’s unique boutiques are thriving. Select a neighborhood (or two) and spend an afternoon browsing the shops and stocking up on original souvenirs.
Eastern Market: On weekends, lawmakers and their staffs take a break at Eastern Market, named by Frommer’s as one of America’s best public markets. Check out local artisans’ work or search for funky antique furniture at the flea market. And be sure to try the “bluebuck” (blueberry buckwheat) pancakes at Market Lunch.
Homebody: You’ll want to stay in if you stock your abode with finds from Homebody. The store offers a unique and distinctive array of contemporary home furnishings, personal accessories and original works of art – like a DC-shaped coffee table.
Hill’s Kitchen: Shop for fun kitchen gadgets or sign up for cooking classes in this cleverly-named shop.
Après Peau: This downtown shop is the brainchild of renowned dermatologist Dr. Tina Alster. It offers an array of gifts in a minimalist atmosphere. Especially fun are the DC neighborhood-themed candy bars and the “Whitehouse Wisdom” signature note cards.
Mia Gemma: A selection of jewelry from up-and-coming American and European artists comprise Mia Gemma’s collection. The space is warm and reflective of the owner’s Italian style, and the pieces are all one-of-a-kind or limited-edition.
Cowgirl Creamery: This store is known for its wide array of organic cheeses, but it offers much more. It’s also a retail shop selling cookbooks, wine and gifts. Walking into “Cowgirl” is like stepping into a dairy in the middle of the city.
Lou Lou Boutique: A super cute shop featuring jewelry, bags and other accessories, Lou Lou Boutique was founded with the mission of selling stylish pieces to women without breaking the bank.
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café: This funky book store is a cultural landmark of sorts, and offers everything from an array of books to late-night hours and a full-service bar.
Proper Topper: True to its name, Proper Topper offers a wide selection of hats for men, women and kids. But it also offers fun and funky jewelry, handbags and gifts, and merchandise by Tracy Reese, Ted Baker and Susana Monaco among others.
Betsy Fisher: Not only can you buy the clothes by Vivienne Tam and Isda in this chic boutique, but you can also get advice from Betsy herself on how to wear them.
Bedazzled: A DIY-lovers haven, Bedazzled offers an expansive selection of beautiful beads so you can make your own jewelry and other bobbles. A schedule of classes is also available for beginners.
Jewelers’ Werk Galerie: This jewelry retailer, tucked away in Cady’s Alley, doubles as a gallery featuring the wearable art of avant-garde jewelry makers from around the world.
Relish: Also located in Cady’s (very cute) Alley, Relish houses a number of high-end designers for swanky shoppers.
Sassanova: Set in a charming little house with cheetah print carpet and crystal chandeliers, Sassanova features a high-end selection of shoes by designers like Cynthia Rowley, Delman and Hollywould among others.
Lettie Gooch: Lettie’s sells an eclectic mix of threads including seersucker suits by House of Dereon, Ranahan jeans, Royal Plush tops and Cesar Arellanes. Lettie Gooch also offers accessories like custom bags by Jack Blue and shoes by Haha and Fly London.
Muleh: This “not-found-in-catalogs,” furniture store specializes in Bali-based designs such as Warisan and Filipino Kenneth Cobonpue. “Tropical modern” is the theme here, with owner Christopher Reiter’s hearty woods and natural fibers that create a warm, inviting look.
Junction Vintage: Pick an era and dress it up at Junction. This vintage and resale boutique carries clothes, accessories, shoes and knick knacks from the 1930s through today.