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DC Itinerary: Play in President Obama's Backyard


  • Pose for a photo op at The White House, a must-see on any presidential tour

  • See the American Presidency exhibit and First Ladies' gowns at the National Museum of American History

  • Dine at a restaurant where President and Mrs. Obama have had a romantic date night

Day 1
  • Morning

    Start your day where any Presidential tour should: at the White House. Pose for a photo op, stop by the White House Visitor Center and then grab breakfast at the nearby White House FRESHFARM Market (Thursdays through Oct. 25; 810 Vermont Ave. NW). With healthy fruits and fresh-baked breads on the menu, the First Lady would surely approve.

    Next, head to the Newseum, a 250,000-square-foot museum dedicated to the history of news. Make sure to stop by First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets. Sasha and Malia (and their parents) have visited the exhibit, which features their dog Bo. And catch the newest presidential exhibit, Every Four Years (through 2013), which examines the press during presidential campaigns.


    For lunch, try out The Source by Wolfgang Puck, located next to the Newseum. The First Lady celebrated her birthday there. For something a little more low-key, try the burgers at Good Stuff Eatery, where Michelle has also been known to dine (and has a healthy turkey burger named in her honor). Barack Obama prefers Ray's Hell Burger across the river in Arlington, Va.

    Next, stop at the National Portrait Gallery, where Shepard Fairey's famous Obama print is on display, as well as portraits of all America's presidents. Then walk to The Presidents Gallery by Madame Tussauds Washington D.C., to take a picture with lifelike wax figures of the First Couple.


    The sports-minded set might consider catching one of DC's many sports teams in a game at the Verizon Center, where President Obama has attended basketball games. Recently, Barack and Michelle were taking in a USA Basketball exhibition game when the Verizon Center’s “Kiss Cam” focused in on the couple. With their image displayed on the huge arena screen overhead, Barack kissed his wife, much to the delight of a roaring crowd.

    End the day with a romantic dinner at Blue Duck Tavern or BLT Steak, both date-night picks for the First Couple. On a recession-era budget? Try out the more wallet-friendly We the Pizza.

  • Morning

    Start your day at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Admire the First Ladies' gowns, including Michelle Obama's famous Jason Wu-designed inaugural gown. Then visit the American Presidency exhibition. Next, visit DC's Anacostia neighborhood to visit the home of another gifted orator and statesman, Frederick Douglass, at his former residence, Cedar Hill. It's perched atop a hill offering an amazing view of the city.

    Next, visit The Corcoran Gallery of Art, where the First Family recently viewed an exhibition of contemporary African American artists.

    Hop on Metro and head to the historic U Street Corridor, the site of joyous street celebrations that took place the night Obama was elected. A visit to Ben's Chili Bowl is a must; be sure to order the signature chili half-smoke, one of Barack's favorites. He's been back several times, including a visit with French President Sarkozy and his wife. Or, experience Barack’s well-documented love of barbecue at Kenny’s BBQ Smokehouse on Capitol Hill. Recently, the President stopped in for an unscheduled lunch where he dined on ribs, collard greens and black-eyed peas with two soldiers and two local barbers.

    If pampering is on the agenda, consider a stop at Corte Salon, the salon with Johnny Wright - the First Lady's hair stylist - at the helm. Make sure to book an appointment in advance.


    Spend the afternoon at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. President Obama visited the museum once with his daughters. He returned earlier this year with Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel. Obama lit a candle in the museum’s Hall of Remembrance.


    Wind down with dinner near Union Station at Art and Soul. Michelle Obama was joined there for dinner by nine friends before attending the Celebration of Women in the Arts at the Kennedy Center. It's also where Oprah Winfrey filmed her special inauguration episode.

  • Morning

    On Sunday mornings, you can sometimes spot the Obama family attending church services at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House. Known as “The Church of the Presidents” and registered as a national historic landmark, every president since James Madison in 1816 has attended service here at one time or another.  Or, start your day with a free 30-minute tour (small donation encouraged) at the historic and architecturally stunning Washington National Cathedral, where President Obama's Inaugural Prayer Service was held.

    For lunch, sample the farm-to-table fare at Todd Gray's Equinox, where Michelle Obama has celebrated her birthday. For another healthy and First Family-approved option, head over to Restaurant Nora, which features organically grown food.


    The afternoon leads you to Georgetown, where retail rules. Channel Michelle Obama's fashion sense with a visit to the Shops at Georgetown Park, where you'll find national retailers like First Lady-favorite J.Crew. Also explore independently owned DC boutiques located throughout the neighborhood offering the designs of young, emerging designers like Jason Wu, the largely unknown designer who entered the mainstream after Michelle wore his design on the night of inauguration.

    But, it isn’t just high-end retailers that attract the First Family. The Obamas have been seen around town shopping for last-minute Christmas gifts at Best Buy, browsing books at Kramerbooks and Afterwords Café, running errands at Target, and even picking up toys for the family dog at PetSmart.


    End your day with a performance at the Kennedy Center. The Obama family sat in the presidential box to watch a performance by the Alvin Ailey Dance Ensemble. Or, consider dinner at The Boundary, an American bistro on H Street where the First Couple hosted dinner for three lucky grassroots donors and their spouses.

    Make your last stop the Lincoln Memorial and pay tribute to Honest Abe just like the First Family did on their visit to the national treasure. You'll be inspired to see the illuminated memorial by moonlight.

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