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Summer 2016 Journalist Newsletter
- DISTRICT DEVELOPMENTS: New in Neighborhoods
- HOTELS: Noteworthy New Properties and Refreshed Accommodations
- DINING AND DRINKING: New and Noteworthy DC Restaurants & Bars
- CALENDAR OF EVENTS: Summer 2016 and Beyond
- TRANSPORTATION: Streetcars, Capital BikeShare, Silver and Purple Metro Lines
- LONG LEAD INSPIRATION
- TOURISM OFFICE: Destination DC Buzz
Curious to gauge the volume of new developments in DC? Just look at our skyline. Across all of the city’s quadrants, there are 60-some cranes hoisting steel and glass, a testament to the $9.6 billion in physical developments across the District. Notable projects include:
On the National Mall
The cast iron dome of the U.S. Capitol is undergoing a major renovation, its first since 1962. The scaffolding is being removed and the project is expected to be completed in 2017. Neither the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center nor Capitol tours are interrupted, with the exception of VIP tours of the dome.
Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture
Construction on the NMAAHC continues in advance of the official dedication on September 24, 2016. The building, designed by David Adjaye, occupies a space between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History, the last designated above-ground museum space on the National Mall. The museum will be a centerpiece venue for performances, symposia, ceremonies and exhibition space. Its collections and public programming are expected to cover 400+ years of the African American experience.
National Gallery of Art – East Building
September 30 marks the reopening of the gallery’s East Building following a two-year, $30M renovation that adds more than 12,000-feet of exhibition space. The new space is accompanied by a curatorial reconsideration of the permanent collection. In 2016, the National Gallery of Art celebrates its 75th anniversary. In anticipation of the reopening, the Katharina Fritsch’s “Hahn/Cock” a 15-foot tall blue cockerel sculpture will anchor the new rooftop sculpture garden overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The nation’s premier performing arts center is embarking on an expansion of its Potomac-facing campus fueled by a $50 million gift by chairman David Rubenstein. The expansion project, the first since the center opened in 1971, will create dedicated classroom space for school- and community-based residencies, as well as flexible rehearsal/performance space. Steven Holl Architects has been recommended, and his designs will preserve the sightlines of Edward Durrell Stone’s original design. The proposed pavilions would be the first new additions to the complex in 40 years. The center hopes to begin the redevelopment this year and conclude by spring 2017.
The area along the southwest Potomac River waterfront, home to Arena Stage, Entertainment Cruises, and the historic 200-plus year-old fish market, is being reimagined into a mixed use riverside workspace/living space with a riverfront “boardwalk” feel. A $1.5 billion riverfront project along the Washington Channel in Southwest DC, The Wharf will forever transform DC’s waterfront. Opening in phases starting in 2017, the development includes 3.2 million square feet of residential, hotel, office, restaurant, retail and cultural space. It is a LEED neighborhood development pilot project. The existing yacht club will be rebuilt along with a 450-foot public pier. Among the promised developments are restaurants, offices, 800 residential units, a major live music venue and hotels. The Wharf is opening new inventory, adding 866 new rooms to the city over the next 36 months: The Wharf InterContinental (opening 2017): 278 rooms and a 5,000-square-foot rooftop deck overlooking the Potomac; Canopy by Hilton (opening 2018): 175 rooms; Hyatt House (opening 2018): 238 rooms and an unbranded hotel (also opening in 2018) with 238 rooms.
The site of DC’s former convention center is CityCenterDC, the 10-acre luxury mixed-use development that The New York Times called “a $700 million complex envisioned as a modern-day Rockefeller Center.” Most of the high-end shops and eateries are open: Burberry, Caudalie Spa, Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Grill, Gucci, Hermes, Longchamp, Paul Stuart, Carolina Herrera, Dior and David Yurman. DC-area natives, David Chang and Christina Tosi opened iterations of Momofuku and Milk Bar respectively in 2015. Additional homegrown talent at CityCenterDC includes Rob Duncan and Violetta Edelman’s coffee and gelato shop Dolcezza and chef Amy Brandwein at Centrolina, an A-Z Italian market and osteria.
A 2.2 million square-foot, LEED sustainable development will create three new city blocks (seven acres) between Union Station and Verizon Center, on top of the I-395 Center Leg Freeway. The mixed-use development will open in phases, with its first delivery to be completed in 2018 and the final in 2020.
RFK Stadium Redevelopment
The owners of 54-year-old RFK Stadium, Events DC, have tapped Brailsford & Dunlavey to assist in forming short-term and long-term plans for demolition and repurposing of the property, along with the surrounding 80 acres including DC Armory. The proposal recommends a mixed-use site for housing, retail, parklands and a cultural activities. RFK’s primary tenant, DC United, plans to move to a new stadium in Buzzard Point in southwest Washington near Nationals Stadium.
Washington, DC’s hospitality community in DC is expanding. Spring 2016 saw the opening of Kimpton Mason & Rook, the Hampton Inn Navy Yard, and the rise of Rosewood’s flag in Georgetown. The next 18 months sees landmark hotel openings as The Watergate Hotel, Trump International Hotel, Washington DC, Kimpton Glover Park Hotel and The Conrad Washington D.C. Some of DC’s major hotel brands –Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott – have recently poured millions into recent renovations and upgrades. Places primed for future hotel development are emerging.
Among recently opened properties:
Hampton Inn Navy Yard is a new hotel near Nationals Stadium and blocks from the U.S. Capitol with rooms offering free WiFi, suites have a microwave and mini-fridge. The rooftop lounge overlooks the city and on game day, the MLB action.
Hyatt Place National Mall is a new 12-story, 214-room hotel in southwest DC. Both the National Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian are three blocks away. Amenities include complimentary WiFi, hot breakfast, gym and seasonally, an outdoor pool.
Kimpton Mason & Rook is a stylish oasis a block from the buzzing of 14th Street NW north of Thomas Circle. The property is home to Radiator, a food-focused cocktail bar with outdoor fire pits and shuffleboard courts. Meeting spaces include a boardroom and three smaller meeting rooms. Its seasonal rooftop sports a pool, barbecue, green walls and loungers as well as views of the Washington Monument, the National Cathedral and the Basilica of the National Shrine.
Rosewood Washington, DC, formerly Capella Washington, DC, has been reflagged after the sale of the 49-room luxury property in spring 2016. The Rye Bar, Grill Room and the luxury hotel’s exclusive rooftop bar and pool are unchanged. The Georgetown property will continue to offer concierge service and tailored amenities including airport transfers.
The Watergate Hotel is being updated to a luxurious Potomac River-side perch with a $125 million renovation by Euro Capital Properties. The 338 guest rooms, topped with rooftop lounge boasting views 360 degree views including Roosevelt Island, the neighboring Kennedy Center and Georgetown University’s towers, is expected to open in 2016. In a nod to its swinging 60’s and scandalous 70’s origins, Mad Men costumier Janie Bryant designed staff uniforms. The property will also house two ballrooms, Kingbird restaurant, a 2,500-bottle collection at the Next Whiskey Bar, and Argentta Spa.
The Trump International Hotel Washington, DC is scheduled to open in September 2016. On May 31, 2014, the Trump organization took possession of the historic Old Post Office (Washington’s second tallest building) according to a 60-year lease with the GSA. The historic building is receiving a $200 million renovation and is on track to emerge in 2016 as the luxury 263-room Trump Hotel property. There are 34 suites, the three largest range from 2,500 to 6,300-square feet. The hotel will include BLT Prime, a street-level steakhouse as well as a café and a library. Its atrium is to have a fitness center, a 4,000-square-foot Mar-a-Lago spa by Ivanka Trump, and meeting space. The clock tower above the Old Post Office will reopen to the public under the continued management of the National Park Service.
Kimpton’s other new DC property will be called the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel, a serene uptown hideaway within walking distance of Georgetown University in the neighborhood called Glover Park, north of Georgetown near the National Cathedral. Designer Michelle Oka Doner who oversaw the décor at Kimpton’s Carlyle Hotel near Dupont (opened late 2015) has composed a serene metropolitan vibe that reflects the hotel’s proximity to Rock Creek Park, DC’s 1,800-acre green space. The property will have 154 guest rooms, meeting spaces, a rooftop deck and a restaurant. It is expected to open in June 2016.
The Hive Hotel, an 83-room micro hotel from Modus Hotels and Abdo Development, will open in April 2016 in Foggy Bottom with in a short walking distance of George Washington University, the National Mall, the Kennedy Center and World Bank. These rooms will have the largest of the new micro footprints coming to DC: about 250-square-feet. The hotel will transform the building with a two-story patio, a rooftop deck and &Pizza, a fast-casual make-your-own-pie DC-based chain.
In Chinatown, on one of the city’s busiest blocks near the Walter E. Convention Center, Verizon Center and the National Portrait Gallery, the 11-story, 245-room Pod Hotel is expected to open in fall 2016. The property will offer rooms of 150-square feet, significantly smaller than the average 400-square foot room in DC.
The Wharf InterContinental is a 278-room, 12-story hotel with meetings space, an infinity pool and 5,000-square foot roof deck overlooking the Potomac and Haines Point. The property is expected to open in 2017.
Marriott’s first Moxy Hotel is opening in 2017 in downtown DC at 11th & K streets NW near McPherson Square. The property will be a micro-hotel aimed at millennial travelers, like the Hive Hotel coming to Foggy Bottom and the Pod Hotel coming to Chinatown. This iteration will have 200 rooms, an open lobby and the vertical’s signature Instagram wall posting photos from travelers at Moxy properties.
After a top to bottom renovation, the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel reopens spring 2017 with design nods to the southwest DC development planned by modernist architect I.M. Pei. The location, blocks from the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol is also adjacent to The Wharf, the $2B project transforming the nearby Potomac riverfront.
The doors to DC’s first Conrad Hilton, a 370-room luxury property at CityCenter DC, the 10-acre luxury mixed use development in the heart of downtown DC’s Penn Quarter, will open in 2019. The property will have luxury retail (to open in 2017) at the street level. The building will be designed by Swiss firm Herzog & deMeuron Architekten (Beijing National Stadium; de Young Museum in San Francisco, CA).
Other Newsworthy Hotel Developments:
The Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC recently underwent a $13 million dollar renovation of all its guest rooms and suites. The rooms will be customized with Four Seasons Signature Sleep initiatives including the new Four Seasons "Fat and Sexy" bed, a selection of bed toppers, a pillow and sleep menu, and distinctive and elegant decor that creates a sense of grand intimacy and restful sleep.
A DC institution since it first opened its doors in 1925, the Mayflower Hotel remodeled its impressive 657 guest rooms, which now sport new furniture and renovated bathrooms. The $20 million project also included new decorative wallpaper, which now brandishes signatures of famous Mayflower guests of the past, including Winston Churchill and Amelia Earhart.
The Jefferson, Washington, DC is enjoying another amazing year, having recently received a placement of #2 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of best hotels in the nation. The hotel’s restaurant Plume remains the only five-star restaurant in DC for 2016 per Forbes. The Hay-Adams Hotel also ranked highly, #23 on the list of 1,775 luxury properties.
The all-suite Cambria Suites Washington, D.C./Convention Center at the CityMarket at O (a mixed-use development) opened in 2015 and with a number of soon-to-restaurants on its door step. This hotel makes a beguiling perch for people eager to experience the new additions, particularly restaurants, opening on 9th Street within blocks of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
The restaurant scene in Washington, DC is booming. There have been 200+ openings (and counting) in the last three years. Locals and visitors hungry for unique experiences are increasingly delighted by the strength and diversity of on-trend dining and drinking options. Here’s an example of neighborhood new and soon-to-open hot spots:
North of the Convention Center, this historic neighborhood named for Robert Gould Shaw (remember “Glory”?) is ablaze with exciting new developments including a cocktail bar, 11 bistros and one bakery opening in the next 12-months in an area of less than a square mile that’s already known for its independent taste (Corduroy, Baby Wale, Thally). The volume of new openings is best understood in this map of restaurants recently and soon-to-open in Shaw.
Recently opened in Shaw: DC loves a good surprise and there’s one inside Alta Strada, Michael Shlow’s trattoria. Conosci is a 28-seat crudo bar. Slip behind the curtain in the dining room serving crispy pizzas, fresh pastas and an all-Italian wine list and into an oasis of composed plates of salt- and acid-cured fish. Conosci offers two prix fixe menus: $45 or $135, a la carte options and a cocktail cart.
Once a 10-seat bar within another bar, Columbia Room, Derek Brown’s cocktail lounge reopened near The Dabney inside Blagden Alley with 2,400-square-feet divided into three experiences: The Punch Garden, an outdoor lounge for 30 where many of the house herbs are grown; The Liquor Library where the rarest spirits like a Maryland rye from 1860 and 1811 Napoleon cognac are kept and The Columbia Room, serving prix-fixe flights paired with small bites ($75-$100 inclusive of snack and tip).
Convivial from Cedric Maupillier and his Mintwood Place team opened this contemporary bistro early last November. Unabashedly grown up, this chic spot serves more original Franco-American dishes such as sardine tartine, “coq au vin” fried chicken, lamb tongue moussaka and S’mores.
Like it’s restau-bar siblings Teddy & the Bully Bar and Lincoln, the casual pizzeria Declaration indulges its obsession with history. The menu sports thirteen “Colony Pies,” crispy thin-thin crusts loaded with inspiration for each of the original colonies and priced by the year of their foundation. Georgia’s pie “Lyman Hall” is topped with Amish chicken, mushrooms, onion, celery and carrots in the spirit of chicken and dumplings and priced $17.32 for the year their colony was founded. It’s across the street from DC’s favorite music venue, the 9:30 Club.
Espita Mezcaleria is not just dedicated to fiery hooch (it serves 80 kinds of mezcal), but also masa and mole, delivering a taste of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Kinship and Metier are Eric Zebold’s first and second solo efforts, following his award-winning stint at CitiZen. Kinship opened in January 2016 and Metier is scheduled to opening this spring. The former has already made the shortlist for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. Noted interior designer Darryl Carter designed the interiors.
Also in the running for a Best New Restaurant nomination, The Dabney serves rustic Mid-Atlantic cuisine by Jeremiah Langhorne (ex-McCrady’s), mostly from a ten-foot wide Colonial-style open hearth. Dishes are seasonal, emblematic of Longhorne’s from-scratch style: grilled lamb heart with beer-pickled onions, seed-crusted rockfish with sorrel, charred cabbage, sweet potato doughnuts and ice cream.
Opened in March 2016, Kyirisan from Chef Tim Ma of Water & Wall in nearby Virginia pairs Asian flavors with refined French technique in original dishes like crème fraiche chicken wings and scallops with coconut risotto with basil ice cream.
Still to open in Shaw: The brains behind Red Hen (rustic Italian) and Boundary Stone (American pub) are teaming up to open All Purpose, a New York-style pizzeria. Buttercream Bakery from local sweetie pie Tiffany MacIsaac will open immediately next door. The team behind beer-focused Meridian Pint will open Anxo Cidery & Pintxos and brew cider on site. They’ll brew more on nearby Kennedy Street NW. The bar aims to share traditional flavors of the Mid-Atlantic and Basque regions through “pintxos,” small plates. Hazel is on track to open late spring 2016 serving modern American fare by Rob Rubba from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. The restaurant will open in the Atlantic Plumbing Company building adjacent to the 9:30 Club. La Jambe, a French wine bar serving hard-to-find Gallic nibbles is on track in May 2016. Shaw Bijou from Kwame Onwuachi (formerly Eleven Madison Park, currently on Top Chef) will seat just 32 dinners for globally-focused tasting menus, opening later this year.
Bangkok Joe’s, a Thai-style dumpling bar reopened in its original Georgetown Harbour spot near the Potomac Riverfront in March 2016. Bar a Vin, a French wine bar and next door sibling to Chez Billy Sud, a bistro separated by a courtyard in tony Georgetown, opened in February 2016. An outpost of the Japanese chain Beard Papa, all-creampuff bakery, also opened in early 2016. Chaia, a woman-owned quick service restaurant serving plant-based tacos opened in late 2015. The Sovereign, a Belgian beer hall offering 50-something craft Belgian drafts and another 350-ish in bottles opened in February 2016. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s (Birch & Barley, Bluejacket) commitment to authenticity includes mussels harvested by a fifth-generation Belgian mussel farmer (in Bar Harbor, ME) as well as waterzooi, rabbit in kriek and choucroute garnie and carbonnade flamande.
CAPITOL HILL, BARRACKS ROW
Recently opened: The day-to-night, coffee bar to prix fixe luxury dinner experience at Pineapples and Pearls debuted in the spring of 2016 from Aaron Silverman and the team behind his no-reservation darling Rose’s Luxury - Bon Appétit Magazine’s best new restaurant of 2014. The new spot serves coffees by morning and takes reservations for a 15-course prix fixe (food, wine, tax, tip is $250/person) offered Monday-Saturday. Wicked Bloom DC Social Club, a puts-the-bar-in-barbecue joint from the dudes behind DCity Smokehouse, serves unique cocktails paired with brisket nachos and mac and cheese waffles. It opened in September 2015.
THE WHARF & SOUTHEAST WATERFRONT
The Wharf, the $2B redevelopment along the Southwest waterfront will be a mixed use project expected to open in phases beginning in 2017. Among the restaurateurs committed to opening original projects: Del Mar from Fabio and Maria Trabocchi (Fiola, Fiola Mare), a Spanish seafood restaurant; Requin, an French-Med seafood spot from Jen Carroll (former Top Chef alum) that she’s popped-up across the DC area; an unnamed Filipino-accented Asian restaurant from Cathal Armstrong, the James Beard-nominated chef of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria. Along the Southeast waterfront, District Winery, the first urban winery in DC, is set to open in 2017 in a 16,000-square foot facility in Capitol Riverfront. Bardo owner Bill Stewart expects to expand his DC-brewed beer garden to an area near the Nationals Stadium that he’s described as a “beer Disneyland” in 2016.
F&B TRENDS IN DC
Bars with Games: Bardo Brewpub Black Cat, DC’s premiere bar for indie rock and pop also serves up games: billiards, electronic bowling and pinball so popular they host a league. Upstairs from Pearl Dive Oyster Palace hides BlackJack, a speakeasy with a bocce court ringed by 19 stadium seats, also cold drinks and fried chicken. Dupont Circle’s Board Room has more than 20 beers on draft and a more than 30 board games for guests to check out. In upper Northwest DC, Comet Ping Pong is a popular hybrid: gourmet pizza up front, ping pong in the back. H Street Country Club has indoor mini-golf, Skee-ball, shufflepuck and video games. Located on H Street NE, the bar is adjacent to a streetcar stop. In the Penn Quarter, Penn Social serves suds and an endless offering of games: board games, giant Jenga, shuffleboard, pong ping, trivia and paint nights. Pinea, the Mediterranean restaurant at the W Washington adds an outdoor bocce bar nightly 6:30-9:30pm through October 2016. A food-forward cocktail bar, Radiator is the playful indoor-outdoor space at the new Kimpton Mason & Rook Hotel. The space boasts fire pits and shuffleboard courts near Thomas Circle off 14th Street NW. The garden at Vinoteca Wine Bar and Bistro has bocce courts made from crushed oyster shells.
Cocktail-Forward Menus: On U Street, Archipelago, a tiki bar, opened in March with original and classic tropical cocktails, barware and Tom Selleck shrine to match. Its chief instigator is Owen Thompson who led the bar programs at Rose’s Luxury and Bar Pilar. After decamping from 7th Street, the Columbia Room, a decadent bar-within-a-bar by Derek Brown has been reborn a few blocks away in Blagden Alley in February 2016. It’s utterly transformed. It’s a three-tier space: a bar, a 30-person deck and a liquor library serving a la carte cocktails and flights with snacks ($75 and $100). The décor is astonishing including a tiled mural telling the metaphorical story of the bar. In up and coming Ivy City, DC’s de facto distillery district, Ivy City Seafood and Tavern serves hooch and seafood, raw and house-smoked. The 45-seat bar is next to a retail fish market. The ground floor of Roofer’s Union (whose kitchen is run by Top Chef’s Marjorie Meek Bradley) became Jug & Table in January 2016. True to its name, it specializes in wine, but small production vintners and wine-based cocktails. Also in January 2016, Derek Brown’s brother Tom Brown opened Left Door, a cocktail bar near the U Street corridor with a long list of house specialties that involve Armagnac and Calvados. Sakerum, a sushi bar with cocktails made with sugar cane grown on site will be open in the 14th and U Street corridor by summer 2016. Jamie Leeds (Hank’s Oyster Bar, Hank’s on the Hill) is behind Twisted Horn, a cocktails-only spot in Petworth. In late 2015, the Ritz-Carlton Washington, DC reopened its lobby bar. Quadrant has an innovated cocktail menu and global small plates. In November 2015, Quarter + Glory opened near U Street bringing them team behind NYC’s Ward III and Rum House to DC. A food-forward cocktail bar, the aforementioned Radiator leans on the Hawaiian flavors of Sarah Rosner’s original home translated for her new one. The Rickey Goes to Hawaii, for example, is a gin cocktail enlivened with salty dried plum powder.
Reenter Entrée: After years of small plates dominating DC menus, the entrée is back. The menu at Michael Shlow’s The Riggsby in The Carlyle, a Kimpton Hotel near Dupont Circle, is decidedly adult. There are starters, entrées, table linens and bread service at the new hotel in Dupont Circle. At the enduring Blue Duck Tavern inside the Park Hyatt Washington, DC, new toques rule the kitchen: Franck Loquet (formerly Hotel Sofitel Lafayette Square and Alain Ducasse Enterprises) and pastry chef David Collier (formerly Knife Modern Steak). Rob Wyland (ex-Poste) opened Garrison on Barracks Row mid-2015 specializing in rustic if impeccable Mid-Atlantic grub.
Fast Casual: Home to SweetGreen, Five Guys, Cava Grill and 100-plus food trucks, DC adores quick-serve. Marjorie Meek-Bradley (Ripple, Roofer’s Union) is opening Smoked & Stacked in the first half of 2016 where she’ll serve pastrami sandwiches on milk bread. There’ll be smoked chicken and portabella options too, and in the morning, breakfast sandwiches. This specialty sandwich shop will be among the first of several home-grown food and retail outlets along the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Shaw.
Global Grub: The vogue for salty-sour-sweet South-Asian food continues. Washington will welcome an outpost of Nobu later this year in the West End. The restaurant will inhabit more than 11,000-square-feet overlooking Rock Creek Park. The Thip Khao team is opening a Laotian-style noodle place, Khao Poon following its current pop-up inside Union Market. Purple Patch in Mount Pleasant and Bad Saint in Columbia Heights are two boutique Pinoy kitchens, the latter a contender for the most buzzed about newcomer in 2015-2016. Modern South American is also having a moment too: Arepa Zone, China Chilcano, Del Campo, Ocopa, The Royal and more.
Tasting Menus: DC has long had a taste for the prix-fixe. Peter Pastan’s ever-excellent rustic Italian Obelisk has had a daily five-course tasting menu in Dupont for 29 years. Newcomers include Rose’s Luxury and baby sister Pineapples & Pearls; Nicholas Stefanelli’s elegant Masseria, a formal spot near Union Market focusing on the flavors of Puglia offers three- and five-course menus. G, Mike Isabella’s daytime sandwich shop converts into an Italian tasting table once a week for “Sunday Gravy,” a joyful red sauce feast; Iron Gate’s romantic carriage house hidden near Dupont Circle offers four- and six-course options. At the CityCenter DC outpost of David Chang’s Momofuku, the fried chicken and Korean-style pork shoulder Bo-Samm is served for groups of four-eight diners. In Dupont Circle, Greek-inflected Komi ($135) and its Northern Thai sibling Little Serow ($45) offer tasting menus only. Inside the Madison Hotel, Jose Garces’ Rural Society offers four versions of a la parilla tasting menus in the spirit of an Argentinean estancia.
Buns in the Oven: The boom in a.m. options is a buffet of grab-and-go biscuits, lavish brunches and eye-opening takes on coffees. Crispy-chewy, Bullfrog Bagels in the Atlas District are a warm reward for getting up (and lining up) early. Go for the pastrami, egg and cheese. Hand-rolled and boiled by Jeremiah Cohen, these bad boys are available at his H Street outpost inside the Star & Shamrock (DC’s first Jewish-Irish bar). A few doors down, Frenchie’s Bakery pops-up at ultra-cool Maketto in the mornings with croissants savory and sweet. Pineapple and Pearls on Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row, Aaron Silverman’s luxurious prix fixe dinner spot is open Monday-Saturday mornings for coffees and pastries.
Quick and Quirky: DC-based original quick serve Burredo (burrito-sized sushi rolls) is opening a second location south of Dupont Circle in spring 2016. And finally, a to-be-named bouldering and rock climbing gym/beer garden and coffee shop from bar impresario Joe Englert (The Rock and Roll Hotel, DC9, The Argonaut) will open later in 2016.
Find more events, concerts, festivals and exhibitions on our searchable events calendar and find our monthly “best of” round-ups on washington.org. The volume of landmark anniversaries, celebrations and museum openings taking place is Washington, DC can also be found on our Google map of summer events. Explore!
National Parks Adventure
National Museum of Natural History/ Ongoing
A soaring and rip-roaring 3-D IMAX adventure across America’s National Parks, a treasured resource celebrating its centennial in 2016.
A month-long celebration of Washington’s international and diplomatic communities with programming by 70 embassies and consulates that is truly an only-in-DC experience. Highlights include: Around the World Embassy Tour (May 7); Shortcut to Europe: EU Embassies’ Open House (May 14); Fiesta Asia (May 21) and Embassy Chef Challenge (May 25).
The Washington Ballet Presents Bowie & Queen
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/ May 4-15
Energetic works by Trey McIntyre and Edward Liang marry the enduring language of ballet with the splintering energy of Britain’s glam-rock icons.
National Cathedral Flower Mart
National Cathedral/ May 6-7
A DC tradition since 1939, this plant sale, cultural fair and children’s playscape is a springtime please-all set on the manicured grounds of the soaring Neo-Gothic church, the second largest in the United States.
In Celebration of Paul Mellon
National Gallery of Art/ May 8-September 18
Timed to coincide with the Gallery’s 75th anniversary, this special exhibition pulls 80 of the finest pastels, watercolors, drawings, prints and illustrated books selected by the likes of Manet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Klee from his donations to the nation.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/ May 17-June 5
A three-week long cultural cavalcade celebrating the century of Ireland’s independence is curated by artist-in-residence and actress Fiona Shaw. The festival considers Ireland’s cultural history and its relationship to America in music and song, dance, literature, cuisine, whiskey and beer, poetry and drama.
Taming of the Shrew
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/ May 17-June 26
An all-male, gender blurred-production of William Shakespeare’s tale of love’s struggle among Elizabethan wits tests the comedic tension between Kate and Petruchio.
Small Stories: At Home in Dollhouse
National Building Museum/ May 21, 2016-Jan. 15, 2017
The imagined miniature lives of 12 dollhouses spanning 300 years is told in 1,900 tiny objects. The show helps visitors of all ages imagine the relationships, careers, passions and crimes of their dwellers, a reflection of their creators. Curated by London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, this is the only U.S. venue.
DC Dragon Boat Festival
Thompson’s Boat House/ May 21-22
A family-friendly festival of Asian culture highlighted by rowing races on the Potomac River.
DC Bike Ride
Citywide/ May 22
DC’s inaugural cycling celebration closes 17-miles of city streets to car traffic across the District. A Finish Line Festival will be held on Pennsylvania Avenue near the National Mall. All proceeds of this leisurely ride support the Washington Area Bicycle Association’s public safety campaign Vision Zero.
Museum Week DC
Citywide/ May 23-29
To celebrate the meeting of the American Alliance of Museums in DC, the city’s rich museum community, from art galleries to historic homes and botanic gardens, celebrate with unique opportunities to access their collections.
Citywide/ June 1-12
The 41st festival of LGBTQ culture in DC is on track to be larger than ever. The 2016 theme “Make Magic Happen” celebrates opportunities to spark change.
William Merritt Chase: A Modern Master
The Phillips Collection/ June 4-Sept. 11
To mark the centennial of the death of a great American painter, aesthete and teacher, this retrospective –the first in over three decades- explores the interrelationships in Chase’s work across subject and media.
Trailblazing: 100 Years of Our National Parks
National Postal Museum/June 9, 2016-March 25, 2018
This two-year exhibit uses original postage stamp art from the USPS and artifacts from the National Park Service to explore the myriad, often surprising ways that mail moves to, through and from America’s national parks.
DC Jazz Fest
Offering more than 125 performances in over 40 venues across the city, this music festival is one of the largest of its kind as well as the fastest growing jazz festival in the country. The 2016 line-up includes Kurt Elling, Maceo Park, Talib Kwali, Eddie Palmiori’s Latin Jazz Septet and Ravi Coltrane.
Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945
Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens/ June 11-Dec. 31
This multi-media exhibition explores how the Japanese interpreted the style and transformed it through their own rich art and craft traditions. Displayed among multiple buildings upon the 25-acre campus, Deco Japan will also bring focus to the Japanese-style Garden, one of Hillwood’s most beloved features.
The Art of Romaine Brooks
Smithsonian American Art Museum/ June 17-Oct. 2
A leading proponent of European and ex-pat American counter-culture in Paris for most of her life, Brooks challenged the presentation of women, gender and sexuality in portraiture. Many of these works will be presented for the first time in decades.
We the Party People
National Museum of American Art/ June 18
Part of the Smithsonian Institution’s “America Now” program, this after-hours shindig (co-created with local party masters BYT) celebrates the actions and creative brilliance of democracy at work. Tickets are required for this 21-and-over shindig.
Citywide/ June 22-26
The preeminent non-fiction film festival in a region that’s home to the National Geographic Channel and Discovery Communications.
National Capital Barbecue Battle
Penn Quarter/ June 25-26
The 24th smoke ‘em if you got ‘em contest, food and music festival camps on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 9th and 14th streets. Entertainment includes 30 bands.
Connections: Contemporary Craft from the Permanent Collection of the Renwick Gallery
Renwick Gallery/ June 29 /ongoing
The permanent collection returns to the Smithsonian’s museum of American craft with the thoughtful presentation of 80+ art objects celebrating the intersection of craft and the modern condition.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival
National Mall/ June 29-July 4, July 7-10
The 2016 edition of the pop-up museum of living culture focuses on “Basque: Innovation by Culture,” both in Spain and France, and their global diaspora. It also highlights “Sounds of California,” the music of one of America’s largest and most diverse states.
The Boeing Milestones of Flight Gallery and All Night at the Museum
National Air and Space Museum/ July 1
To honor of the museum’s 40th birthday, NASM rededicates their impressive foyer exhibition where landmark planes, rockets and NASA splashdown capsules hang from the rafters. At 8pm the museum embarks on an all-night open house: music, tours, demonstrations, activities and a ticketed party for patrons 21-and-over. #airandspace40
Happy Birthday America! Happy Birthday Tudor Place! A Bicentennial Birthday Party
Georgetown/ July 2
One of America’s best preserved Federal estates, this Georgetown home housed six generations of Martha Washington’s descendants and their collections, celebrates its bicentennial with outdoor games, birthday cake and patriotic crafts. Learn the stories of the Custis-Peter family and their servants’ through artifacts, art and the iconic Thornton-designed neoclassical house.
National Building Museum/ July 2-Sept. 5
With help from James Corner Field Operations, the museum’s 12,000+ square-foot Great Hall transforms into a frozen wonderscape of oversize bergs suspended, above and below a “waterline,” some as high as the third story balcony. Visitors are invited to walk around and even inside their crags and caves.
Citywide/ July 4
The nation’s capital takes America’s birthday very seriously. The National Archives celebrates with a family day replete with costumed reenactors and free hands-on activities; its steps are a wonderful place to take in the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue NW. It’s a flag-waving, marching band-filled classic. A star-studded patriotic concert, “A Capitol Fourth” is simulcast on PBS and followed by fireworks.
July 4th Celebration
George Washington’s Mount Vernon/ July 4
A solemn wreath-laying gives way to musical performances and birthday cake at the estate of America’s first president.
Capital Fringe Festival
Citywide/ July 7
More than 140 performances by independent artists developed without curatorial constraints create a hive of talent across the town.
Citi Open Tennis Classic
Rock Creek Park Tennis Center/ July 16-24
Top American John Isner and former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki are just two of the top tiers who have committed to playing the ATP’s tournament in DC. The stadium is intimate and the action is fast.
Brew at the Zoo
National Zoological Park/ July 21
At this annual fundraiser, the Friends of the National Zoo brings more than 60 microbreweries to the park for samples and suds under the stars.
Quicken Loans National Golf Tournament
Congressional Country Club, MD/ July 23-26
Formerly the AT&T National, this tournament lures top PGA players including defending champ Troy Merritt to vie for the $6.9M purse.
Washington Kastles Tennis Tournament
Kastles Stadium at the Smith Center/ July 31-Aug. 13
Team tennis ignites George Washington University’s campus when captain Leander Paes and Martina Hingis team up for another winning season. The Kastles are the six-time WTT champs.
DC Beer Week
The week spotlights DC’s craft breweries with tappings and tastings, beer dinners, glass giveaways and other beer related events.
DC Summer Restaurant Week
More than 100 DC restaurants offer a three-course lunch for $20.16 and a three-course dinner for $35.16, an excellent opportunity to try new and otherwise budget-busting spots.
Bei Bei’s Birthday Celebration
National Zoological Park/ Aug. 20
Celebrations and a gigantic frozen “fruitsicle” mark the roly-poly panda’s first birthday.
Visions and Revisions: Renwick Invitational
Renwick Gallery/ Sept. 9, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017
The eighth iteration of the craft gallery’s biennial presents the 64 works by four artists: Steven Young Lee, Kristin Morgen, Jennifer Trask, Norwood Viviano, who embody the vogue in contemporary craft for transformation and change.
Citywide/ Sept. 11
A scenic course challenges performance-focused athletes on a 1.5k swim in the Potomac River, 40k bike ride and 10k run past landmarks.
Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Mall/ Sept. 24
The last above-ground Smithsonian Institution museum, a collection of thousands of objects from pre-Diaspora to the present, opens on the National Mall adjacent to the Washington Monument. President Obama will dedicate the museum at 10 a.m. A week-long celebration (September 24-30) will follow.
Reopening of the East Wing
National Gallery of Art/ Sept. 30
The results of a $30m renovation that added +12,000-feet of exhibition space and a rooftop sculpture garden are the subject of a day-long unveiling. The new space accompanies a curatorial reconsideration of the permanent collection as well as three new exhibitions: “In the Tower: Barbara Kruger”; “Reinventing Photography: The Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Collection” and “From Los Angeles to New York: The Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971.”
No Man’s Land: Women Artists in the Rubell Family Collection
National Museum of Women in the Arts/Sept. 30, 2016- Jan. 8, 2017
A celebration of the work by 36 artists of different genres including Elizabeth Peyton and Li Shurui centering on images of the female body from the esteemed Miami collection established in 1964.
Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt
National Gallery of Art/ Oct. 4- Jan. 2, 2017
Some 100 drawings and paintings by such renowned golden age artists as Jan van Goyen and Rembrandt van Rijn will reveal the many ways Dutch artists used preliminary drawings in the painting process.
People on the Move: Beauty and Struggle in Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series
Phillips Collection/ Oct. 8, 2016-Jan.8. 2017
The Phillips Collection and Museum of Modern Art reunite Jacob Lawrence’s masterwork The Migration Series, the seminal, 60‐panel work by one of the most celebrated African American artists of the 20th century.
Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/Modern
Smithsonian American Art Museum/ Nov. 11, 2016- March 19, 2017
The first retrospective to consider the influence of the ancient world on the American artist’s visions of the future brings together more than 80 works.
Stuart Davis: In Full Swing
National Gallery of Art/ Nov. 20, 2016-March 5, 2017
Some 100 of the most influential works by the American modernist who blurred text and image in proto-pop paintings.
Bill Viola and the Moving Portrait
National Portrait Gallery/ Nov. 18, 2016-May 7, 2017
Believing in a camera’s ability to capture souls, video art pioneer Bill Viola has been creating contemplative portraits since 1970. This will be the National Portrait Gallery’s first exhibition devoted exclusively to media art.
Gene Davis: Hot Beat
Smithsonian American Art Museum/ Nov. 18-April 2, 2017
The foremost member of Washington, DC’s Color School group, Davis created rhythmic canvases with bold vertical stripes. This exhibition unites 15 of his bold paintings.
West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and National Mall/Jan. 20
Washington, DC hosts the inauguration of the 45th president with attendant parades, concerts and inaugural balls.
More than half a century passed since the last streetcars rattled to a halt in DC before the long-awaited returned on February 27, 2016. Streetcars are now serving to the Atlas District, the neighborhood behind Union Station in northeast Washington, DC known for its independent bars, restaurants and music venues including Maketto, the Atlas Theater, the H Street Country Club, Toki Underground and the Rock and Roll Hotel. The current trip runs 2.2 miles down H Street NE.
DC continues to expand the number of dedicated bike lanes across the city. Now in its sixth year, Capital BikeShare is a bike sharing system involving 3,000 bicycles across +350 stations in metropolitan DC. To date, the service has been used more than 12.2 million times. On May 22, Capital BikeShare will participate in the inaugural DC Bike Ride, a citywide initiative that will close 17 miles of streets to cars.
Metro, DC’s subway system, is continuing its expansion south to Dulles Airport. Opened summer 2014, the Silver Line currently runs from Prince George’s county in Maryland, across Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia to Tysons Corner, a shopping mecca, and on to Reston where riders may catch a shuttle bus to and from Dulles Airport. The Silver Line is expected to reach Dulles International Airport by 2020. The proposed 16-mile Purple Line would link Bethesda Metro in Montgomery County to New Carrollton station in Prince George’s County as early as 2021.
- The year 2016 is peppered with anniversaries across the city:
- National Air and Space Museum: 40th
- National Archives: 225th Bill of Rights, 240th Declaration of Independence
- National Park Service: 100th year
- The National Ballet: 75th season
- The Phillips Collection: 95th year
- Tudor Place: 200th year
- The Washington Ballet: 40th season
- The Washington Opera: 60th season
In 2017, Washington, DC hosts the inauguration of the 45th president with attendant parades, concerts and inaugural balls.
Destination DC has completed the redesign of washington.org, developed by MMGY Global. The refreshed website features new content, a greater emphasis on DC’s diverse neighborhoods and better social media integration in a user-friendly format. The website will continue to be a primary tool to engage leisure and business travelers, with the most relevant content translated to nine different languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Arabic.
Elliott Ferguson, president & CEO of Destination DC, was recently honored at the 14th annual IMEX Gala Dinner with the IMEX Academy Award for the Americas, given to outstanding leaders within the meetings and incentive travel industry. He also accepted the Humanitarian Award, given to Destination DC for its work to enrich the lives of low-income students through travel experiences and educational opportunities through its 501 (c)3 nonprofit, the American Experience Foundation.
Convention Sales & Services: the American Alliance of Museums Annual Convention is May 27-29 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The annual meeting is the largest convening of museum professionals in the world. In conjunction with the meeting, the local museum community will hold Museum Week DC from May 23-30 as an opportunity to showcase the diverse range of attractions at museums in the nation’s capital.
In fiscal year 2016, DC will host 15 citywide conventions (meetings totaling 2,500 room nights or more), totaling 388,615 room nights, with an estimated economic impact of $277.9 million. Highlights include the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (April 10-12, 2016); Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference & Expo (June 19-22, 2016) and National Education Association (July 2-4).
In June 2017, Washington, DC will host the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW, America’s largest annual international travel marketplace, for the first time. In the three years following IPW, the host destination is expected to enjoy more than 1 million additional international travelers and $1.7 billion increase in spending.