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Downtown DC By Day & Night
This happening area has everything you could possibly want and more, from museums to restaurants to shopping, and it's all so easy to get to.
DC’s cosmopolitan downtown neighborhood offers a mix of in-demand restaurant options, high-end shopping and plenty of must-see museums. The bustling neighborhood (located next to the city’s equally buzzy Penn Quarter) has seen a renaissance in recent years with the opening of CityCenterDC, an expansive mixed-use development boasting shops like Paul Stuart, , restaurants and seasonal outdoor events. Downtown is accessible by Metro at the McPherson Square, Farragut North and Farragut West Metro stops (all Orange, Blue and Silver lines) and via the DC Circulator bus. It’s easily walkable, making it a great neighborhood for exploring at your own pace. Read on for our best bets on exploring this vibrant part of the nation’s capital.
The most important meal of the day
Start your day with a hearty breakfast at EDGAR Bar + Kitchen. The trendy restaurant located inside the iconic Mayflower Hotel boasts a full breakfast buffet and a la carte items. Be sure and sample the restaurant’s famed banana bread. If you’re looking for something a little livelier, head over to Georgia Brown’s. The restaurant serves southern low country cuisine and hosts a gospel brunch on Sundays.
Walking shoes on
Downtown is a treasure trove of world-class museums. Start at the National Gallery of Art, which houses European and American art from the middle ages through today, along with an Instagram-ready outdoor sculpture garden featuring eye-popping modern sculptures. From there, move on the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the National Geographic Museum and the Renwick Gallery.
A historic lunchtime fave, Old Ebbitt Grill is an iconic DC spot, which first opened in 1856. Tourists mingle with DC’s power brokers here. Sit at the bar (look up to see an array of stuffed animal heads) and have the bartender help you spot famous DC politicos while you wait for your table.
Shop to it
Even if your itinerary only includes window shopping, the stores at CityCenterDC are not to be missed. DC’s newest shopping development, CityCenterDC boasts a who’s who of luxe labels. Stop in at Hermès, Paul Stuart, Christian Dior, Kate Spade, Gucci, CH Carolina Herrera, Burberry, Allen Edmonds and more – and pick up an outfit for a fun night on the town!
Don't just reserve one table, reserve many
In addition to fabulous shopping, CityCenterDC is home to a number of excellent restaurants. Make your reservations earlier in the day for DBGB or Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse to name just a few. Or try out one of the many other restaurants in downtown DC, like the Bombay Club or The Oval Room, both under restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s umbrella. The well-known restaurateur owns a number of restaurants around town, but Bombay Club and Oval Room are some of his originals.
Make a night of it
Downtown DC keeps thumping well into the night with hot nightlife options. Head over the Park at 14th for four floors of dining, dancing and VIP bottle service; catch a concert at The Hamilton Live, where an underground concert hall hosts concerts most nights of the week; or head to POV at the W Hotel. The rooftop lounge has hands-down the best views of the White House (assuming you haven’t scored an invite to a state dinner).
Time for a nightcap
Wind down from dancing with a quiet drink at an iconic bar. The Round Robin Bar in the Willard Intercontinental Hotel is just steps from the White House and has been attracting DC’s elite since the day’s of Abraham Lincoln. If you’re lucky enough to score a room at The Hay-Adams, head to the basement speakeasy, Off the Record, for that last drink. At either place, you can find DC luminaries while you sip on a glass of fine Scotch. It’s the perfect sign off to a quintessential DC day.
Still looking for more Downtown adventures? Check out our favorite things to see and do in this buzzy neighborhood.