A little gritty, with an energy that continues after the bars close (2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends), Adams Morgan (AdMo) has long boasted the city’s best nightlife scene. This Northwest hub is the place to taste-test the world, with more than 100 restaurants and bars lining its main drag, 18th Street. From empanadas to jollof rice to bulgogi buns, AdMo serves up delicious international grub from countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Korea, Turkey, Nepal, Pakistan and more. Eclectic boutiques, funky yoga studios and quirky indie bookshops make it a prime daytime destination as well.
A historic district brimming with colorful, pre-turn-of-the-century brick row houses, Capitol Hill is the largest residential historic district in D.C. This neighborhood straddles East Capitol Street, dividing Capitol Hill into a Southeast/Northeast neighborhood and boasts one of the best views of the Capitol Building. While “on the Hill,” keep your eyes peeled for members of Congress strolling the streets on their way to and from meetings. This quiet neighborhood is anchored by its famous federal buildings, including the Capitol Building, Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, as well as the Folger Shakespeare Library. Nightlife here amounts to a good night’s sleep.
Founded in 1751, Georgetown is a National Historic Landmark District, where beautiful cobblestone streets are lined with colonial- and Federal-period houses and hundreds of shops and restaurants. Home to many on D.C.’s red carpet, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former director of the FBI Robert Mueller, G’town is also home to its namesake university, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (built in 1829) and the Old Stone House (1765), the oldest original structure in D.C. The area is a popular backdrop for movies and TV shows, and tourists often make the pilgrimage to see the steep steps of Prospect Street, made famous in The Exorcist. One of D.C.’s best known and most crowded areas, Georgetown is, by design, not on the Metro line.
Courtesy of washington.org
Greater NoMa/Union Market District
As this historic neighborhood expands geographically, east of its “North of Massachusetts” acronym, so too does its renaissance. The area straddles the above-ground rail tracks that bring Amtrak into nearby Union Station, with colorful turn-of-the-century row houses on one side and high-rise apartments and federal office buildings on the other. While H Street is heavy on award-winning restaurants, especially vegan and vegetarian fare, the Union Market District to the North is exploding with pop-ups inside and around the historic marketplace. The area is also home to CNN and NPR, the site of thefirst ever Beatles concert in the U.S. (Uline Arena) and the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which is flanked by colorful murals. Hop a free Street Car at Union Station and start exploring.
Southwest Waterfront and Yards Park
A quiet and somewhat overlooked neighborhood, this area has blossomed in recent years and is now home to many new hotels, popular restaurants and hip music venues. Flanked by the Anacostia River, it’s the perfect place to take a water taxi from the Wharf to Georgetown or mosey along the updated Anacostia Riverwalk for miles of views. Head east to catch a game at Nationals Park, home of the 2019 World Series winners, and then explore Yards Park, which is exploding with new bars and restaurants. Travel further east still and you’re in for some pomp and circumstance around Navy Yard and the Marine Corp Barracks.
U Street and Shaw
U Street and its anchoring 14th Street corridor are part of the District that knows how to stay up late and party. The birthplace of Duke Ellington, the area has been known as the epicenter of black culture in America for more than a century. (Many have said that before there was Harlem, there was U Street.) Jazz remains a focal point here, as does D.C.’s “official sound,” Go-Go music. Bordering the revived neighborhood to the East is Shaw, known as “Black Broadway” and home to both the refurbished Howard Theatre and the Lincoln Theater.