Washington D.C. Local Life

7 Neighborhoods to Take Your Friends When They Visit D.C.

There’s more to D.C. than the well-trafficked areas around the National Mall and Capitol. Show off your insider knowledge and take your friends to these off-the-beaten path neighborhoods the next time they visit D.C.

Photo courtesy of Jesup Blair Park

Silver Spring 

Silver Spring has boomed into an entertainment hub with massive amounts of dining, an IMAX theater, and the fun feeling of a city without actually being one. The arts have a strong foothold in the Maryland suburb, and the Silver Spring Arts District offers live music, theater, dance performances, and more.

One art installation that is easy to get to is Linda DePalma’s sculpture, “Passage,” at Jesup Blair Park. The piece is painted steel, depicting leaves and acorns.

Adams Morgan

Adams Morgan is a unique community in northwest D.C., and is home to The Line D.C., a hotel inspired by the District itself. The hotel is home to many restaurants, a coffee shop serving up Counter Culture grounds, a community center, and — most interestingly — a community radio station that broadcasts from right inside the hotel lobby. 

You can also enjoy some exciting shopping in the area. Idle Time Books offers used and out-of-print books, Meeps showcases stunning vintage finds, and Urban Dwell offers quirky homegoods.

Georgetown Waterfront 

The waterfront in Georgetown is one of my favorite places to spend a nice summer day. You can enjoy walking along the river, set up for a picnic on the grass, or even run through the fun fountain and let your inner child soar. 

In addition to the shopping and dining on M Street NW, you can find an AMC Theater nearby, right next to a Hershey’s Ice Cream parlor. If you’re willing to walk an extra block, Baked & Wired serves up creative cupcakes and other baked goods, as well as some of the best coffee I’ve ever had in D.C. Plan to take your time, though — there’s usually a line out the door.

Logan Circle

The area around Logan Circle can often be overlooked. However, the area is quite lively and has a variety of restaurants and bars, many of which host regular trivia nights and excellent happy hours.

If you’re up for something different, check out the shows at the Black Cat. The two-level concert space showcases lesser-known artists, and hosts a weekly Dr. Who happy hour, during which they play an episode of the show and offer drink specials. 

Of course, you can’t mention Logan Circle without recommending District staple, Le Diplomate. Even though it’s popular with tourists, the local love for this French restaurant is so strong, it’d be wrong not to include it. 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Chinatown

At first, Chinatown intimidated me. It seemed oddly built around the massive Capital One Arena, with the massive Friendship Archway towering above H Street. It almost seems out of place if you don’t pay attention to shop signs that feature Chinese characters on them. However, after falling madly in love with ramen shop Daikaya, I’ve grown to love this little corner of D.C.

In addition to the excellent dining, Chinatown features some of D.C.’s most interesting museums. The National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum, both Smithsonian museums, are housed together and now feature the recently unveiled portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. Three non-Smithsonian options are the International Spy Museum, where you can learn about some of history's most mysterious figures; the Newseum, which explores journalism; and Madame Tussauds, where you can find the wax likenesses of U.S. presidents, first ladies, historic icons, sports stars, and other celebrities.

Petworth

The best part of Petworth is its strong, residential community. While President Lincoln’s Cottage is historically significant, it’s really the area’s distinct qualities that makes it shine.

Celebrate Petworth is an annual arts and music event where vendors come together to offer up their works, and families come to enjoy good food and fun. The Petworth Jazz Project brings free music to the neighborhood from May to September. Lastly, the Upshur Street Handmade Art & Craft Fair happens every December, just in time for your last-minute holiday shopping.

Columbia Heights

Explore the Latino and Hispanic roots of Columbia Heights at neighborhood staples like the GALA Hispanic Theater and the Mexican Cultural Institute.

You’ll also find Meridian Hill Park, a multi-level recreation area that feels more like it belongs in Italy than in the middle of D.C. Fountains and statues make the perfect backdrop for the countless engagement photo shoots that have happened there, and offer a nice space to relax, particularly in the warmer months.

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