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Known for the United States Capitol and the White House amongst other famous landmarks, Washington D.C. isn't all buttoned-up politics, all the time. This U.S. Territory is also home to phenomenal museums (many of which are free to visit), a whopping 23 Michelin-Starred restaurants, award-winning cupcake shops, vibrant street art and hotels that range from cool to quirky to ultra classy. Spending a quick weekend or a jam-packed 72 hours there? We've got you covered with places to stay, things to do and all the amazing food/drinks your heart can handle.
Where To Get Your Caffeine Fix
There's a ton of Latin influence at restaurants in D.C., and The Royal is one of those places. In the heart of the historic LeDroit Park neighborhood, The Royal serves up Counter Culture coffee as well as cocktails, arepas, guava pastries, masa gnocchi and more - all day long.
A coffee company native to Philadelphia, La Colombe is still a treat in any city it's available.
With five locations to choose from in D.C., the Blagden Alley shop is our favorite. Grab a latte and a croissant to go and check out the alley's graffiti murals as you walk to your next destination.
Where To Eat
By no means are these ALL the best restaurants in D.C. (there are so many, after all!), but they're the ones we couldn't get enough of on our most recent trip to the Capitol.
A Spanish-Japanese restaurant in the Penn Quarter, Cranes, absolutely blew us away. From the cocktails to the presentation of the food, the unique fusion of flavors and the impeccable service, no wonder this place has a Michelin Star. Reserve a table ahead of your visit and prepare to be wowed by dishes such as the mushroom rice, the grilled bok choy with manchego and the arroz de conejo. Don't skimp on dessert; you can't go wrong with the churros or the chocolate carajillo to share.
Venezuelan comfort food means all the arepas you can eat at Arepa Zone. The best thing about this place (if you're staying at Hotel Zena) is that it's right next door. Grab an arepa to go or order delivery and enjoy it as room service if you're feeling lazy and/or fancy.
Everyone who's ever traveled to DC probably has a friend who recommends Le Diplomate. It's French and maybe a little touristy, but 100 percent worth it still. Grab a glass of wine and a steak tartare, or an onion soup and foie gras parfait from the midday menu. Settle in for some people watching on the sidewalk. You may even be transported to the City of Love if you wish for it hard enough.
Order ahead at this Jewish comfort food spot in Georgetown. Inside the old Greenworks Florist space, Call Your Mother Deli has all the delicious bagel sandwiches, schmears and donuts to go. President Biden was even spotted at this local haunt not long after his inauguration earlier this year.
Where To Stay
Hotel Zena, a Viceroy hotel dedicated to female empowerment - from its cocktail menu to its lobby art and more - allows you to take a walk through history during your stay. The hotel features 60 art installations, including a breathtaking mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg made entirely of hand-painted tampons (over 20,000 of them)! That's not all; the hotel's restaurant Figleaf offers a female-forward cocktail menu with drinks like the Empowermint, the Earhart and Curie's Elixir. Visit during warmer months and you can take advantage of Hedy's Rooftop, a 15th-floor open-air rooftop bar that pays homage to Hedy Lamarr, the actress, inventor and film producer whose patents for radiofrequency hopping were recognized as the blueprint for Bluetooth technology. Cocktails up here differ from the ones at Figleaf, with names like Golden Ages and Lady of the Tropics, both inspired by Lamarr's silver screen legacy.
For a really hip hotel stay in the heart of the Adams Morgan neighborhood, The LINE DC is the epitome of cool, housed inside a 110-year old church. Book a room with a working desk so you can get your meetings out of the way early. Grab a bite at the restaurant or the cafe, or opt for room service if you're working on a deadline or just don't feel like going out. Visit after July 16 and dine in at the new No Goodbyes, a "restaurant-slash-house-hangout" concept that will be taking reservations soon. If you do a little shopping in the area, you mustn't leave without perusing the multi-level, 40-year-old Lost City Books, where you'll find new, used and rare (or out of print) books at great prices and in mint condition.
If you're looking for a really luxe, romantic stay, the Willard InterContinental Washington D.C. is it. The iconic hotel is one of the oldest in DC. Opened in 1818 (yup, over 200 years old!), the Willard has welcomed U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries and various celebrities over the years, so much that it's commonly known as the "Residence of Presidents." This is probably due to its proximity to the White House, as well as the grandness of the rooms, restaurants and lobby decor. Sip a glass of champagne outdoors at Cafe du Parc or go all out with reservations for Afternoon Tea ($68-$75 per adult, $35 per child) on a Saturday or Sunday. You can (read: should) also enjoy a Mint Julep at the historic Round Robin Bar, which has been called the "Oval Office of Bars" by Conde Nast Traveler.
Things To Do
Some must-sees while you're in town: Black Lives Matter Plaza (pictures will never do something like this justice), Culture House, the Howard Theater, Union Station (do a little shopping and delight in the architecture of this 100-plus-year-old train station and transportation hub) and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. A fun fact about Washington DC is that many of the museums (including Hirshorn, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Natural History and more) are free to visit.
Allison Ramirez is a bilingual, bicoastal lifestyle and travel writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in LA...
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