Many will flock to the nation’s capital next weekend for the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington, which is set to take place the day after the official festivities. It’s been a while since we’ve thought about D.C. in terms of must-visit destinations—it’s so difficult to focus on any one city, with all of these places to see—but it’s absolutely a place worth adding to your bucket list for 2017. Here, our guide on where to stay, what to eat and how to shop (and more!) when you’re in the nation’s capital.
Where To Stay
If you're going to D.C. for the inauguration or for the March, we hope you've already booked your lodging, since the prices for everything from the Holiday Inn to a stranger's couch are beyond exorbitant at this point. On a normal weekend, however, we love the infamous Watergate Hotel, of which the Nixonian scandal received its moniker. The hotel closed in 2007, but just re-opened last summer after a $125 million renovation. The revamp includes charming details, like employee uniforms by Mad Men costume designer Jamie Bryant and pens labeled "Stolen from the Watergate Hotel." All of this makes for retro-yet-luxurious vibes that set the perfect stage for enjoying a midday cocktail without judgment.
Where To Eat
Our top pick for dining in D.C. is Bad Saint, which Bon Appetit named the second-best restaurant in America in 2016. ( The New York Times seconded the recommendation just two months ago.) The Filipino restaurant doesn't take reservations, so wait times can be long—here are some tips for getting in.
Other options include: Rasika, known as one of the best Indian restaurants in the country; Rose's Luxury, also a Bon Appetit best-restaurant winner; Blue Duck Tavern, where POTUS and FLOTUS celebrated their anniversary in 2009; Hazel or Maketto for dim sum brunch; Fiola Mare, home to President Obama's 55th birthday celebration; The Red Hen for D.C.'s best Italian; Little Serow, for an affordable prix fixe menu of super-spicy Thai; and Daikaya, for a taste of D.C.'s robust ramen scene.
What To See & Do
Tours of the Capitol are free (you can book them here), and we highly recommend you squeeze one in if this is your first time in D.C. The Smithsonian museums are great, and also free (check out the National Museum of the American Indian, it's a favorite), but we definitely suggest prioritizing a visit to the Phillips Collection instead if you're short on time. For something a little less educational, try the 9:30 Club, an iconic music venue where surprise performers often include mega-stars like Radiohead. You should also check out the programming at The Kennedy Center while you're in town, as the building itself is something to behold. And no trip to D.C. is complete without some time spent at the National Mall, a two-mile stretch of greenery that's also home to some of the nation's most prominent monuments.
Where To Shop
To give your wardrobe a D.C.-enabled makeover, make sure to hit up these independent shops: Violet in Georgetown for affordable and on-trend clothes and accessories; Secondi in Dupont for second-hand designer workwear; Redeem for hard-to-find lines like GHSTS and Kowtow; Lynn Louisa for Rachel Comey, Line and other faves; Meeps/Treasury in Adams Morgan for vintage finds; and Relish, for classically tailored pieces.