In the 17th century, the Nacotchtank people were the original inhabitants of the land that would later become Washington, D.C. It was in 1791 that the esteemed George Washington handpicked this exact location to serve as the distinguished site for the nation’s new capital. Washington, D.C. is a haven for those enamored with politics, but it also boasts a plethora of diversions and a vibrant cultural scene steeped in its rich history. Embark on a journey of exploration through the vibrant streets of D.C. and uncover the multifaceted neighborhoods that await. Traverse through a picturesque national park and immerse yourself in the lively nightlife scene, all while discovering the diverse streets this captivating city offers. With eight distinct options to choose from, the possibilities for adventure are endless.
18th Street NW
Find the student crowd in the Adams Morgan neighborhood along 18th Street. After a night out on the town, go to one of the street’s well-known 24/7 giant slice places and eat a single slice of pizza that’s as big as your body. If getting crazy with young twenty-somethings isn’t your thing, there are lots of good places to shop at thrift stores and eat nearby that don’t require much shenanigans. Check out the oldies at the underground record store Smash Records or get waffles and a cappuccino at the trendy coffee shop Tryst. Make sure to stay until night, when the cafe turns into a bar for people over 21 with craft drinks. Also, take advantage of the famous painting of the presidents in Mama Ayesha’s Restaurant!
At night, 18th Street NW becomes rather lively. You can eat Middle Eastern mezze platters at places like The Green Zone and drink unusual cocktails. There are ramshackle beatnik bars, such as Dan’s Café, where customers are encouraged to pour their own. There’s also one of the best LGBTQ+ venues in town. This is crammed onto a 980-foot span of 18th NW, right off the Columbia Road junction.
M Street NW
M Street is a popular shopping area in Washington, DC. It travels through the whole city, connecting Noma in the east to the banks of the Potomac in the west. But the section through historic Georgetown is the one you want to keep an eye on. That is densely packed with shops of various kinds and sizes.
There are skate shops, artisan tattoo parlors, jewelry emporiums, high-street labels like H&M and TJ Maxx, and so on. When it’s time to refuel, plenty of eateries are waiting in the wings. These include Nobu, a prominent Japanese restaurant, and George’s King of Falafel, a cheesesteak and shawarma specialty.
To get to the historic Georgetown area on M Street, use one of the 30 metro buses. If you see a steep stone staircase concealed behind an alley, you’ve found the famous steps from The Exorcist. Bowl at Pinstripes, the hippest bar/bowling alley in town, or sample Chaia’s fusion zucchini tacos. There’s also a good assortment of stores, ranging from Urban Outfitters and Steve Madden to Buffalo Exchange. Walk along M Street’s charming brick pathways to the Potomac River’s picturesque shoreline. During the summer, you can even hire a kayak or try your hand at paddle boarding – you could even capture an elusive aquatic Pokémon!
14th Street runs from northwest to southwest, passing through diverse and unique districts. At Freedom Plaza downtown, you’ll see hordes of skateboarders performing spectacular stunts. Continue north into the U Street district to see an independent act at Black Cat, then go to Ted’s Bulletin for a spiked milkshake. Make time in your itinerary to visit Miss Pixies. It will be difficult not to buy everything in this attractive, colourful vintage boutique. And make sure to catch Busboys & Poets, a popular neighborhood fixture that supports community involvement while serving delicious meals. They frequently conduct open mic evenings and slam poetry competitions.
Minnesota Avenue SE
Cross the river and take a walk along Minnesota Avenue. Most people go to the west side of the Anacostia River, but southeast D.C. has a lot of beauty that could be better known. Decades of commercial pollution have made the river look pretty bad, but there are now many successful attempts to keep it clean. Come here to see how D.C. looked before it was built up, and stop by the lovely Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
You can drive along Beach Avenue to discover why D.C. is one of the greenest cities in the nation. Rock Creek Park, which covers over 2,000 acres, is a beautiful place to get away from the bustle of the city and enjoy the gorgeous forested woodlands. Be careful to listen to the sounds of migratory birds resting throughout the fall as you drive through the park. Get out of the automobile and take advantage of the many bike paths and hiking trails located all over the park.
Beach Drive is a breathtaking route. Both sides of the byway are covered with oak, beech, and chestnut trees, and a river runs right next to it. There are several places to stop for a picnic in the woods. Trailheads allow you to park and explore the capital’s most natural areas on foot.
U Street, known for its distinctive bar strip, is usually busy, regardless of the time of day or night. During the day, visit the world-famous Ben’s Chili Bowl before browsing the street’s many secondhand shops. Admire the alleyways’ bright African American murals and learn about the corridor’s rich, historic black culture. Make sure you put on your bar shoes and start crawling at night! Try dancing all night at the popular gay sports bar Nellie’s, or go for a more local vibe at Velvet Lounge, one of the city’s most fantastic dive pubs. Handsome Cock is a 90s-themed disco where you can play beer pong or Mario Kart while drinking a variety of draft beers.
H Street NE
Off the main road, visit Washington, D.C.’s historic H Street. H Street is striving to expand while retaining its origins and original population, raising questions about the benefits of gentrification. Play limitless free games of bocce at Vendetta if you want to let loose. There’s also a thriving music scene, with two world-class venues nearby: the Rock & Roll Hotel and the Atlas Theater. H Street has a variety of exciting cuisine options, like the all-vegetarian Farewell, where you can taste the vegan burrata. After that, enjoy a free trip down H Street on D.C.’s newly relaunched streetcar.
Pennsylvania Avenue, dubbed “America’s Main Street,” which connects the White House to the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, is one of the most significant highways in the country. This street, a National Historic Site, has enormous political and historical significance and is frequently used as a metaphor for the democratic process and its separation of powers. There are several sites to explore along this renowned boulevard, including Ford’s Theatre, the Treasury Building, and Freedom Plaza.
Pennsylvania Avenue, one of the city’s most iconic monuments, is a must-see for adults and children. With so much history preserved at this historic landmark, every visit to the capital is complete with a stop by America’s Main Street. Exploring all the sites along the Boulevard might take all day, so start early.
The White House and the US Capitol Building are Pennsylvania Avenue’s two most recognizable landmarks. Both of these structures are steeped in history and continue to serve essential functions as the executive and legislative arms of the federal government, respectively. Both provide tours, and the unusual design of the structures is usually enough to encourage a visit to at least the outside.
If you’re in the neighborhood of the Pennsylvania Avenue historic site, you should also visit Ford’s Theatre. This theatre, which first opened in 1863, currently serves as a museum remembering its history and the terrible assassination of President Abraham Lincoln that took place inside. The Derringer handgun used by John Wilkes Booth is even on exhibit at the museum in the theatre.
You should also check out some of the nearby attractions. The National Mall, a well-kept park to the south, is home to several of the city’s most renowned landmarks and museums, including the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. You may see the National Building Museum and Stanton Park to the east.
Connecticut Avenue NW
Connecticut Avenue NW is a busy, pedestrian-heavy avenue usually buzzing with life and activity. It’s one of the original DC roads planned out in Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s 1791 town designs. It runs from Lafayette Square outside the White House all the way to the Maryland border in the north.
The section of the roadway between Farragut Square and Dupont Circle is arguably the most well-known. It’s a terrific area to feel the pulse of the US capital, overshadowed by opulent hotels and filled with inventive restaurants and cafés, banks, and comedy clubs.
Swann Street NW
A lovely stretch of rowhouses from the 1880s may be seen on Swann Street NW in Washington, DC. Between the ethnic eating district of 14th St NW and 18th St NW, deep in the northern suburbs past the Downtown, is where you’ll find it.
The vintage architecture is the major draw. View the elegant mansion facades with their striking paint jobs. They feature brick-rimmed windowpanes and steep-gabled roofs, making them appear to be proud metropolitan homes. The residences’ exteriors include well-kept flower-filled gardens and a shade-providing canopy of twisted stone pines.
Many of the most significant foreign organizations in the US are located on Embassy Row, a roadway and designated neighborhood. With Dupont Circle to the east, it makes a dogleg along a portion of Massachusetts Avenue.
As the name suggests, there are several embassies and commercial missions there. Look up as you walk to see the flying flags of Kyrgyzstan next to India’s orange-and-green flag, Mexico’s tricolor next to Japan’s recognizable red circle, etc. The United States and the rest of the world meet at Embassy Row.
Massachusetts Avenue is more of a major thoroughfare than a single street in Washington, DC. From the Anacostia River on one end to the Maryland state boundary on the other, it cuts across the northern part of the city. Along the way, it connects several of the town’s biggest attractions while hosting significant side streets like Embassy Row.
You may detour into the spice-scented streets of Chinatown at the junction of 6th Street for dim sum or dumplings. The vast Walter E. Washington Convention Center is located in Mount Vernon Square for business travellers on their way to a convention. A lively area of restaurants and bistros may be found where Massachusetts Avenue intersects Dupont Circle.
Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway
The Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway joins the Potomac River in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. There, you can view the infamous suites of the Watergate Hotel, which were the cause of Nixon’s major scandal in the 1970s. From there, continue north for even more options.
The multi-lane parkway snakes up through DC Community Park before hugging Rock Creek to Walter Pierce Park. There is a dedicated cycling path and walking pathway throughout the entire route, so you won’t need to drive. Visit the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, home to giant pandas, lemurs, and great apes.