“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” ―George Washington
Best things to do in Washington DC to live a local
America’s capital is a city teeming with history, where famous monuments, museums and symbols of American history are just a part of normal, everyday life. Our local Flytographers in Washington DC have rounded up their top picks for living life in DC like a local, and their recommendations extend far past the must-see classics like the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building, the Library of Congress, and the National Mall. Washington DC truly shines during spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, but there is plenty to do and explore in the nation’s capital year-round. Here is our Washington DC travel guide, including the top hidden gems and local recommendations … curated just for you!
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Kathleen and their partner celebrate their anniversary in DC with a couple photoshoot at the Lincoln Memorial.
Where are the best places to eat in Washington DC?
- The Tabard Inn. “DC has a lot of really nice places to go out and eat, but my favourite is the Tabard Inn. It’s the oldest running hotel in Washington, DC, and they have a fabulous brunch.” – Elisenda
- Ben’s Chili Bowl. There’s not a place more DC than “The Bowl.” Opened in 1958, this Black-owned spot serves up chili dogs topped with a spicy, homemade chili sauce and other staple comfort foods. It’s become an icon on the historic U street for decades, as well as a celebration of African American history, culture and character.
- Baked & Wired. Family-owned and nestled in the charming Georgetown neighbourhood, this hole-in-the-wall shop serves up handcrafted coffee and baked goods from secret family recipes.
- Le Diplomate. This cozy restaurant transports you to Paris, as it pays homage to cozy French café culture. During the warmer months, enjoy your brunch, lunch or dinner en plein air in the stunning outdoor café, but the extensive menu and wine list is a showstopper year-round.
- Call Your Mother Deli. If your itinerary is packed with DC attractions like the Smithsonian Museums and guided tours across the city, this bagel spot is the perfect on-the-go meal. Everything is made fresh in-house or sourced locally, and if you’re exploring the farmer’s market scene (and you should!), keep an eye out for their stand.
- Blagden Alley. This unique alley, rumored to have once been called “the most despicable alley in America” by Eleanor Roosevelt, has been transformed into a hidden, historic foodie paradise. Craft cocktails and coffee, street art and a hot new restaurant could keep you fed and watered all day long.
Honorable mentions: Zaytinya, Centrolina, Piccolina, The Platery, Wisemiller’s Grill
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Eri and their partner celebrate their babymoon in DC with a maternity photoshoot in Georgetown.
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Sue and their partner capture memories of their engagement in DC with a surprise proposal photoshoot at the Lincoln Memorial.
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Bethany and their family capture memories on their trip to DC with a family photoshoot by the canal.
What are the best places to go for drinks in DC?
- Kramer’s. “My favorite place for drinks in DC is not actually a bar — it’s a bookshop. It used to be called Kramerbooks & Afterwords. It’s just called Kramers now, but they have a little bar inside the bookshop. You get to pick a book and sit down and have a glass of wine, which is perfect.” – Elisenda
- POV. Drinks with a view of the National Mall and the White House? This breezy, rooftop bar on top of the W Hotel offers unmatched panoramic views with a craft cocktail in hand. As a DC bonus, each drink’s name is an ode to political history, famous rumours, and presidential quotes.
- Sandlot Georgetown. Housed in a shipping container, this inventive bar serves up cold-pressed juice cocktails, and even reading the menu has us feeling refreshed already! Sandlot also supports Black-owned food businesses, such as restaurants, caterers and chefs.
- The Bullpen. Baseball fan or not, you can’t help but enjoy the buzz of this outdoor venue just steps outside of Nats Park in Navy Yard. Live music, cold beer, and even an award-winning food truck festival (Truckaroo) are staples before, during or after a home game.
- Jazz in the Garden. This event runs through the summer months and is a beloved DC staple. Every Friday evening, enjoy drinks — sangria is a favourite! — as you dance and enjoy live musical performances.
Honorable mentions: Hi-Lawn at Union Market, Columbia Room, Doi Moi
Photo: Sarah in Washington DC for Flytographer. Jessica and their partner celebrate their engagement in DC with a couple photoshoot at the Lincoln Memorial.
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Devin and their partner celebrate their engagement with a surprise proposal photoshoot during cherry blossom season.
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Tiffany and their family capture memories on their trip to DC with a family photoshoot in Georgetown.
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What are the best things to do in DC?
- Dumbarton Oaks. “When family and friends come to visit me in DC for the first time, I always take them to Dumbarton Oaks. It’s a beautiful museum and garden that’s owned by Harvard and they just keep it like it was in the 1920s, which is beautiful.” – Elisenda
- Tudor Place. In the heart of Georgetown, Tudor Place is a display of Federal-period architecture and home to six generations of Martha Washington’s descendants. The house and garden are open during the weekends for leisurely afternoon strolls, and we recommend bringing a picnic along to enjoy on the grounds.
- Georgetown. This picturesque neighbourhood deserves a full day of exploring the cobblestoned streets, historic architecture and waterfront views along the Potomac River. Shops, restaurants and cafés galore have made this part of bustling DC a charming oasis.
- The National Museum of African American History and Culture. Located just yards from the Washington Monument where hundreds of thousands of people gathered in 1963 to march and hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preach, this museum is exclusively dedicated to African American life, history, and culture.
- Culture House DC. This quirky event venue is certainly off-the-beaten-path and a colourful beacon for the local creative community. You’ll find one-of-a-kind visual, musical, culinary, and performance art experiences, and the building itself, painted by renowned Atlanta-based muralist HENSE, is worth the visit alone.
Honorable mentions: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Union Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington National Cathedral, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of Natural History, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, International Spy Museum, National Gallery of Art, National Zoo, National Arboretum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Planetarium, World War II Memorial, National Archives Museum
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Keisha captures memories on her solo adventure to DC on a modern headshot photoshoot at the BLM Square and Lincoln Memorial.
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer.Kayla and their family celebrate their babymoon in Washington DC with a maternity photoshoot at the Tidal Basin.
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Erin and their family capture memories on their trip to DC with a family photoshoot at the Lincoln Memorial.
What is your best travel tip for Washington DC?
“My favourite thing to do in DC is to rent a kayak and paddle in the Potomac with stops to explore Roosevelt Island and the Georgetown Waterfront. I also love a good run around the National Mall. It’s nice and flat with tons of iconic views.” – Erin (photographed above)
Read more Washington DC Travel Tips from Flytographer customers.
Where are the best places to go shopping in DC?
- Kramers. “In a city steeped in history and culture, it’s no surprise that independent bookstores shine here. In the heart of Dupont Circle, Kramers is also adjoined with an innovative restaurant and bar. Indulge and sip while you get lost in your next read.” – Elisenda
- Eastern Market. The historic Capitol Hill neighbourhood is a hub for visitors and locals alike, where you could spend hours exploring the farmers’ markets for fresh produce, flowers, baked goods and more at Eastern Market. Be sure to swing by during a weekend if you’re looking to support local artists, enjoy the live music and surround yourself with the buzz of DC.
- Shop Made in DC. Another opportunity to support Washington DC’s local makers and artisans is at one of four Shop Made locations stocked with over 5,000 made in DC products. We love to support local!
- Union Market. In addition to plenty of food and drink, Union Market is home to Instagrammable street art, a drive-in cinema, and the must-visit Salt & Sundry for home goods.
Honorable mentions: Old Town Books, Dupont Circle Pop-Up, Politics & Prose, Capitol Hill Books
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Leslie and their family capture memories on their trip to DC with a family photoshoot at the Capitol Grounds.
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer.Robin and their friends capture memories on a girls’ trip to DC at the Lincoln Memorial.
Photo: Flytographer in Washington DC. Robert and their partner celebrate their engagement in DC with a surprise proposal photoshoot at the Tidal Basin.
Best places to take photos in Washington DC
Elisenda in DC says, “My favorite place to photograph in Washington DC is Georgetown. It’s just the most charming little neighborhood with beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets, and charming little cafés.” View all 3 expertly-curated Flytographer photo walks through Washington DC.
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. City photo of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
Capturing memories in Washington DC
Whether your bucket list is seeing the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence with your own two eyes, sightseeing across the city or simply enjoying the local hidden gems that this historic city has to offer, DC finds a way to delight every visitor. We suggest a little bit of everything in a destination as unforgettable and unique as Washington DC — you never know where the cobblestoned streets will lead you.