American Trails City Guide – Washington D.C.

Credit: Marc Ligne/ Flickr

The city that is covered in politics and power and is as beautiful as it is self-indulgent. There are so many things to do in DC- most of which revolve around US institutional landmarks but there is something for everyone here. Washington is a place that everybody must visit at least once in their life, you do get the feeling that you’re standing in such a historically significant place. Especially, when you consider the events that have happened here, you could easily think that you are standing in the middle of the universe.

Words: Alex Dudley

Three places to stay

Hotel Hive

Located across the street from the George Washington University campus, this is a trendy and moderately priced hotel. It is a four minute walk from the Foggy Bottom- GWU metro station and a 20 minute walk from one of the most famous landmarks in DC, the Lincoln Memorial. The rooms are hip and provide complimentary Wi-Fi, smart TV’s and Bluetooth speakers. Amenities include the cocktail bar on the ground floor, a pizzeria and a rooftop terrace. Prices begin from 100 USD a night.

2224 F St NW


The Hay-Adams

This luxurious 1928 Italian renaissance-style building is a redefined and upscale hotel on Lafayette Square overlooking the White House. All the rooms are decorated elegantly and offer complimentary Wi-Fi, Bose music systems and flat screen TV’s. While, some of the rooms also offer brilliant views of the White House with private balconies, these rooms subsequently cost more. As a high end hotel they also offer a very good restaurant and a panoramic rooftop bar. Prices begin from 333 USD a night.

800 16th St NW


Hotel Lombardy

This 1926 building was once a private residence but is now a Foggy Bottom hotel within a five minute walk from the nearest metro station so it is great for accessibility. It is also 0.5 miles away from the White House. There are many complementaries included in these slick rooms, including Wi-Fi, wet bars and coffeemakers while the rooms also have custom art work and each room has its own original piece. Along with this, there is a bistro-styled restaurant that overlooks the park and a highly decorated lounge with a fireplace. Prices for this wonderful hotel begin at 122 USD a night for a standard room.

2019 Pennsylvania Ave NW


Three Best Restaurants

Ambar Capitol Hill

A hidden gem among the vast amount of Washington restaurants. Ambar is the first modern Balkan cuisine restaurant in DC. It blends tradition and heritage with creativity, something that their chefs excel with night after night- no easy feat. This creates an unforgettable experience as you dine here, added with that it is full of comfort with fine furniture and interior design- you won’t want to move! Their lamb medallions are a personal favourite and will only set you back 9 USD! It is well worth a visit.

523 8th St SE

Inside Zaytinya. Credit: Ron Cogswel/l Flickr


This restaurant is under the direction of the celebrated chef, Jose Andres and his team. They offer an innovative, futuristic and interesting mezze menu- inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisine. It is a beautifully elegant and sleek location and Andres is not afraid to take risks to find new taste sensations to blow away his customers. Since opening, it has constantly been one of the highest ranked dining spots in the city and it is thoroughly deserving of such praise. Zaytinya opens at 11am and therefore offers a good lunch spot; as well as dinner.

701 9th St NW


Favourite bars

Off the Record

This aptly named bar opposite the White House is a perfect place for a quick drink following a trip to the most powerful walls in the world. It looks like the kind of bar that you would expect to see a character from House of Cards or Designated Survivor in, taking a quick break from the hassle of working for the president. It’s located in the Hay-Adams Hotel and looks like an over-the-top hideaway. Although, because of the location you can expect to pay a little more than in most other bars in the city- with a small glass of house wine setting you back 18 USD and a beer costing in the region of 9 USD. There is also food on offer and their menu is pretty extensive but again, it is higher end.

800 16th St NW



Nocturne is one of the coolest cocktail bars in the city. It looks reminiscent to an old abandoned apartment building, but nether-the-less it is still comfortable and very accommodating to guests looking to get away from the world for a few hours. They have three excellent bartenders that are led by head-drink maker, Chris Jakubowski who are all capable of mixing some magic for you to sip on. Their drinks have one common theme and that ranges from funky to futuristic, while the menu is separated into three core characteristics; savory, carbonated and rich. Although, if you were looking for a more modest daiquiri then the staff would be more than happy to whip one of those up too. Well worth a visit.

1932 9th St NW


Union Trust

This watering hole looks very unimpressive from the outside but once inside, it’s anything but that. It was previously used as the Union Trust mail room, and some elements of that are still in play today- only adding further character to the establishment. Another bar where you feel like you are about to get the latest gossip from the White House, considering it is just a few steps away. It is very popular with the locals as they come in at their regular hours to have their favourite draft beer or boozy cocktail. The best thing about this bar is that there are no TV’s, no pool tables; the only form of entertainment is human interaction. Prices are very reasonable with a drink between happy hours costing 6 USD for a gin & tonic and 4 USD for a draft beer.

740 15th St NW


Whiskey Charlie

If you happen to be in DC on a sunny day, this is the place for you. Whiskey Charlie offers the best outdoor rooftop drinking spot in the city. Complete with a view of the emerging Wharf complex, it gives you a look into Washington’s future. The drinks menu covers all bases from classic drinks like Pina Colada’s to dirty Martini’s and much more. If you are feeling a little more daring, you are able to order drinks by the liter, they are called ‘tankards’ and are recommended to be shared- they will set you back 52 USD. Beer is only sold in cans and they will cost you 7 USD, while wine costs 13 USD. The prices of drinks is a big selling point as the location and quality of service is up there with the best you will get in DC.

975 7th St SW


Areas for Shopping

Washington DC China Town. Credit: Wobbe F. Koning

Downtown DC

The best area for shopping would be in the heart beat of the city center. It is bursting with ten acres of shops, cafes, restaurants and public space. Major retailers such as Dior, Burberry and Boss have set their stall here since it officially opened as a major shopping complex in 2014. Once you’re finished shopping for the day, head to a nearby dining area. There is a major selection to choose from but notable mentions go to DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse and Fig & Olive. Away from the big designers, you can also find Loft and Urban Outfitters in the up-and-coming Chinatown area. You can also venture further down onto F Street and find H&M and Zara. There is enough around this area to keep you busy for a whole day!

825 10th St NW

Sunrise on the corner of U-Street. Credit: Clif Burns/ Flickr

U-Street/ 14th Street

Next up is the hip area where U Street’s old school vibe meets with the trendsetting restaurants and shops along 14th Street. The historic U Street is exploding with quirky and weird furniture stores such as GoodWood, while there is hipster stores such as Lettie Gooch and Junction. 14th Street gives you an ideal chance to buy some souvenir home gifts with shops that specialize in home products such as the local favourite, Salt & Sundry. If you’re looking for something a little more modern, you should look no further than Room & Board. Once you get a little hungry, there is a fantastic gelato spot called Dolcezza- which I cannot recommend enough.

14th St NW & U St NW

14th Street from Potomac Park. Credit: Chiqui Rodriguez/ Flickr

Tysons Corner

If you are looking to fill up a spare suitcase, this would be the place for you. Tysons includes not just one, but two retail campuses specializing in high-end brands. You take Metro’s Silver Line to McLean. Here you can browse around 300 shops at the Corner Center; shops include Michael Kors, Nordstrom and C. Wonder. If you are not finished there, you can cross the EIGHT lane street and you can find the heaven for all luxurious shop lovers, in the form of Tysons Galleria. Here you will find shops such as Prada, Chanel, Ellie Tahari, and if you need an extra case, you can pick one up at TUMI.


Things to do

Lincoln Memorial

The best way to find the memorial would be from the East, by the National World War II museum. This would put you at the edge of the Reflecting Pool which will illuminate the grand statue of one of the USA’s most loved presidents. The Lincoln statue stands at 19 foot, looking over the Washington Mall and the country in which he fought so hard to preserve. Lincoln Memorial has been open to the public since 1922 and since then it has become one of the most photographed things in DC. The statue itself is housed inside a columned building, with 36 columns signifying the amount of states the US had at the time of his death. This is a must do.

Credit: Karlis Dambrans/ Flickr

United States Capitol Building

The Capitol is the home of US law and politics and is one of the symbolically most important buildings in the world. It has housed the meeting chambers for Representatives and Senate’s for the past two centuries. It stands as a monument to the American people and for the government. The Capitol resembles the ideas of the founding fathers of the United States, as they developed the new republic. You can visit the building; it is open Monday- Saturday 8:30 to 16:30. Admission to the Capitol is free. However, if you are looking to do a tour you would be required to get a pass and these must also be booked in advance.

Credit: Prayitno/ Flickr

White House

Perhaps the most famous house in the whole world. The White House is home to the president of the United States. It has been this way since George Washington selected this site for the White House in 1791 and has been the residence of every president since John Adams in 1800. This is one of the best tours you will do while in DC, it is amazing and you feel as if you are in somewhere of great significance. You must submit a tour request through a member of Congress or your countries embassy housed in DC. These self-guided tours are available from 7:30 to 11:30 Tuesday through Thursday and 7:30 to 13:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. You must submit a request at least 21 days in advance but it is better if it is a few months in advance. If there is one thing you should do, it is this!

Credit: Matt Wade/ Flickr


The message of Newseum is to increase understanding of free press and the First Amendment, something that it achieves through using fantastic exhibits and having fun. You will experience the story of news, the role of free press in major events throughout history and how the core freedoms of the First Amendment (religion, speech, press, assembly and petition) applies to daily American life. It is considered one of the best interactive museums in the world and boasts 15 galleries and 15 theaters. Further exhibits include the 9/11 Gallery and the Berlin Wall gallery. General admission tickets start from 22 USD, while youth tickets cost 13 USD. Well worth the visit.

Credit: Mark Klinchin/ Flickr
Inside Newseum. Credit: Hickydoo/ Flickr



Alex Dudley

Web Content Editor