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11 things to love about Washington, DC

Washington, DC is one of the most visited and intriguing cities in the U.S. Luxury travellers will find a winning combination of lively theatres, stunning museums and galleries, and a booming food scene.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts ©

To theatre we go

It’s often said Washington, DC doesn’t have a theatre district because it is a theatre town.

Most popular is the Warner Theatre or the National Theatre. Opening in 1835 the National Theatre is the oldest of its kind in the U.S.

For something more intimate, try Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Arena Stage. Meanwhile DC’s most fabled theatre, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – a memorial to the late President J. F. Kennedy – hosts hundreds of performances each year. Here, Millennium Stage’s event roster includes film screenings and live music.

Michelin dining

Washington, DC’s reputation is growing among gourmands. Mostly due to its 24 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Don’t miss the new restaurant, The Bazaar by José Andrés. The namesake chef has a number of restaurants in town. He is also known for his humanitarian work in the U.S. and around the world.

Imperfecto: The Chef’s Table was among four new restaurants to be awarded a Michelin star in 2022. Here you can enjoy a Latin American 12-course tasting menu with Chef Enrique Limardo. Latin American flavours are the stars in Washington right now, and this restaurant is a great example.

Head an hour out of the city to dine at The Inn at Little Washington, the first and only three-star Michelin restaurant in Washington, DC Expect a romantic dinner-party vibe in a private country house with dishes like chartreuse of savoy cabbage and Maine lobster with caviar beurre blanc.

Imperfecto: The Chef’s Table Washington DC
Imperfecto: The Chef’s Table © Belen Barriga

National Gallery of Art

Washington’s National Gallery of Art has a collection of more than 150,000 paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, photographs, prints, and drawings spans.

Walking through the pillars of the West building’s neoclassical design, you’ll immediately feel overwhelmed if not by the stunning marble foyer, then by the extreme opulence of the decorated statues spanning from the Middle Ages to 20th Century El Greco.

Pittsburgh investment banker and industrialist, Andrew Mellon presented the gallery as a gift to the nation in 1941, and in 1978 his son Paul introduced the contemporary East building. Though the two galleries remain separate, the architects have practically developed an underground concourse decorated with magical, twinkling LED lights, intelligently incorporated by American installation artist Leo Villareal. In need of a break? Lounge on the fresh green grass as you take in the visual history of Washington’s National Mall.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Once a vibrant plantation in the 18th century, George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate is now one of the USA’s most visited historic sites.

Private and VIP tours of Mount Vernon give you access to behind-the-scenes areas in the mansion, including the cellar, explains George Washington’s unique plan for his gardens and landscape, the history of Mount Vernon’s outbuildings and why they are still standing.

Welcome To Washington Tour

The best way to begin your Washington, DC journey is with Custom Tours of DC’s half day Welcome to Washington tour.

Travel by executive chauffeured transportation on a fully customisable and private tour.

See spectacular city views including the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial from the Tidal Basin, Martin Luther King Jr, WWII and Dwight D. Eisenhower memorials. You will be led by a licensed professional guide who will entertain you with the history and lore of Washington, DC.

Charter a yacht on the Potomac River

Cruise along the river that George Washington chose to live beside. Take in Washington, DC’s attractions on one of Vintage Yacht Charters’ beautifully renovated vintage motor yachts. Once you’ve soaked up the city sights you can cruise to the Chesapeake Bay or the base of Mt. Vernon for a relaxed lunch.

A sunset cocktail cruise is a particularly stunning way to take in Washington, DC’s illuminated monuments, buildings and bridges.

Library of Congress

Washington, DC.’s Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Its shelves span 1,350 kilometres and every week the city adds 10,000 more books to the collection.

In 2022, the library recorded more than 164 million items, welcomed 1.9 million visitors and employed more than 3,000 permanent employees.

Underground passageways connect the beautiful library’s three buildings on Washington’s Capitol Hill.

Beautiful libraries
The Library of Congress © Canva

The great outdoors

Because of its layout, Washington, DC. is easy to get around – and you can enjoy the great outdoors while you do just that. Given that 70 per cent of DC land is managed by the National Park Service, there’s a lot to explore.

Hire a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to float past key monuments including the Georgetown Waterfront and Theodore Roosevelt Island, or glide under the Key Bridge. Then enjoy shady strolls around the National Arboretum and Rock Creek Park.

Georgetown Waterfront
Georgetown Waterfront ©

Poking into politics

No visit here would be complete without seeing the White House.

While it does take a bit of planning (you need to make a request in advance), you will get to walk inside what is arguably the world’s most famous address. The nearby White House Visitor Center also goes into the history of the building, showing the changes each president made to it, and discussing the quirks of trying to have a normal family life surrounded by the media and security teams.

Once you’re done here, head over to the U.S. Capitol, the home of the U.S. government’s legislative branch, which is also open to visitors – you can even sit in on congressional debates when the House of Representatives and Senate are sitting.

The While House, Washington, D.C
The While House, Washington, D.C ©

A vibrant music scene

Whether you prefer jazz (Jazzfest is held annually in Aug/Sept), go-go, hip-hop or dance, music rules in DC. Don’t miss The 9:30 Club, which opened its doors in the ’80s hosting acts including Chuck Brown, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Police. On a more intimate scale, Pearl Street Warehouse delivers live music and a meal. It’s part of The Wharf neighbourhood, which also hosts regular acts.

24 distinct neighbourhoods

The Shaw area is hip with lively bars and restaurants around the legendary U Street corridor. In Adams Morgan you’ll find historic row houses as well as a variety of independently owned stores – and a crowded nightlife scene. Brookland is an up-andcoming arts district filled with older homes and retro storefronts, while Georgetown has tree-lined streets with cobblestone sidewalks, grand homes and pretty C&O Canal. Then there’s the evolving Southwest Waterfront – a vibrant riverside community. Whichever neighbourhoods you choose to explore you will find each of DC’s 24 neighbourhoods has a distinct vibe.

Where to stay in Washington, DC

Riggs Washington DC is a heritage hotel housed in the historic Riggs National Bank, once known as the ‘Bank of Presidents.’.

The 181-room hotel, preserves many of the property’s original design features but with modern whimsical touches. There are 15 suites available, including the two-bedroom Riggs Suite inside what was once the bank’s boardroom, and four ‘First Lady’ suites inspired by lesser-known First Ladies and their contributions to the White House’s interior. Named after Louisa Adams, Caroline Harrison, Ida McKinley and Angelica Van Buren, each suite is completely unique in style and design.

Located in the heart of downtown DC, Riggs is ideally situated opposite the National Portrait Gallery and within walking distance of many of the capital’s must-see attractions, including The White House, Capitol Hill, the National Mall and Memorial Park.

This article was produced in partnership with Washington, DC and is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter.