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Washington, D.C.where it all begins

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1 City 5 Ways

W Washington P.O.V.

W Washington's P.O.V. Roof Terrace.

There’s more than politics and cherry blossoms in the U.S. capital. Like food. So much good food, from Ethiopian to Indian to some of the country’s best steak houses. And new breweries. And, of course, the museums: history, art, pop culture, spies, science and more. But Washington is also a vibrant urban home to the people who live, work and play here. This month, as the nation celebrates its independence and visitors are once again journeying to the top of the Washington monument, take time to explore the city on its own terms.


Bistro Burger at City Tap House. Photo by Ryan Lavine.

Where to Stay: W Washington
This property may be the sleekest within a stone’s throw of the White House, boasting a stunning view from the hotel’s P.O.V. Roof Terrace—the perfect spot for a gin and tonic to start or end your evening.

Brunch: City Tap House
Grab a table on the patio and dig in to a hearty breakfast sandwich, Texas eggs Benedict or chicken and waffles along with a stop at the fully stocked bloody mary bar or one of the 60 beers on tap at this Penn Quarter spot.

Afternoon: Bluejacket
New brewery laws in the District of Columbia have led to an outcrop of new craft spots, including this brewery and restaurant on the Navy Yard, where you can have lunch, take a tour or simply relax with a few cold ones.

Dinner: Estadio
This new tapas spot on buzzy 14th Street attracts a young, hip crowd looking for traditional Spanish small plates (start with montaditos and the corn medley with cheese), sherry cocktails and sangria (the red version, with cachaça, lime and mint, is delicious).

Evening: The Gibson
The lure of the speakeasy continues. Look for a black unmarked door next to Marvin on 14th Street, check in with the doorman, order a Sazerac and settle in to absorb the chill, loungy vibe. Note: If it’s the weekend, make a reservation.


Photo by Sam Kittner, courtesy of Capital Bikeshare.

Where to Stay: Hotel Palomar
Perfectly located in Dupont Circle near Georgetown, this Kimpton boutique hotel blends bold, modern décor with a cozy feel. The service is terrific, plus there are nightly wine receptions in the lobby, free loaner bikes and a pets-welcome policy.

Morning: Urban Chic
This independent boutique in Georgetown carries a well-curated collection of women’s brands, from pretty Shoshanna dresses to Citizens of Humanity denim.

Lunch: Kafe Leopold
Just off the hustle of M Street in Georgetown is Cady’s Alley, a collection of mostly design stores and a charming patio area that’s perfect for a salad or pizzetta with friends.

Afternoon: Capital Bikeshare
You can rent a bike using your credit card at one of 194 stations around the city. Take a ride through Rock Creek Park, along the C & O Canal in Georgetown or past the monuments on the National Mall and the tidal basin.

Dinner: The Red Hen
Eater DC voted this the top pick of 2013, and it’s clear why, with an airy, rustic/modern dining room and delicious Italian-leaning cuisine. We’re still dreaming of the saffron fettuccine with rabbit, cinnamon, grilled snap peas and mustard bread crumbs.


Four Seasons Hotel.

Where to Stay: Four Seasons
This lovely, luxe hotel on the C & O Canal in Georgetown boasts a 1,650-piece art collection. Don’t miss the Andy Warhol “Indian Head Nickel” screenprint in the lobby, just past the reception desk.

Morning: National Gallery of Art
No art lover’s visit to Washington is complete without a visit to the National Gallery and sculpture garden. Until October 5, check out the exhibition that explores the unique (platonic) relationship between painters Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt.

Lunch: Phillips Collection
One of D.C.’s first high-end coffeehouses—Tryst, in Adams Morgan—is now serving food at the café in the Phillips Collection, a Dupont Circle museum created by the Phillips family in the 1920s that features major masterworks of modern art.

Afternoon: Department of the Interior Murals Tour
Murals created here during the Great Depression include 26 photographic works by Ansel Adams and painted murals by Maynard Dixon, Gifford Beal and Allan Houser. Do make reservations in advance.

Dinner: Minibar
Experience food as art at this exquisite, tiny eatery from famed Washington chef José Andrés. The restaurant/food lab’s avant-garde creations are served up for just 12 lucky guests at each seating and come at a hefty price: $250/person, not including drinks.


Rasika photo by Scott Suchman.

Where to Stay: Sofitel Lafayette Square
This French hotel near the White House will bid you “Bienvenue!” at your arrival and make you feel equally welcome throughout your stay, whether you’re relaxing in your room or having an apéritif at Le Bar.

Morning: Union Market
Grab a microbrewed coffee from Peregrine Espresso and wander around this sparkling, diverse market. The culinary options and fun foodie wares are worth the somewhat remote locale.

Lunch: Daikaya
Pay homage to the ramen gods with a stop at this funky Japanese spot that serves up tasty bowls of steaming goodness. At Daikaya you’ll find both the ramen house and an izakaya-inspired restaurant above it, just in case you want to come back for dinner.

Afternoon: National Museum of American History
Step into hallowed territory: the replicated kitchen of Julia Child, whose TV show and cookbooks broadened U.S. palates for good. It’s part of the “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000” exhibition here.

Dinner: Rasika
Head to this refined Penn Quarter restaurant for some of the best Indian food in the city—and maybe the country. Need proof? Try the black cod with star anise, honey and dill. There’s also chef Vikram Sunderam’s recent James Beard award.


Newseum's Time Warner World News Gallery photo by Sam Kittner.        

Where to Stay: Mandarin Oriental
Treat the family to a taste of luxury right on the tidal basin, with views of the Jefferson Memorial and within easy walking distance of the National Mall and Smithsonian museums. And don’t miss a massage for yourself in the hotel’s luxe spa.

Morning: Trapeze School New York
Sign up for a class at this trapeze school and your kids will always remember flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Or flying through the air with shrieks of delight.

Lunch: Ted’s Bulletin
It’s all about elevated comfort food: perfectly grilled cheese, tasty sloppy joes and creative and delicious burgers. The folks here will even combine two shake flavors—pretty much kid heaven—and (bonus!) they have alcoholic shakes for you.

Afternoon: Newseum
This fascinating museum near the Capitol explores five centuries of news history, with 15 theaters, a look at the year’s most intriguing photos and immersive exhibits that chronicle the highs and lows of journalism. Check out “Anchorman: The Exhibit” through August 31.

Late Afternoon: Tidal Basin Monuments
Head out the back of the hotel for a stroll around the basin, stopping to ponder the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial and the outsized statue and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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