From oft-visited tourist destinations to off-the-beaten-path locales, here’s where you need to go in our nation’s capital.
The donut-shaped space on the National Mall is filled with modern and contemporary art. Frequent DJ nights and Q&A sessions with art world royalty make this an ideal first-date spot.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 700 Independence Avenue Southwest, at 7th Street (202-633-4674 or hirshhorn.si.edu).
The manicured private park inspires first kisses, proposals, and baby steps. After you’re finished people-watching, check out the Philip Johnson-designed museum of pre-Columbian art.
Dumbarton Oaks, 1703 32nd Street Northwest, at R Street (202-339-6401 or doaks.org).
D.C.’s storied rock club offers crisp acoustics and a world-class lineup. Everyone has a favorite place to stand. Our opinion? Stage right by the burrito window is good, but front and center is always best.
9:30 Club, 815 V Street Northwest, at 9th Street (202-265-0930 or 930club.com).
The dark bar upstairs from Birch & Barley is dedicated to suds. Select from 50 drafts, 500 bottles, and as many as five cask ales with help from beer director Greg Engert. Snack on disco fries, grilled cheese, and brat burgers.
ChurchKey, 1337 14th Street Northwest, between Rhode Island Avenue and N Street Northwest (202-567-2576 or churchkeydc.com).
A Saturday morning at the oldest operating fresh food hall in the District is like a trip down Sesame Street. Everyone plays a part, whether it’s the cheese guy, the flower lady, or the fresh egg couple. Line up early for blue bucks at the Market Lunch counter.
Eastern Market, 225 7th Street Southeast, at North Carolina Avenue (202-698-5253 or easternmarket-dc.org).
The Victorian mansion known as Cedar Hill remains just as its famed slave-turned-abolitionist owner left it. Walk through Douglass’s library, peek inside the growlery, and marvel at his legacy.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, 1411 W Street Southeast, between 14th and 15th Streets (202-426-5961 or nps.gov/frdo/index.htm).
Breeze into this collection like you own the place (because, technically, you do). Make sure to see “Ginevra de’ Benci,” the only Leonardo da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere, plus all the Vermeers, Warhols, Monets, and Manets.
National Gallery of Art, 6th Street Northwest, at Constitution Avenue (202-737-4215 or nga.gov).
Cozy up to James Beard winner Jose Andres’s original tapas bar. Book one of two foosball dining tables and play until small plates arrive. Croquetas come in a sneaker basket (designed by Salma Hayek’s brother).
Jaleo Penn Quarter, 480 7th Street Northwest, at E Street (202-628-7949 or jaleo.com).
The W’s bar serves high-end cocktails with landmark vistas. Keep your eyes open for Marine One landing on the roof of the neighboring White House. If you want to go on a weekend, it’s best to book ahead.
P.O.V. Rooftop Lounge and Terrace, 515 15th Street Northwest, at Pennsylvania Avenue (202-661-2400).
In the long shadow of the Washington Monument, the wall remains a tangible symbol of sacrifice. Stand respectfully in front of the 58,282 names. See yourself in its dark reflection.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Constitution Avenue, at Henry Bacon Drive Northwest (202-426-6841 or nps.gov/vive).
Duncan Phillips opened America’s first modern art museum with a goal: Hang paintings by Braque, Picasso, and Modigliani, and encourage the public to discover the pleasures of art. Monthly Phillips After 5 parties prove sipping wine while jawing about art is not just for monocle-wearing Monopoly men.
It’s hard to find a neighborhood restaurant with this much flavor. The menu is straight from Addis Ababa: doro wot (spicy stew), tibs (grilled lamb or beef), and lentils piled on spongy injera. Wash your hands and tuck in.
Dukem Ethiopian Market, 1114-1118 U Street Northwest, between 11th and 12th Streets (202-667-8735 or dukemrestaurant.com).
Predating Harlem’s Apollo, this intimate theater reopened in April 2012 after a $29 million renovation. Wide-brim hats are de rigueur at the weekly gospel brunch on Black Broadway.
The Howard Theatre, 620 T Street Northwest, at Florida Avenue (202-803-2899 or thehowardtheatre.com).
This remains the place if you want to break bread with a head of state or spy on a celeb-vocate. Luxe out with corned beef hash croquettes with poached eggs. Celebrate birthdays that end with a five or zero over a super-swanky Sunday buffet. The rooms are just as tony upstairs.
Play eighteen holes or get your kicks out on the driving range. Whack away while planes drop into National Airport across the river. Hot dogs and beers are plentiful and cheap.
East Potomac Golf Course, 972 Ohio Drive Southwest (202-554-7660).
Here’s a fish ’n’ chips shop in Old Town that harbors a secret. When the blue light is on and the pirate flag is flying, cross your fingers there’s room at the hidden second-floor cocktail bar. The legendary Todd Thrasher masterminds the drinks at fancy Restaurant Eve.
Play weather girl, touch the Berlin Wall, and tweet the headlines at this interactive museum dedicated to the story behind the story. Don’t skip the Capitol views from the rooftop terrace or the happy hour izakaya at The Source.
Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, at 6th Street (888-639-7386 or newseum.org).
Hot eats and cool beats are easy to come by at this resto-lounge dedicated to D.C.’s No. 1 soul son, Marvin Gaye. Share moule frites or chicken and waffles downstairs, then chill to DJ sets at the rooftop lounge.
Marvin, 2007 14th Street Northwest, between U and V Streets (202-797-7171 or marvindc.com).
Reopened in 2010 after a $125 million renovation, Arena is a perpetual valentine to actors and audiences. Discounts like 35 percent off seats for full-time students and pay-your-age for those 30 and under score ovations.
Arena Stage, 1101 6th Street, at Maine Avenue Southwest (202-488-3300 or arenastage.org).
Get ready to crack the shell out of steamed Chesapeake Bay crabs. Buckets of icy beers, shakers of Old Bay, and napkins are key. Rusty? Ask your server for help at this friendly Arlington spot.