Prefrosh Preview: A guide to D.C. neighborhoods

You’ve heard a little bit about D.C. as a whole. Now it’s time to explore her neighborhoods past M and Wisconsin. We don’t pretend this a comprehensive guide, but rather a little taste of what the city has to offer. Hold tight for Friday when we take on the top nightlife venues!

Dupont Circle (Metro: Dupont Circle)

With a combination of embassies, restaurants, shopping, and bars, Dupont Circle has it all, and it’s only a free GUTS bus ride away from Georgetown. Dupont Circle is also the closest Red Line Metro Station to Georgetown.

The main shopping street in this area is Connecticut Avenue northwest of the circle. Here you can pop into one of the largest independent bookstores in the region, Kramerbooks & Afterwords, which also has a café famous for its delicious pie!

Just off the circle on Massachusetts Avenue is Embassy Row, where the SFS Academic Council organizes trick-or-treating every Halloween.

Also check out the Phillips Collection. It’s not free, but there’s an excellent rotating collection of modernist and contemporary art.

Photo by Shubert Ciencia

Foggy Bottom (Metro: Foggy Bottom)

Just a 20-minute walk down M street, Foggy Bottom is home to George Washington University, the Kennedy Center, and the White House.

Adams Morgan (Metro: Woodley Park, 42 bus to 14th St./Columbia Rd.)

It’s hard to talk about Adams Morgan without talking about nightlife. But this area has a slew of great ethnic restaurants, from Ethiopian to Arab fare.

Sober or drunk, the tiny Amsterdam Falafel shop is your best bet for cheap, delicious falafel. This self-service shop let’s you stuff your falafel full of delicious toppings, and best of all it’s open late for the hungry bar hopper. And if you’re still thirsty afterwards, Tryst is a great place to listen to somber jams while sipping a sophisticated beverage.

A few blocks from the Woodley Park-Adams Morgan Metro Station, the National Zoo is free and makes a great daytrip in the fall or spring. The Zoo is one of only a handful of U.S. zoos that have giant pandas.

Photo by Kate Mereand

U Street (Metro: U Street)

Duke Ellington’s birthplace and largest center of urban black life before the Harlem Renaissance, U Street also includes the African American Civil War Memorial, Lincoln Theater, bars, restaurants, and music clubs.

The centerpiece of the whole corridor is arguably Ben’s Chili Bowl. Open during the 1968 riots, the restaurant has become a symbol of the city’s resilience. There are also lines out the door at almost every hours of the day. May I suggest the chili, chili half-smoke, or the chili fries?

Besides nightlife (more on that later), there are many great restaurants along U Street. Just up 14th Street is Busboys and Poets, a lovely cafe that mixes delicious food and local literary and artistic talent. Come here to eat or enjoy community gatherings.

Meanwhile, nearby Meridian Hill Park (a.k.a. Malcom X Park) is also a great place for picnics.

Photo by Rachel Voorhees

Columbia Heights/Mt. Pleasant (Metro: Columbia Heights)

These up-and coming-residential and retail neighborhoods are home to D.C.’s native Hispanic population. The main street in Columbia Heights is 14th Street. To get to Mt. Pleasant Street, head west on Irving Street and turn right. Both streets waft with the smells of Peruvian, Salvadorian, and Dominican cuisines.

You’ll probably check out the Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target at Columbia Heights Metro station at some point. They have pretty much everything you need to furnish your dorm room, so don’t worry about schlepping too much up to D.C.

If you like staged theatre, the GALA Hispanic Theatre puts on shows at the historic Tivoli Theatre.

Photo by Hawkins

Downtown/Penn Quarter (Metro: Metro Center, Chinatown)

Besides heading to the Verizon Center for basketball games, check out the downtown area for some good shopping and restaurants. For example, Forever 21 has a three-story store right next to Metro Center.

Only semi-authentic Chinatown has you covered with a strip, albeit short, of pretty good Chinese restaurants under a traditional Friendship Arch. It’s also right next to the Verizon Center, perfect for before or after game meals.

Some museums to check out include Ford’s Theater, the site of Lincoln’s assassination, the cheesy and somewhat pricey (but fun!) International Spy Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the American Art Museum.

Photo by Jason Meredith

Capitol Hill

The center of DC politics and culture is the perfect setting for free and almost-free weekend outings.

13 free museums are located off the Smithsonian Metro Stop. Highlights include the First Ladies’ Dresses Exhibit at the Museum of American History, the Hope Diamond at the Natural History Museum, the Wright brothers’ plane at the Air and Space Museum, and the Holocaust Museum.

But don’t miss some of the more offbeat museums, such as the American Indian Museum and the National Postal Museum by Union Station.

Meanwhile, the Newseum isn’t free but this writer definitely finds it worth the money. Exhibits include sections of the Berlin Wall, a Pulitzer Prize Photo Gallery, and an interactive newsroom.

As you probably know, all monuments and memorials are free, but just make sure to book tickets for the Washington Monument. They’re especially beautiful at night and at sunrise.

Fresh food and flea market aficionados should drop by Eastern Market, which is D.C.’s last full-time community market. Take the Orange or Blue lines to Eastern Market station.

Photo by Isaac Wedin

5 Comments on “Prefrosh Preview: A guide to D.C. neighborhoods

  1. Pingback: Morning Links: Could Be Worse - Housing Complex - Washington City Paper

  2. With the exception of the last paragraph, everything you list in the Capitol Hill section is on the Mall, not Capitol Hill.

  3. Pingback: Vox Populi » Proposed WMATA bus changes seal the Georgetown bubble a little tighter

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