Life in general, not to mention traveling, looks pretty different right now. But there’s plenty of ways to enjoy DC in this new environment, whether you’re visiting from out of town or seeking a staycation and finding adventure closer to home these days. Important note: DC has mandated masks for everyone when outside. Remember to always be mindful of local travel and health advisories whenever traveling, especially now!
Choose a reputable, clean hotel. Go for one that has a backyard space or patio and a kitchenette if possible so that you can eat at least some meals (including take out!) at your “home base” and minimize exposure at restaurants for every single meal. Think beyond traditional hotels too, like bed and breakfasts. We enjoyed our recent stay at The Avery Georgetown, a local bed and breakfast, to celebrate our anniversary and rented a room with its own private backyard. We were super impressed with their cleaning standards.
- The Avery Georgetown Bed & Breakfast
- The LINE, DC
- Hotel Hive
- Yours Truly, DC
- Kimpton Hotel Monaco
- Riggs Hotel
Avoid public transit, if possible. Pack your best pair of tennis shoes and get those steps in! Or if you need to cover more ground efficiently, try renting a bike through Capital Bikeshare, Revel electric moped sharing, an electric sharing scooter, or a car sharing app (we’ve been impressed with the cleanliness of our limited recent experiences with Lyft and Uber) — just bring wipes and sanitizer to wipe it down.
Plan out your activities ahead of time. Museums and other attractions have started to reopen with new health and safety measures in place, like timed reservations. Plus there are plenty of outdoor-focused activities you can still enjoy!
- The National Mall and monuments: Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, WWII, Smithsonian Castle, Capitol Building exterior, etc.
- Smithsonian’s National Zoo – Timed entry for free tickets and limited capacity. Some indoor exhibits remain closed.
- Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden – The sculpture garden is now open, while the museum remains closed.
- Tudor Place gardens – Beautiful free gardens at a historic Georgetown manor that sits on 5.5 acres. Requires timed entry tickets, and donations are suggested. The museum portion of the house remains closed and has virtual programming available.
- Glenstone Museum – Reopened offering visitors an outdoor-only experience. Tickets must be reserved in advance and are released two weeks in advance on Mondays at 10 a.m.
- The National Cathedral – While the Cathedral is currently closed to visitors, you can still experience the beautiful gardens and building exterior.
- United States National Arboretum – The Arboretum has reopened on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-5 pm and will limit the number of guests with some areas currently closed.
- Heurich House aka The Brewmaster’s Castle – The Castle Garden is now open to the public during the day and Thursdays evenings in the summer at their socially distanced happy hour, selling beers and wine on-site. You can also pick up some Senate Beer to-go – the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. Senate Beer brand was popularized in the 1890s and and has been recently recreated and produced by a local brewery in partnership! From personal experience, this lager is tasty!!
- Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – Visitors may visit the JFK Memorial bust in the grand foyer if they follow safety procedures. The outdoor campus at THE REACH is accessible, including pop-up wine garden and cafe Victura Park Friday-Sunday all summer long.
- Bike or run the C&O Canal – The trail connects in Georgetown near the waterfront and continues east for hundreds of miles, but you’ll only need to go a few miles to see some historic lockhouses, which are available for rent (open with new protocols).
- Artechouse – This art + tech exhibition hall is such a unique experience and rotates seasonally. Admission is limited and a timed ticket is required; AR Bar remains closed (see above note about virtual drinks via Colada Shop).
- Explore DC virtually – Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and others have launched some cool virtual events.
When dining, go for patios over indoor seating. DC has plenty of fantastic rooftops and patios for drinks and dining and has even expanded several parts of the city into “streeteries,” converting roads into expanded patios to keep patrons safe.
- Union Market – Grab a spot on the benches outside after choosing from the several dining options, plus there’s a rooftop patio.
- Boulangerie Christophe – A hidden patio in the back transports you to France and is perfect for brunch or lunch with pastries that are incredible.
- Zorba’s Cafe – Longtime Dupont Greek restaurant with the most charming patio that has been extended to the streetery outside its doors on 20th St NW.
- Mission – This popular Tex-Mex spot slings up great queso, margs, and mains. It can get pretty busy, so recommend visiting around non-peak hours.
- Floriana – Arguably the best Italian food in DC, Floriana has fully embraced the patio set up that is perfect for a romantic night out.
- Rakuya – Enjoy their delicious sushi and take advantage of lounging at their spacious streetery located on 19th St NW.
- Le Diplomat – One of DC’s finest and most popular French establishments with a beautiful outdoor patio and big open windows. Save room for their bread basket (yep, it is actually worth the calories), oysters, and wine.
- Founding Farmers – any location!
- Il Canale – This restaurant and the surrounding restaurants have transformed this quite side street into a fully expanded patio!
- L’Annexe – Fantastic Georgetown cocktail lounge (now with an expanded patio) with creative and delicious drinks.
- Lulu’s Winegarden – Cute urban oasis that transports you to Morocco, with two lush garden patios, reimagined dinner party fare, and a fun and affordable under-$50 wine list.
- Residents Cafe & Bar – Great little jungle oasis in the heart of Dupont. Make reservations in advance and be mindful of their current minimum spend $.
- Colada Shop – Awesome Cuban-inspired coffee and drinks with rooftops and patios. Locations on 14th St and the Wharf.
- Rooftop at Riggs – Sophisticated rooftop bar offering panoramic views of Penn Quarter and Mediterranean inspired aperitifs.
- Kennedy Center’s The REACH Outdoor campus – see note above.
There’s so many places to visit near DC as well!
- Alexandria, VA – Old Town
- Great Falls Park
- St. Michael’s, MD
- Fredericksburg, VA
- Harpers Ferry, WV
- Tons of nearby wineries in Virginia and Maryland
- Historic battlefields