A Local Long Weekend in Washington, D.C.

tsg-dc-weekend-shelby-samperton When planning a weekend in Washington, D.C., there are few people better to turn to for tips than The Scout Guide’s very own D.C. editor, Shelby Samperton. A third-generation Washingtonian, Shelby was born and raised, and even attended college, in the Capitol.

“I love D.C., and its always changing—especially now. There’s a resurgence in the city with new neighborhoods popping up,” she says. “There’s a new vibe, and I feel like even though I’ve lived here forever, there is always something new happening—I can barely keep up!”

From historic monuments to contemporary art galleries, fashion-forward boutiques to hot new restaurants, here are Shelby’s recommendations for where to go and what to do in D.C. now:


Check into Capella Hotel (1050 31st St. NW), your home base for the weekend. Just a block from the waterfront, the boutique resort is located in the heart of Georgetown, and is an easy walk to shops and nightlife.

Start your weekend adventure by getting pampered in Washington D.C.’s Friendship Heights neighborhood at Varnish Lane (5236 44th St.), an all-natural, water-free nail salon. As you’re enjoying a relaxing manicure and pedicure, sip a mimosa and unwind.

After your beauty treatment, cross Wisconsin Avenue to Kellogg Collection (5215 Wisconsin Ave.), a full-service interior design shop. “With at least two shipments a week, the inventory is always fresh and changing,” Shelby says. Think handmade Aubusson rugs, designer fabrics, fine art, beautifully crafted furniture, and fun tchotchkes.

tsg-sassanova-varnish-1 Hail a cab for a 10-minute ride to Sassanova (7134 Bethesda Lane) in Bethesda to find just the right accessory to add to your outfit for the evening. “It’s a great little shop that has the best selection of shoes, clothing and accessories—and the price point is perfect,” says Shelby. From the latest trends to timeless pieces, the shop owners carry designer labels like Hunter Bell, Nanette Lepore, and Trina Turk.

Head back to the hotel in time to head up to the Rooftop Bar and Lounge to enjoy spectacular views of the Capitol as you sip on a cocktail and soak in the infinity pool before getting ready for the evening.

Rooftop Lounge For dinner, mosey downstairs to The Grill Room, Capella’s fine dining restaurant with a focus on organic and locally sourced food. Take the local theme a step further by asking the sommelier for a recommendation from RdV Vineyards, a winery located just west of the city that produces world-class wines from Bordeaux grapes.


Rise and shine with a cappuccino and views of the canal on Capella’s terrace. Take a morning stroll along the canal, and if you’re feeling adventurous, follow the walking path along the Potomac River to the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument. For a unique vantage point of Georgetown and D.C., cross over the Memorial Bridge toward Arlington.

After your tour of the memorials, take a cab to the causal Mexican eatery Surfside (2444 Wisconsin Ave. NW) to refuel. Request a table on the rooftop, order a margarita, and enjoy the fare. “I love the St. Croix quesadilla,” Shelby says, “but, really everything is good—the burritos, the tacos.”

From Surfside, mosey down the hill into the heart Georgetown. Stop at Dumbarton Oaks (1703 32nd St. NW), a historic estate that is now home to art museums and gardens. “This is the most spectacular secret in D.C.,” Shelby says. Breathtaking, expansive gardens and galleries featuring Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, along with European masterpieces, make Dumbarton Oaks an inspiring oasis in the city.

tsg-pstreet-ellarue-1 As you make your way through Georgetown, swing by Ella-Rue (3231 P St. NW, ), a high-end consignment store run by sisters Krista and Alexa Johnson who cherry-pick luxury brands like Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton. Afterward, pop next door to contemporary art gallery P Street Gallerie (3235 P St. NW), which features a rotating list of local artists. Next up: a visit to the new brick-and-mortar outpost for the online store Tuckernuck (1053 Wisconsin Ave. NW), which carries sophisticated preppy attire for men, women and kids. As a bonus, the boutique carries beautiful, timeless home décor to boot.

After recharging at the hotel, take a cab into the heart of D.C. to visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave. NW), the only artistic institution in the world dedicated to females in the arts. The museum showcases collections from the 16th century to current day, along with 10 world-class exhibitions each year. Continue your art tour to the National Portrait Gallery (8th St. NW), just a 10-minute walk from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

It’s just a quick 3-minute walk from the gallery to sushi restaurant SEI (444 7th St. NW), where creative rolls run the gamut from tuna foie gras with strawberry soy balsamic to sun-dried tomato with truffle garlic ponzu. For an array of the kitchen’s latest creations, Shelby recommends ordering the chef’s selection.

If you’re not quite ready to turn in, cap off your evening at Capella Hotel’s Rye Bar, which is known for its selection of fine American rye whiskies.


Before you head out of town, wrap up your D.C. holiday with breakfast from one of the forty-some local food vendors at Union Market (1309 5th St. NE). Grab a cup of coffee from Dolcezza or espresso from Peregrine, and fill your shopping bag with goodies from places like Rappahannock Oyster Co. and Righteous Cheese.


Note: The following destinations are not open on Sunday, so plan accordingly! If you’re feeling extra energetic on Friday or Saturday and want to experience something new, head to the Shaw, a neighborhood in Northwest D.C. with a vibrant arts scene. While there, check out Swatchroom (1527 9th St. NW), run by local artists Maggie O’Neill and Warren Weixler, who are known for creating inspiring interiors and large installations. At their full-service creative design studio, you can purchase beautiful paintings of Washington, D.C.

Two blocks down 9th Street, interior designer Darryl Carter (1320 9th St. NW) has a gorgeous storefront that is worth checking out. Be sure to purchase one of his books, The New Traditional or The Collected Home.

Grab lunch at SUNdeVICH (1314 9th St. NW), tucked in an alley just around the corner from Darryl Carter’s boutique. Housed in a converted garage, the hole-in-the-wall eatery uses all-local ingredients to whip up grinders like the Kingston — jerk chicken, pineapple salsa, greens, spicy slaw, garlic mayo sandwiched between a crunchy baguette.

Maggie O'Neill

Text by Marissa Hermanson. Photo of Shelby Samperton, Sassanova, and painting of Capitol available from Swatchroom via The Scout Guide Washington, D.C. Additional images: Varnish Lane via Instagram, Capella Hotel Rooftop Bar and Lounge via CapellaHotels.com, P Street Gallerie via Instagram, scarf from Ella-Rue via Instagram.

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Scouted: Shearling Jacket

scouted If we’re being honest, we start adding layers in late August (what can we say, fall attire is our favorite!), but now is the time when we really begin to assess our outerwear. Black and white and adorned with biker-style buckles, this A.L.C. jacket is the piece we’ve been missing. We’ll be wearing it with jeans or a little black dress all winter.

Maha Boutique  //  Wayzata, MN  // 952.873.7001

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Talking Time and Place

Up Close & Personal with Curtis Bird of The Old Map Gallery


Who: Curtis Bird
Location: Denver, Colorado
Occupation: Owner, The Old Map Gallery

Curtis Bird is a keeper of place and time. This might sound like a strange statement, but when you consider what it means to be a seeker and seller of antique maps, it is actually fairly accurate. “That was one thing I was always told from the beginning: You have a custodial responsibility,” Bird says. “You’re going to be a steward and you’re just going to make sure that things are taken care of and that they go to new homes. And you have to help people find them.”

In the late 1990s, Bird moved from Illinois out west. He paid a visit to The Old Map Gallery, which was then owned by Paul Mahoney. He struck up a conversation with Mahoney, who liked him, and immediately hired him as his assistant. “I learned the trade from him when it was still kind of a pre-internet age, so I was there to see what deals were done on a handshake, and you knew everybody in the trade. It was a much smaller world in many ways,” Bird says. Years later, when Mahoney was ready to retire, Bird bought the shop.

tsg-old-map-gallery-2 In addition to entering the online era (which has been good for business, by the way—Bird says he receives interest in pieces he features on Facebook within minutes sometimes), over the course of the last twenty-five years there’s been a significant shift in interest in the map marketplace from America and exploration and the early colonial era to Asia. Now, Bird says, he focuses as much on maps of Beijing and Shanghai as he does on maps of Manhattan and Boston.

Bird’s clientele includes everyone from international collectors to major institutions like the Library of Congress to doctors and professionals throughout the U.S. with elegant offices to outfit to housewives in Canada to people who just seem to wander into the store. “The encouraging thing for me is having twenty-somethings who will come in and spend and afternoon literally sitting on the floor and just going through the maps. We had a couple come in yesterday from Seattle who had found us through Yelp or something, and they sat down and in a methodical fashion just started going through one thing after another looking and talking about it. It was really cool.”


“You start to understand humanity through place.”

Bird and his wife, Alanna, are still considered the “young kids” in the trade due to the fact that they’re roughly half the age of the older dealers who are in their 70s, but he’s already fielding questions from potential newcomers. “I got a request recently from somebody who wants to start a shop and wanted us to help guide them—‘How do you make the shop work? How do you do it?’—and for us, what we try and do, which might be stupid, but we try and do both breadth and depth at the same time,” Bird explains. “So we’ll have really good, rare stuff from parts of Asia in the 1500s, but at the same time, I’ll have really pictorial stuff for England from the 1930s, or a really hyper-accurate, architecturally true map of Manhattan from the 1960s.”

Customers truly do come to shop looking for a variety of maps. One client is an authority on dinosaur footprints. One is an anthropologist who has post-retirement plans to set off on an Indiana Jones-like search for a long-lost Persian King in Africa. Bird also sells to a number of artists. “You’ve got to think about culture, and think about images, and other things beyond that. At least, that’s where we’ve ended up. I don’t know if I’m looking for a Civil War battlefield tomorrow or if I’m looking for something that has the right color range that’s kind of inspiring.”

“One of my customers is an authority on dinosaur footprints.”

Bird’s ability to see the big picture, and view a map from a certain context, is at once impressive, inspiring, and incredibly insightful. Maps tell stories—for one, they illustrate places that no longer exist. “In this day and age, you have to be culturally literate from a number of different vantage points. You need to be able to understand the story and the spin and all that happened,” Bird says. “We get requests at times for maps of eastern Europe, and you need to think, ‘Is that person looking for a settlement that’s probably gone?’ There are a lot of backstories that we all probably need to learn to make sense of things. And I think that’s what we’ve tried to do. It’s a pretty profound moment to work through. We’ve had Holocaust survivors, and people with exile experiences, and how that plays into how they think of place is heavy and dynamic. You start to understand humanity through place. And I think that the key thing is that there’s more than one story.”

tsg-old-map-gallery-7 Understanding and accepting the impermanence of place is part of Bird’s job. In fact, he points out that this impermanence seems to be moving faster and faster. “Progress happens, and I think the thing the twenty-first century is showing us is that progress accelerates. What you might’ve experienced 300 years ago would be a pretty static experience form the time when you’re born to when you die. There’s not a whole lot of change. But as the centuries roll on, it seems like the acceleration gets faster and faster in a lot of ways. The one constant has been that we are evolving. The whole scene is evolving constantly.”

tsg-old-map-gallery-4 This idea seems to be spurring a couple of new fields of interest in the map world. “One is space exploration,” Bird says. “I think people all too readily forget the magnitude of ‘we left the planet and mapped a whole other planet next to us, and then we kept going.’ That’s pretty astounding when you step back from it. As a species, you’ve got to pat us on the back at some point and say ‘yeah, good job, well done.’  I don’t think it’s sunk in yet [but] has become something that I think people are starting to realize and sniff around about and find intrigue about. That is amazing, renaissance-quality stuff.”

The other category? “Stuff related to the internet age. I look for maps of early Silicon Valley, I look for early maps of the internet. It’s another one that I think we just take for granted and don’t realize, ‘Man, that’s amazing,’ that as a species we’re able to do that. I think there are some things we probably need to look back at now and really appreciate. I think in the development of an age where a simple app on a phone could help stimulate revolution, that’s huge. I think that whole development of that echelon of technology is important to mankind. As much as us being able to navigate well, I think there are certain levels of us being able to communicate at high speed across any part of the globe, that’s pretty huge.”

“I think people all too readily forget the magnitude of ‘we left the planet and mapped a whole other planet next to us, and then we kept going.’”

The Old Map Gallery // Denver, CO // 303.296.7725

Photographs by Katie Neuman.

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Scouted: Lock Chair

scouted With its clean lines and wooden frame, this chair feels wonderfully modern without sacrificing warmth. Crafted by the Denver-based design lab Housefish, which is dedicated to creating sustainable products out of locally sourced materials, the chair also comes in warm grey, orange, or light blue, and would look cheerful in any space.

Housefish  // Denver, CO  //  720.295.5068

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Words We Love / 64

TSG Words We Love


Scouted: Ceramic Teabowl by Mike Helke

scouted We enjoy a good cup of tea any day, but as the weather grows cooler and the days become shorter, the ritual is even more enticing. Beautifully made and bearing calming hues, this teabowl by Mike Helke is the ideal vessel for tea time, and will look lovely on the shelf when not in use.

Northern Clay Center  //  Minneapolis, MN  //  612.339.8007

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