When planning a weekend in Washington, D.C., there are few people better to turn to for tips on where to go and what to do 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.
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.
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.
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.
IF YOU HAVE TIME
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.
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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