Travel

Travel Guide: Barhopping and Blossoms in Washington D.C.

Forget politics—from live music to cherry blossoms, the capital is at its peak this month.


A view of the Jefferson Memorial seen through spring’s vibrant cherry blossoms. / Photo by Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Getting There

Hop onto a direct flight from Logan to Reagan National airport. Flying into BWI or Dulles might be cheaper, but it’s not worth the hourlong ­schlep into the district. From DCA, it’s just an easy Metro or cab ride.

Staying There

There’s a lot more to DC than downtown. Try staying in Dupont Circle, which is close to the swinging 14th Street corridor, Georgetown, and adorable neighborhoods like Mount Pleasant. The recently redesigned Kimpton Carlyle Hotel, just off the circle, exemplifies the new DC vibe with its stylish, well-appointed rooms showcasing funky accents.

A sleek room at Kimpton Carlyle Hotel. / Photo by Cris Molina/Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels

A.M.

Luckily, one of the best brunch spots in DC is just a 10-minute walk from your hotel. At Iron Gate, set in a converted Dupont Circle carriage house, Mediterranean-inspired small plates are perfect fuel for a day of exploring. Once you’ve had your fill, head downtown for your free museum fix. The National Museum of African American History & Culture was a sensation when it opened on the National Mall four years ago, and it’s easy to see why: Visitors start underground and climb up as they trace the journey from slavery to civil rights, then rise to the top floors’ arts and culture galleries. After, take in natural works of art outside: March 20 marks the beginning of DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, which showcases a sea of delicate pink blossoms along the Tidal Basin.

P.M.

As the sun sets, ride the Metro north to the 14th Street corridor, the longtime center of music and culture in the city and the beating heart of the local’s DC. Pop into Salt & Sundry to shop for home goods from indie makers, or play throwback games (Pac-Man, anyone?) at Players Club, a basement-level arcade bar. Hungry for dinner and a show? Stop by the acclaimed Maydān, just off 14th, for kebabs and a glass of Lebanese wine before checking out the local jazz scene at Twins Jazz, a big-name headliner at the Lincoln Theatre, or a buzzy DJ at U Street Music Hall. On your way back to the hotel, grab a literary-themed nightcap at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, perfect for toasting a long weekend in the capital—sans election-year chatter.