They say behind every strong man is an even stronger woman. When it comes to the political powerhouse of Washington, D.C., we couldn’t agree more. Supported by its surrounding sprawl of residential neighborhoods, the edges of the D.C. portrait becomes complete with native’s favorites for basic commodities, secluded artistic corners, and everything up-and-coming. Let’s explore D.C. softer feminine sides, shall we?
Let’s begin with the most well-known, well-loved D.C.’s neighborhoods: Georgetown. Excellent for shopping, strolling, and people-watching, you’ll find everyone from university students to city employees on lunch break to the ever-present horde of tourists traversing the main artery of M Street NW. Spend a moment here, then jump off the bandwagon and wander through the backstreets. Instead of waiting in line for hours for Georgetown Cupcake, try Baked & Wired, where the cupcakes are not only bigger and tastier, but the line won’t take up half your day. For a warm drink, perch gracefully on one of the comfy pillows on the floor of Ching Ching Cha, a traditional Chinese teahouse with an excellent selection of leaves. Georgetown, being the oldest neighborhood in D.C., holds its pride and joy in its older homes. To work off that cupcake, hike up the fabled “Exorcist Stairs”, which were used in the 1973 film, but now are used by crew teams in workouts and locals to scare off annoying tourists. For a family night-out, Pinstripes is a high-end bowling-alley-restaurant-bar-emporium that has something for everyone (even Mom and Dad!).
For a milder, but hip area, cross Key Bridge, pass Rosslyn, Virginia and come to Clarendon. There you have the mothership of all grocery stores: the breath-taking (and more importantly hunger-taking) Whole Foods. With a colorfully organic selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy munchies, and delicious prepared foods, its a great place to take lunch on their upper level, or get it to-go and sit in the park across the street’s gazebo. Hop over to CD Cellar and browse an all-encompassing selection of new and lightly used CDs and vinyls. Northside Social is a must-visit (and takes the prize for the D.C.’s best cup of chai), as a coffee shop/wine bar hybrid separated into a humble lower level and more modern and sophisticated upper bar. The best burger of D.C. you can find here, at Ray’s, the chief installment in a trilogy of perfectly cooked meat, savory toppings beyond the bacon (foie gras and bone marrow, anyone?), and sweet shakes.
The last must-visit D.C. neighborhood is Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. Here, vintage and consignment shopping reaches a happy climax and folds nicely into the pastel homefronts. Walk down the cobblestone streets and take the King Street Trolley. For the ambitious early bird, the Old Town Farmer’s Market is a delicious way to expose yourself to local culture. Have some extra room in your suitcase? Old Town is famous for its high-end antique stores. Old-is-the-new-new at Random Harvest aswell, a furniture and home accessories store, and with its dynamic, but tasteful collection, you’re destined to fall in love with something (don’t worry, they ship). On your way to the waterfront, take a peek into The Torpedo Factory, where you can watch local artists at work, and maybe even purchase a souvenir you’ll remember forever.
Scratch an extra day off your planning calendar and make one (or all!) of these unique D.C. suburban neighborhoods a priority. With plenty of opportunities for delicious treats, natural excursions, and special destination shopping, wander through these smaller streets and discover the local favorites that make D.C. such an incredible city, both to work and to live.