The neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.'s Upper Northwest rank among America's most wealthy and privileged. There are big attractions, including the outstanding National Zoo, the massive National Cathedral, American University, upscale shopping in Friendship Heights, and several nice wining and dining strips, which serve as good alternatives to the hip, trendy scene in Adams Morgan and crowded, pricey and traffic-congested Georgetown.
Upper Northwest has many different neighborhoods, each of which have a slightly different feel and identity.
Glover Park is the neighborhood of the Upper Northwest closest to downtown—just north of Georgetown, and has the bulk of the area's nightlife, which serves as a slightly older and less raucous complement to its collegiate neighbor to the south.
Woodley Park is well to do area with many restaurants and bars, popular with a middle aged crowd. It is also home to the National Zoo and the National Cathedral.
Cleveland Park most notably, but also Van Ness (Forest Hills) and Tenleytown to the north along Wisconsin and Connecticut Ave., have popular commercial strips with restaurants, bars, and small stores. Van Ness in particular hosts a popular farmer's market, along with a number of well regarded local restaurants and delis. Also in the west of Tenleytown (and the appropriately named, American University Park), you'll find American University.
Further north is Friendship Heights, part of which is in Washington, D.C., and part of which is in Maryland. It is known for its wealthy and powerful residents. It is also known for having very expensive retailers on Wisconsin Ave.
Chevy Chase is DC's northernmost neighborhood, which spills across the border into Maryland. It rivals Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) as one of the city's most exclusive (and expensive) neighborhoods but is much quieter and more wooded than its more famous rival. Needless to say an emerging dining scene is beginning to draw visitors from other parts of town.
To the southwest, the neighborhood of Palisades is almost entirely residential, and it is where you will find some of the city's largest and most expensive homes. Palisades also has the C&O Canal trail along the Potomac River, and a handful of fantastic, upscale restaurants.
The Metrorail Red Line runs through this part of the city, and it is pretty self explanatory, given that the stations are all named after the neighborhoods and their major attractions. Woodley Park-Zoo for Woodley Park and the National Zoo, Tenleytown-American University for Tenleytown and AU, etc. The National Cathedral, Glover Park, and the Palisades, like Georgetown, are not served by Metro, and will require either a car, taxi, rideshare or bus ride.
Driving is another option, though competition for parking spots can be fierce. You can usually find parking on side streets off of Connecticut and Wisconsin Ave, although you might have to walk a good ways from your car, and parking is usually limited to two hours in neighborhoods closer to downtown. The Palisades, along the extreme west of the city, are best visited by car, and it's quite easy to park there.
If driving in this part of the city, be aware that during weekday rush hours Canal Rd in the west becomes one-way and reverses directions during weekday rush hours (M-F 6:15AM-10AM inbound, 2:45PM-7:15PM outbound). Similarly, Connecticut's left lanes are reversible, so pay attention—you don't want to find yourself charging into oncoming traffic!
Taxis are generally not hard to catch along the main avenues (Wisconsin and Connecticut), but will be impossible to find elsewhere.
Metrobus operates service on the major thoroughfares in these neighborhoods, but frequent stops and slow traffic make rideshare a better option.
Routes #31, #32, and #36 all run between Georgetown and the Friendship Heights Metro station along Wisconsin Ave. On the weekends after midnight, the buses run once every hour until 2AM.
Routes #L1, L2, and L4 run the length of Connecticut Ave 5:30AM-midnight daily. The L2 continues into Adams Morgan, while L1 and L4 head further south along Connecticut to Dupont Circle and then on to the West End.
Routes #N2-N6 all run along Massachusetts Ave from Dupont Circle to American University.
The Woodley Park/Zoo Metro stop is the closest stop to Adams Morgan. It's a half-mile (800-m) walk over the Calvert St Bridge from the station to Adams Morgan.
The upper northwest is a hilly region, which can pose challenges for cyclists, especially those traveling northwest (which is generally uphill). Capital Bikeshare stations and dockless bicycles and scooters are few and far between in the more suburban residential neighborhoods, although they can more often be found along Connecticut Ave. and some parts of Massachusetts Ave. Neither of those avenues have bicycle lanes, though, so either take to the sidewalk and risk terrorizing pedestrians or brave the high-speed car traffic and try not to get run over.
The Rock Creek Trail through Rock Creek Park makes for an excellent ride.
The Zoo and the National Cathedral dwarf any other attractions here in both size and number of visitors, but if you have a little extra time, the Hillwood Estate and Kreeger Museum are two of the city's greatest hidden gems.
- 1 Kreeger Museum, 2401 Foxhall Rd NW (By public transport: take the D6 from Dupont Circle Metro at P & 22nd towards Sibley Hospital), ☏ . Tu-F 10:30AM, 1:30PM (by reservations only on weekdays), Sa 10AM-4PM (open to public). Little known even to locals is this private house-museum with an impressive collection of paintings by the impressionist and early modern masters. The house itself is a work of art, designed by modernist architects Philip Johnson and Richard Foster. Adult $10, student or senior $7.
- 2 Hillwood Estate, 4155 Linnean Avenue NW (A little under a mile from the Van Ness-UDC station—about a fifteen minute's walk), ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; tours: 11:30AM,1:30PM, garden tours: 10:30AM, 12:30PM (Spring & Fall) cafe: 10AM-4PM, lunch: 11AM-2:30PM, tea: 2:30PM-3:30PM. A hidden gem of magnificent proportions. Marjorie Merriweather Post, prominent businesswoman and heiress to the Post Cereal fortune, fashioned her estate next to Rock Creek Park to be an extraordinarily stately and luxurious site for entertaining guests, housing her impressive art collections, and with the intention of leaving it behind for the world to enjoy. The mansion is a treasure trove of French and Russian decorative arts, much of which she obtained from the USSR, whose government under Stalin was then auctioning off a good portion of its cultural heritage to finance its war efforts. Second in grandeur only to the art collection itself are the French and Japanese-style gardens—great places to linger long after the tour. Suggested donation: $12, $7 student, $5 child.
- 3 National Cathedral (Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul), 3001 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ . Visitor hours: M-F 10AM-5:30PM, Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 8AM-5:15PM. Tours: every half hour (Su last tour at 2:30PM). Mass (Episcopalian): M-F noon; Sa 7:30AM, noon; Su 7:45AM, 8:45AM, 10AM (contemporary), 11:15AM. Evensong: usually M-F 5:30PM, Su 4PM. Organ demonstration: M W 12:30PM-1PM. The impression of walking up to the world's 6th-largest cathedral, a hulking mass cut over a period of 83 years of 150,000 tons of stone, is alone worth the trip. Tours are a must if you really want to see the cathedral, and the towers and the crypt are off limits without a guide during the busy season. The organ demonstrations are spectacular and loud. Check the website for events, as there is often children's programming as well as major concerts. $12 adult; $8 for seniors, children 5–17, students, teachers, and military; Sundays free.
- 4 National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . 8AM-7PM; winter: 8AM-5PM, last admission 1 hour before closing. A collection of 400 species, including 2,000 animals. Get a map at the entrance, take your time, and be prepared to walk a great deal. Bring water—the concessions here are insultingly expensive. The most crowded exhibits are nearly always the Pandas and the Ape House. The pandas are perhaps the zoo's shyest residents. The Ape House is fun no matter the crowds. Other hits include the Seals & Sea Lions Exhibit, the Reptile House, the remarkable Aviary, and the irresistibly cute prairie dogs. Free. Parking $25 (limited availability in spring and summer).
- 5 American University Museum at the Katzen Center, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, ☏ . Tu-Su 11-4. Free. Parking $2/ hr. weekdays.
- 1 Fort Reno Concerts, Nebraska Ave and Fort Dr, ☏ . Summers, with vague start and end dates, but M Th 7PM-9:30PM. Fort Reno was one of the bedrocks of the legendary and celebrated D.C. punk/hardcore/straight-edge scene, and evolved to encompass later post-hardcore and other local indie rock. The concert series was founded in 1968 as a sort of government-sponsored hippie fest to try and bring some love, joy, and sense of community back to the district post-1968 riots. Having run annually since, this is one of the truest local traditions, is beloved by the community, and a great way to delve further into that elusive city beyond the federal government and neoclassical memorials. No alcohol, no glass bottles, but plastic bottles are allowed. Free.
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is the largest park in DC.
- 6 Peirce Mill, 2401 Tilden St NW, ☏ . Milling Demonstrations: April-October on 2nd and 4th Saturday, 11AM-2PM. A historic water-powered mill in the park and a national historic site built by Isaac Peirce in 1829. Free.
- 2 Rock Creek Golf Course, 6100 16th Street NW, ☏ . dawn-dusk daily. The 18 holes of golf in Rock Creek Park are a bit rough. That's not to say you can't have a good experience here, as it is quite a novelty to play golf deep in the woods, despite being in the city. The back 9 holes are challenging due to extreme hills and narrow fairways. Par 65. Golfers might want to consider the other two major courses in the city: Hains Point in Waterfront and Langston in Near Northeast. $15-20/nine holes, $20-25/eighteen.
- 3 Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, 5200 Glover Rd NW, ☏ . W-Su 9AM-5PM. Deep inside the park, the Nature Center offers hands-on exhibits, guided nature walks, an "observation beehive," and a full planetarium. Especially good for kids. Free.
- 4 Rock Creek Horse Center, 5100 Glover Rd NW, ☏ . Tu-F noon-6PM, Sa Su 9AM-5PM. If you wish you had opted for a country vacation instead of a trip to D.C., it's not too hard to make believe in Rock Creek Park. The horse center offers trail rides, horseback riding lessons (group and private), and pony rides throughout the summer months. The trail rides are very popular, and reservations often are booked more than a month in advance. The pony rides and lessons also require reservations, but are much easier to get. For those visiting on a whim, and not interested in paying for a ride, you can just stop by and pet and feed the horses for free. If you traveled to the city on horseback, they offer full-service public stables for $600/month. Trail rides: $40/1 hour; pony rides: $20/10-15 minutes; lessons (1 hour): $50 group, $90 private.
- 5 Turtle Park (Friendship Park), 4500 Van Ness St NW, ☏ . Rec center: M-F 2:30-9PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. Turtle Park has the coolest playground in town. The centerpiece is an enormous sandbox littered with eminently climbable turtle sculptures and plastic shovels and buckets. In the summer, you can get the sand off your kids away without a trip to the bathrooms at the "sprayground." The park is fenced in and has plenty of shade, as well as four baseball fields, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, and a rec center.
The area around the Friendship Heights Metrorail station has many clothing stores - both discount stores and high end stores.
- 1 Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss of the Beyond, 3428 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . A toy store with a selection of unique items, and quite the wild name.
- 2 Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 10AM-8PM. This is a quite possibly the city's favorite independent bookstore, with a non-exclusive focus on politics, a coffeeshop downstairs, and frequent, excellent lectures. It is far off the beaten path, about a mile north of the Van Ness-UDC Metro Station, but it's a rewarding destination.
- 3 Tempo Bookstore, 4115 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 10AM-7PM. This is a bookstore wholly dedicated to language resources: language learning books, software, linguistics texts, teaching tools, etc. A great place for philology nerds.
- 4 The Container Store, 4500 Wisconsin Ave (At the Tenleytown Metro Station), ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-9PM; Su 11AM-6PM. Baskets, bins, boxes, cases, lockers, trunks, bags, jars, packs... You can pretty much buy anything to put anything in at this store. A great place to shop if you like being organized or if you wish you were more organized.
- 1 2 Amys, 3715 Macomb St NW, ☏ . M 5PM-10PM, Tu-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM, Su noon-10PM. A gourmet Italian restaurant with a big focus on Neapolitan style pizza. With popular food and top-notch service, the waits can be long, but make no mistake, this is D.C.'s most popular pizzeria for a reason. If the noise bothers you, request a table in the upstairs dining room. $11-18.
- Byblos Deli, 3414 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Greek and Mediterranean food. Outdoor seating.
- OpenCity Diner, 2331 Calvert St NW, ☏ . Su-Th 6AM-midnight, F Sa 6AM-1AM. Late night "diner" (more of a large cafe) with free WiFi, good tea, booze, and vegan friendly!
- 2 Osman & Joe's Steak 'n Egg Kitchen, 4700 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ . 24 hours daily. The quintessential greasy spoon (which can be hard to find in the D.C. area), serving eggs, steak, hash browns, bacon, and of course the local "delicacy" scrapple to a crowd of locals and AU students 'round the clock in a small diner. Serves by day a peaceful handful of diner patrons, by (late) night a packed, intoxicated crowd. Patio seating. $3-17.
- 3 Rockland's Barbeque, 2418 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Voted best BBQ in the city numerous times. Traditional pit BBQ. Offers many traditional southern sides like homemade style mac and cheese and collard greens. Also offered grilled vegetarian options. Wide selection of small production hot sauces and BBQ sauces. The signature dish is the pulled pork. $5-25.
- Sprig and Sprout, 2317 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ . Vietnamese sandwich shop that serves pho, banh mi & rice bowls.
- 4 Surfside, 2444 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ . Tacos, burritos, and margaritas. Ingredients are mixed in fun, interesting ways. Has a roof-top deck, absolutely perfect for watching the sunset.
- 5 Vace's Pizza, 3315 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Another contender for D.C.'s best pizza is this hole in the wall Italian deli. The pizza is 100% authentic New York-style, cheap and done well (the subs are great too). No tables or delivery—carry out only. Whole pizza or by the slice. There is another location in Bethesda. $6-12.
- 6 Comet Ping Pong, 5037 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M 5-9PM, Tu-Th 5-9:30PM, F 5-10:30PM, Sa 11:30AM-10:30PM, 11:30AM-9PM. Comet is another great pizza place in D.C. However, this is not your average restaurant. There are ping-pong tables in the back, clam pizzas, and concerts on Saturday nights. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Guy Fieri called it some of the best pizza he'd ever eaten. A local favorite! Try the wings! Also serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Definitely kid-friendly. $6-20.
- Fat Pete's BBQ, 3407 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Texas-style brisket and bourbon.
- Indique, 3512-14 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, Sa Su noon-3PM; dinner: Su-Th 5:30-10:30PM, F Sa 5:30-11PM. Indique specializes in southern Indian cuisine, usually crafted into something just a little unique, and serves its customers in a really cool, attractive space. $15-35.
- 7 Kotobuki, 4822 MacArthur Blvd NW, 2nd floor (above Makoto), ☏ . M-Th noon-2:30PM, 5-9:30PM; F Sa noon-2:30PM, 5-10:30PM; Su 5-9:30PM. One roll of sushi costs $1.25-3, but it's actually good! There really isn't anything else you need to know, but the atmosphere, particularly for lunch, could well trick you into thinking you were in a little local dive in Osaka. $7-20.
- Medium Rare, 3500 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . A well priced steakhouse.
- 8 Old Europe, 2434 Wisconsin Ave, ☏ . Tu-Th 11:30AM-3PM, 5-9PM; F Sa 11:30AM-3PM, 5-10PM; Su 1-3:30PM, 4-8PM. A traditional German restaurant not far from the Embassy, serving the best German food you will find in the D.C. metro area. Schnitzel is the specialty! $10-25.
- Pho 14, 4201 Connecticut Ave NW (At Van Ness metro station). Arguably the best Vietnamese food within the city limits.
- 9 BlackSalt, 4883 MacArthur Blvd NW, ☏ . Lunch/brunch: M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, Su 11AM-2PM; dinner: M-Th 5:30-9:30PM, F 5:30-11PM, Sa 5-11PM, Su 5-9PM. This is the one restaurant in the Palisades neighborhood that is famous throughout the city. Cuisine is New American seafood, although there are some great non-seafood entries as well. The seafood is incredibly fresh, and the dishes are inventive, such as an arctic char with green mole, plantains and "citrus braised pork belly." The adjoining seafood market has some of the highest quality fish in the city. $35-60; tasting menus: $74/five course, $89/seven course.
- 10 Et Voila!, 5120 MacArthur Blvd NW, ☏ . Lunch/brunch: Tu-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, Su 11AM-3PM; dinner: M-Sa 5-10PM, Su 5-9:30PM. Washingtonians like their Belgian mussels and pomme frite, and this particular restaurant serves them well, particularly those fries. $18-32, prix fixe: $20-35.
- 11 New Heights, 2317 Calvert St NW, ☏ . M-F 5:30-10PM, F Sa 5:30-10:30PM. New Heights is a great place for a night of complex, inventive American cuisine. Don't skip dessert. The bar has an excellent selection of gins, which is refreshing, given the number of establishments around the city with great menus of cocktails or whiskies. $25-50, three-course prix-fixe: $35.
Upper Northwest is a much more friendly and comfortable option compared to the nightlife-centered districts. Gin lovers must check out the bar at New Heights (above).
- 1 Atomic Billiards, 3427 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Su-Th 4PM-2AM, F Sa 4PM-3AM. Cleveland Park's pool hall has weird futuristic decor, a few good microbrews on tap, and pool, shuffleboard, and darts. The pool tables are a bit expensive, and there is no kitchen if you are hungry, but it's a good option for a fun night nonetheless. Pool: $12-20/hour per table.
- 2 Breadsoda, 2233 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ . Kitchen: noon-11PM daily; bar: Su-Th noon-1:30AM, F Sa noon-2:30AM. It has all you could want of a basement-level dive bar: pool, ping pong, good sandwiches, relaxed and friendly atmosphere—except it's clean and attractive. Happy hour: 4-7PM daily. Sandwiches: $4-6.
- Cleveland Park Bar & Grill, 3421 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . A great rooftop deck and beer selection.
- 3 Nanny O'Brien's Irish Pub, 3319 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Su-Th noon-2AM, F Sa noon-3AM. Laid back with excellent beers on tap. Monday night Irish jam sessions. Beer: $4-11.
- 1 Days Inn Connecticut Avenue, 4400 Connecticut Ave NW (One block from the red line Van Ness/UDC Metrorail Station), ☏ . A standard chain hotel with what you would expect (cable, WiFi, etc.). This is a pretty ideal, if boring, low-budget option for D.C. visitors. $85-100.
- 2 Kalorama Guest House Woodley Park, 2700 Cathedral Ave NW, ☏ . Less than a block from the zoo, this is definitely the only hotel in the D.C. area where you can open your windows in the morning and hear monkeys howling in the distance. It's also a magnificent bargain for the location. No televisions or phones are provided in the rooms. $90-120.
- 3 Woodley Park Guest House, 2647 Woodley Rd NW, ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. One of Washington D.C.'s loveliest B&Bs set in a peaceful, safe & historic neighborhood. An excellent value steps to the Metrorail, neighborhood restaurants, Adams Morgan, Dupont circle, the National Zoo and National Cathedral. Hospitable owners and staff are an invaluable source for experiencing DC from an insider's point of view. A fresh, delicious buffet breakfast is provided every day. $145-260.
- 4 Embassy Suites Hotel at the Chevy Chase Pavilion, 4300 Military Road NW, ☏ . An upscale extended stay hotel in the middle of D.C.'s most upscale shopping strip, and a block away from the Friendship Heights Metro stop. $270-550.
- 5 Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St NW, ☏ . A grand old hotel in leafy Rock Creek Park, near the National Zoo, that once was a premier destination for visiting dignitaries and celebrities, from the Beatles to Emperor Selassie. Free Wi-Fi, resort-style outdoor heated pool, and fitness center. The hotel was built in 1930 and has hosted several Presidential Inaugural Balls. $170-240.
- 6 Glover Park Hotel, 2505 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ . This is an all-suites local boutique hotel, albeit a big one in a perfectly lovely and very safe neighborhood. Since it's up the hill, the top floor rooms facing south and east have spectacular views. $220-280.
Almost all cafes and many restaurants and supermarkets offer a free Wi-Fi connection. Computer terminals are accessible for free at the following public libraries:
- 1 Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M Tu 10AM-6PM, W 10AM-8PM, Th noon-8PM, F Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1-5PM.
- 2 Palisades Library, 4901 V St NW, ☏ , email@example.com. M Tu 10AM-6PM, W 10AM-8PM, Th noon-8PM, F Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1-5PM.
- 3 Tenley-Friendship Library, 4200 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M Tu 10AM-6PM, W 10AM-8PM, Th noon-8PM, F Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1-5PM.
|Routes through Upper Northwest|
|Gaithersburg ← Bethesda ←||N S||→ Dupont Circle → East End|