The West End of Downtown D.C. is the area immediately west of downtown. This guide focuses on the areas of K Street, the West End and Foggy Bottom neighborhoods. The White House and its grounds function as a barrier between the East End and the West End, with the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Ave closed to motorists. In the daytime, Lafayette Square and the block of Pennsylvania Ave are closed to motorists in front of the White House are popular with tourists and street hockey enthusiasts.
K Street is famous or infamous depending on who you ask as the physical location where money and power in the U.S. collude. The "fourth branch of government": Lobbyists, special interest groups, contractors, and out of work Congressmen all engage in the extremely lucrative business of political influence. This impression isn't totally fair—first of all, some of the lobbying firms are pushing for noble causes, and secondly, many if not most of the professionals are doing business unrelated to politics. But, K St's infamy outside the city is matched by its local infamy as the most boring section of town. Office buildings dominate and everybody leaves after punching out, leaving the neighborhood empty and quiet, however the addition of a few new hotels and restaurants have added some color to this otherwise staid neighborhood. There is some truth to this, but the caricature overlooks the fact that there are some incredible restaurants and sights to see, including nearby McPherson Square, increasingly home to its own nightlife scene.
And then, of course, there is the White House. Famous around the world as the home and office of the world's most powerful person, it is the capital icon most associated with the American government. Surrounded by parks, Lafayette Square and the Ellipse, it's also surprisingly accessible to visitors, and makes a nice backdrop for a casual picnic surrounded by history. And, just west of the White House and grounds are some great art galleries, especially at the Corcoran Museum.
To the southwest is Foggy Bottom, an old Washingtonian neighborhood home to George Washington University and its many students and the once ritzy stretch of waterfront home to the Watergate and the Kennedy Center. Foggy Bottom also houses several big international organizations, like the Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the American Red Cross, and several embassies.
To the immediate north of Foggy Bottom lies the West End, an affluent neighborhood developed in the post-war era between Georgetown and Dupont Circle. Confusingly, the area that was traditionally referred to as the West End now lies entirely within Foggy Bottom and is now part of the Old West End/ GW Historic District, featuring historic Victorian homes reminiscent of Dupont Circle, but now associated with George Washington University. The was home to many African American residents and institutions in the early 20th century, who were displaced by post war freeway and urban renewal schemes. What is now called the West End dates back to the 1970 DC city plan, The New Town for the West End, which sought to build up the area north of L Street into a commercial and residential zone to relieve congestion from Downtown D.C. Less housing than anticipated ended up being built (virtually no affordable housing at all) and now the area is best known for its many upscale hotels and condos, home to some the city's priciest rents.
Metro's Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines run through the West End along I St. Foggy Bottom in the west is the most convenient to the Kennedy Center and to George Washington University; it is also the closest station to the eastern part of Georgetown. The walk from Foggy Bottom to the Mall is a little far, but it is the closest metro station in D.C. to West Potomac Park. Farragut West and McPherson Square are mainly for the business district, but they are also close to Lafayette Park. The latter is also just a couple blocks from the White House Visitor Center.
The Red Line cuts across the northeast part of the area, with one stop at Dupont Circle South, which is a short walk to the West End, Farragut North right on K St. Metro Center is the next stop to the east, in the East End, and is the closest Red Line stop to the White House Visitor Center.
Downtown is not driver friendly. There are no above-ground garages, and underground garages are expensive. Street parking is metered, near impossible to find on weekdays, and has a two hour limit. Weeknights and weekends see some easier to find parking west of the White House and south of Pennsylvania Ave. Meter restrictions end Saturday at 6:30PM and all day Sunday. It's harder to find parking near Dupont Circle on weekends, although you might luck out around K St after 8PM weeknights.
K St is the main road, while M St is the (one way) route to Georgetown. Connecticut Ave (17th St below K St) is the main route heading north. I-66 comes in from Virginia, but leaving is easier via the Arlington Memorial Bridge south of 23rd St.
It is possible to hail a taxi from the street around the clock, but M St going to Georgetown has awful traffic during rush hour and weekend nights — it's often quicker to walk.
Metrobus routes downtown can be confusing, so it's best to make sure you don't ride past your intended stop, or you could find yourself lost in a strange part of town quickly. The following run daily roughly until midnight:
80 runs until midnight from Farragut Square east on K St to Chinatown, and west down 18th St past the Corcoran, through Foggy Bottom, and right by the Kennedy Center.
38B runs west on K St from Farragut Square, then up Pennsylvania to M St through Georgetown, and then over the Key Bridge into Arlington, right along Arlington's main commercial strips.
32 and 36 follow the same route as 38B, but turn north on Wisconsin Ave instead of going to Virginia. They also will take you straight east to the Mall, and then on to Eastern Market
The D.C. Circulator's "Yellow" line heads east along K St to Chinatown and west, after Washington Circle, up Pennsylvania to M St into Georgetown.
1 White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, ☏ +1 202 456-7041. Tours: Tu-Th 7:30AM-11AM, F 7:30AM-noon, Sa 7:30AM-1PM. Free.
Built starting in 1792, by a combination of enslaved laborers, free Blacks and immigrants, and first residence for the nation's second president, John Adams, the White House has been the residence and office for each president since. The building's chief architect, James Hoban, an Irishman, left a nationalistic mark on the U.S., modeling the President's home after Ireland's National Parliament building in Dublin. While Hoban's vision has survived more than 225 years, including the 1814 fire set by invading British forces, the interior has hardly been static. As it is, after all, the president's house, each president has taken the liberty of various redecoratings, expansions, and additions—the entire East Wing, for example, was added only during the Coolidge Administration. The last major renovation occurred under President Truman, but much of the antiques, artwork, and decorating styles you'll see today come courtesy of a certain First Lady of renowned taste, Jackie Kennedy.
President Jefferson opened the White House to the public, and it has remained so during peacetime (with varying restrictions) ever since. Following the attacks of September 11th in 2001, tours have been available only for groups of ten or more, and these must be requested up to six months and at least one month in advance through your congressman if you're a U.S. citizen. Foreigners can in theory request tours of White House through their embassies, but in practice this is close to impossible for average tourists as embassy-arranged tour groups are required to be accompanied by a senior diplomat. White House requires The standard tours focus on the social/residential part of the White House—the East Wing, rather than the working West Wing. Abide by the stated dress code, or you will be refused admission!
You can see the front door from Lafayette Square on the north side, and the back (the more famous curved facade) from the Ellipse on the south side. Political demonstrations typically take place at the front, though larger ones have been known to encircle the fence.
The Ellipse is the park to the south of the White House. During the Civil War, the space was used as a cattle and horse corral, the smell of which festered in the summer humidity, making life at the White House unpleasant enough where there was a proposal to abandon it and relocate—possibly to Meridian Hill, in Adams Morgan. President Grant nixed the idea, and had the grounds improved, installing a fountain in 1876, and two gatehouses relocated from the Capitol to the southwest and southeast corners of the Ellipse.
Memorials on the Ellipse include the Butt-Millet Fountain, added in 1913 in honor of two prominent Titanic victims—Army Major Archibald Butt and painter Francis Millet. The Zero Milestone stands at the north end of the park, and is the marker by which all road distances would be measured (this idea was a flop, and only D.C.'s roads use it as a measure). Larger memorials on the Ellipse include a memorial to 5,599 soldiers of the First Division of the American Expeditionary Force killed in World War I, and another memorial in honor of the Second Division in World War I on Constitution Ave. In nice weather, the park serves mostly for the public to enjoy the good views and play frisbee.
Named for French General Lafayette of American Revolutionary fame (better known to his friends as Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette), this park is a national historic landmark seemingly dedicated to the purpose of taking pictures of the White House. The large equestrian statue at its center is of President Andrew Jackson, while the statues on the four corners of the park are dedicated to Revolutionary heroes, all of them foreign: Lafayette, French Major General Rochambeau, Polish General Kosciuszko, and Prussian Major General Friedrich von Steuben.
And if you like bushy-tailed rodents, you're in luck—Lafayette Park is home to the densest squirrel population known to science, lured here no doubt by their lust for power. Look especially for those black squirrels, descendants of a group of 18 Canadians that escaped the National Zoo during Teddy Roosevelt's presidency.
The blocks immediately surrounding Lafayette Park are part of the National Historic Landmark, and there is much to see here:
- 2 Blair House, 1651 Pennsylvania Ave NW. The Blair House was built in 1824 for Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Lowell, and sold in 1837 to real estate mogul, Francis Preston Blair and inherited by Montgomery Blair. The adjacent house was owned by the Robert E. Lee family. The U.S. government bought the Blair House in 1942, and has since used it as the official guest house for state visitors, at the insistence of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who was tired of running into Winston Churchill and other visitors roaming around the White House in the middle of the night. Today, the Blair house not only consists of the original townhouse, but includes the Lee House and two other adjacent townhouses. The total space of 70,000 sq ft exceeds that of the White House. Blair House is not open to the public.
- 3 Decatur House, 1610 H St NW, ☏ +1 202 842-1856. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-4PM; guided tours: hourly F-Sa 10:15AM-4:15PM, Su 12:15PM-3:15PM. Benjamin Henry Latrobe designed the house, completed in 1818, for naval hero Stephen Decatur and his wife. Its distinguished neo-classical architecture and prominent location across from the White House made Decatur House one of the capital's most desirable addresses and home of many of the nation's most prominent figures. Later residents included Henry Clay, Martin Van Buren, and Judah P. Benjamin. The Decatur House is now used as a museum, and is open to the public. Free; gallery: $5; guided tours: $5.
- 4 Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 17th & Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 395-5895. No tours are available. The Eisenhower Executive Office Building was built in 1871 to house the War and Navy Departments, replacing the obsolete War Office building on the same site. By World War II, the War and Navy Departments outgrew the building, and were spread out in numerous additional temporary structures on the National Mall. After the military relocated to the Pentagon in 1943, the building fell into disrepair and was regarded by President Harry Truman as "the greatest monstrosity in America". The Eisenhower Executive Office Building has since been used for Presidential executive offices. The first televised Presidential news conference took place in the Indian Treaty Room in 1955, and the building now houses the Vice President's office, along with the National Security Council and other executive offices.
- 5 Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 633-1000. 10AM-5:30PM. The building that now houses the Renwick Gallery was originally the home of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. It was designed by James Renwick, Jr., and construction began before the Civil War. Near completion, it was used during the Civil War as a government warehouse, and construction was finally completed in 1874. By 1897, the Corcoran Gallery collection outgrew the space and relocated to a new building on 17th St. The building was transferred in 1965 to the Smithsonian Institution for use as an art gallery. The Renwick focuses on contemporary craft and decorative art. Free.
- 6 St. John's Church, 1525 H St NW (16th St and H St NW, across from Lafayette Park), ☏ +1 202 347-8766. Services M-F noon; Su 7:45AM, 9AM, 11AM; Spanish-language: Su 1PM. Every President since James Madison has gone to a mass at St John's. The church building was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, and completed in June 1816. The church also occupies the adjacent Ashburton House, on H St NW, built for Lord Alexander Ashburton, the British minister to the U.S., and was used for a period of time as the British Embassy. Free.
- 7 Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the Department of State, 2201 C St NW (Harry S. Truman Building), ☏ +1 202 647-3241, fax: +1 202 736-4232. Tours M-F at 9:30AM, 10:30AM & 2:45PM. The Department of State offers guided tours of its formal reception rooms, used for official meetings with foreign representatives. The rooms are a trove of antiques and gifts, old and new, given by foreign governments to the U.S. Tours only by appointment, must show valid ID to be admitted.
- 8 George Washington University Museum & Textile Museum, 701 21st Street NW, ☏ +1 202 994-5200. M & W-F 11:30AM-6:30PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM, Closed on Tuesdays. Fabric heaven. Everything is very thoughtfully exhibited and this museum happens to have one of the finest collection of fabrics in the world. Free, suggested donation $8.
- 9 National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St NW, ☏ +1 202-857-7700, firstname.lastname@example.org. W-Su 10AM-5PM. Photography and other exhibits on nature, history, and culture. Films, lectures, and concerts take place at the National Geographic Society's Grosvenor Auditorium. The gift shop has numerous books, DVDs, and other items. Good for kids. Free, special exhibits: $10-35.
The Nixon tapes
The tapes weren't shocking just for implicating the president in federal crimes, they were devastating for what they revealed about him personally. Memorable quotes include:
- 10 Octagon Museum, 1799 New York Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 638-3221, email@example.com. Gallery: M-F 8:30AM-5PM; tours Th-F 1-4PM. Designed by William C. Thornton, and completed in 1800, the Octagon was owned by Colonel John Tayloe, a Virginia plantation owner. A few years later, the Tayloes offered the house for use as the French Embassy, where the Treaty of Ghent was signed by President James Madison to end the War of 1812 (he was working there temporarily following the 1814 burning of the White House). The house was sold in 1855, and since used as a military hospital during the Civil War, an apartment building, a girl's school, and has been owned by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) since 1902. The house is now used as a museum. Free; 45-minute tour: $10.
- 11 Ringgold-Carroll House (Dacor-Bacon House), 1801 F St NW. The Ringgold-Carroll House was built in 1825 for Tench Ringgold, who was part of a three-member team in charge of restoring public buildings in the District of Columbia, following the War of 1812. From 1832-1833, Chief Justice John Marshall resided with Ringgold in the house. In 1835, the house was sold, and a number of prominent people have since lived in the house, including William Thomas Carroll, a clerk at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Melville Fuller, Senator Joseph Medill McCormick, and Congressman Robert Low Bacon. The Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired (DACOR) now occupy the house, which is not open to the public except for special events.
- 12 Watergate Hotel complex. The Watergate is and will be best known for its role in the ending of Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon's presidency. On 17 June 1972 five men employed by Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President were arrested for breaking and entering at the Democratic National Committee's rooms at the Watergate. The ensuing scandal led to revelations of enemies lists, "campaign fraud, political espionage and sabotage, illegal break-ins, improper tax audits, illegal wiretapping on a massive scale, and a secret slush fund laundered in Mexico to pay those who conducted these operations." And those infamous tapes. Conversations in the Oval Office were automatically recorded, and those conversations were subpoenaed in the Congressional investigation. The tapes revealed President Nixon's direct knowledge and involvement in criminal acts under investigation, as well as his deep seated moral corruption and personal bigotries. Top of the Gate rooftop bar with great 360-degree views.
1 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St NW, ☏ +1 202 467-4600.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is on the bank of the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate Complex, in Foggy Bottom. It was built as a private-public partnership, in effort to create a National Cultural Center for the nation's capital. President Kennedy helped move the project forward, and when he was assassinated, the center was named after him as a living memorial. Architect Edward Durrell Stone designed the building, which opened in 1971. A new addition, named the REACH, opened in 2019.
There are three main theaters in the Kennedy Center: the Concert Hall, Opera House, and Eisenhower Theater. The National Symphony Orchestra performs at the Concert Hall, while the Opera House is home to the Washington National Opera and the annual Kennedy Center Honors. The Eisenhower Theater is a smaller venue that hosts theater, musicals, operas, ballet, and dance performances. The Kennedy Center has a number of smaller venues, with various events geared towards children and other audiences. The Millennium Stage, at the end of the Grand Foyer, hosts daily, free performances. If you are looking for a really special, classic Washingtonian event, the two big ones are right around Christmas—the National Ballet's yearly performance of The Nutcracker, and the Handel's Messiah Singalong. For the latter, the entire audience, mostly of amateur and professional choirs, join the Master Chorus and Orchestra in singing the full oratorio—it's an amazing experience for singers and non-singers alike.
Docent-led tours are available for walk-ins M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su 10AM-1PM every ten minutes. Just head over to the tour desk to get on one. At any time you can head up to the rooftop terrace for a spectacular view (it's probably best to skip the overpriced restaurant). The building more or less closes 30 minutes after the end of the night's last performance.
- Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, ☏ +1 202 467-4600. 6PM daily. Free shows every night at the top of the Kennedy Center, with typical fare including concerts, theater, and dance. Arrive 30 minutes early to be assured a seat; standing room is available. Free.
The White House hosts a number of special annual events, including the popular White House Easter Egg Roll on the south lawn. The annual tradition was started in 1878 by President Rutherford B. Hayes, who invited local children to the White House lawn for the event. The event includes various other activities for children, including face painting, music, magicians, egg coloring, and story telling, along with food. The event is open to children ages 7 or younger. Free tickets are distributed a few days before Easter, though people usually begin lining up many hours in advance, in the wee hours of the morning, as demand far exceeds supply.
Each year in December, the White House Christmas Tree is displayed on the Ellipse, along with a huge Menorah for Hanukkah. Tickets are required for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which features the President and/or First Lady lighting the tree. People line up to get free tickets for the event when they are handed out—usually a month in advance. Once the tree is lit, it is open to the public who can see it lit up each evening, along with smaller trees for each state.
Twice each year, tours take place of the Rose Garden and other gardens on the White House grounds. Over the years, the Presidents and First Ladies changed up the gardens to suit their tastes, including a colonial garden planted by Edith Roosevelt in 1902. President Woodrow Wilson's wife, Ellen, replaced the colonial garden with a Rose Garden, which has remained. The East Garden was redesigned by Jacqueline Kennedy, and Lady Bird Johnson created a Children's Garden at the White House. The White House holds the Fall Garden Tours in October, while the Spring Garden Tours are held in April. Tickets are distributed on the morning of the tour—first-come, first served.
- 2 D.A.R. Constitution Hall, 1776 D St NW, ☏ +1 202 628-1776. M-F 9AM-4PM, Sa 9AM-5PM. D.A.R. Constitution Hall is a smaller venue which hosts theatrical and musical performances, although the acoustics are known to be subpar. It is also home to the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, which displays fine arts, ceramics, quilts, and other items, and period rooms. Special events held at Constitution Hall have included filming of the popular game shows, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Architect John Russell Pope designed the building, which was completed in 1929 and is designated a National Historic Site. It was built to house the annual D.A.R. convention, and was home to the National Symphony Orchestra prior to the opening of the Kennedy Center. Free.
- 3 GWU Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St NW, ☏ +1 202 994-6800. The Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University hosts various events including concerts and dance performances.
- 1 George Washington University, 1918 F St, ☏ +1 202-994-1000. The largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia.
Western Market, at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW, near George Washington University, is a historic building with many nice shops. There are a couple of really top notch bookstores as well.
Downtown shopping in the West End is rather dispersed, but there are shops at International Square, near the Farragut West station on the Orange and Blue Lines, and along Connecticut Ave north of K St, and here and there on streets near Connecticut Ave.
- 1 American Institute of Architects Bookstore, 1735 New York Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 626-7541, firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8:30AM-5PM. Possibly the best museum bookstore around, with a great selection of books on architecture and history, along with some architectural photography books and other items. The AIA also host a gallery in their main building and library of artwork related to architecture, which is free and worth a peruse.
- 2 GW University Bookstore, 800 21st St NW (inside the Marvin Center), ☏ +1 202 994-6870. M-F 9AM-6PM, Sa 11AM-4PM, Su noon-4PM. There's one reason to come here, and that's GW paraphernalia—apparel, mugs, stationery, books, etc.
- El Donut Shoppe, 1143 New Hampshire Ave NW Suite A, 20037 (Metro: Dupont Circle South, Circulator- Blue Line), ☏ +1 202 670 1002. M-Sa 11AM-8PM, Su noon-6PM. This Orlando import breathes a much needed bohemian air amid the West End's sea of upscale hotels and condos. Browse the small but well curated vinyl collection, specializing in jazz, soul, punk and hip-hop, flyers for upcoming shows around, and all the assorted music-related merchandise.
- 3 Indian Craft & Map Store shops, 1849 C St NW (inside the Department of Interior building; photo ID required), ☏ +1 202 208-4056. M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM. Want to own a piece of America? OK, you can't actually walk in and purchase federal lands, or buy a mining permit. The gift shops, however, are open to the public. In business since 1938, the Indian Craft Shop has numerous American Indian handcrafted items, including pottery and jewelry, as well as books. The map store resides under the name of "Earth Science Information Center."
- 4 Reiter's Scientific Books, 1900 G St NW, ☏ +1 202 223-3327. M-Th 9:30AM-7:30PM, F 9:30AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-6PM. The leading scientific, medical and technical bookstore on the East Coast, with a loyal following of visiting scientists and scholars. It also claims the distinction of the city's oldest bookstore, in business since 1936.
- Washington Law Books, ☏ +1 202 223-5543. M-F 9AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Washington Law Books, affiliated with Reiters, has a selection of books geared towards law students and professionals, as well as books on international studies, political science, and economics.
Downtown dining has long been equated with power dining, however a revolution in the local dining scene means plenty of interesting places about especially away from the White House and K Street. Closer to downtown you'll find plenty lobbyists, lawyers, contractors, tourists and politicos. There are several stand-out restaurants here, but the most famous are undoubtedly the Old Ebbitt Grill and the Lafayette Room.
The Western Market Food Hall in Foggy Bottom represents the new D.C. and is a great place for casual dining. Additionally, the West End neighborhood has an emerging dining scene away from its many hotel restaurants.
- 1 Greek Deli & Catering, 1120 19th St NW, ☏ +1 202 296-2111. M-F 7AM-4PM. There are a couple very popular bottom-budget Greek places just north in Dupont Circle (which shall remain nameless), with simply awful food. This place, on the other hand, no one seems to know about, and serves fantastic, authentic Greek food at prices just as low. Carryout only, but you've got nice parks right nearby to turn this into a picnic. $3-9.
- 2 Swahili Village Bar and Grill, 1990 M St NW, ☏ +1 202 758-3384. Daily 11AM-midnight. Kenyan food such as goat stew, fried tilapia, grilled beef & cornmeal mash.
- 3 Teaism, 800 Connecticut Ave NW (Across from Lafayette Park), ☏ +1 202 835-2233. M-F 7:30AM-5:30PM. Serves Asian/Japanese dishes, such as bento boxes, along with many varieties of pricey tea. Also a good option for breakfast. $2-9.
- 4 Watergate Pastry (in the Watergate), ☏ +1 202 342-1777. M-F 8AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-5PM, Su 10AM-2PM. This pastry shop is both one of the capital's best and a good reason to wander into the Watergate Hotel. Specialties include their excellent sacher torte, as well as the "Nixon donut.". $5-8.
- 5 Kaz Sushi Bistro, 1915 I St NW, ☏ +1 202 530-5500. Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2PM; dinner: M-Sa 5:30-10PM. The decor is a little uninspired, but the sushi and especially the other Japanese cuisine here is exceptional and creative (great chef!). $16-30; individual sushi or rolls: $4-7.
- 6 Old Ebbitt Grill, 675 15th St NW, ☏ +1 202 347-4800. M-F 7:30AM-midnight, Sa Su 8:30AM-midnight. The venerable Old Ebbitt Grill. You don't come for the food (which is just fine, American cuisine), you come here for the tradition and the history. This Victorian restaurant and bar a couple blocks from the White House was a personal favorite with steak-eating Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Theodore Roosevelt back in the nineteenth century. It remains a symbol of the classic Washingtonian experience, and will probably always attract power diners. The one selection on the menu that really is excellent is the rightly famous oyster menu. You will need reservations. $18-35.
- Blue Duck Tavern, 1201 24th St NW (Located in: Park Hyatt Washington D.C.), ☏ +1 202 419-6755. Daily 7AM–10PM. The restaurant that put the West End on the map, at least in most Washingtonians' minds, who used to breeze through the area headed to either Dupont or Georgetown. Seasonal New American cuisine and locally sourced ingredients. Not as popular or cutting-edge as it once was, as the center of dining in the city has shifted eastwards to Logan Circle and Adams Morgan, and the restaurant shakes of its post-Covid hangover, but still a reliable staple in the area. $22-72.
- 7 Equinox, 818 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 331-8118. M-Th 11:30AM-2PM, 5:30-10PM; F 11:30AM-2PM, 5:30-10PM; Sa 5:30-10:30PM; Su 5:30-9PM. Celebrity chef Todd Gray's D.C. restaurant, serving fine seasonal American cuisine. Offers a tasting menu, with pasta, fish, and cheese courses. Vegetarian options also available. $45-60; tasting menus: $75-90.
- 8 Georgia Brown's, 950 15 St NW, ☏ +1 202 393-4499. M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa noon-11PM, Su 10AM-2:30PM, 5:30PM-10PM. This restaurant serves some of D.C.'s favorite upscale southern cooking, such as fried catfish, shrimp and grits, or southern fried chicken, along with traditional southern side dishes. Lunch on weekdays sees a $24 prix fixe three-course menu. Book ahead for the very popular Sunday jazz brunch. $27-55.
- 9 The Lafayette, 800 16th St NW (inside the Hay-Adams Hotel), ☏ +1 202 638-2716. 7-11AM, 11:30AM-2PM daily; dinner: M-F 5:30-10PM. This restaurant overlooks Lafayette Square and the White House, and is a premier place for power dining. For the price, the food here is underwhelming, but the food, obviously, is not why you come here. $45-55.
- 10 Marcel's, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 296-1166. M-Th 5:30-10PM, F Sa 5:30-11PM, Su 5:30-9:30PM. Self described French cuisine with Flemish flair. Quiet, elegant atmosphere. They will wow you with the service, with extra touches everywhere, from occasional free cocktails to the limo service to the Kennedy Center included in the pre-theatre dining. Jacket required. pre-theatre: $52; prix fixe: four-course $75, five-course $90, seven-course $125.
- 11 Occidental Grill, 1475 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 783-1475. M-F 11:30AM-3PM, 5-10PM; Sa 11AM-2:30PM, 5-10PM; Su 11AM-2:30PM, 5-9PM. The Old Ebbitt Grill outshines this century-old establishment by the White House "Where Statesmen Dine" in terms of fame and age, but not in terms of quality. Anybody who is anybody in D.C. has dined here going back to its opening in 1906, and their images remain on the famous photo-lined walls. If the endless politicos bore you, keep in mind that the Occidental also hosted the Washington Senators victory banquet when the city won its first and only World Series. This restaurant doesn't rest on its star-studded laurels, though, and practices top-notch cookery, and is looking quite sharp following its centennial anniversary and $2 million renovation. $50-65.
- 12 Taberna del Alabardero, 1776 I St NW, ☏ +1 202 429-2200. Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner: M-Th 5:30-10:30PM, F Sa 5:30-11PM. Traditional Spanish cuisine served a la carte and as tapas, served in one very romantic restaurant. The three-course prix fixe is highway robbery. The restaurant also offers a dedicated vegetarian menu. Neither tapas nor prix-fixe menus are available on Saturday nights, so that's not the night to get your money's worth. $50-70; M-F prix-fixe: three-course $26, five-course $70, seven-course $85, wine-pairings $40.
- Imperfecto, 124 23rd St NW,, ☏ +1 202 964-1012. M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sat 11AM-11PM. The West End outpost of Chef Enrique Limardo, one of D.C.'s most notable chefs. Ultra chic and luxe for the relatively low key West End. Michelin-starred Mediterranean cooking in a postmodern apartment building. Weekend brunches are a much more affordable alternative to the expensive dinner menu. Reservations necessary. $35-$100.
Downtown, Foggy Bottom and the West End are generally not known for nightlife. Offices (and hotels) empty out after work, and happy hour at the hotel bars and restaurants can be a tad pricey, if not unimaginative. After that, the whole area generally slows down. The notable exception is the area around New Hampshire and M Street, which has become the area's hippest corner by far, led by the Yours Truly hotel and its restaurant/bars/cafes, Mercy Me and Call Your Mother. Expect a younger, hipper crowd here along with popular café, Tatté, directly opposite the hotel. Next door is the reliable Indian staple, Rasika, which attracts an affluent, middle aged crowd.
There are a couple of nice, standard bars by George Washington University and Foggy Bottom station, but the area is surprisingly quiet for a student ghetto. For more options, walk to Dupont Circle or Georgetown.
- 1 Bottom Line, 1716 Eye Street NW, ☏ +1 202 298-8488. Th–Su 11:30AM–midnight. Established in 1979. A good dive bar. 12 beers on tap and another 18 beers available in bottles.
- 2 Froggy Bottom Pub, 2021 K Street NW, ☏ +1 202 338-3000. M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa noon-2AM. Serving the community and the university for several years, Froggy Bottom is a good place to hang out with friends and enjoy a beer, with the food and beer fairly inexpensive. There is patio seating when the weather is warm, and some pool and foosball in the back.
- Duke's Grocery- Foggy Bottom, 2000 Pennsylvania Ave St NW Washington, DC 20006 ((Metro: Foggy Bottom, Circulator -Yellow Line)), ☏ +1 202 733-5623. Monday - Friday: 11:30am-10pm, Weekends 10am- 10pm. A friendly, relaxing British gastropub in otherwise workaday Foggy Bottom. Best known for its excellent 'Proper burger' and other modern British highlights. Popular with GW students, unwinding hospitality professionals and British expats alike. Strong cocktail program and lovely food in an modern British pub atmosphere. Other locations in Dupont, Woodley Park and Navy Yard. Pints $5-9, dinner $15-30.
- Off The Record @ The Hay Adams Hotel, 800 16th St NW (in the Hay-Adams Hotel), ☏ +1 202 638-6600. Su-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F Sa 11:30AM-12:30AM. Recognized by Forbes.com as one of the world’s best hotel bars, Off the Record is known as Washington’s premiere "power bar" (right across the park from the White House), and a place to be seen and not heard.
- Recessions Bar and Grill, 1823 L St NW, ☏ +1 202 296-6686. M-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 5PM-2AM. This has got to be the West End's cheapest dive bar, with $3 burgers and $4.50 sandwiches. Weekday happy hours 5PM-8PM see $2.75 "King Kongs"—26oz draft beers, as well as $2 bottles and $2.50 food specials. It's filled with after-work yuppies, of course, but it's still kind of amazing that this place is next to Farragut Square!
- Mercy Me, 1143 New Hampshire Ave NW Ground Floor (Metro: Dupont Circle South, Circulator- Blue Line), ☏ +1 202 828-7762. 5–10:30PM. Hip, modern bar/ lounge with a Latin influenced menu that's more Brooklyn/ Adams Morgan than West End. Very popular with a young cool crowd as well as hip out-of-towners. Although it is a hotel bar, it attracts a strong local crowd. Unpretentious and very welcoming.
- West End Washington DC, Tapestry Collection By Hilton, 1121 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 457-0565. An all suite hotel. It lost its former name Georgetown Inn West End which was probably a good thing because it wasn't in Georgetown anyway—it's in the business district, and closer to Dupont Circle. The only reason to stay here would be if you find a good deal online. $150-185.
- 1 Melrose Hotel, 2430 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 955-6400. The decor is a bit outdated, but the location and prices are good. It's in the business district, and close enough to Georgetown and the Kennedy Center where you could walk. $140-250.
- 2 The Quincy, 1823 L St NW, ☏ +1 202 223-4320. A fine hotel with some great rates, and has extended stay suites and meeting rooms geared towards business travelers. $120-180.
- 3 Hotel Lombardy, 2019 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 828-2600, email@example.com. Old-fashioned boutique hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue just a few blocks from the White House. Rooms are slightly dated, but comfortable. $160-270.
- 4 The River Inn, 924 25th Street NW, ☏ +1 202 337-7600. This comfortable apartment hotel is near Foggy Bottom station and the Kennedy Center and boasts large rooms. $119-$354.
- 5 Yours Truly DC Hotel, 1143 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☏ +1 833 588 9465. Rooms are on the small side. $190-350.
- Fairmont Washington, D.C., 2401 M St NW, ☏ +1 202 429-2400. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Modern property in the heart of the West End, with classic touches and a picturesque lobby and courtyard. Popular with business travelers and an international crowd. $250-650.
- 6 The Hay-Adams, 800 16th St NW, ☏ +1 202 638-6600. A prominent historic hotel right on Lafayette Square—if you get a window facing south, you'll have quite the view. As you might expect, you have to pay for this location, but the service and accommodations match those prices in quality even without the view. Also offers corporate suite accommodation. $300-800.
- 7 The Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 347-3000. Built in 1925, with extensive gold trim and elegance, this old hotel is has hosted several Presidents and other famous politicians. The level of service, though, has not kept pace with the other historic hotels in the area—the Hay-Adams and the Willard. $280-430.
- 8 Park Hyatt Washington, 1221 24th St NW, ☏ +1 202 789-1234. This is a modern, classy, and big hotel with the level of service you would expect from the prices. The somewhat odd location makes this a better hotel for business travelers. The location is very quiet. $400-800.
- 9 Ritz Carlton Washington, 1150 22nd St NW, ☏ +1 202 835-0500. Modern, luxurious hotel in between the Foggy Bottom and Dupont Metro stations, with the deluxe gym and spa in the hotel. $250-550.
- 10 Hotel Washington, 515 15th St NW, ☏ +1 202 661-2400, firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. Number one reason to stay here is aesthetic — the rooms, lobby, everything, are gorgeous. Fantastic views from the rooftop bar/restaurant. Huge gym. $270-500.
- 11 Westin Georgetown, 2350 M St NW, ☏ +1 202 429-0100. An unexceptional, but comfortable modern hotel geared towards business travelers, with a quiet location in the West End, and just a few blocks from Georgetown. $250-500.
- 12 The Watergate Hotel, 2650 Virginia Ave NW, ☏ +1 202-827-1600, toll-free: +1 844-617-1972, email@example.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. When it opened in 1965, celebrity Italian architect Luigi Moretti's curvy, sprawling design sent shock waves through conservative D.C. Despite criticism, this luxury hotel quickly became a playground for the fabulous. Actors and models hobnobbed with the congressmen and Supreme Court justices who lived in the Watergate apartments. Its glamorous reputation was eclipsed with political scandal on June 17, 1972, when five intruders were caught in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, leading to Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency.
- 13 The Willard InterContinental, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, ☏ +1 202 628-9100. D.C.'s grand old hotel two blocks from the White House. The hotel has tons of history. Every president since Franklin Pierce has stayed here, the first Japanese diplomats to ever stay at a foreign country stayed here, Martin Luther King penned his I Have a Dream speech here—you get the idea. The hotel isn't gliding on previous successes either; the service here is top-notch. It's on the east side of the White House, so it's not as convenient to the business district, but is very convenient to the Mall and the East End. $360-1,000.
Unlike K Street, Foggy Bottom and the West End are also residential neighborhoods. Visitors are of course welcome, but please do not walk slowly, block the sidewalk, entrances to residences, or intersections where people may want to cross the street on green or red lights, and do not make a lot of noise outside at 3 in the morning. Remember that local residents have places to get to quickly day and night, and though D.C. is a global city (a name that's particularly apt west of downtown), most residents above a certain age do need some shut-eye before 3AM.
Most bars and cafes offer free Wi-Fi.
- 2 West End Neighborhood Library (DC Public Library), 2301 L St NW, ☏ +1 202-724-8707, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The obvious next stops are Georgetown to the west or the East End to the east for dining, shopping, and nightlife (a 10- to 15-minute walk or a $1 Circulator bus ride from Foggy Bottom), and south to Potomac Park, the Tidal Basin, and the Mall.
- Also nearby is Dupont Circle, the once bohemian but increasingly upscale counterpart to Georgetown. It melts seamlessly with the smaller West End, especially around New Hampshire Avenue. Today, Dupont is a neighborhood of upscale boutiques, plush rowhouses and posh, bottle service clubs; and further afield is Adams Morgan, far more diverse, bustling and home to the young and hip, with plenty of cutting edge restaurants and bars, classic buildings and interesting side streets. All of these neighborhoods are a scenic detour from the West End but a bit far from Foggy Bottom and K Street.
- Arlington, home to the famous cemetery, National Airport, and more downtown dining and business, is just across the bridge, and is easy to reach via the Blue/Orange lines or by bus (or taxi).
|Routes through West End|
|Springfield ← Arlington ←||W E||→ East End → Largo|
|Vienna ← Arlington ←||W E||→ East End → New Carrollton|
|Reston ← Arlington ←||W E||→ East End → Largo|
|Gaithersburg ← Dupont Circle ←||N E||→ East End → Wheaton|