Dupont Circle is a trendy historic neighborhood in Washington D.C. It is popular due to its night clubs, bars, cafes, art galleries, and shops.
Pierre Charles L'Enfant's original plan for Washington, D.C. included a number of grand boulevards, radiating out and intersecting with one another in a way that would create public squares and green space. One such circle, Dupont Circle, lies at the intersection of Connecticut Ave, which emanates from the White House and runs roughly north-south, New Hampshire Ave, which runs diagonally, and Massachusetts Ave which runs roughly east-west.
The Dupont Circle area remained largely undeveloped until after the Civil War, when demand for housing from returning soldiers and freed slaves spurred additional development in D.C. Construction of the traffic circle, originally called Pacific Circle, began in 1871. In 1884, the circle was renamed after Civil War Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont, partial heir to the DuPont family fortune, and a bronze statue of him was added. The statue was replaced in 1921 with the large marble fountain that remains to this day. The fountain was designed by Daniel Chester French and Henry Bacon, also the designers of the Lincoln Memorial, and features creatures that symbolize sea, the stars and the wind. It is now a popular gathering spot, with many places to sit.
In the early 1900s, the area became a popular place for wealthy Washingtonians to build their mansions, most notably on Massachusetts Ave.
In the late 1940s, a tunnel was built beneath Dupont Circle as part of a Capital Transit streetcar project. Streetcar service ended in 1962, and the underground space where it was located is now an event venue. Along with the streetcar tunnel, another tunnel was constructed to allow Connecticut Ave vehicle traffic to pass beneath, helping to alleviate traffic congestion around the circle.
While the neighborhood suffered considerably during the 1968 riots, it recovered faster than the adjacent neighborhoods of Shaw and the East End due in part to the trendiness brought on by the gay community, which brought a Bohemian feel the area, similar to Greenwich Village in New York City. In the 1980s and 1990s several clubs, bars, and shops opened in the area, furthering the gentrification process.
The neighborhood is now a very popular place to live for young people without cars or children, and for the wealthy elite who can afford some of the highest home prices in the city.
Metro is exceptionally convenient in Dupont Circle—the Dupont Circle stop on the Red Line is right under the circle. The station's north and south exits are fairly far apart, so take a moment to figure out which one will get you in the direction you want to go.
For more information on riding the Metrorail in Washington DC, see Washington DC#Get around.
The following are the main bus routes operating in Dupont Circle, along with links to timetables and route maps. For more information on riding buses in Washington DC, see Washington DC#Get around.
- Bus G2 runs along P St between Georgetown and Shaw and is a good way to travel east-west. It stops on P St just off the circle on both sides.
- Bus L2 is a good way to quickly get up 18th St to Adams Morgan—it runs up from K St along 20th to New Hampshire, around the circle, back on New Hampshire, and then up 18th St.
- Bus 42 runs between Chinatown and Mount Pleasant, stopping in Dupont Circle. It is a good alternative to the Metro to getting to the National Mall area, passing many historical buildings en route.
- D.C. Circulator's Dupont Circle–Georgetown–Rosslyn "Light Blue" Line runs from the corner of 19th and N Streets, near the south exit of the Dupont Circle Metro station, to Rosslyn, via the West End and Georgetown.
Unless you are an experienced D.C. driver, it is very easy to get confused in Dupont Circle, or worse yet, wind up on the barbarous circle.
Connecticut Ave is the main thoroughfare. Massachusetts Ave is busy as well, but its traffic patterns are too confusing to be of much practical value. If passing through, make sure to stay in the left lanes to go through a tunnel under the circle, not around it. Traffic is terrible on the circle, in volume, confusion, and rage. If you accidentally get stuck driving around the circle and don't know what you are doing, stay in the outer lane and get off to save yourself the headache. P St is the best route west to Georgetown.
Street parking is scarce, and limited to 2 hours during the daytime on weekdays. There are several parking garages, with daily rates in the $15-$20 range. Late at night, you can find street parking in the deserted business district just south of M St in the West End.
- 1 The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St NW, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 12AM-6:30PM. The Phillips Collection, opened in 1921, is America’s first museum of modern art. Featuring a renowned permanent collection of nearly 2,500 works by American and European impressionist and modern artists, the Phillips is internationally recognized for its incomparable art and for its intimate atmosphere. Housed in founder Duncan Phillips' 1897 Georgian Revival home, The Phillips Collection is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest small museums. Special exhibit prices vary; permanent collection: Tu-F free, Sa-Su adults $10, seniors and students $8.
- 2 Heurich House Museum: The Brewmaster's Castle, 1307 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Walk-in 1-hour tours: Th-Sa 11AM, 1PM, 2:30PM. Competing with the Smithsonian for top castle status in the District is the Victorian mansion of Christian Heurich, who immigrated to the states from Germany to become a wildly successful real estate baron and brewer. He also holds the title of world's oldest brewer, having kept up his work until his death at a ripe age of 102. It's a striking example of Victorian architecture and design, and even if you don't make it to a tour, there's a nice Victorian garden in the back open to the public M-F 10AM-4PM, spring-fall. Free, suggested donation $5.
- 3 Mansion on O Street, 2020 O St NW, ☏ . By reservation only. A unique hybrid of a small private luxury hotel and a museum. Contains hundreds of rooms, a collection of 20,000 books, dozens of secret passages, a collection of John Lennon's guitars, modern art and curiosities of all stripes in every room (virtually anything of which is for sale if you're interested), frequent concerts by legends of rock and R&B, numerology evaluations, banquets, etc., your curiosity will probably find enough piquing here to justify the advance reservations for tours. It's also a luxury B&B, if you are looking for extremely eccentric accommodations in the city. Tours: $5-50/person, rooms: $350-850.
- 4 National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1811 R Street NW, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-5PM. Small museum with exhibits depicting the contributions made by American Jews in the United States military. Includes artifacts (e.g. medals) and several videos. Free.
- 5 Spanish Steps, S St and 22nd St NW. Kalorama is a quiet, stately neighborhood, northwest of the circle and is home a few hidden gems. Based on Rome's famous Spanish Steps, these once led up to the Kalorama Mansion, from which the neighborhood gets its name. They now lead up the steep hill to a small fountain and a nice city view, which is best appreciated on a summer night.
- 6 Woodrow Wilson House, 2340 S St NW, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su 10AM-4PM. President Woodrow Wilson moved here in 1921 for a quiet retirement after the disastrous setbacks of his late presidency, and lived here for little over 3 years before he died. (He is buried in the National Cathedral in Upper Northwest.) The pretty Georgian Revival-style house is preserved just as the Wilsons left it, with a nice collection of period furnishings and clothing. Adults: $10; Seniors 62+: $8; Students: $5 , Children under age 7: Free.
- 7 L. Ron Hubbard House, 1812 19th St NW, ☏ . 10AM-6PM. Immaculately maintained home of the founder of the infamous Church of Scientology. The curator, one of the world's top experts on Hubbard (and a practicing Scientologist), will lead you on an interesting tour (lasting up to two hours) that covers Hubbard's biography and a sanitized version of the church's overall history and belief system. Free.
- 8 Laogai Museum, 1901 18th Street NW. Variable. Small, offbeat museum showcasing human rights abuses in China, particularly the Láogǎi, the Chinese prison system of "Reform through Labor". Includes artifacts from prisoners and panels with explanations and statistics. The museum was founded by Harry Wu, a well-known Chinese dissident who served 19 years in laogai prisons, but who left behind a troubled legacy after mismanaging funds for the museum. You may have to knock loudly for the curator to realize you're there. Free.
- 9 Museum of the Palestinian People, 1900 18th St NW, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 12PM-6PM Thurs.-Sat.. Museum covering the history and political situation in Palestine.
Many of the buildings that now house embassies were once the luxurious residences of the rich and famous. If you have the opportunity, take a walking tour of embassy row and learn the stories behind these beautiful buildings.
- 10 Anderson House (Society of the Cincinnati headquarters and museum), 2118 Massachusetts Ave NW, ☏ . Tours: Tu-Sa 1-4PM. The 55,764-square-foot Anderson House, which is perhaps better described as a castle, was built in 1902-1905, as the home of Larz Anderson and his wife. Upon Anderson's death, the house was given as a gift to the Society of the Cincinnati which was something of an American noble order dedicated to preserving the legacy of the American Revolution founded in 1783 after the Revolutionary War. The house serves as the organization's headquarters, and houses a museum and library with information relating to the Revolutionary War. Free.
- 11 Everett House (Turkish ambassador's residence), 1606 23rd St NW. Designed by George Oakley Totten, Jr., the 40,000-square-foot house was built in 1914 for industrialist and philanthropist Edward H. Everett. The house was later used as the Turkish embassy, beginning in 1932, and became the Turkish ambassador's residence in 1999 when a new embassy building was built on Massachusetts Ave. The Everett House features a limestone facade, in Beaux-Arts neoclassic style.
- 12 Townsend Mansion (Cosmos Club), 2121 Massachusetts Ave NW. Almost completed rebuilt by heiress Mary Scott Townsend in 1899, the house features a Beaux Arts, Louis XVI French-inspired design. Townsend lived there until she died in 1931. For a period of time before World War II, Sumner Welles, the son-in-law of Mary Scott Townsend and Franklin D. Roosevelt's Under Secretary of State, lived in the Townsend Mansion. The Cosmos Club, a private social club, bought the house in 1950, and continues to occupy the mansion.
Dupont Circle has relatively few activities and is generally not a great place for kids. The actual Dupont Circle, around which the neighborhood is centered, has a nice park in the middle of the traffic circle. It's a favorite neighborhood spot to read, play chess, and people-watch. On summer weekends there are relatively frequent musical performances.
- 2 Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St NW, ☏ . Small theatre offering new and classic plays and musicals.
- 3 Spooky Action Theater, 1810 16th St NW, ☏ . Small, young theatre company that performs in a specially renovated church basement. Name refers to an Einstein quote; repertoire is not necessarily "spooky."
Dupont Circle has probably the highest concentration of major think tanks of any neighborhood in the U.S., if not the world. They host frequent free talks and panels during lunch hour (free food is often included) and happy hour. Topics include a variety of policy issues, some of which are very technical or esoteric and others of which are more generally accessible.
- 4 Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, ☏ . Large, established center-left think tank with a broad focus.
- 5 American Enterprise Institute, 1789 Massachusetts Ave NW, ☏ . Conservative think tank, especially on economic issues.
- 6 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW. Nonpartisan foreign policy think tank.
- 7 Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW. Establishment think tank with focus on foreign policy security issues.
Festivals & events
- 17th Street Festival. September. Includes the famous drag queen high heels race.
- Capital Pride. June. Multiple Capital Pride Events; held annually. The Pride Parade usually begins at the intersection of P St. & 21st St., continues around Dupont Circle, and on toward U St. in Shaw.
Most galleries in Dupont Circle participate in First Friday Dupont, an open house from 6PM-8PM on the first Friday of every month, with a strong social bent (cocktails, music, etc.).
- 1 IA&A at Hillyer (Hillyer Art Space), 9 Hillyer Ct NW (Walk down the alley from Florida Ave.), ☏ . M 10AM-5PM, Tu-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-4PM. This is one of the hipper galleries in town, often sporting live DJs. Its mission is tied vaguely to international, cross-cultural communication, and it puts on exhibits by established international artists, as well as locals.
- Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St NW, ☏ . W-Sa 11AM-5PM. Location is a plus at this gallery, housed in pretty old Washingtonian brownstone, rather than the usual characterless minimalist whitewashed galleries you find everywhere. Shows principally contemporary works, American and European, by some big names in the contemporary art world—buyers should expect high prices here.
Books and music
Dupont Circle may not have many bookstores, but those that are here are beloved city-wide.
- 2 Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe, 1517 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Su-Th 7:30AM-1AM, F Sa 24 hr; brunch (popular and crowded): Sa Su 8AM-3PM. A great independent bookstore and a tried and true Washingtonian experience. It's an odd bookstore, in that it has a full restaurant and bar—pick up a travel guide inferior to this one and then sit down for filet mignon, perhaps? There is also one meager computer, at the bar, hooked up for public internet use. Occasional evening author talks, and live music on weekends. Food: $10-20.
- 3 Middle East Books and More, 1902 18th St NW (between T St & U St), ☏ . M-F 10AM-6PM; Sa 11AM-7PM. A non-profit bookstore selling books, pottery, and food related to the Middle East, with a particular focus on Palestine.
- Red Onion Records, 1628 U St NW, ☏ . Tu-Sa noon-7PM, Su noon-5PM. The friendly owner is an afficianado with a huge second-hand vinyl collection (and CDs and books about music). The store is quite small, so he has a carefully hand-picked selection on display, with some rare finds waiting for a browser to uncover. If there's a specialty here, it's indie.
- 4 Second Story Books and Antiques, 2000 P St NW, ☏ . 10AM-10PM daily. This is the one and only great used bookstore anywhere nearby. The collection is big and well curated by very knowledgeable staff, and they have a section for rare and collectible books. It's one of the best browsing bookstores you'll ever come across.
- 5 Betsy Fisher, 1224 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M-W 10AM-7PM, F 10AM-9PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-4PM. Sorry stereotypes, D.C. has some great fashion boutiques. Ms. Fisher is a careful curator, with a fiercely loyal customer base, attentive service (complimentary drinks, for one), and with clothes ranging from conservative to very trendy. You'll pay a price for this, though!
- 6 Lou Lou Boutique, 1601 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . An affordable accessories and jewelry boutique chain much loved by locals for its trendy, very cute items. 6 locations in DC.
- Proper Topper, 1350 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM. This is where you get your hats! From fedoras to baseball caps, they have hats and accessories for women, men, and children, and all of them are stylish.
- The Chocolate House, 1904 18th St NW, ☏ . Tu-Sa NOON-8PM; Su noon-5PM. This shop, tucked away on a lower level, carries a wide selection of chocolates, and has small art gallery.
- 7 Tabletop, 1608 20th St NW, ☏ . M-Sa noon-8PM, Su noon-6PM. A quirky, stylish little gift shop with all sorts of items, but an especial emphasis on anything related to interior design. It's a fun place to browse even if you don't want to buy, but this can be dangerous.
Dupont Circle has plenty of dining options, including some of the best in the city, but this is expensive territory with limited budget options aside from chain restaurants. For more affordable local dining, visit the nearby neighborhoods of Shaw or Columbia Heights.
If you're visiting on a Sunday morning, be sure to check out the farmers market on 20th Street, one of the largest and best in the city.
- 1 Julia's Empanadas, 1221 Connecticut Ave NW (between M St & N St), ☏ . Su-Th 10AM-2AM, F Sa 10AM-4AM. Better for a snack than for a full meal, Julia's offers authentic Chilean food in the form of big specialty empanadas (stuffed savory pastries). Popular late at night among inebriated locals strolling out of the nearby bars. Good vegan and vegetarian options. Take-out only. 3 locations in DC. $4.50 each.
- 2 The Well Dressed Burrito, 1225 19th St NW, ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-2:15PM. A happy little sandwich/salad/fries lunch spot with patio seating on the street. Those sandwiches are exceptional and worth seeking out. Sandwiches $7-8.
- 3 Tiki Taco, 2010 P St NW, ☏ . Hawaiian food in a basement.
- Triple B Fresh, 1506 19th St NW, ☏ . Korean food $6-12.
- Zorba's Cafe, 1612 20th St NW (between Q St & R St), ☏ . Greek food with outdoor seating. Order at the counter. Sandwiches $9; mains $13-15.
- 4 Beefsteak, 1528 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . 10:30AM-9PM. Despite the name, this fast-casual restaurant from renowned chef José Andrés is fully vegetarian, specializing in veggie and grain bowls. Around $10.
- 5 Bethesda Bagels, 1718 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009, ☏ . 6:30AM-3PM. New York-style take-out bagel shop, which offers bagel sandwiches with generously portioned toppings, as well as a smattering of other items. As cheap as it gets in this neighborhood; bagel sandwiches around $4.
- Agora, 1527 17th St NW (between Corcoran St & Q St), ☏ . Turkish small plates.
- 6 Al Tiramisu, 2014 P St NW, ☏ . M-F noon-2:30PM, 5:30-10:30PM; Sa 5:30-10:30PM; Su 5-9:30PM. Very tasty Italian cuisine with a nice wine list served in this small restaurant. The one stumble is the noise level, but the restaurant remains quite the good deal. Reservations required for dinner. Guess which one of the desserts is especially popular. $25-50.
- 7 Bistrot du Coin, 1738 Connecticut Ave NW (between R St & S St), ☏ . Su-W 11:30AM-11PM, Th-Sa 11:30AM-1AM. Usually crowded and noisy, but the French/Belgian bistro cooking is great, and the atmosphere is lively and happy. They do a mean mussels with pommes frites. Also try the monkfish. $14-27.
- Boqueria Washington DC, 1837 M St NW, ☏ . A very stylish tapas bar with locations in New York City and Hong Kong and 2 locations in DC. Very popular for their $39 all-you-can-eat-and drink tapas brunch for 2.5 hours on weekends.
- Dupont Italian Kitchen, 1637 17th St NW (between Corcoran St & R St), ☏ . Basic Italian food. Karaoke nights.
- Firefly @ Hotel Madera, 1310 New Hampshire Ave NW (between N St & O St), ☏ . Comfort food in restaurant built around a tree. Mains $18-31.
- Floriana, 1602 17th St NW (between Q St & Corcoran St), ☏ . Italian food such as lasagna. White tablecloths.
- 8 Hank's Oyster Bar, 1624 Q St NW, ☏ . Su-Tu 5:30-10PM, W-Sa 5:30-11PM, Sa Su 11AM-3PM. Small, cozy restaurant, with a popular oyster bar, along with fried clams, lobster rolls, and other seafood. This is also a good place to enjoy a beer and martinis. $12-25.
- Lauriol Plaza, 1835 18th St NW (between Swann St & T St), ☏ . A huge Mexican restaurant with a roof deck.
- Otello Restaurant, 1329 Connecticut Ave NW (between N St & P St), ☏ . Italian food on red-checkered tablecloths.
- 9 Pizzeria Paradiso, 2003 P St NW, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-11PM, F Sa 11:30AM-midnight, Su noon-10PM. One of two locations of the famous local gourmet pizza place. They don't take reservations, so the Saturday night wait can be brutal (on a less crowded night, patio seating is nice). But never fear, they do a healthy take-out business too. Also of note is there is an extensive list of rotating draft and one cask beer. 3 locations in the DC area. $14-22.
- Raku Asian Dining, 1900 Q St NW, ☏ . Great sushi with outdoor seating.
- 10 Regent Thai, 1910 18th St NW (between T St & U St), ☏ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-3PM, Sa noon-3PM; dinner: Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F Sa 5-11PM. Thai in the U.S. (and certainly in D.C.) is often nice for a cheap meal with just a little bit of flair, and not much beyond that. But this is one of best Thai places in the city, and serves up less greasy, more authentic dishes, in an attractive space (and it's not quite as cheap). Strangely, they serve free sodas—not just free refills—which makes this a good bet if you're thirsty. The spice levels, which you can control per request, are higher here than you'd find elsewhere, so those extra drinks are extra useful. $15-30.
- The Riggsby @ Kimpton Carlyle Hotel, 1731 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☏ . American food by Chef Michael Schlow.
- St. Arnold's Mussel Bar, 1827 Jefferson Pl NW, ☏ . Great Belgian food - including mussels and fries - in a cave-like basement.
- Urbana @ Hotel Palomar, 2121 P St NW, ☏ . M-F 7-10:30AM; 11:30AM-3PM; Su-Th 5:30-10PM; F Sa 5:30-11PM (bar Su-Th to midnight, F Sa to 2AM). A good place for a cocktail, upscale pizza, and happy hour specials (M-F 4PM-7PM), or for a full meal of their fine Mediterranean-influenced cooking. $28-45.
- Iron Gate, 1734 N St NW, ☏ . Swanky spot with Italian and Greek food.
- 11 Komi, 1509 17th St NW (between P St & Q St), ☏ . Tu-Th 5:30-9:30PM; F Sa 5:30-10PM. Declared by serious foodies one of the best restaurants in the country, this is a place for a special occasion (or simply is a special occasion), as it's both super expensive and very memorable. Mediterranean/New American cuisine, specializing in seafood. Reservations are available a month in advance but weekends book up once they open up. Weekday reservations are easier to get and last minute availability is posted on the website. 12-course dinner tasting: $150; wine pairings cost an additional $75.
- Little Serow, 1511 17th St NW (between P St & Q St), ☏ . A dark, intimate cave-like romantic restaurant that serves food from Northern Thailand. Fixed menu changes weekly. Serow rhymes with arrow. Prix fixe menu $49-59.
- 12 Obelisk, 2029 P St NW, ☏ . Tu-Sa 6-10PM. Very, very classy, and very, very tasty Tuscan cuisine. Obelisk's five course pri-fixe menu changes daily, so everything is always fresh and seasonal. It is reputed to be both one of the city's best dining experiences and one of its best deals. It is, however, small and therefore quite hard to get reservations. Plan well in advance. 5-course dinner menu: $78, $88 on F Sa. Wine pairings cost an additional $53-58.
- 13 The Palm, 1225 19th St NW (between M St & N St), ☏ . M-F 11:45AM-3PM, 3-10PM; Sa 5:30-10PM; Su 5:30-9:30PM. The second location of the nationwide chain steakhouse, the Palm has a pretty good claim to best steak in town. There isn't a whole lot of reason to come beyond political celebrity spotting and steak, but that should be reason enough. $35-70.
- Plume @ The Jefferson Hotel, 1200 16th St NW (At M Street NW), ☏ . Tu-Sa 6-10PM. Classic French cuisine served in a traditional American gorgeous interior. The food is competitive with the best the city has to offer, and the service is perhaps a step above, with details covered down to the string-bound parchment you receive on your way out, upon which your servers have listed the wines you sampled. Prix fixe dinner $98-280 per person.
- 14 Sushi Taro, 1503 17th St NW, ☏ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2PM; dinner: M-Sa 5:30-10PM. A top-notch sushi restaurant. You'll spend a fortune, but if you like seafood, this place will blow you away. Lunch mains $13-35; dinner prix-fixe options $90-245 per person.
- 15 Mr. Yogato, 1515 17th St NW, ☏ . A must-visit, not just for the great frozen yogurt, but for the experience. Play the Nintendo game system and receive discounted yogurt based on your score. There are plenty of other ways to get free yogurt such as reciting by heart braveheart's freedom speech. $3-5.
There are bars, clubs, and lounges catering to all sorts of different people, but the general theme is that they are upscale - you won't find many dive bars here and you likely won't be allowed into a club wearing sneakers or shorts. The main nightlife stretches are along Connecticut Ave just north and south of the Circle, P St west of the Circle, and on 17th between P and T St.
There are plenty of coffeeshops, including many Starbucks locations. Independent coffee shops are in ample supply as well, most of which offer outdoor seating in nice weather to watch the crowds go by.
- Bar Dupont @ The Dupont Circle Hotel, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-1:30AM, F 11:30AM-2:30AM, Sa 11AM-2:30AM, Su 11AM-11PM. A classy place at the bottom of the Dupont Hotel with the best people watching in town through its wall of windows right on Dupont Circle. The drinks are excellent, and the happy hour special—$5 for their signature cocktails—is quite a bargain for this location.
- 1 Bier Baron Tavern, 1523 22nd St NW, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-2AM, F 11:30AM-3AM, Sa 6PM-3AM, Su 6PM-2AM. Features more than 300 beers on the menu, including around 40 on tap. The servers are remarkably knowledgeable if you are looking for particular recommendations—and they might talk you out of that second rate Kenyan lager you just ordered in favor of a far superior Belgian beer. Try the fried oreos. Beer $4-14.
- 2 The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M-Th 4PM-2AM, F 4PM-3AM, Sa 4PM-3AM, Su 5PM-2AM. The Big Hunt is another very popular, very large bar right off the circle, full of friendly twenty and thirty-something singles. The safari theme throughout is interesting, but those comfy booths are the main reason to have your beers here. The red basement has extraordinarily bizarre decor and is a lot quieter for conversations. There are 3 levels including a rooftop and second bar room and basement that occasionally open to accommodate overflow.
- The Board Room, 1737 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Features 20 beers on tap and vintage board games for rent @ $2 each!
- 3 Buffalo Billiards, 1330 19th St NW, ☏ . Su-Th noon-2AM, F Sa noon-3AM. Huge bar in a basement right off Dupont Circle. Popular among fraternity boys, but a good place to watch football games, drink beer, and play billiards. Serves appetizers till late.
- 4 Fireplace, 2161 P St NW, ☏ . M-Th 1PM-2AM, F Sa 1PM-3AM, Su 1PM-2AM. Black men's gay bar that serves decent brick-oven baked pizzas. Always crowded—to the point of spilling out onto the street—after dark. Upstairs sees dancing on a very dimly lit dance floor.
- 5 Fox and Hounds, 1537 17th St NW, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-2AM, F 11AM-3AM, Sa 10AM-3AM. There's one big reason to visit this bar, and it's the big, friendly, low-key patio on the street—this is some of the best people watching in the city. Not a bad place to spot celebrities (of the entertainment variety).
- 6 Gazuza Lounge, 1629 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F Sa 5PM-3AM. An upscale lounge where you can hear yourself talk is a find in Dupont Circle, but that's hardly the only hook. The excellent mixed drinks take a back seat in popularity to the hookahs, old Looney Tunes cartoons run on big flatscreens, and then there is the inaccessibly crowded patio overlooking the street.
- 7 JR's Bar and Grill, 1519 17th St NW, ☏ . Su-Th 4PM-2AM, F Sa 2PM-3AM. Gay central! On weekends, and even weeknights, JR's is packed with fashion-conscious yuppie gay men, although there is no dress code, and the crowd isn't snobby-judgmental. In general, the friendly people are the reason to come—otherwise it's just a very crowded bar. Monday show tunes nights are very popular.
- 8 Lucky Bar, 1221 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M-Th 3PM-2AM, F 3PM-3AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su 9PM-2AM. A fratboy-ish fake Irish pub/sports bar is really a breath of fresh air in this pretentious neighborhood. The big hook here is the soccer—about 25 TV screens of it every night. Weekends are when the frat-boy ethos can start to get tiresome, unless you really like the crowded, drunken, yuppie-college bar scene. $3 beers during happy hour (4-8PM).
- Madhatter, 1319 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Alice in Wonderland theme. They serve a spiked sugar punch in a giant green hat for $35. Large dance floor.
- 9 Russia House Restaurant and Lounge, 1800 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M-Th 5PM-midnight, F 5PM-2AM, Sa 6PM-2AM; restaurant closes M-F 10PM, Sa Su 11PM. Serves traditional Russian fare and vodka, with more than 30 vodkas to choose from. The vodka bar is the main draw, full of ex-pats and Russophiles talking all things Russia, while the restaurant is a bit of an afterthought. Live music W Th. Owned by D.C. native Aaron McGovern and Lithuanian Arturas "Jeepo" Vorobjovas. Hockey player Alex Ovechkin has been spotted here several times. Baltika/Švyturys beer $7, vodka $10, martini $16.
Dupont Circle is one of the major clubbing areas of the city. There are plenty of parties going on here nightly, the most famous and established of which are at the Eighteenth Street Lounge.
- 10 Cafe Citron, 1343 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-2AM, F Sa 4PM-3AM. A super-crowded Latin salsa/reggaeton dance club that is one of the best bets for a good party on a weekday. Weekends are too crowded to dance. Definitely try one of their renowned mojitos. No cover, strict door policy (i.e. no shorts allowed).
- Decades DC, 1219 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A 3-story retro-themed club that plays music from the 1980s and 1990s. Cover charge: usually $20.
- 11 Eighteenth Street Lounge, 1212 18th ST NW, ☏ . Tu W 9:30PM-2AM, Th 5:30PM-2AM, F 5:30PM-3AM, Sa 9:30PM-3AM. D.C.'s most famous club may have gone to lengths not to become so (no sign, no publicity), but was destined to fail to be obscure. Thievery Corporation, the owners, have long been the biggest name in the local music scene, but lately they have become one of the bigger names in electronica internationally. It's a multi-level house party most nights of the week, with the best DJs in town, bossa nova (weekends) on the third floor, and a swanky atmosphere. The door policy is strict, so dress nicely and wear your best fashion. The crowd inside is both sophisticated, older, and pretty low-key. If you're not in the mood for a party, check out Thievery Corp's music anyway—you'll probably recognize a few tracks from movies, TV commercials, etc. Popular for their Wednesday night Reggae shows. Cover: $10-20.
- Kabin Lounge, 1337 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Stylish bar - with a chic rustic design, where you can drink luxurious cocktails.
- Larry's Lounge, 1840 18th St NW, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 5PM-2AM, F 5PM-3AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. This club is one of many gay hotspots in D.C., set apart mostly for the fact that people with differing tastes will be happy. The first floor is a fairly relaxed bar scene where you can chat, while the upstairs club is thumping, raucous, and dancing. The shirtless bartenders are also a draw.
- 12 Ozio Restaurant and Lounge, 1813 M St NW, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-2AM, F 11:30AM-3AM, Sa 6PM-3AM. A self-proclaimed cigar and martini bar, which at times seems much more of a swanky, upscale, four-floor dance club than anything else. The crowds get thick F Sa, which makes for a good night of dancing, while weeknights are better for heading to the first floor bar for that cigar and martini. The cigar menu is long and impressive.
- Filter Coffeehouse and Espresso Bar, 1726 20th Street, NW, ☏ . M–F 7AM–7PM, Sa Su 8AM–7PM. Your eyes are attracted from the people moving in this semi-basement location. Something tells you to check it out, you are not disappointed. 3 locations in DC.
- 13 Java House, 1645 Q St NW, ☏ . Su-Th 7AM-10:30PM, F Sa 7AM-11PM. A long-time neighborhood coffee shop that roasts its own beans. The biggest draw is the plentiful, shaded outdoor seating, which fills up with laptops (free WiFi and plenty of outdoor outlets!) checking emails while enjoying some good 17th St people watching.
- 14 Jolt 'N Bolt, 1918 18th St NW, ☏ . M-F 7AM-8:30PM, Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 7AM-8:30PM. Another neighborhood outdoor seating and WiFi coffee shop, this one with a more private seating area on the side of the building. The inside is attractive, decorated with local artwork.
- 15 Steam Cafe & Pizzeria, 1700 17th St NW, ☏ . Su-Th 7AM-1AM, F Sa 7AM-3AM. Steam distinguishes itself from the other independent neighborhood coffee shops by staying up late. It's mellow, plays classical music, and has particularly reliable WiFi.
- 16 Teaism, 2009 R St NW. M-F 7:30AM-10PM, Sa Su 9:30AM-9PM; brunch Sa Su 9:30AM-2:30PM. Tea shop with Asian-inspired foods. Breakfast, lunch, and desserts offered on menu. Great selection of fine teas, although the prices exceed the (high) quality. Good place for lunch/brunch. Seating is limited, so if it looks busy you might want to look elsewhere (but there's also seating upstairs). $2-9.
Dupont Circle is a great place to stay when in D.C., and should be even more popular than it is. Rates are more affordable than at the big chain hotels in the touristy East End, there are several charming independent options, it's a great area to come back to in the evening, has convenient metro service, and is just a few blocks north of the main business district. If staying towards the southwest end, you'll be right by the business district of the West End, and a short walk from Georgetown, while the northeast side puts you closer to main dining and nightlife strips.
- 1 American Guest House, 2005 Columbia Road NW, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. A fine bed & breakfast. $100-219.
- 2 Kimpton Carlyle, 1731 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☏ (hotel), toll-free: (reservations). The interior is gorgeous—an Art-Deco masterpiece. Aside from the aesthetics, and reasonable prices, the premium Tempur-Pedic mattresses are another good reason to stay here. All rooms have gourmet coffee machines and full service kitchens, and daily passes to the nearby Washington Sports Club. Free bicycle rental. $140-200.
- 3 The Churchill Hotel, 1914 Connecticut Ave NW, ☏ . Originally opened as a luxury apartment building in 1906, this hotel is nice, upscale, and unique, without being either trendy or swanky. It's a simple, lovely place just far north enough of the Circle to qualify as being in a quieter neighborhood. Beds get high marks for comfort but the rooms are small. $125-285.
- 4 The Tabard Inn, 1739 N St NW, ☏ . A small, old, charming inn on a quiet tree-lined street just five blocks from the White House. 40 sleeping rooms, each unique in character and design, aiming to preserve the turn-of-the-century atmosphere, while keeping decor eclectic. In keeping with the historic bent of this hotel believed to be the oldest continually operating hotel in the city, there are no TVs. Rooms include free gym passes to the nearby Washington Sports Club. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, the Tabard is a great place for a relaxed evening cocktail hour, and some terrific live jazz on Sunday nights. The small hotel restaurant is as attractive as it is highly acclaimed, serving delicious New American cuisine. Some of the cheaper rooms have shared baths. $113-218; restaurant: $28-45.
- 5 Windsor Park Hotel, 2116 Kalorama Rd NW, toll-free: . An old fashioned, and slightly worn, hotel in a quiet, beautiful spot on Kalorama, several blocks north of the commercial areas. Simple, Queen Anne-style rooms. $100-150.
- 6 Beacon Hotel and Corporate Quarters, 1615 Rhode Island Ave NW, ☏ . Contemporary design, cosmopolitan style hotel with upscale suites. New York-inspired studio suites and upscale turret suites also available. Ask for a room on the upper floors. Views of the White House and the Mall from the rooftop bar are spectacular. $150-260.
- 7 The Embassy Row Hotel, 2015 Massachusetts Ave NW, ☏ . This hotel by Destination Hotels & Resorts is a life-style hotel in Dupont Circle. The rooftop pool is open Memorial Day–Labor Day and offers non-guests day passes beginning in the afternoon for $30. $190-300.
- 8 Kimpton Hotel Palomar, 2121 P St NW, ☏ . A flashy, trendy Dupont Circle location of the Kimpton chain, with a penchant for L.A.-style designs and leopard print, and a reputation for very good service. Pet friendly hotel, outdoor pool. $180-300.
- 9 Kimpton Topaz Hotel, 1733 N St NW, ☏ . One of the several hip Kimpton boutique hotels in Dupont Circle, this one has fairly large rooms, soothing but funky decor with a vague oriental theme, and no gym. The upscale bar, Topaz Bar, is a great, relatively quiet place for drinks, with similarly funky decor. $140-230.
- 10 The Dupont Circle Hotel, 1500 New Hampshire Ave NW, ☏ . You can't beat the location of being literally on Dupont Circle. This hotel has stylish, sleek, contemporary decor, and is a little overpriced compared to the services you'd get at other hotels in the same price range, but that is to be expected given the real estate. The recently refurbished bar as very high quality cocktails, with great views out the windows right on the circle. $190-350.
- 11 Embassy Circle Guest House, 2224 R St NW, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. The building, surrounded by embassies, is itself a former embassy housed in a historically restored mansion. The 11 elegant guest rooms offer modern amenities, private bathrooms, and are decorated with Persian rugs and original artwork, mostly by guests. A gourmet breakfast buffet and evening reception are included. $180-295.
- 12 The Fairfax at Embassy Row, 2100 Massachusetts Ave NW, ☏ . Since 1927, The Fairfax has been home to many distinguished travelers including congressman, senators, and ambassadors who made the hotel their permanent residence. Prominent tenants included Mrs Henry Cabot Lodge, Admiral and Mrs Chester William Nimitz, and Senator John McClellan. A young George H.W. Bush and his parents, Senator and Mrs. Prescott Bush also made The Fairfax their home when in town. 259 guest rooms and suites with views of Embassy Row. $200-280.
- 13 The Jefferson Hotel, 1200 16th St NW, ☏ . Housed in a gorgeous 1923 Beaux-Arts building is this small, ultra-luxury hotel, where rooms come with butlers, and a focus on historical charm coexists with flatscreen TVs embedded in the bathroom mirrors and microchips alerting room service when your plates need to be cleared. Much of the decor is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, representing his life and his interests. The on-site spa, reading room, piano bar (and its cocktails) (Su M 11:30AM-midnight, Tu-Sa 11:30AM-1AM), and two restaurants are as beautiful as they are excellent. $350-800.
- 14 St Gregory Hotel, 2033 M St NW, ☏ . With the exception of the lobby's Marylin Monroe skirt-in-the-wind statue, there isn't a whole lot that's distinctive about the St Gregory, but it lives up to the name of a luxury hotel, in terms of excellent service and extra thoughtful details. Its clientèle certainly has been distinguished, having played host to big shots in the worlds of art, entertainment, and politics. You can also enjoy a meal at Tredici Enoteca, the hotel's restaurant in the lobby. $100-450.
Almost all cafes and restaurants in Dupont Circle offer free WiFi.
- Adams Morgan - north along 18th St, this neighborhood is popular for its bars and nightlife
- Georgetown - west along M to Q streets
- Shaw - east along U St
- Upper Northwest - just north of Dupont Circle, includes the free National Zoo
|Routes through Dupont Circle|
|Gaithersburg ← Upper Northwest ←||N S||→ West End → East End|