With the crisp fall weather rolling in I was craving one last getaway before the winter temps send us east coast dwellers chasing the sun or soaring down the slopes. So when The LINE DC – an exclusive member of the Travel Curator Collection – extended an invitation to visit their gorgeous hotel and experience their new farm-to-table restaurant showcasing the best of the Chesapeake Bay region, I jumped at the opportunity. DC, a city I was once fortunate to call home, is known for its iconic monuments, museums, memorials, and a famed white house. That said, once you tick those boxes, there’s another side to the city, one filled with eclectic, artistic, and diverse neighborhoods just begging to be explored. I’m excited to share my curated insider guide on the best places to explore, eat, shop, and stay in the capital.
Where to Stay in DC
The LINE DC
In a city filled with fabulous hotels The LINE DC, a Travel Curator Collection member is a seriously cool property that sets itself apart from the crowd with an impeccable location and luxe but welcoming attitude. Housed in a historic 20th-century church the exterior columns and grand staircase grab your attention well before swinging the doors open to vaulted ceilings and a warm interior filled with oversized couches and long dining tables. Guest rooms carry through the inviting vibe, you’ll feel like you’ve just entered the home of your trendiest hipster friend. Crisp white walls, complemented by large windows offering gorgeous city views (some on the higher floors have unobstructed views of the US Capitol Building) and bedding with bold pops of yellow. The decor features lovingly sourced pieces of vintage furniture, industrial-chic lighting fixtures, a retro radio, green plants, and my favorite touch: Framed black and white photos and hymnal pages offering a glimpse into the building’s unique history.
Explore Adams Morgan
One of my favorite neighborhoods and bursting with an international flavor, Adams Morgan was once a bar-heavy neighborhood known for cheap beer and college students but in recent years, it’s undergone a dynamic transformation. Today the neighborhood is awash with awesome coffee shops, fabulous dining, and plenty of quirky shopping options while retaining its 24-hour late-night energy and trendy bar culture.
Incredible Coffee Shops in Adams Morgan
Exploring a new city is always best with a cup of coffee in hand. Luckily, a great cup can be found at No Goodbyes in The LINE DC. The space is filled with comfy couches and outlets perfect for people watching while catching up on emails. Don’t skip over the pastries, everything is made fresh by an in-house pastry chef, and let me tell you they are killer. Tryst is another neighborhood staple with a cool crowd serving every imaginable caffeinated blend along with a fab all-day brunch. Around happy hour the space pivots from coffee shop to cocktail bar adding live music to the mix. For the best of both worlds try the Bourbon Chai or Coffee Old Fashion.
Lunch in Adams Morgan
The heart of Adams Morgan is the one-mile stretch along 18th street which is bursting with quirky shops and international cuisine. Amsterdam Falafel is in an institution that serves perfectly crispy falafel in a pita or rice bowl. The real star of the show is the 25 topping and sauce options available for customization. I opted for the pickled cabbage, pickles, tzatziki, and hummus which I ate in their shop front window overlooking the neighborhood’s main drag. Another favorite is Lucky Buns for their mouth-watering burgers like the El Jefe Bun served with green chili relish and gouda. Latin American flavors have my heart so my eyes lit up when I stumbled upon Julia’s Empanadas, where fresh handmade empanadas have been the specialty for 30 years. The Jamaican empanada with ground beef, onions, potatoes, and curry was out of this world.
Best Adams Morgan Restaurants for Dinner
Adding to the neverending list of Adams Morgan’s best restaurants is No Goodbyes. Located inside The LINE DC, once a 1912 neoclassical church with chic vintage decor including a overhead chandelier repurposed from the original organ pipes. The menu offers innovative takes on Chesapeake Bay dishes with a strong focus on highlighting local produce. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Chef Opie Crooks whose passion and excitement for sourcing high-quality ingredients to create signature dishes like Ember Grilled Honeynut Squash and Crispy Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps for guests was contagious. From the weekly whole hog butchered on-site to every ingredient Crooks can name of the farm and the farmer it was sourced from. He works directly with these growers to curate a unique and ever-changing seasonal menu. Also on the gastronomy standout list are the paper-thin, crispy homemade potato chips dusted in Old Bay and the Salthouse Board and the charcuterie board featuring house-cured meats, pickled veggies, and spreads.
The nearby Michelin star Tail Up Goat is consistently voted one of the best restaurants in DC. Don’t let the laid-back atmosphere fool you, the chefs here kick out some seriously high-quality dishes like white soy glaze ribeye and spiced pork tenderloin with charred arrowhead and sumac glaze. I also enjoyed fabulous meals at Retrobottega, a Venetian restaurant, and Taqueria al Lado, a Mexican spot serving the best homemade tortillas I’ve had outside of Mexico. Both restaurants have beautiful outdoor dining spaces.
Can’t Miss Things to do in Washington DC
It’s hard to visit DC without making time to visit the National Mall or any of the nearby museums and monuments. If you’re visiting for the first time consider taking a walking tour like the Washington DC Must-See Sights Half-Day Tour offered through Get Your Guide. The guided tour takes you to top spots like, the White House, Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Memorial and provides detailed insights easily missed when exploring alone. For those who have visited before I suggest you go out and explore at night. Seeing everything lit up with a small fraction of the crowd is truly worth traveling for. When I lived in the city it’s the one thing I consistently did when friends and family were in tow. A few other can’t miss spots: Smithsonian museums (all of them), Eastern Market lined with food stalls and the United States Botanic Garden for a refreshing touch of tranquility in the city.
The Best Places to Shop in Adams Morgan
Urban Dwell is a boutique gift shop with a curated collection of home decor and unique gifts. This is the type of store where time seems to evaporate as you flip through cookbooks, read the quirky phrase of greeting cards, and smell your 10th candle.
Lost City Books is an independent bookstore that has been a central part of the neighborhood since 1981. Selling new, used, and rare books spread over two floors you won’t tire of browsing anytime soon.
Meeps Vintage is filled with a dizzying collection of vintage clothing and furniture.
Smash Records is a can’t miss, especially if you’re anything like me and have recently added a record played to your house. They have a huge selection of vinyl and the storefront is underground and vibey.
Songbyrd is a 200 person live music venue featuring many different genres that also sells a potent combination of java and records.
Bossa is a Brazilian restaurant that doubles as a live music venue. Check the schedule on their website and plan to arrive early because space is limited and it fills up quickly.
Madam’s Organ is a cozy blues bar serving delicious soul food served up with live music seven days a week.