When it comes to exploring big cities, sometimes it’s best to tackle them one district or neighborhood at a time. This is definitely true of Washington, D.C., and there’s no better place to start than in Dupont Circle. This lively part of town is bursting with restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, museums and hotels and gains a global flair from the numerous international embassies that call this neighborhood home.
You’ll find Dupont Circle where Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Avenues converge upon the famous fountain near P and 19th streets. A visit to the fountain on a pretty day can give you a total immersion experience in Dupont Circle. There’s no telling what you may see – cyclists, jugglers, pantomime, musical performers, tai chi and yoga exercisers – all mingled in with people coming and going, working on laptops, walking their dogs, eating takeout or meeting up with friends.
Getting familiar with the neighborhood is best done on foot. Most visitors get started at the Dupont Circle Metro Station. As you walk, take in the gorgeous Victorian architecture, “Brewmaster’s Castle” (the Heurich House Museum; www.heurichhouse.org), historic homes including the Woodrow Wilson House (residence of the former president; www.woodrowwilsonhouse.org) and The Textile Museum of George Washington University (www.museum.gwu.edu).
Art lovers and first-time museum-goers will be mesmerized at The Phillips Collection, one of America’s top of modern art museums (www.phillipscollection.org). You can see Renoir’s massive impressionist masterpiece, “Luncheon of the Boating Party” as well as works by Rothko, Bonnard, O’Keeffe, van Gogh and Diebenkorn. Check out the museum’s Center for the Study of Modern Art for programs stimulating artistic thought (click the “Learn” link at the website).
There is no shortage of lovely hotels and quaint B&Bs in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. The famed Embassy Row Hotel (www.destinationhotels.com/embassy-row-hotel) was recently rated on the 10 Best New Hotels in America list by USAToday; this, after undergoing a $15 million multi-phase renovation, debuting 231 deluxe guestrooms. Try their lauded lobby restaurant, Station Kitchen & Cocktails; the hotel’s rooftop has a bar, heated pool and sweeping views of the capital area.
For a casual meal, head for Kramerbooks & Afterwords (www.kramers.com), a cafe known for its great selections and extreme hours – it’s open until 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. It’s got an enticing bar and a large case of delectable desserts. For a unique taste of the neighborhood, visit Duke’s Grocery (www.dukesgrocery.com), perhaps the best burger spot around.
March 12: Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon & Half-Marathon, citywide. Put that FitBit to work. Sign up to run the only marathon that runs entirely in the nation’s capital including gorgeous Dupont Circle. The course, studded with live bands and cheer squads, culminates with a finish line party. Details: www.runrocknroll.com/dc.
March 13: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, between Seventh and 17th streets NW. The 2 1/2-hour cavalcade features traditional Irish bands, floats, fire departments and a celebrity or two. Details: www.dcstpatsparade.com.
March 20-April 17: National Cherry Blossom Festival, citywide. The 104th celebration is set again to be the nation’s largest springtime celebration. Take in a grand parade, watch fireworks along the southwest waterfront, fly a kite, wave to a princess and wander beneath a canopy of pale pink flowers. The Cherry Blast (April 16), billed as the largest Japanese-inspired dance party in the U.S., also involves sake tastings, sushi workshops and more. Details: www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.
Through May 2: “Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection,” at The Phillips Collection, in Dupont Circle. Thirty-nine masterpieces spanning five centuries explore the evolution of American and European landscape painting. Details: www.phillipscollection.org/exhibitions/upcoming.