Gypsy*Guide: Washington DC

It´s been a while since my last Gypsy*Guide post, but I´m happy to announce that it´s making a comeback! ;) I´ve never been to DC, but after reading Laura´s mini guide I´m certainly dying to go! 

I´m currently looking for contributors, so of you live in a big touristic city anywhere in the world which has not been feautred yet, have a blog and would like to guest blog for Gypsy*Diaries, holla at me! ;)

Hello Gypsy*Diaries' readers! I am beyond honored to be posting here today, and on top of that to have the chance to brag about my city! No city can hold a candle to Paris when it comes to romance. LA will forever be the city of dreams. And NYC’s streets may never sleep. But if you are searching for the city of eternal discovery, look no further than my nation’s capitol: Washington, DC! I have only lived within the city limits for six months, but growing up a mere 30 minutes away made it feel like the city was my playground. But what I love most about the city is that no matter how many times I have gone out exploring, sightseeing or just wandering around aimlessly, I still discover something new. If you are only here for vacation, you might not have time to discover all of our hidden treasures, so I put together this little guide to DC to make it a bit easier to experience. I've included a mixture of well known haunts and local flavors to try and make sure your trip really encapsulates all that my city has to offer. Enjoy! 

-El Centro: My roommate and I just so happened to stumble upon this amazing Mexican restaurant one night when we are out exploring the trendy and hip U-Street corridor and oh my goodness what a find! We had one of the best nights in DC here. The atmosphere is lively and upbeat, the food is delicious and the service is impeccable. Whatever you do, make sure you try the guacamole! It is prepared table-side and is fantastic! 
-Mie N Yu: If you enjoy a restaurant that is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the tastebuds, Mie N Yu is totally the place for you! The ambiance of this local haunt is unbeatable. You might even forget you are in DC, as you feel as if you have been transplanted to the Mediterranean the moment you walk in. I recommend reservations if you can plan ahead, as you can then request one of the featured tables. I have only been for brunch, but the lunch/dinner menu looked fascinating as well and plus, when isn't it a good time to dine in an elevated Turkish tent?

-Bodega's: This is rapidly becoming my go-to place for evenings out with friends. If you enjoy tapas, you will LOVE Bodega's. The decor will make you feel as though you have actually gone to Barcelona, and the portions are perfect for ordering several plates to share with the table. And don't forget to pair your tapas with a pitcher of sangria! 
-Hook: I admit that I don't often eat at "fancy restaurants" as it just isn't in the budget yet, but I was lucky enough to enjoy this amazing dining experience with my mom one evening and it left me with a burning desire to return as often as possible! If you are looking for an upscale evening, look no further than Hook. It was possibly the best sea food I have ever had! The chef changes his menu every day, so the menu is fairly compact but you always have a diverse selection to choose from. Considering all six of us that went raved about our plates for days, I think it is safe to say you can't go wrong with whatever you order. Suggestion: The ahi tuna is perfection on a plate! 
-Paper Moon:This Italian restaurant is the perfect place for a laid back evening of fine dining (at shockingly great prices), fantastic people watching and enjoyable conversation. I recommend dining alfresco if you can snag one of the few outdoor tables, but the interior is so cutely decorated that you wont be disappointed inside either. And without a doubt, order the mozzarella pomodoro! It is mouthwateringly delicious. Now I want some...
-Food Truck: No guide to DC is complete without mentioning one of the more fun new ways to dine in the city: Food Trucks! They have become a bit of a game to locals, as they tend to change locations every day and you have to follow them on twitter to find them. The one I am most curious to try out (but have not yet) is the Takorean Truck. I mean who doesn't want to enjoy two cultures wrapped up into one! It is definitely worth the added bit of work to track down one of these trucks to get your meal to go. DC offers plenty of gorgeous parks in which you can enjoy your food truck cuisine! 

Cocktails and more:
-Hotel W: The hotel is not an exclusive to DC, but it offers by far the best view of the city. It is definitely a place to see and be seen and I highly recommend getting dolled up and enjoying a night on the town at the posh P.O.V. Rooftop and Terrace Lounge. I actually just visited this wonderful lounge for the first time during a recent girls night out and we had an absolute ball! 
-Church and State: Sometimes all you want is a quiet, dimly lit room where you can enjoy a well made cocktail with your loved one. Church and State, in the hip U St. corridor, can be your refuge. You will enjoy your classic drink even more when it is served in antique glassware. Oh and did I mention that many of the ingredients are made in house by the bartenders? It is these small touches that give Church and State such charm. There is truly no better place to enjoy the American craft liquor movement. 
-Peregrine Espresso: For the best coffee in the city, you can't beat Peregrine Espresso. These delectable beverages are as delicious as they are perfectly decorated, with foam hearts that make you want to photograph your cup, more than drink it. At least, that is what I wanted to do :) My macchiato was amazing, but you get more bang for your buck if you select the cappuccino. But it really is about what you are craving, as you won't go wrong with anything on the menu! 

-Georgetown Cupcake: Cupcakes are to dining what lace is to spring fashion: incredibly trendy. Though neither are new to the scene, they have both become the "thing" to be seen with. And DC just so happens to be home to possibly the trendiest cupcake locale of them all: Georgetown Cupcakes! The menu offers monthly specials and changes their regular features daily, so your options are always changing. You will never see this store without a line though, so don't bank on the joy of a spontaneous afternoon cupcake, unless you are willing to wait 30+ minutes (that is on a good day, my friends). Instead, come a little closer and I'll share un petite secret of the locals with you: If you order your treat online 24 hours in advance, you can skip the line entirely and be in and out with sweetness in your hand in under 5 minutes. 

-Eastern Market: I wrote a whole post gushing about this market, but to try and sum it up it represents what DC does best: mixing of cultures! You will find vendors from all walks of life selling items that are meaningful to them. 

-M Street: I might be biased, since the fabulous M Street is within walking distance of my apartment, but I personally think it offers the best shopping option in the whole city. Basically every store you could want is all on this one street. Not to mention, it is in Georgetown which is my favorite area in all of DC! You will certainly enjoy a leisurely day of shopping as you stroll up and down the cobblestone walks of historic Georgetown. 
-Current Boutique: A mix of new and thrift, this store will fulfill all your shopping desires- and the prices won't make you want to keel over (as so many stores in DC can do). 
-Second time around: Although this is located on M Street, I needed to give it its own shout out because I just adore this vintage/thrift store! I tend to wander on in whenever I need a (cheap) pick me up and I never leave dissatisfied! 
-Nectar Skin Bar: If you are in need of top of the line skin care products, or a pampering spa experience you will definitely not want to miss Nectar! I was lucky enough to attend the press preview of this brand new spa, and I have been obsessed ever since. The environment is so warm, cozy and inviting that you may never want to leave! 

-Tattoo: Don't let the name scare you- this place rocks! It offers the 25+ crowd (or those younger, like me, who enjoy the 25+ crowd) a clubbing experience but in a bar. That way you wont leave with the headache that I always find myself attracting at a club. Maybe it is just because I'm not a club person, but this bar was perfect for me because I could dance without worrying about being felt up by slimeballs, actually talk to the people I met and still listen to excellent rock-n-roll music! It is a smaller location than most, but you know what they say: good things come in small packages. I mean hello, Tiffany's boxes! 
-Buffalo Billiards: I have yet to visit this awesome bar, but I have it on good authority (aka my bestie) that it is a fabulous place for an evening out, particularly in mixed company. 
-Old Glory: If you are wandering around the city on a Tuesday looking for something to do, you need to get yourself to Old Glory! This BBQ joint hosts a very fun (but challenging!) round of trivia every Tuesday on the roofdeck of the bar and it really is a blast. You can get your social on, while working the ol'noggin at the same time! And you might just see me there :) 
-Mr. Smith's piano bar: If you are looking for a place where you can belt out your favorites right along with the rest of the room while sipping casually on a drink, this is your place! They play all the songs you'd expect to hear at a piano bar and the musicians are always entertaining. The crowd is very typical Washington and the dress tends to be a bit more upscale, even though the pricing isn't. Hey, we dress to impress no matter where we are. 

If I haven't completely overwhelmed you yet with my love for DC, and you think you can handle a little more "come see my city excitement" then check out my list of sights to see. Honestly, DC is so packed with incredible monuments, memorials and museums that even after living here for 23 years (aka my whole life) I have yet to experience them all. You truly can spend forever exploring and find something new each time. It's what I love most about the city. Every day in DC can be different :) But no trip to DC would be complete without a little historical sightseeing, so try and find time to visit at least one of these! I could recommend just about every sight here, but let's just keep it to the truly fantastic, shall we? 

-Capitol building: Hands down, my favorite building in all of DC. Every time I see it, it takes my breath away. It is majestic and to me, it represents everything America stands for: freedom, opportunity and beauty. (Full discloure: I used to be a Capitol tour guide so I am more than a little enthusiastic.) It is fully worth scheduling a few hours to visit this gorgeous architecture and important legislative hub. For U.S. citizens, book a tour through your congressman as you will receive a much smaller and more personal tour than you will through a tour guide service. 

-National Archives: You won't necessarily find this at the top of many "must see" lists, but I think it would be a shame to leave DC without seeing first hand so many of the documents that made this country what it is today! 
-Ford's Theatre: I grew up going to see A Christmas Carol at this theatre every Christmas. I looked forward to it all year, because it meant I got to wear one of my "twirly" dresses and have my mom do my hair. I guess some people never grow up :) The whole bottom floor is a mini museum dedicated to Lincoln, and the mystery surrounding his assassination in this very theatre. Have a fancy night out and enjoy a little history, mystery and a show! 
-FBI: Come on, what little kid didn't at some point fantasize about living the life of a spy. My family all agrees that this is one of the best tours offered in all of DC. They appeal to all different personality types, and keep you entertained while educating you on one of the most elusive organizations in the world. I would call it a "Don't Miss" for sure. 

I am borrowing a sentiment from Helena here, but it is le parfait way to explore DC- plan some time to just aimlessly wander, with no itinerary in mind. You will likely discover some of your favorite aspects of this beautiful city in that fashion. And remember, if you need a tour guide/shopping buddy/DC enthusiast... I am your girl! 


Thanks Laura! Hope to see DC with you someday soon! ;)

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thank you for so much information! this makes me wanna go travelling right now!

Karol said...

amazing blog!!!


Leslie Christen | LifeStyling said...

thanks for all the info, your trip looks and sounds amazing

xo Leslie


Taryn said...

Great information, I love to go where the natives of a city visit--always more fun =)

Heidi said...

Great review of Washington DC! I don't have too much of a desire to visit there but I do want to see the old historic buildings and museums.

Laura said...

Thank you for letting me brag on DC Gabby!! I hope you do get to visit soon :)

Ashley said...

I don't think the FBI allows tours anymore. I visited in July and they said tours were suspended. :(

DC is one of my husband and I's favorite places to vacation!

Michelle of Chellbellz said...

Funny I was just at the Empanada truck today. My friend Anna Runs it! They always have such great fillings.

While I agree that this list is amazing there are so many places in DC that you have to try!

Adams Morgan has a wonderful nightclub/bar (madams Organ) the best bartender there is Joanna.

Best Tex Mex hands down is Tortilla coast.

Best Brunch- Tabaq Bistro, and busboys and poets.

Best Billiards are the ones that nobody has heard of.

Nectar skin bar is lovely we just had out DC bloggers meet up there, $$ but Adrian is amazing with eyebrows and eyelashes. They have great products for sale there too.

I'd skip the hype with Georgetown cupcake, and try cakelove, Red Velvet Cupcakery as well. If you have a chance and spot a pink food truck it's Curbside Cupcakes and they have the best Red Velvets! There is a Georgetown Cupcake in Bethesda has a Georgetown cupcake as well which has less of a line.

Great Italian, Floriana in Georgetown, Best Burgers Black and Orange( georgetown) and of course SHack Shake, Best Sushi (Current)
Of course the food truck, but avoide The Sauca ( gets a ton of ppl sick) avoid frojols brothers as well (ick) The best to me are Red Hook Lobster, DC Empanada's. OMG Tasty Kebob ( best lamb in the world)

Erin said...

Great comprehensive guide to DC! I love this-and love the explanation of Tattoo!


Erin @ http://www.trufflesnruffles.com/

Annie said...

Niiice post!

Not sure if you've featured NYC yet, but that's where I am and would love to share some tidbits - if you still need... :-)



Ophelia said...

Fantastic guide!
I will certainly take use of this one day!


Alex Elizabeth said...

Whoaaaa the line at Georgetown Cupcake is insane!

Michelle * Viva Revival said...

Great post! My husband is from DC, but I haven't explored it all yet. I love it there! We are definitely going to go to that tapas place, we are obsessive about tapas.

Cassie MewBuorn said...

Love the blog- esp. this post on DC! I recently moved to Northern VA in the DC Metro Area. I have been dying to get upto the city more- you sound like you know how to have a great time! I'd love to find some great local mom & pop eats, great bargain shops & soak up the local culture. I have been to Georgetown before- great shopping! I've done the tourist stuff quite a bit b/c I lived in Southern Maryland my whole life (yay for field trips! haha) so I'm really glad I read this (love being subscribed to your blog!)

I'd love to set up a nice girls day and do a great Sunday brunch/ Market shopping/ etc. Sounds fab!

Do you ever go over to National Harbor?

nicole said...

I live in Boston and would love to do this if you ever want Boston featured. It's such a great place with a lot to see and do, esp for such a small city.


Lisa said...

Would love to do Philly!


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