Sunday, April 30, 2023

Concierge Confessions: 15 Top Sightseeing Tips in Washington, DC

By Jacquelin Carnegie
(photo: National Cherry Blossom Festival)

Visiting The White House and the Smithsonian Museums is already on your itinerary. But these great sightseeing tips come from the best kept secret in the nation’s capital—Les Clefs d'Or hotel concierges. (A pin of crossed gold keys on a concierge’s lapel means you’re getting advice from a seasoned professional.) Les Clefs d'Or concierges pride themselves on really knowing their cities—the best sights, events, restaurants, etc.—so you can get the most out of your visit. These wonderful activities are some of their top DC recommendations: 

Best Way to Get Around Downtown: DC Circulator (
The DC Circulator buses stop at numerous cultural and entertainment sights in the DC city center—for $1.00. They run frequently, have six downtown Washington, DC routes with more stops than the Hop-On-Hop-Off buses. Get a DC Circulator pass for unlimited rides or a SmarTrip card that can be used on the Metro, Metrobus & the DC Circulator. 

The Smithsonian Institution in DC, includes some 19 museums, galleries and the National Zoo! All are amazing and worth visiting, especially since they’re all free. 
Additionally, there are numerous other gems such as:
(photo: Hillwood Estate)
Fabulous Fabric: The Textile Museum
(701 21st St, NW;
Established in 1925, the collection features fabulous antique and contemporary textile arts such as oriental rugs, American quilts, silk clothing, and cotton fabrics. It's now part of the George Washington University Museum at Foggy Bottom.
First in Modern Art: The Phillips Collection
(1600 21st Street NW;
Considered America’s first modern art museum, opened in 1921, with a great collection, located in the lovely Dupont Circle neighborhood. 
Estate Envy: Hillwood Estate - Museum & Gardens
(4155 Linnean Ave., NW;
Be sure to plan at least half a day to visit the magnificent Marjorie Merriweather Post mansion-museum & gardens; there’s a nice café, too.

Best Hail Mary: Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart
Georgetown University Campus (37th & O St. NW, Healy 113)
Of the seven chapels on the Georgetown campus, the beautiful Dahlgren Chapel, built in 1893, is the primary house of worship for the campus’ Catholic community. After Mass, head over to The Tombs restaurant for more libations.
Dahlgren Chapel (photo: Georgetown University)
Best Bloody Mary: The Tombs 
(1226 36th St. NW; Tel: 202/337-6668;
After you’ve repented, enjoy the best Bloody Mary in town or Sunday brunch at this popular Georgetown hangout in the basement of the 1789 Restaurant.
Best Combo – Books & Beer: Kramerbooks
(1517 Connecticut Ave. NW; Tel: 202/387-1400;
Pick up the latest bestseller, a cold one & a tasty snack all at this wonderful, independent bookstore and resto-bar.

Best Sightseeing on Wheels: Bike Tours
Unlimited Biking - Learn some interesting history and get unique DC touring tips as well as a nice workout on these informative bike tours of Washington, DC & Alexandria, VA. Or, just rent a bike to explore the sights on your own.
Great Recreation: Fletcher's Boathouse - Boat & Bike rental 
(4940 Canal Rd NW;; Open March-Nov)
Located in Georgetown on a cove along the Potomac River, Fletcher’s Boathouse has provided a bit of nature and recreation for DC residents, including several Presidents, since the 1850s. Go for a leisurely boat, canoe or kayak ride, or bike along the C&O Canal towpath.
C&O Canal Boat (photo: National Park foundation)

Cool Canal Boat Rides: C&O Canal 
(Georgetown Visitor Center, 1057 Thomas Jefferson St. NW;
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was built between 1828-1850 to transport agricultural goods to market. Today, it’s a National Historical Park that starts in Georgetown and runs 184.5 miles. You can walk or bike along the towpath. Or, go on a fascinating Canal Boat Tour to learn all about the history of life on the canal in mid-19th-century America. (Spring/Summer) 

Most Amazing Garden: The Bishop’s Garden - National Cathedral
(3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW;
Bishop's Garden (photo: All Hallows Guild)
Most people tour the stunning National Cathedral without stopping to admire the gardens on 59-acres of wooded, landscaped grounds. The Bishop’s Garden, planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., is a beautiful, medieval-style garden planted with fruit trees, roses, perennial flowering plants and herbs. Winding stone paths, a gazebo, a 9th-century baptismal font and other statuary add to the charm.
Oldest House: The Old Stone House
(3051 M St. NW, Georgetown;
Built by cabinetmaker Christopher Layman in 1765, this house in Georgetown is considered the oldest building in Washington, DC. Take a trip back to the 18th century by touring the period rooms, when open. Be sure to admire the English garden out back.

The Mayflower Hotel, Marriott (1127 Connecticut Ave. NW; - Opened in 1925, this 4-diamond, luxury hotel near Dupont Circle is one of the Historic Hotels of America. President Harry Truman called it the "second best address" in DC.
The Willard (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; - On the National Register of Historic Places, this magnificent hotel has been at the center of DC’s social and political scene since 1818; a favorite of President Ulysses S. Grant.
 Washington Monument (photo: National Cherry Blossom Festival)

Hotel Monaco, Kimpton (700 F St. NW; - This luxury, boutique hotel is in the original US General Post Office building, a registered National Landmark.
The Ritz Carlton (1150 22nd St. NW; - Relax in sophisticated elegance in the heart of downtown DC.

The Best of the Fests: Some highlights - National Cherry Blossom Festival (March-April); DC Jazz Fest (Labor Day weekend) and the terrific & unique Smithsonian Folklife Festival (June-July) on the National Mall; a great way to celebrate the 4th of July! There is so much to explore from cool neighborhoods to national monuments, plus theaters, jazz clubs, and entertainment venues like The Kennedy Center, one visit just won’t be enough!

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