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Luxury Travel

Get to know Washington, DC

This is a feature from Issue 23 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

What's it all about?

Ask anyone what the most important address in the United States is and they’ll tell you it’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – the location of the White House. The political circus there helps define the nation and, as a place of venerable institutions, Washington, DC sure packs a punch. There are dozens of terrific Smithsonian museums and party-piece monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and, with so many lawmakers and lobbyists around, the vibe is always subtly fabulous. But Washington, DC doesn’t just lead in the affairs of the nation, it’s also the world’s first LEED Platinum city (awarded in 2017), thanks to having the most green-certified buildings in the U.S.

Get your Bearings

Start on the National Mall, one of the most thrilling settings of any American city. Home to Congress, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, the Capitol Hill area sits at its eastern flank and is the most powerful place in the free world – it feels like being dropped into the midst of a Hollywood political thriller. Just north, across Senate Park, lies Union Station, America’s first great railroad terminal.

Seek out the Unique

Birthplace of Duke Ellington, the Shaw neighbourhood centering around U Street was once called Black Broadway for its jazz clubs and rich African-American culture. While places like the Lincoln Theatre still trade on that hazy Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald heritage, the 9:30 Club and storied punk hangout the Black Cat showcase plenty more modern soul. For a pre- or post-gig snack, Ben’s Chili Bowl is good enough for the Obamas.

Explore on foot

Despite America being the home of the automobile, Washington, DC is one of the greenest U.S. cities, with a quarter of the city reserved for parkland and biking, and walking is a way of life – in fact, the majority of locals live within 10-minutes of park space. A few places to soak up the green vibe are Theodore Roosevelt Island Park, Anacostia Park and Rock Creek Park, the U.S.’ oldest urban national park.

Never go hungry or thirsty

In an area characterised by magnolia trees and mansard roof houses, Eastern Market is a landmark red-bricked grocery hall behind Capitol Hill. Hailed as a community hub, it’s been serving all manner of street food snacks, local produce and deli goodies since 1873.
Other places to eat well include Bresca on 14th Street, which has gone carbon neutral, and all the eateries in the Farmers Restaurant Group, which are all LEED-certified, while Right Proper Brewing Company is run completely on solar power.

Take a free boat tour with the Anacostia Riverkeeper and see the efforts made to clean up the city's river and restore its wildlife.

Shop until you drop

In the city’s west, Georgetown is a historical grid of streets crammed with dedicated American fashion and design stores, particularly on M Street, which has 150-odd speciality shops selling preppy outfits, sneakers and closet upgrades. When you get as far west as Francis Scott Key Park – dedicated to the wordsmith behind the Star-Spangled Banner – you know you’ve gone too far.

Off the Beaten Track Districts

Noma
This rapidly developing area (named for its location north of Massachusetts Avenue NE) is home to Union Market, a restored mid-century grocery hall. It’s the hub of Washington, DC’s gourmet scene, with a tempting mix of restaurants and food shops.

Navy Yard
Dominated by Nationals Park, the baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals, this area on the Anacostia River is shaped by the presence of the oldest marine core in the United States. Visit the National Museum of the United States Navy, then The Yards, a waterfront boardwalk of lively restaurants and bars.

This is a feature from Issue 23 of Charitable Traveller.