It’s taken a year, but I’ve narrowed down what the best streets are to meander in the DC Area. When I say the DC Area, I’m referring to the DC, Virginia and Maryland portions of the city. There are so many hidden gems, but consistently these 8 streets dish up the best food, best views and the best activities.
1. King Street
Topping off my number one street — King Street! I’m a little biased about this one because I live so close, but I am obsessed! I think I’ve walked it 1000 times. This street has everything I need, but it’s also a major tourist hub. At the beginning of the street (not really the beginning, but the beginning of the “old town” portion), you’ll find the King Street Metro Stop and a free trolly to take you down to the waterfront. At the end, you’ll find the Old Town board walk which flaunts a cute park, a water taxi, some restaurants and the “torpedo factory.” The Torpedo factory used to make torpedo’s (duh), but now it houses local artists and craft makers. Check out their link here to learn more! As I said, the rest of the street has restaurants and shopping galore! You want hole in the wall bars? Got it! You want upscale $17 cocktails? Got that too! Need some well knowns brands in your closet? King street has you covered. Boutique shopping? You bet! This street is a local and a tourist favorite. If you want more details about where to eat on King Street, check out Eat your way around DC.
2. M Street NW (Georgetown)
Unlike King, this street doesn’t have a metro stop, so getting here is a little more complicated. You can either drive (good luck finding parking), or you can walk/bike/scooter from Rosslyn over the key bridge. I usually get off at the Rosslyn metro stop and walk the bridge. It might take me 15 minutes, but it’s a really pretty walk over the Potomac river. Now you know how to get there… M street itself is the heart of Georgetown. Lots of restaurants and upscale shops. If you’re looking for some famous treats, try Georgetown cupcakes which were featured on TLC! For a local favorite try the Pie Sisters. If you’re a horror movie buff, which I am not, you might remember those stairs from the exorcist? Walk down M Street towards the University and see if you can find them!
3. 18th St NW (Adam’s Morgan)
Not as much shopping, but tons of food options! Unfortunately this street doesn’t have a metro stop close-by either, so you have to walk about 15 min north from Dupont Circle. Parking is definitely not as bad as M Street, but it’s still DC, so it isn’t great. 18th street lights up at night, especially on a weekend, the place is party central! There’s a really cool bar called the Roofer’s Union, one level is quieter and a great place to grab a bite, while the rooftop in the evening is buzzing. At the end of a long night of bar hopping you should soak up all the libations at Jumbo Slice Pizza or Smoke & Barrel for some good BBQ.
4. Pennsylvania Avenue
To be honest, there isn’t a lot of shopping or a restaurants down this street, but there are two restaurants that are hella good! Capital Grill… and I know, I know, it’s a chain restaurant, but this one is classy AF! You’ll find congressmen and upper government officials grabbing drinks with friends. Leave them alone, they’re trying to have a good time just like you, but it is cool to know you’re in the company of some weathered and honorable public servants who probably have some crazy stories to tell! The other restaurant is Punjab Grill, I’ll just leave this article up and you can take a look at how cool this place is! Pennsylvania Avenue is a great place to take a picture of the Capital building and see the coveted location of the Canadian Embassy. You can download the Eventbrite app to see if there are any events going on at the Embassy and maybe you can get a peak inside and chug some maple syrup.
5. F Street NW (China Town)
The main portion of this street is located between the White House and China Town. Again, lots of great shopping and restaurants. I would start at the White House and walk toward City Center, which is an outdoor mall with upscale shopping and restaurants. They always change up their decor depending on the season making it an instagrammer’s paradise. City Center isn’t technically F Street, but it’s nearby… so I’m adding it! Throughout the year there are also different markets and events on this F street, including the outdoor Christmas market and museums like the National Portrait Museum (which I highly recommend).
6. Connecticut Avenue (Dupont Circle)
Take the metro to Dupont Circle and then walk whichever direction you’d like on Connecticut Avenue. You’ll find our favorite restaurant, Kramer’s cafe and bookstore as well as a little restaurant called Cafe Citron which has lively latin dancing and food! You’ve also gotta check out Dupont Underground which is a transformed abandoned metro station turned art gallery/photo exhibition space. I recently went to see a photo journalism exhibit and although sobering and dark, it was exquisitely done.
7. National Harbor
I know this really isn’t a street but rather a collection of them (I’m showing a patter here lol), but I had to add this to the list. There are so many weird things to do and see at the National Harbor. You can go to the casino, check out the insane Gaylord National conference center, or try to find all the statues hidden on side streets, beaches and buildings. You can shop, dine and even take a ride on the Ferris Wheel. If you’re feeling presidential, you can take a tour of the replica Air Force One parked on the shores of the National Harbor. If you’re looking for an upscale place to eat with AMAZING food, Old Hickory Steakhouse has a killer tomahawk steak with bone marrow on the side. It’s delicious, spend the money and spoil yourself with this treat.
8. Madison Dr & Jefferson Dr
Although these are two different streets, you’ll walk down them an understand why I put them under the same banner. Chances are, if you’re going to walk down one, you’ll walk down the other. These two streets line the National Mall and here you’ll find the majority of the Smithsonian Museums — America’s free national museums which are epic. The streets are both great for museum hopping, but also for the food trucks and the views. If you’re looking for “cheaper” DC souvenirs, the DC memorabilia stalls will most likely have what you’re looking for. These streets are unavoidable when visiting DC so I had to add them!
I know a lot of blog posts will be about specific restaurants to eat at, or famous monuments to check out, but sometimes visiting a city is just about exploring the back streets. Although you can easily get carried away in big cities just walking wherever your feet can take you, I find it's nice to have some reference points. Walking street after street of the same row-homes and law offices can get a little boring, so I hope these streets provide you with a solid reference point and keep you entertained!