Say hello to Kali from June Mango Design Boutique! She’s here with a gorgeous Washington, D.C. travel guide!
When I say DC, you say… monuments! I know that’s what most people associate with our nation’s capitol and with good reason: D.C. boasts more than 20 monuments and landmarks. While that is a reason to visit, it’s certainly not the only one. There’s a lot more depth to this little city if you just look to the locals for guidance.
I moved to D.C. from Chicago and — shh! — I didn’t like it at first! D.C. is a city that doesn’t reveal all its secrets at once. You have to earn that insider knowledge, but believe me, it’s worth it.
Now that I’ve been in the District for almost five years, I’ve learned a lot about how creative this political city can be. Not to mention where to get the best handmade ketchup or the sweetest vegan doughnut. So come for the monuments, but please stay for… well everything else!
Click through to see more of Kali’s Washington, D.C. travel guide!
EAT + DRINK
- A great example of a secret D.C. gem, is Sundevich. This sandwich shop serves local ingredients on French demi-baguettes out of a converted garage.
- Finding a bar in DC that serves beer for under $5 is nearly impossible. Couple that request with an unpretentious vibe, cool wall murals and sports and you can only hope to find it at Ivy and Coney. Selling beer and hotdogs with a Midwest heritage, this bar is a refreshing change from the typical District bar offering.
- If you want “real good” coffee, you better head to Compass Coffee, where that is their slogan, and they’re proud to show you why. Roasting their own coffee in house, this coffee shop also has a cool, industrial vibe.
- I can’t write about food in D.C. without giving a shout out to Sticky Fingers. This vegan bakery and cafe has won Food Network’s Cupcakes Wars twice, beating out non-vegan bakeries! ‘Nuff said.
- Calling all beer lovers! Bluejacket needs to be on your list. A microbrewery and restaurant, Bluejacket serves delicious and potent craft brews that match perfectly with their tasty American menu.
- Since we’re on the topic of beer, you should also be sure to hit up Dacha Beer Garden. Dacha is an outdoor neighborhood gem that serves authentic German beer in boots. As if this weren’t enough reason to go, you must also check out the incredible mural of Elizabeth Taylor on the facade.
- Beau Thai isn’t just an adorable name. It’s also a restaurant that serves authentic, delicious Thai food. With craft cocktails and a welcoming vibe, this is easily one of my favorite local haunts.
- If it was my last night on Earth, I would want a bowl of guac, a mountain of chips and a damn good margarita. Lucky for me, I can get all three at El Chucho. This creative taqueria is also a great spot to people-watch from their giant open windows.
- If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop with a hip and carefully curated vibe, you must check out Salt & Sundry. The owner handpicks an array of items for your home including rugs, barware, books and unique pieces for the pantry.
- If you’re looking for a more standard kitchen gadget, but with a colorful flare, head on over to HomeRule. This tiny shop is easy to get lost in with all of it’s quirky housewares for the kitchen and bathroom.
- Easily one of my fave D.C. shops, Miss Pixie’s is THE place for vintage goods. This sprawling storefront is home to some quirky antique goods and furniture. Plus they give you free chocolate chip cookies. Free!
- Union Market falls into all three categories in my opinion. A giant warehouse of boutique foods from local artisans, you could easily get lost exploring, while eating gelato and shopping for hand-crafted ketchup. In short, it’s awesome!
- Tucked away in the picturesque streets of Georgetown sits a tiny corner butcher called Stachowski Market. This meat market offers both fresh and cured meats and cheeses, plus the owner is always on hand to answer questions.
- Pleasant Pops is a popsicle joint that started out of a food trucks and is slowing taking over D.C.. They specialize in locally sourced, Mexican-style popsicles. Sweet Corn and Cream is my fave.
- Seasonal Pantry is another foodie-lovers’ spot. Two former chefs create small batches of seasonal, handmade products like pickled okra.
- GoodWood is a super eclectic little store with a fun, “general store” vibe that sells locally made furniture that’s mid-century inspired. This store is just worth a walk around because it is beautifully curated and its wares are incredibly unique.
- In the summer, there’s nothing better than to head out to the ballpark. Nationals Stadium is a great park with a really great selection of stadium food. And when the Nats are good, there’s not a bad seat in the house.
- D.C. is impressive for many reasons, but one of my favorites is that we have a National Park sack-dab in the middle of our city! Though not a typical tourist attraction, Rock Creek Park should not be missed when visiting the city. Hike a trail, go horseback riding or just relax with a picnic. With over 4 miles of gorgeous nature, you really can’t go wrong.
- If you’re looking to try all the best, local food trucks in one place, Truckeroo has you covered. Located at the Fairgrounds, you can find food trucks selling everything from cupcakes to crêpes. They also have cornhole and live music.
- With over 125 farmer’s markets in the District, you should definitely check out at least one. My local market is the Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market. With a wide selection of seasonal produce, baked goods and friendly faces, it’s a favorite Sunday spot.
- If you can’t make it to Rome to see the Spanish steps, why not see the next best thing at the Spanish Steps in D.C.! Ok, well although nothing can compare to Rome, this gorgeous garden is tucked away with a backdrop of lush gardens and a fountain.
- A truly local gem for cinematic geeks, E Street Cinema is a DC favorite for unique, indie films. The snack bar also sells upscale eats including crab cakes, sweet potato tots, and craft beer and wine.
- Art lovers unite at Longview Gallery, where monthly contemporary art exhibits rotates in and out. They also have a very cool, industrial vibe and occasionally host events (like my wedding!).
- If you come in the Spring, you must check out the cherry blossoms! These pretty pink petals fall like snow and are worth wading through the crowds to see.
- Tilghman Island is a relaxing little destination that’s only a short 2 hours from D.C. Located on the Eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, it’s a quaint spot for sailing, fishing or just relaxing by the water. It’s also the only place in Maryland that allows you to rent a jetski without a group.
- If you love to camp, you have to take the 2-hour scenic drive to Shenandoah National Park. It’s the perfect place to find gorgeous waterfalls and steep hikes as it is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.
KALI EDWARDS //
Kali is a bike-riding, city-dweller with a serious passion for graphic design + color. She studied Fine Arts in college and was always drawn to design. She spent several years as an agency graphic designer and art director, but knew she wanted to help other creatives define their business through graphic and web design. When she’s not working, you can find her biking around D.C. looking for breweries and farmer’s markets. See her work on Behance.