Your Big Fat Weekend in Washington, D.C.
Ready to experience the best things to do this weekend? Eat all the things and explore all the places with our ultimate list.
Our city guide has arrived; and we promise you’ll never need to sit around wondering who’s having fun without you ever again.
For tourists and weekend warriors alike, Washington DC has so much more to offer aside from the political debates and iconic monuments the area is known for. From swanky bars with some of the tastiest cocktails around, to an entire collection of free museums like the Smithsonian, and some of the most prestigious venues in American arts, Washington, DC has enough food, culture, and events to keep you entertained all weekend long.
The Best Things to Do This Weekend:
Impromptu Photos at the Botanic Gardens
Hop off at the Smithsonian metro stop and explore one of the best things about visiting DC– our abundance of public art and museums.
Start your tour off at the U.S. Botanic Garden— arguably the most Instagramable location in the District. The Garden hosts over 4,000 plants, many of them categorized as endangered species,
The Smithsonian Institution operates a large network of museums (17!) within the city, most of which can be found on the National Mall. Some of the most popular include the Natural History Museum, which features large collections of minerals, gems, and stuffed animals.
They have a butterfly pavilion and an insect zoo for children. Adults can explore the Hall of Human Origins which takes an in-depth look at human evolution.
If you’re a science nerd, the National Air & Space Museum allows you to touch a lunar sample acquired from the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, journey through space in Albert Einstein’s planetarium, and enjoy exhibitions that display space stations, missiles, and aircraft.
Adventure Through DC’s National Parks
There you’ll find ranger-led programs like the entertaining Creature Feature, numerous biking paths, and more hiking trails than you can get through in a weekend (32 miles worth actually).
This lush landscape has been around since 1890 and has over 1,800 acres of landscape to explore.
The Arboretum has a National Bonsai Collection, a boxwood collection, and an herb garden. With 446-acres and more trees than people, booking a tour or tram is the perfect opportunity to get away from it all.
Visit the National Zoological Park off-season. Because pandas. Need we say more? Ok, we’ll say more.
The zoo boasts numerous exhibits– like the Asian Trail which features pandas, sloth bears, Asian elephants, and clouded leopards.
Kenilworth Park takes you through the beauty of wetlands via footbridges and Meridian Hill offers a 12-acre park filled with sculptures and memorials.
Take a Boat Ride on the Anacostia River
On the perfect sunny day, take a free boat ride on the Anacostia River. You can even book a private boat ride for you and your friends (still free!). Packed lunches and refreshments (read: alcohol) are welcome. Two non-profits operate the boat rides and run programs that clean and protect the river. I booked a free ride for myself and my family last summer through the Anacostia Watershed Society.
Pour Yourself a Glass at District Winery
When one pictures wineries, it’s often of rolling hills and expansive vineyards. But if you don’t fancy a car ride out to the vineyards, don’t fret. Urban wineries and breweries are popping up all over the place and puts a weekend of wine tasting at your fingertips.
With wine tours Monday through Saturday and drop-in tasting from noon till nine at night, you can’t go wrong.
If you’re near DC’s emerging Ivy City neighborhood, check out the four-story City Winery. The winery hosts daily tours (reservation required) spectacular views of the sunset, and a 300-seat music venue on the second floor. Have more time? Then take a day trip to Virginia Wine Country.
Eat & Drink: The Best Weekend Restaurants
Drop by the Eastern Market neighborhood for a concentration of Michelin star restaurants. Considered a bustling commercial district complete with a weekly weekend farmers market, the quaint area still has the ability to make you feel at home.
You can pick up baked goods, cheeses, and meats here and on the weekends, the building has arts and crafts vendors, farmers’ stands, food vendors, and furniture sellers. Other restaurants to try include:
Call Your Mother | 3301 Georgia Ave, Washington, DC
Opened by the same team that brought you Timber Pizza, this self-described Jew-ish bagel shop has had tremendous success. Their za’atar covered bagels and sandwiches come with unique combinations like peach jam and cream cheese, bacon and jalapenos, and of course, potato chips. The deli has everything from coffee and drinks, to sandwiches and tacos.
Philly Wing Fry | 101 H St SE
If chicken wings, waffle fries, and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches sounds like a dream to you, then Philly Wing Fry is where you want to go. Located at the Union Market on 5th Street, they are open from eleven to eight Tuesday through Sundays.
High Street Cafe | 1303 Wisconsin Ave NW
Located on Wisconsin Ave, the High Street Cafe serves American classics like five-cheese pizza, mozzarella, and Parmesan. All of their pizzas are cooked in a white-wood oven. They also do brunch specials with omelettes, toast, rancheros, chilaquiles, as well as, dinner and lunch with items like pan roasted calamari, shrimp cocktail, harvest salad, and tuna tartar.
With the amount of restaurants, bars, and pubs in the city, regardless of where you go, you’ll have numerous options to choose from.
Run Up a Tab at a Weekend Happy Hour
Blow off some steam with a happy hour drink or two, by heading to one of these weekend happy hours:
Bar Charley | 1825 18th St., NW
A cozy bar in the Dupont Circle neighborhood with $6 classics, $3.50 tallboys, and discount snacks. Runs Saturday – Sunday from 4-6:30pm and all day on Monday.
Crisp Kitchen + Bar | 1837 First St,. NW
Great place to grab a hot chicken sandwich and a buy-one-get-one-drink. Runs daily from 5-9pm.
Kingfisher | 1414 14th St,. NW
This basement bar offers happy hour every day until 8pm at night. You’re looking at canned wine and beer for $2 or less.
Old Ebbitt Grill | 707 Seventh St,. NW
Extremely well-known for extensive happy hour deals. Running from 3-6pm and 11pm to 1am.
Spas & Grooming: Make is a Self-Care Weekend
Annual Events and Festivities in 2019 and Beyond
When checking out some of the events rather than hotspots is more to your liking, then take heed of the following annual festivities that go on in the city.
Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, is a week-long event that offers up the region’s finest in food at discounted prices. This event runs both in the winter and in the summer. It includes over 250 of the city’s finest establishments, and offers 3-course lunches, brunches, and dinners.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, runs between March and April and comes with concerts, cultural events, a kite festival, and fireworks. But the best part of the entire event, is watching the cherry blossoms bloom.
The annual Filmfest, runs in April and is an annual event that showcases a wide range of films from around the globe. There are movie premiers, opening and closing nights, free programs, and cinema from over forty-five different countries.
Other Notable Festivals Include:
Passport DC (May), National Cathedral Flower Mart (May), Memorial Day (May), The Smithsonian Folklife Festival (June-July), Fourth of July, National Book Festival (September), Oktoberfest (September-October), and the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony (November).