Washington, D.C., Offers a Mix of History and Culture

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(Akwaaba Inn in Washington, DC)

While Washington, D.C., is known worldwide as a political powerhouse, it is also a cultural center brimming with historical significance. If you’re looking for a weekend get-away, the nation’s capital offers something for everyone.

Most visitors’ first stop is the National Mall. Capitol Hill, with its manicured grounds and intricate architectural detail is breathtaking from both near and far. This meeting place of the United States Congress is a must-see when visiting Washington, D.C. While Capitol tours are free, guests must secure a pass online before visiting. Continuing your way down the National Mall, take a look at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Here, you’ll find an extensive collection of objects acquired throughout Africa that celebrates the diversity of the continent. Walking the entire length of the Mall, your journey will end in front of the Washington Monument. Ride to the top of the structure that was built in honor of the country’s first president for the very best view in the city.

At night, head over to the U Street Corridor, a trendy, artsy hotspot that has always attracted cultural and political activists. Start with dinner at Busboys and Poets, a bookstore/restaurant/gathering place named after Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy before achieving recognition as a poet. The restaurant’s display of huge paintings of President Barack Obama all throughout its colorful walls keep patrons engaged in socially conscious conversation.

Next, stroll over to the Lincoln Theater to catch a show. Built in 1922, this theater helped U Street gain recognition as “Black Broadway”. Then, if you’re up for it, stop by Bohemian Caverns for drinks and jazz. The nightclub that opened in 1926 has hosted musical legends like Ramsey Lewis, Billy Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, in addition to countless others. End the night with a bite to eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a D.C. landmark for over fifty years that has proudly served Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, and Martin Luther King Jr. Try the famous chili half-smoke or a chili burger and top it off with a milkshake for the perfect late-night food fix.

After an exhausting day, rest your head at the library-themed Akwaaba D.C. in Dupont Circle. This elegant historic townhouse mansion, built in the 1890’s, boasts eight guest rooms, with a few named after popular authors like Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and Langston Hughes. The bed and breakfast – owned and operated by husband and wife team Glenn Pogue and Monique Greenwood – even holds regular author readings in its cozy parlor. Or, you can spend the night at the Tabard Inn. This stately hotel stands only five blocks from the White House. Its doors opened in 1922, and the inn holds 40 rooms, each with its own distinct design and décor. And speaking of the White House, a trip to the capital isn’t complete without a White House tour. While requests must be made through your member of Congress at least 30 days in advance, touring this presidential home is well worth the required planning.

Then have a little fun in Georgetown. Founded in 1751, this charming neighborhood on the waterfront is steeped in history. Chic shops and restaurants line the cobble-stoned streets, making this a good place to kick back after a long day of sightseeing. Visitors may enjoy seeking out famous spots in Georgetown, like the “Exorcist steps” from the movie ‘The Exorcist’ or the recently popularized Georgetown Cupcake pastry shop from the television show D.C. Cupcake. Enjoy dinner and drinks at Sequoia, a lively restaurant that has a spectacular view of the Potomac River whether you’re inside or seated on the patio.

Whether you’re in the mood for music, food, theater, art or history, you can always find something to do in D.C. Spend a weekend on the Hill, and you’ll realize that the city has much more to offer than you ever experienced on your eighth grade class trip to the capital.