The ultimate travel guide to Washington, DC. I’ll tell you where to stay, what to eat and how to burn it off!
Last month I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite US cities: Washington, DC! While I’ve been to DC handful of times in the past, it had been several years since my last visit.
Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to check out all the latest and greatest eats and activities, plus all of the famous monuments, museums and charming neighborhoods.
For those of you keeping track, Washington, DC marks the 17th destination featured in my wellness travel series, What to Eat & How to Burn it Off.
Be sure to check out my other wellness travel guides to Park City, Key West, Palm Springs, Whistler, Vancouver, Chicago, Denver, Charleston, Tucson, New Orleans, Grand Rapids, San Diego, Vail, Miami, Utah and Banff.
To kick off my adventure in our nation’s capital, I decided to stay in one of the newer hotels on the scene: Pod DC, part of The Pod Hotels collection. You can read more about their unique story here but the emphasis is on affordability in the best location possible.
What does that mean? For starters, they’ve removed a lot of excess from the hotel room such as bulky coffee makers (they have a more compact Nespresso machine instead), ironing boards (call the desk if you need one), bulky dressers (does anyone even use those drawers?) and more.
While the rooms are certainly on the smaller side, the idea is that the common spaces become your living room which helps keep the hotel rates down. #PodLife is all about fostering community which is why you’ll find no shortage of places to connect including coffee shops, restaurants, bars, shared work spaces and more.
While I wasn’t expecting 70 degree weather during my February visit, I certainly wasn’t going to spend it indoors.
Crimson View, the rooftop bar at the Pod DC, was the perfect venue to enjoy all that beautiful sunshine.
Now that we’ve covered where to stay, let’s dish about what to eat in Washington, DC.
For breakfast, I’ve got several recommendations starting with A Baked Joint. The savory oatmeal topped with an egg was a breakfast I’ll never forget – highly recommend! The laban and za’atar toast was killer as well.
My second breakfast recommendation is Farmers & Distillers. The large menu offered a wide variety of both lighter as well as indulgent breakfast options.
The creamy scrambled eggs were incredible and I loved the unique side options including a broiled tomato. Such a nice change from the usual potatoes.
For a lighter breakfast, head to Fruitive where you’ll find a 100% plant-based, organic and Kosher menu. One of the best meals of my entire visit, I was super excited to learn that the owner hails from West Michigan.
Do yourself a favor, order the Sesame Ginger Collard Tacos. I can’t wait to recreate these at home!
Lastly, if you’re just looking for a quick cup of coffee, be sure to check out Bluestone Lane Coffee. Located directly inside the West End Library, this airy spot is perfect for people watching and refueling. The super food lattes pictured above tasted even better than they look if you can believe that.
For lunch and dinner, I’ve got several tasty options to suggest during your next visit to Washington, DC. If you love ramen as much as I do, Bantam King is a must.
While they specialize in chicken ramen, the fried chicken and chicken dumplings didn’t disappoint either. Definitely going back the next time I’m in DC!
Recommended by a local, I’m so glad I checked out Union Market during my visit. Lined with various shops and ethnic food stalls, this is the perfect place to sample cuisines from all around the world.
It was also my first time tasting a falooda, the infamous Bermese dessert. You can taste one yourself at Toli Moli located inside Union Market.
Another restaurant that came highly recommended from a friend was Maketto. Once I took one look at the Cambodian and Taiwanese fusion menu, I knew I had made the right decision to check it out.
If you love pho, I urge you to try out their pork noodle soup. Aromatic, rich yet light at the same time, I will be dreaming of this soup.
Don’t miss the cool shop while you’re there as well.
My next stop, Zaytina, is one of Chef José Andrés brain childs. Featuring Turkish, Lebanese and Greek specialities, I don’t think I’ve ever visited DC without making a stop at this restaurant.
Once you take one bite of the food, I know you’ll agree. Everyone will tell you to go to Zaytina when you’re in DC but for good reason. Go.
Last but not least, I couldn’t visit DC without enjoying at least one seafood meal. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace in DC hit the spot on every level: fresh oysters, inventive seafood dishes and one of the best po-boy knock offs I’ve ever tasted.
A great spot for cocktails or meeting up with local friends who live in the area, I can’t recommend Pearl Dive Oyster Palace enough.
Now that we’ve covered all of the best eats in Washington, DC, let’s get into How to Burn it Off! Fortunately, there are NO shortage of fun and unique ways to stay active in this city.
First up: head to Squash on Fire, a world class, high end squash facility that requires no membership and is open to anyone visiting. Since I’ve never played squash before, I decided to get a private lesson.
When I tell you I’ve never played racket sports, I mean I have NEVER played them before. But guess what? I had a total blast learning the basics of squash and burned a ton of calories in the meantime.
Prefer a group setting for exercise? Head to Vida Fitness (they have 7 locations in DC!) and sign up for one of their group fitness classes.
Since I love traditional Zumba, I was very intrigued to try Zumba STRONG for the first time. Don’t worry, there’s no dancing in this high intensity class that combines traditional exercises like burpees and pushups with kickboxing moves. Fortunately, you still get that great music.
For a fun and more challenging workout, I decided to check out Earth Treks Climbing Center in Crystal City, about 15 minutes outside of downtown.
This was only my third time bouldering but luckily they have plenty of beginner climbing routes. If you’re an experienced climber, you’ll find no shortage of expert routes as well.
Pro Tip: Be sure to use chalk when climbing to prevent your hands from slipping. One thing is for sure, this is a workout that works all of those muscles you ever knew you had. I was sore for 4 days! Such a blast.
If you love indoor cycling classes, be sure to check out FlyWheel during your visit to DC! This was my first time taking a FlyWheel class and it was so much more fun than the spin classes offered at my local gym.
Think: up beat music, super motivated instructors and an extremely fun and supportive environment. The calorie burn was killer and the hour flew by!
Of course, staying active in DC doesn’t mean you have to be wearing spandex and sweating up a storm.
There is plenty to see and explore on your two feet such as one of my favorite neighborhoods in the whole country: Georgetown.
Cobblestone roads, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, bars, boutique shops and more – there is so much to love about this quaint town that reminds me so much of my years living in Boston.
Another great way to explore the city is the Monuments by Moonlight trolley tour.
The tour departs from Union Station so be sure to carve in a little extra time to explore this beautiful, historical building.
From there, you’ll set off on a 2 1/2 hour tour with stops at 7 popular monuments including Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, World War II Memorial and more.
While I’ve seen many of these monuments in daylight, there is something truly moving about seeing them lit up at night with the sunsetting in the background.
Another must see attraction in Washington, DC is the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery which offers free admission every day. Featuring portraits of American leaders, artists, entrepreneurs and other leaders of our nation, it’s a must see while in DC.
Speaking of former US Presidents, I have one final recommendation for your next visit to Washington, DC: take in one of the free nightly performances at The Kennedy Center. Yes that’s right, they are completely free! Click here for the schedule.
While you’re there, be sure to sneak up to the rooftop to take in the beautiful views of the Potomac. It was one of the highlights of my trip.
There you have it friends: where to stay, what to eat and how to burn it off in DC! What did I miss? What are your favorite spots in DC?
What destination would you like me to visit next? If there are any other travel guides you’d like to see, be sure to leave a comment below or shoot me a DM on Instagram!
Happy Travels, friends!
Disclosure: Destination DC coordinated my hotel, activities and a portion of my meals during my stay. Photography by Alejandro Photography. I was not compensated to write this post. All thoughts are my own.
Check out more destinations I’ve traveled to on my Pinterest board!