Washington, DC is a city with endless things to do and sites to see. You have to visit multiple times to even come close to doing it all and to do it well. If you’re a first time visitor, of course you’ll want to hit all of the monuments and Smithsonian, walking around just to take it all in. We’ve been multiple times and still have so much more to see and do. Plus, if you don’t visit often, things change so it’s like seeing it for the first time. We had a recent 4 night stay and still managed to uncover some Fabulous Finds in Washington, DC.
I LOVE this hotel. Everything about it speaks to me. It is elegant, but not stuffy, and historic. The service, the food, the rooms, and the staff are all exemplary. Then there’s the size, 99 rooms, and the location, Dupont Circle, that I love. We recently had a 4 night stay and I can’t wait to visit again. I seriously do not have one thing to complain about The Jefferson. And while I love modern, this hotel still just makes me happy. It is a hotel for grown-ups who prefer a traditional, more formal and serene setting and not a scene.
The Jefferson has a bar/restaurant, Quill, open most of the day and then The Greenhouse for breakfast which turns into a Michelin Star restaurant, Plume, for dinner. Simply impeccable.
I originally booked online and thought I got a deal, but decided to contact my travel agent at Valerie Wilson to see if it’s a Virtuoso property. Luckily, it was. For $80 more booking through my agent, I received breakfast, $100 food credit, and upgrade if available, which it was. We ended up in a gorgeous Deluxe Suite that felt like home. While not inexpensive, our rates varied between $350 – $500 over the 4 nights. It is worth the expense to me.
The Phillips Collection
On a very rainy day when I was left on my own, I was looking for something to do close to the hotel. I hit pay dirt with The Phillips Collection, American’s first museum of modern art. It is located in a residential neighborhood in Dupont Circle. The museum is the creation of a collector and philanthropist, Duncan Phillips, and opened in 1921. It is located in his home with several additions over the years to include more gallery space, an auditorium, and library. It is a nice break from the massive art galleries at the Smithsonian.
The museum offers both a permanent collection and special exhibits. When I visited, they had Nordic Impressions, a major survey of Nordic art spanning nearly 200 years and presenting 53 artists. The permanent collection is home to more than 4,000 works, ranging from masterpieces of French impressionism and American modernism to contemporary art. You’ll find works by well-known artists such as Cézanne, Degas, Renoir, Matisse, and van Gogh, along with lesser known, but equally stunning pieces.
It’s also kid-friendly with a Discovery Pack available that includes questions and fun activities for all ages. Admission is free to the permanent collection during the week, $10 on weekends, and $12 for the exhibitions. There’s also a cafe and a very cute gift shop on the premises.
I came across Context Travel looking for a tour of The National Gallery of Art and they are a truly fabulous find. I now have a tour company I can use throughout the world and not just for art tours. The company uses local experts, scholars, and specialists to give travelers access to places and cultures they might not otherwise know about and to get us off the tourist track. By ensuring no more than six people in each group, they offer an intimate participatory experience which is exactly what we got.
We truly lucked out on our 3 hour tour as it was just my husband and I with Laura, who had a doctorate in art and was an employee of the National Gallery. She first asked if we had specific interests and then proceeded to take us to all the gems she thought were in the gallery, but that are overlooked by most tourists. We had so much fun and learned so much, we will do this again for the East Building, which holds the modern art.
Context Travel also does tours of many other sites in DC, like the National Mall Tour, a custom private tour of DC, and multiple tours just designed for kids. You seriously should consider booking them. The cost was $85 per person, but it was truly priceless.
Shop Made in DC
This was another find on my what to do on a rainy day in DC search. All of the items sold are by DC residents and they have a little biography above each collection. Shop Made in DC is a retail initiative with a mission to grow the DC maker community. The shop is home to over 100 MADE IN DC products including apothecary, apparel, art, furniture, jewelry, home decor, and stationary.
It also has a cafe that serves pastries, local coffees, teas, kombucha, beer, cider, and wine. The Tabletop was also a very cute shop in Dupont Circle offering so many products not just for the kitchen.
The Kennedy Center
You will find a bit of everything at the Kennedy Center from ballet to theater to comedy to concerts. We were fortunate to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform Handel’s Messiah on our visit. It’s such a gorgeous venue, you should really check the schedule of events for when you visit and book something. Plus, it’s a nice respite from all the site-seeing.
The Navy Yard
Located on the Antacostia River, the Navy Yard area has gotten quite the buzz the past few years and after a visit, it’s obvious why. With a mix of dining, shopping, and loads of outdoor activities, it’s the perfect place to spend the day or two… It is becoming a vibrant urban neighborhood and entertainment district, leading the way in green innovation. Flexible spaces have been created in the area to host a variety of events throughout the year including movies, concerts, holiday and seasonal festivals, farmers markets, art expositions, and more.
Some of the activities you may enjoy and why it’s part of my fabulous finds…
- Washington Trapeze School
- Washington Navy Yard Tour
- Nationals Park
- Yards Park
- Antacostia Riverwalk Trail
- Ballpark Boathouse (kayaking)
- Attend Capitol Riverfront events like outdoor movies and free concerts
- Water activities at Canal Park like ice skating or their interactive water fountain
A few great places to grab a bite include Bluejacket (restaurant and brewery), Ana and District Winery, Salt Line, Osteria Morini, Agua 301, Bardot Riverfront, and Whaley’s.
What are some of your Fabulous Finds in Washington, DC?
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.