Moving to Washington, D.C.– what you need to know
So you’re moving to the Washington, D.C. metro area? Well, get excited because there is no shortage of amazing things to see, do and eat in the nation’s capital! Regardless of what your interests are, you’re in for a fun-filled next chapter of your life!
Where to live in Washington D.C.
First things first, where to live? The D.C. metro area has a diverse set of neighborhoods that can accommodate just about any pace – and stage – of life.
Washington, D.C. is an extremely popular destination for millennials – particularly recent grads, thanks in large part to an active city life, public transportation and a wealth of entry-level job opportunities. Nearby cities like Arlington and Alexandria have been named some of the best cities for millennials, according a recent Washington Post article.
The metro area’s housing market attracts more renters than homeowners, given the high cost of homes. Popular neighborhoods and localities for millennials include the following:
- 14th St/U Street Corridor (D.C.)
- Shaw (D.C.)
- Arlington/Alexandria (Virginia)
- H Street (D.C.)
- Clarendon/Courthouse (Virginia)
- Navy Yard (D.C.)
The D.C. area has one of the largest and most resilient job markets in the country, which makes it so attractive for young families, not to mention a diverse mix of neighborhoods and localities to accommodate any family style. The question is, which area is best for you and your family?
Popular neighborhoods and localities for young families include the following:
- Georgetown (D.C.)
- Glover Park (D.C.)
- Belmont (Virginia)
- North Potomac (Maryland)
- Brambleton (Virginia)
- Chevy Chase (Maryland)
- Shaw and Logan Circle (D.C.)
It isn’t just millennials moving to our nation’s capital. In 2018, Washington D.C. was named one of the best places to retire by U.S. News.
Empty nesters may want to consider homes in these neighborhoods and communities:
- Arlington/Alexandria (Virginia)
- Kalorama (D.C.)
- Cleveland Park (D.C.)
- Foggy Bottom (D.C.)
- Rockville (Maryland)
What to do in Washington D.C.
The question in D.C. isn’t what to do. It’s what to do first!
International Spy Museum
If you’re a fan of James Bond and Jason Bourne, then you’ll love the International Spy Museum, located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. This museum has many interactive features and exhibits like Operation Spy, where you have one hour to complete a series of “spy missions.” For more information, visit www.spymuseum.org.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest Smithsonian museum, opening in September 2016. The museum is the home to 37,000 objects focusing on important areas such as religion, culture, civil rights, slavery, segregation, art and history. Because of the museum’s popularity, the museum offers free timed entry passes that you can obtain online or in-person (weekdays only). For more information, visit nmaahc.si.edu.
National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History is dedicated to the preservation of United States political, social, scientific, cultural and military history. One of the most popular artifacts is the original Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem. The National Museum of American History serves as a great learning experience as well as an opportunity to commemorate the history and patriotism of the United States of America. For more information, visit americanhistory.si.edu.
National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History provides a plethora of opportunities to learn more about natural history science, national collections, and research – not to mention it’s free and open 364 days a year! Some of its most popular exhibits include the Hope Diamond and one of the oldest known Earth rocks (3.96 billion years old!). For more information, visit naturalhistory.si.edu.
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum holds the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft travel in the world, including the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module. The National Air and Space Museum is arguably the most popular tourist attraction in the area, with nearly 7.5 million visitors in 2016, making it the second most visited museum in the world! For more information, visit airandspace.si.edu.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The United States Holocaust Museum serves as the nation’s official memorial to the Holocaust. The museum exhibits literature, documentation and studies from or about the time of the Holocaust. Since its dedication, nearly 40 million visitors from all nationalities and religious backgrounds have come to learn more and increase awareness of the Holocaust. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.
Overlooking the Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial was built to commemorate our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Designed with a Greek Doric temple architecture on the outside with a carved, seated statue of Abraham Lincoln on the inside, the aesthetic appeal and architecture technique makes this memorial a popular tourist attraction, as well as the site for many famous speeches such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/linc.
Located on the National Mall, east of the Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument was made to salute the legacy of George Washington. The monument is not only renowned for its historical significance, but also for being the world’s largest stone structure and the world’s largest obelisk. Even if the monument is closed for renovations you can still tour the outside and take pictures. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/wamo.
The Jefferson Memorial was built to commemorate Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence. The Jefferson Memorial is located on the Tidal Basin, and in 2007, was listed fourth on the American Institute of Architects’ “List of America’s Favorite Architecture.” For more information, visit www.nps.gov/thje/index.htm.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Spanning four acres of the National Mall, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial honors Dr. King’s legacy for freedom and equality. The highlights of the memorial are a granite sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr., titled, Stone of Hope, and the Inscription Wall, which features 14 quotes from Dr. King. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/mlkm/index.htm.
National World War II Memorial
The World War II Memorial consists of 56 pillars and small arches surrounding a fountain and a plaza located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This memorial is dedicated to honoring Americans who served during World War II. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/wwii.
The U.S. Capitol
The Capitol’s website says it best, “The United States Capitol is a monument, a working office building, and one of the most recognizable symbols of representative democracy in the world.” Those wanting to tour the inside can do so 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. If Congress is in session, you can even get a pass to watch from the gallery! For more information, visit visitthecapitol.gov.
It’s no surprise that Washington, D.C. has one of the largest collection of monuments and memorials. For a full list, visit www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm.
Theaters and Music Venues
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, more commonly known as the Kennedy Center, is one of the most prestigious theatres in the country. Not only does it host performances like the National Symphony Orchestra, but its architecture is also something to behold. It has seven theaters, most famous of which are the Concert Hall and Opera House. The Grand Foyer features 63-foot ceilings, chandeliers and amazing views of Georgetown. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.
The National Theatre is a 1,676-seat venue that is both historic and entertaining. In the past, the theatre has hosted famous speakers such as Winston Churchill. Today, it is where D.C. residents and visitors can see Broadway performances like West Side Story and Mamma Mia. For more information, visit thenationaldc.com.
Like so much else of D.C., the Howard Theatre is steeped in history, dating back to 1910 when it was known for showcasing African-American music. The theatre was renovated in 2012, where it has since become a popular venue for both live performances and private events and weddings. For more information, visit www.thehowardtheatre.com.
Infamously known as the site where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Ford’s Theatre later reopened as both a museum and live-performance venue where patrons can see beloved plays like Death of a Salesman and A Christmas Carol. For more information, visit www.fords.org.
Originally a movie palace, known for its rooftop garden, a basement ballroom and restaurant, the Warner Theatre is now used as a performance venue for comedies, speakers, musicians and dance groups. Every year in December, The Washington Ballet performs The Nutcracker here. For more information, visit www.warnertheatredc.com.
U Street Music Hall
U Street Music Hall, often referred to as “U Hall,” is a venue located in the U Street Corridor in Washington, D.C. Since opening in 2010, the U Street Music Hall has become one of the District’s most popular dance clubs known for booking well-known DJs and indie/electronic artists. For more information, visit www.ustreetmusichall.com.
The 9:30 Club is one of area’s most popular destinations for live music – attracting nationally acclaimed rock bands despite its relatively small space. It has a capacity of approximately 1,200 people, leading to many sold-out shows. For more information, visit www.930.com.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, more commonly known as Wolf Trap to many locals, is a performing arts center located on 117 acres of national park land right outside of Washington, D.C. The center is run by both the National Park Service and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, a non-profit foundation. In addition to popular music acts like Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt, Wolf Trap also hosts other events like The Sound of Music sing-a-long. For more information, visit www.wolftrap.org.
Jiffy Lube Live
Jiffy Lube Live is one of the region’s largest outdoor amphitheater – located in Bristow, Virginia – with a capacity of more than 25,000. The venue’s size and open-air atmosphere make it the go-to venue for big-name acts like John Mayer and Brad Paisley during the warmer months of the year. For more information, visit www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live.
In 1999, Chef Robert Wiedmaier opened Marcel’s, a contemporary, European establishment. Marcel’s is consistently ranked among the city’s best restaurants by The Washingtonian, The Washington Post and the readers of OpenTable and has earned numerous accolades. Equinox, which also opened in 1999 by Chef Todd and Ellen Gray, is a fine-dining restaurant in D.C. with an emphasis on an innovative approach to American cuisine. Named one of the best in D.C. year after year, Equinox is a must-try. Located just east of the White House, Old Ebbitt Grill is the city’s oldest restaurant and bar – in operation since 1856. Old Ebbitt Grill is beloved by locals and visitors alike for its Victorian-style rooms, fresh oysters and D.C. charm. But, fine dining is only made finer with a view. POV is located on top of the W Hotel and provides great food and drinks and even better views of the White House and Washington Monument. For all the fine dining the city has to offer, visit washington.org/places-to-eat.
You don’t have to head to Italy or New York City to find a good slice of pizza. Instead, walk over to WiseGuy Pizza located in ChinaTown, Navy Yard and Foggy Bottom. Try the penne alla vodka pizza if you are looking for a pizza and pasta mash-up. If tacos are more your style, look no further than Taqueria Habanero, located up 14th Street Northwest — with housemade tortillas and a plethora of taco fillings, you can’t go wrong. Ben’s Chili Bowl has been serving the community since the 1950s. From donating food for the participants during the March on Washington in the 1960s to serving then President-elect Barack Obama just 10 days before his inauguration, Ben’s has become a staple in D.C. For all the dining D.C. has to offer, visit www.foodnetwork.com/restaurants/photos/the-best-cheap-eats-in-dc.
Located outside of D.C. in Middleburg, Virginia, in the Bull Run Mountains, Chrysalis Vineyards is 71 acres of beauty. Specializing in the native Virginia grape, Norton, Chrysalis is the perfect getaway from the city for a wine lover. If you’re looking to stay in the city, look no further than District Winery, a sleek new winemaking facility located in the Navy Yard neighborhood. District Winery opened in August 2017 and produces small batches of premium wine. More of a beer drinker? Try two breweries who consistently top Washington City Paper’s Best Local Brewery list: 3 Stars Brewing Company and Fair Winds Brewing Company.
Tysons Corner is more than just a mall; with over 300 stores and restaurants such as Crate & Barrel, Nordstrom and California Pizza Kitchen, it provides an all-inclusive shopping experience. Tysons Galleria is located across the street and provides a more high-end shopping experience with stores like Burberry and Chanel. Between the two malls, Tysons is one of D.C.’s most popular shopping destinations, providing stores for all of the District’s residents. For more information, visit www.tysonscornercenter.com.
The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City Mall
Located in Arlington, Virginia, and just minutes away from the nation’s capital, The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City Mall offers over 170 stores and three floors to provide a world-class shopping experience; from Apple to Hugo Boss and Microsoft, Pentagon City is a one-stop-shop for everything you need. For more information, visit www.simon.com/mall/fashion-centre-at-pentagon-city.
In the middle of office and government buildings lies CityCenterDC, a 10-acre strip of shopping, restaurants and park space. Designer stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and David Yurman complement award-winning restaurants like DBGB Kitchen & Bar from French chef, Daniel Boulud. Shops and restaurants are paired with hotels, business and event space to make this a one-of-a-kind destination in the middle of the bustling city. For more information, visit citycenterdc.com.
Activities on the National Mall
Located right in the heart of downtown D.C., the National Mall provides a backdrop to various Smithsonian museums, memorials, and sculptures in the area. Through the years, the National Mall has been famously used for presidential inaugurations, concerts and political rallies and protests. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvisit/calendar.htm.
One of the newer waterfront developments, National Harbor is located across the Potomac in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The mixed-use development features a conference center and performance venue, an outlet mall, more than a dozen restaurants, and even a ferris wheel – all along the waterfront! For more information, visit www.nationalharbor.com.
Rock Creek Park
Spanning over 2,000 acres, Rock Creek Park is nestled in northwestern D.C. and provides a space to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Since 1980, Rock Creek Park has become a favorite destination for runners, cyclists and even golfers thanks to a public course located in the park. With a tennis stadium, an outdoor concert venue, a nature center and playgrounds, the park offers fun for the whole family. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/rocr/index.htm.
Water Activities on the Georgetown Waterfront
The Georgetown Waterfront Park offers D.C. residents a front-row seat to the Potomac River, with river overlooks, nature walks, fountains and bike trails. Georgetown Waterfront Park showcases all the natural beauty the city can offer. For more information, visit www.georgetowndc.com/explore/Play.
The Washington Nationals – Nationals Park
Opened in 2008, Nationals Park is home to D.C.’s major league baseball team, the Washington Nationals. Located in Southeast D.C., Nationals Park is easily accessible via the Metro for a night of baseball, beer, and fun. Nationals Park also hosts concerts, fundraisers, conventions and more throughout the year. For more information, visit washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ballpark.
The Washington Capitals/The Washington Wizards – Capital One Arena
Located in the middle of downtown D.C., Capital One Arena is home to both the city’s NHL team, the Washington Capitals, and its NBA team, the Washington Wizards. When neither team is playing, there is a good chance you can also catch an amazing live performance as the arena frequently hosts big-name acts like Adele throughout the year. For more information, visit monumentalsports.com.
The Washington Redskins – FedEx Field
The Washington Redskins’ home stadium, FedEx Field, is located just a few miles outside of the city in Landover, Maryland. It has one of the largest capacities in the NFL at 81,000 seats.
The Morgan Boulevard Station on the Silver or Blue Line is the closest Metro station, located approximately nine-tenths of a mile from the stadium. For more information, visit www.redskins.com/fedexfield.
D.C. United – Audi Field
Audi Field is the home stadium for D.C. United, Washington D.C.’s Major League Soccer team. Located along the Anacostia River in the southwest section of Washington, D.C., Audi Field seats 20,000 people and was opened in 2018. In addition to D.C. United matches, the stadium also occasionally hosts other soccer matches, as well as other sports games. For more information, visit audifielddc.com.
Cherry Blossom Festival
The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the region’s most beloved traditions, which in many ways celebrates the arrival of spring. With over 3,000 cherry blossom trees, this festival is an aesthetically appealing tourist attraction for people of all ages – attracting more than 1.5 million people each year. For more information, visit www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.
Lighting of the National Christmas Tree
The Lighting of the National Christmas Tree occurs every December at the Ellipse near the White House to signify peace to the nation and the world. The official lighting ceremony is free, but you must win tickets via an online lottery. For more information, visit thenationaltree.org.
H Street Festival
The H Street Festival is an annual street festival in Washington, D.C. It offers a diverse mix of entertainment, food, and shopping opportunities from local businesses. The H Street Festival is fun for people of all ages and a popular event to attend with family and friends. For more information, visit www.hstreetfestival.org.
Taste of D.C. Food Festival
The Taste of D.C. is an annual culinary cultural festival that takes place every October. This festival allows attendees to meet and converse with a few of the region’s top chefs and culinary experts. With a variety of foods, drinks, and live entertainment, this event is a food lover’s fantasy! For more information, visit thetasteofdc.org.
Are you excited yet? You should be! Whenever you’re ready to start planning your move to Washington, D.C., we’re here to help! Visit hilldrup.com to schedule a free in-home or virtual move estimate.