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The Perfect Weekend

There’s a staggering amount of things to eat, see and do in Washington, D.C. Spanning several hundred acres, the National Mall alone is home to iconic monuments, expansive museums, picturesque gardens (including the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum and the U.S. Botanical Garden), and the U.S. Capitol. Luckily, the nation’s capital is also easy to navigate and fairly compact, making a weekend here enough time to explore some of its treasures.



  • Hit the Mall.

    Rise early for a less crowded walk around America’s front yard. The National Mall spans 1.9 miles from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial, but start at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the southwest outskirts of the mall and walk clockwise to see the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool,
    Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Monument.

  • History on Display.

    A short stroll from the Washington Monument, find the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Its vast collection chronicles many aspects of our nation’s history and includes Julia Child’s kitchen, the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.

  • Lunch at the Gallery.

    Tucked inside the National Gallery of Art, the Garden Café may be the most serene spot on the mall for a lunch break. The menu changes seasonally but usually features a local cheese plate, a selection of salads and roasted meat and fish. Before leaving, walk over to the East Building and see the Rothko Room — the sunlight-filled space displaying 10 works by the abstract expressionist is worth the detour.

  • Shakespearean Library.

    One block east of the National Mall, behind the Capitol, find the world’s largest Shakespeare collection in the beautiful Folger Shakespeare Library. Docent-led tours might highlight the reading rooms, Elizabethan Garden and famous stained-glass window by Nicola d’Ascenzo.

  • Greek Dinner.

    Head to Mirabelle for a taste of Chef Frank Ruta’s distinctive French-American fare, including foie gras poached in consommé and wild Scottish wood pigeon.

  • Cocktails at Quadrant.

    Return to The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C. to unwind with a cocktail by the fireplace at the plush Quadrant Bar & Lounge. Flip to the back of its menu book and browse a special list of cocktails assigned to each President along with an accompanying historic story. Listen to a flamenco guitarist on Fridays or a DJ spinning funky, soulful rhythms on Saturdays.



  • Founding Farmers.

    Start at farmer-owned restaurant Founding Farmers to fuel up with an early breakfast of bourbon-battered French toast or an egg scramble before plunging into the day. Take in views of the White House on the walk to your first stop.

  • Contemporary Art.

    Situated on the National Mall, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden boasts a vast collection of modern artwork, both inside its stately buildings and outside in the serene sculpture garden. Before leaving, find the Dolcezza Pop-Up Cafe for a pick-me-up espresso or scoop of locally made gelato.

  • Portraits.

    Head north for the National Portrait Gallery, and peruse the complete collection of presidential portraits (the country’s only such collection outside of the White House) as well as the equally comprehensive collection of first ladies, starting with Martha Washington.

  • French Bistro.

    Recharge over a late lunch at Central Michel Richard. The American bistro by the late, celebrated French chef features classics of both varieties. Try the excellent Michel’s
    Fried Chicken and indulge in a glass of wine or, better yet, champagne.

  • Georgetown Waterfront.

    On the banks of the Potomac River in the Georgetown Historic District, Waterfront Park is the perfect peaceful spot for a late afternoon stroll.

  • Buzzy Dinner.

    If you don’t have the time or inclination to wait for a table at the justifiably popular Rose’s Luxury, book a table at Michelin-starred The Dabney. Formerly of Charleston’s McCrady’s Tavern, Chef Jeremiah Langhorne offers modern takes on recipes garnered from old-fashioned mid-Atlantic cookbooks. Dessert is a must.