Our nation’s capital is most known for its iconic government institutions, museums, galleries, and theaters. Each year millions of visitors, domestic and foreign venture to Washington DC, to take in the city and all it has to offer. Being born and raised in Baltimore, DC has always felt like my backyard, yet despite many visits and quick trips to sporting events, parties, and dinners I still feel like I’ve never fully taken in the capital city. I recently had the opportunity to take a quick two-day trip to explore and experience DC during the holiday season. 

Note: Special Thanks to Visit Washington DC for supporting this trip and blog post. 

Here’s how I made the most of my stay and how you can too:

Book a Room at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco 

Centrally located in Penn Quarter, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC is the perfect base for exploring the sights and historical landmarks of the district. From the moment you enter the lobby of this 184-room property, you are greeted by staff who go all out to ensure your stay is enjoyable and comfortable. The hallways, stairways, and rooms remind you of the historical significance of the building which has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. The onsite restaurant and bar, Dirty Habit is the centerpiece of the hotel. Its edgy design and spacious courtyard make it the perfect place to enjoy crafted cocktails, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. On weekends there is brunch which often includes a DJ, making the mood even more vibrant. During the winter season, the courtyard is transformed into a winter chalet with heaters throughout the space to stay warm. Choosing to stay at Hotel Monaco is one choice you won’t regret. 

Enjoy and Explore the Many Attractions and Events of the Nation’s Capital 

No trip to DC is complete without exploring its many attractions and exhibits. The National Mall is where you’ll find memorials and buildings that tell the history and stories of our country. Must-visit sites include the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site. The National Gallery of Art houses a collection of more than 150,000 items to see free of charge. Between November 20, 2023 and March 3, 2024, there is an iconic ice rink located in the sculpture garden for skating as an individual or group. The world’s largest museum complex, The Smithsonian is home to 21 museums and the National Zoo. As an African American, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is a must-see. The museum has collected over 40,000 artifacts and is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. 

The Downtown Holiday Market is DC’s annual outdoor shopping village that supports small businesses and entrepreneurs across the region. The market is located just outside of the Hotel Monaco and the National Portrait Gallery.  2023’s retail lineup features more than 70 exhibitors including Black-owned and minority-owned businesses. There are also food and beverage vendors as well as a live stage where local artists provide entertainment to keep visitors in the holiday spirit. Capital One Arena is nearby for those wishing to attend concerts and live sporting events. The world’s first holiday show incorporating the African American tradition of stepping, Step Afrika!‘s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show recently wrapped up at Arena Stage, a not-for-profit regional theater that was the first racially integrated theater in Washington DC. 

Dig Into DC’s Dining Scene

DC is undoubtedly one of the country’s best places to dine. Every option you can imagine seems to be available. From small carry-outs to upscale fine dining establishments, there is something to satisfy everyone’s tastebuds. 

All Purpose Pizzeria serves what is described as *life-changing* pizza and other Italian dishes. They also offer cocktails, beer, and wine inspired by the Italian peninsula. All Purpose has two locations. The Navy Yard location is conveniently located close to Nationals Park and Audi Field. Its riverfront location is a great place to take in the view and people-watch. New to the Wharf is Limani, a three-story restaurant that seats nearly 500 guests. There is also a top floor with indoor/outdoor seating and 270-degree water views. The space is elegantly designed and the attention to detail is immediately noticeable upon entering. Limani serves Mediterranean-style seafood that focuses on traditional Greek specialties.  Union Market District is one of DC’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. There are more than 40 local businesses located in the dining hall serving cuisine from all around the world. Be sure to explore the shops in the area as well for unique goods and gifts. If craft breweries are your thing, Red Bear Brewing Co. is a great place to grab drinks and food. 

With so much to see and do, it’s clear why DC is an awesome place to experience year-round. The many tourist attractions, dining and shopping, and government buildings provide something for everyone. While a two-day trip is not nearly enough time to spend in the city, it’s just enough to dive in and get into the culture. If a visit to DC is on your list, I highly suggest you cross it off soon!

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