There are always great reasons to visit Washington, D.C. The capital city is filled with beautiful architecture, powerful cultural sites, and historic neighborhoods. It’s also a dynamic metropolis whose residents take pride in their green spaces, diverse dining and drinking options, a strong LGBTQ community, and ever-evolving arts and music scenes. The past year brought many memorable events, from momentous protests for equality and justice to the women’s suffrage centennial. In 2021, travelers will be able to explore the city’s parks, markets, restaurants, and more. So whether you’re heading there to visit great museums, spot cherry blossoms, join a food tour, or sip cocktails with friends, here are 10 amazing places you must experience when visiting Washington, D.C.
BELMONT-PAUL WOMEN’S EQUALITY NATIONAL MONUMENT
Top among Washington’s herstoric women’s-rights landmarks is the Belmont- Paul National Monument, established by President Obama in 2016. Built on Capitol Hill in 1800, the house served as the National Woman’s Party headquarters and was key meeting place for women’s suffrage leaders for nearly a century. It’s located near the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, as well as the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The Belmont-Paul house may be temporarily closed, but its virtual tours are always open.
BLACK LIVES MATTER PLAZA
Capitol Hill’s newest attraction arrived on June 5, 2020, when Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser renamed a twoblock segment of 16th Street NW as Black Lives Matter Plaza. The plaza’s new street sign is posted on the corner of 16th and H Streets, just outside St. John’s Episcopal Church and one block from the White House. As part of the city’s Public Works Department’s Murals DC program, volunteers painted “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in yellow capital letters on the roadway of 16th Street. You can even see it now with aerial images on Google Maps.
One of D.C.’s newest destinations is the 10-acre District Wharf, which began welcoming visitors in 2017. Occupying a swath of Potomac River shoreline, the wharf is a big draw for restaurants, parks, piers, and seasonal activities like ice skating and kayaking. It’s also an easy spot to catch a Potomac Riverboat water taxi or sightseeing cruise to charming Old Town Alexandria, Virginia; historic Georgetown; and other waterfront sites.
The LGBTQ community stretches across the city and into areas like the U Street Corridor and Logan Circle, but the Dupont Circle neighborhood is still the historic hub of gay activity. Since the post-Stonewall 70s, queer locals could rely on this gayborhood’s busy bars, bookstores, and other progressive businesses. These days, it’s marked by Frank Kameny Way (at 17th and R Streets) and rainbow-colored crosswalks, plus the Capital Pride parade, the annual June Pride celebration that is a must-see event in D.C.
Though D.C. has become a hotbed of food halls like Union Market, Tastemakers, and The Yards, only Eastern Market can proclaim National Historic Landmark status. Open on Capitol Hill since 1873, the indoor/outdoor market has long been a go-to for fresh produce, meat, cheese, and baked goods. It’s also the place to head for browsing stalls selling flowers, spices, prepared foods, and handmade crafts. And even if there’s a line, don’t miss the famous blueberry-buckwheat pancakes and other hot dishes at the Market Lunch counter.