As the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. draws visitors for the chance to peruse the National Mall, be immersed in American history and tour landmarks like the White House and the Lincoln Memorial. But the city also brims with a food, arts and culture scene to rival that of other major metropolises. Home to more than 15 colleges and universities within a 68-square-mile radius, D.C.’s atmosphere lends itself to a youthful and bustling energy, making it inevitably at the pulse of what’s considered new and noteworthy.
The birthplace of “go-go” music, D.C. is rife with jazzy funk-imbued sounds and natives are determined to keep this spirit alive despite the growing intensity of gentrification (statistically considered the highest in the country, according to a recent Washington Post report). At times, the changes portray a seemingly conflicting make-up as the city conforms to shifting demographics, the juxtaposition of a luxury high-rise next to a local record store hard to ignore. But a thriving homegrown culture remains, making it even harder to miss the soulfulness that latches onto venues old and new.
From restaurants that pay homage to D.C. legend Marvin Gaye to the sparkling new 12 Stories rooftop overlooking the Southwest Waterfront, HYPEBEAST has put together a guide to the must-eats, sees and activities in Washington, D.C.
A Ma Maniére
Started in Atlanta by founder James Whitner, this streetwear staple opened its doors in Northeast D.C. in the summer of 2018. Not only does the location house favorites such as A-COLD-WALL*, Fear of God and AMBUSH, but the brand had the inventiveness to create a two-suite “Living” concept directly above the space, decked with the likes of basketball planters, smart-home technology and Daniel Arsham-designed furniture.
Address: 1214 H St NE
Part-shop, part-restaurant, part-workspace, Maketto is one of the newer fashion haunts in D.C. known for its multipurpose offering and airy yet inviting design. Start the visit with a coffee and end it by browsing a curated mix from PUMA, Neighborhood, MM6 and more.
Address: 1351 H St NE
Skip over to Georgetown for a visit at UBIQ, a Philadelphia-based lifestyle brand that entered the district in 2016. Its brass and raw steel fixturing, walnut shelving and exposed brick set an industrial backdrop against footwear and apparel finds from labels such as Stone Island, Nike and Opening Ceremony.
Address: 3124 M St NW
Opened in 2006, MAJOR is considered the first streetwear outpost in the city, with the boutique offering coveted sneakers and apparel alongside its own in-house line. Its revamped and relocated flagship now occupies a historic Georgetown building, featuring an expansive shoe wall and apparel display designed in the essence of a walk-in closet.
Address: 1415 Wisconsin Ave NW
Located in the Northwest area, this men’s lifestyle boutique carries popular names like adidas, Vans and Aimé Leon Dore. The store also puts on various exhibitions and special in-store events in order to expose customers to noted designers, artists and photographers.
Address: 1781 Florida Ave NW
Eat & Drink
12 Stories at The Wharf
At just three months old, this brand-new rooftop bar at the InterContinental hotel is already a popular hangout spot among residents, boasting 3,000 square feet of indoor space and 450 square feet outdoors. Nibble on oysters and buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches while sipping on classic cocktails made with a spin, all the while letting the waterfront views paint a picturesque setting.
Address: 75 District Square SW, 12th Floor
This New Orleans-style bar and lounge rests in the historic Ivy City neighborhood and spans a spacious 7,000 square feet, including a laidback rooftop area. Known for its entertainment offerings, the venue hosts events such as movie showings and karaoke nights, while local performers and go-go bands frequently provide live music at the venue.
Address: 2002 Fenwick St NE
Paying homage to Marvin Gaye, this dining and music space offers southern fare such as red curry mussels, smoked baby back ribs and shrimp and grits. Catch one of its live performances throughout the week, ranging from emerging artists to more locally-known musicians.
Address: 2007 14th St NW
This bustling food market is minutes from the Capitol and hosts several Michelin-recognized restaurants and retail concept shops from across the country. Various pop-ups and events stake claim in the 45-acre space, attracting tourists, students, artists and new businesses alike.
Address: 1309 5th St NE
A music venue, restaurant and winery all in one, City Winery is prime to visit for a Mediterranean-infused dinner and a live show. Stop by for a nightcap in order to take in entertainment from reggae, latin and jazz bands while sipping on one (or more) of the hundreds of wine selections.
Address: 1350 Okie St NE
Arts & Culture
Culture House DC
A former church has been reimagined as an eclectic art space for this community-based organization. Its exhibitions spotlight local artists, cultural themes and interactive installations.
Address: 700 Delaware Ave SW
This hotel meets co-working space meets wellness center is less than a year old and already a collective of sorts for creatives, entrepreneurs and “changemakers.” Its Workshop initiative creates an environment for cultural and community-driven events, while its wellness offering mixes ancient and new-age healing practices.
Address: 1201 K St NW
Its sculpture garden and plaza alone is a calming oasis to relax and take in the scene. But the museum is also a fixture for contemporary artworks, with some of its past exhibitions having highlighted popular artists like Yayoi Kusama and Ai Wei Wei.
Address: Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW
National Museum of African-American History and Culture
It’s a given that tourists visit the National Mall and explore as many of the Smithsonian institutions as possible, but the newest addition to the museums is especially pivotal as it’s the first-ever in the country to archive and document the African-American experience. Walk the halls and view artifacts like Muhammad Ali’s headgear and Eddie Murphy’s Detroit Lions jacket from Beverly Hills Cop II.
Address: 1400 Constitution Ave NW
18th Street Lounge
Get your party fix at this multi-level club, which manages to be both lively and intimate at the same time with the help of vintage interiors and dedicated concept rooms. Its prime to visit for its weekly $4 USD to $7 USD happy hour menu, which includes complimentary food from The FlipSide, or simply come for the vibe — with regularly rotating DJs and live music encompassing jazz, funk, reggae and Latin roots, there’s something for everyone.
Address: 1212 18th St NW