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Design Lover's Weekend in D.C. Where to Stay, Eat, and Shop

A local's guide to exploring Washington D.C. as a design enthusiast, with recommendations on the best accommodations, dining, bars, and shopping destinations in different neighborhoods.

There are over 40 local finds are included in this post. Oh, and there may be a Google Map with all these spots saved at the end of this post.

I may be a teeny bit biased, but Washington D.C. is the perfect place for a design lover to romp around for a weekend. I would argue, some of the best the U.S. has to offer. From Colonial and Georgian, to Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical, or Victorian and Tudor - the city has such a unique landscape of classical home styles - demonstrated in monumental ways. Get it - we have monuments! 

I can’t talk about my stopping grounds without getting a smidge personal. Or you can now skip to the goods, you won’t hurt my feelings.

I ironically always wanted to be in this city. My mom went to George Washington University, so we would hike up from Atlanta every so often to vacation in the city - great place to take 4 children because nearly every activity is free-ninety-nine. 

When I was an aspiring college student, my mom and I took a trip to the city to tour schools (ha - that wasn’t happening, but a girl can dream). My mom took me to all of her college watering holes - Perry’s, Kramer’s and we meandered Georgetown estate sales. If I wasn’t sold already on D.C. being where I wanted to live when I grew up - I was then. 

Fast forward 5 years and I’m graduating from the University of South Carolina (told y’all I wasn’t getting into a DC university) and I’ve just started canoodling with a boy from a Virginia suburb of D.C, who was moving back to the area for work post-graduation. My best girlfriends also all coincidentally all moved to the city. And I literally mean, 9 of my 14 closest friends at the time. The draw was getting stronger. 

Finally in 2019, after two cross-county moves - I make it to the District. For good. So all that to say - I'm pretty pumped to share some of my favorite places and views that I know my little SSI community will love just as much.

P.S. - Shout out to my book club girlies for contributing their favorite spots. 


What to See:
  • Shop Wisconsin Avenue: M Street shopping may seem more obvious, but trust me: head north up Wisconsin Ave NW and you’ll hit a strip of curated shops that you could, and should, get lost in for hours. 

  • Georgetown University / Touring campus isn't just for high school seniors. Trust me, Georgetown’s campus is worth a stroll. 

  • Dumbarton Oaks Museum & Parks / This expansive private estate turned Harvard Research Institute is open to the public and, not to be dramatic, feels otherworldly. The grounds are so unique and sprawling, that it's hard to believe it's smack dab in the city. We took our engagement photos here (peep above hehe) and it's truly beautiful year round.

Where to Eat:
  • Filomena's / If you happen to be in the city near a major holiday, you can't help but be inspired by Filomena's extravagant holiday decor. Halloween is a personal favorite.

  • Villa Yara / A Lebanese brunch experience with an insanely cute garden.

  • The Fountain Inn / Off the beaten path and nestled between antique stores and design studios.

Where to Stay:
  • Rosewood Washington D.C. / The most luxurious hotel on this list, the Rosewood sits along the Canal and has lovely rooftop terrace with all the classic charm.

  • Yours Truly / Hip touch down space during the day and featuring a swanky restaurant and bar perfect for a night out, this hotel is an urban oasis for tourists and locals alike.

U Street Corridor & Adams Morgan

Ladybird restaurant and rooftop bar at the Kimpton Banneker Hotel / Photo Source

What to See:
  • Miss Pixie’s / In the process of relocating from 14th St. to Adams Morgan, Miss Pixie's vintage shop is a D.C. institution

  • GoodWood / Carefully curated vintage home decor and furnishings

  • Salt and Sundry / My go-to stop for gifts and unique glassware

  • Meridian Hill Park / Recently renovated and better than ever, this 1914 gem inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture and is the best of city living.

  • Swann Street / Stroll the street that inspired Swann Street's name. I started this shindig adjacent to this beautiful corridor and am still so inspired by its architecture and mature ginko trees.

Where to Eat:
  • Petite Cerise by The Dabney /Just a skip over from U Street in Logan Circle, The Dabney is my all time favorite restaurant in the city. Name the last time you lall-timeeft a tasting menu, full? They recently opened a little French bistro, also in Blagden Alley, that is rivaling the lifelong brunch heavyweight champion, Le Diplomate.

  • Maydan / A bit difficult to get into, but so worth it. One of the most unique dining experiences in the city.

Where to stay:
  • The Line / Conde Nast donned it D.C.'s "first seriously cool hotel" and I couldn't agree more. You'll find locals and guests alike at the bar here on Friday nights.

  • Kimpton Banneker / The rooms are modern but their French bistro, Le SeL, and their rooftop deck, Lady Bird, are both a can't miss.

Dupont Circle

Lyle Hotel / Image Source

What to See:
Where to Eat:
  • Iron Gate / A romantic Mediterranean garden tucked away

  • The Doyle / A very masculine, cool cocktail bar. I may have had my rehearsal dinner here because we just love it so dang much. The Pembroke is also located at the DuPont Circle Hotel and has girls only brunch written all over it..

  • Lyle’s / D.C. loves a hotel restaurant and the Lyle's Restaurant at the Lyle Hotel is an Art Deco masterpiece. It feels like a Wes Anderson set, in a really good way.

Where to Stay:
  • Swann House B&B / Recently redone, this sweet B&B allows you to bask in the original details of an 1883 historic D.C. mansion from their courtyard pool.

  • Lyle Hotel / Double dipping on this one because this art-deco space is just that cool.

Downtown / Penn Quarter

The Riggs / Photo Source

What to See:
  • Renwick Gallery / My favorite museum in the city, it focuses on "craft and decorative art." Their main exhibit rotates often, and I still think about the Art of Burning Man in 2018.

  • National Botanical Garden / The interior conservatory and outdoor gardens offer year-round inspiration and the docents low-key give the best gardening advice.

  • DAR / Staterooms and Library  / The D.A.R. building itself is worth walking by, but inside features 31 period rooms, depicting life and style by U.S. state. It's a quick and free stop.

Where to Eat:
  • Fig & Olive / The perfect spot for a shopping break with some apps and wine.

  • Shoto / A Japanese experience with an onsite DJ that keeps the lychee martinis flowing after 9pm on a weekend.

Where to Stay:
  • The Riggs / A bit pricier but perfect for a girls' weekend. Their French bistro, Cafe Riggs, is divine. Can you tell D.C. loves a French bistro? We're practically European.

  • Eaton DC / Masculine chic, this hotel feels more like a cultural center with tons of events, an on-site radio station, yoga classes, and large communal co-working spaces.

Northeast / Capitol Hill

Eastern Market / Photo Source

What to See:
Where to Eat:

Where to Stay:
  • The Thompson Hotel / Located in Navy Yard, this new hotel by Hyatt is a fun modern transitional style and boasts a rooftop with sweeping views of the Capitol, National Mall, and waterfront.

Check out all these finds and more on a the below Google Map. It will show you where these spots are in real time as you're exploring. Happy beep-bopping, friends!


Halie Porter

Founder, Swann Street Interiors

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