Washington, DC is one of the most LGBT friendly cities in the nation. We are literally everywhere. And beyond the monuments and government buildings, dc is a city of neighborhoods, all with their own unique vibe and personality. in 48 hours, take in some of the most LGBT friendly places, and tour official Washington while sampling what the locals get to enjoy about the city every day.
Park the car and use public transport. if you are staying down- town, or on Capitol Hill or Dupont Circle, you can get around by Metro, cab or bicycle. Insider tip: When taking Metro, if you don’t want to look like a tourist, stand to the right, or walk up on the left on escalators. In dc, it’s customary to wait for passengers to exit the train before getting on. DC’s system is clean and civil.
Ride a Bike
Like some European cities, DC has recently launched a city- sponsored bike sharing program. Capital Bike Share www.capitalbikeshare.com is a fantastic system where you can “rent” a bike to get around town. The cost is $5/day to join, with a modest hourly rate for use. A two-hour trip will cost about $10.50. There are many pick-up and drop-off points around the city. Hopping in a cab is always a good option to save time. If you get in the cab, and NPR is on the radio, strike up a conversation the driver. Odds are the driver will know more about politics and what’s happening in town than most politicians.
Drop your bags off at the hotel and head downtown.
When visiting a new city, I like to hit some of the big attractions right away. Start your visit off with “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” (through February 13, 2011) at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG). Admission is free. This groundbreaking exhibition (and informative, lushly-illustrated book) is not to be missed. It is the first major show to focus on the impact of lesbian and gay art and culture on American art and portraiture, and charts the previously unrecognized influence of gay and lesbian artists. The 115 works include major pieces by Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Romaine Brooks, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keefe, Agnes Martin, Keith Harring, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and many others.
Dupont Circle Snack and read your way down Connecticut Avenue. There are several cool bookstores in Dupont Circle, including Kultura Second hand Books–1728 conn. Ave., which is a funky book shop/art gallery. Second Story Books, 2000 P Street, features used and rare books, along with vintage movie posters, and antique prints. If you are hunting for a rare first edition, this is the place for you. And then there is the cultural landmark, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe & Grill, 1517 conn. Ave., where you can pick up a book and grab a delicious bite to eat. Then get some homemade gelato at Dolcezza Artisnal Gelato, 1704 conn. Ave. the gelato is delicious! It’s crafted daily with locally grown ingredients. Or have a fresh salad at Sweet Green, 1512 conn. Ave., with sustainability as the philosophy behind the business. And top it all off at Hello Cupcake, 1361 conn. Ave., for a delicious treat. Try the Chococo cupcake with chocolate cake, tangy sweet coconut cream frosting and sweet shredded coconut on top. They also have vegan and gluten-free options.
Stop by the HRC Action Center and Store at 1633 conn. Ave. to pick up some cool merchandise to take back home and learn about what’s happening on the hill and around the country from the informed staff.
Rest up and get ready for a great dinner.
The Tabard Inn Restaurant, 1729 n St., NW, is one of the best places to sneak away for a delicious meal. When you walk into the inn, you aren’t quite sure if you are in the right place or not. In operation since 1922 and on a charming block of historic townhouses, the Tabard Inn is enchanting. You enter the dining room area by passing through an antique filled, den-like reading room where you expect to find characters out of a mystery novel sipping fine wine. In the winter it’s almost guaranteed that a fire will be going in the fireplace. The dining room is casual but elegant, serving contemporary American cuisine. Be on the lookout for powerbrokers and folks having clandestine meetings in the nooks and crannies.
Friday Night Take in a show.
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Shakespeare Theatre Company, under the long time direction of openly gay director Michael Kahn, is recognized as one of the best Shakespearian theatre companies in the world. The beautiful, New Harman Center for the Arts, is home to this wonderful dc institution. Located at 610 F St., NW. For tickets and information visit www.shakespearetheatre.org
Late Night. Hit the town!
JR’s, Cobalt, Nellies, Apex, Town, Mova are the main gay bars in town. Since schedules change, along with special nights, ask a local the places to hit on which night when you get to town.
If you didn’t over-do it Friday night, and want to exercise off some of that gelato or cupcakes, Washington, Dc is a spectacular city to go for a run. There are wonderful running paths along the Potomac River, which will take you by the Jefferson and Lincoln memorial, past the Kennedy Center, and up into Rock Creek Park. Check out the landscaping and gardens surrounding the federal buildings and monuments.
If you didn’t over-do it Friday night, and want to exercise off some of that gelato or cupcakes, Washington, DC is a spectacular city to go for a run. There are wonderful running paths along the Potomac River which will take you by the Jefferson and Lincoln memorial, past the Kennedy center, and up into rock creek Park. Check out the landscaping and gardens surrounding the federal buildings and monuments.
See the sights and the people at Logan Circle/14th Street.
Take a stroll down 14th street and you will find a neighborhood pulsing with activity and the spirit of urban renewal. The Logan Circle/14th street area has always had a diverse mix of people, and it is now a main LGBT neighborhood in Dc. start at 14th street and S Street and work your way down to P street. In the 1920, the buildings that line this street housed beautiful beaux arts automobile showrooms. After falling into disrepair over many decades, the area is booming with life and excitement today. Stop into Gallery Plan B, 1530 14th street, to see cool art by local artists. Pop into the stunning Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams shop to check out the latest furniture. Grab a cup of cocoa at ACKC/Artfully Chocolate and pick up some new duds at Universal Gear. You could spend all day on 14th street if you wanted to, and some other places along the way you don’t want to miss are Irvine contemporary & curator’s Office galleries, miss Pixies Furnishings and Whatnot, redeem clothing, Well Build, Vastu, Muleh, Pulp Dc, Ruff & Ready, and many other fun shops along the way. What’s great about 14th street is that most of these shops are owned and operated by entrepreneurs who live in the area and love what they do.
Head over to U Street slip into Dickson Wine Bar located at 903 U Street, NW for charcuterie, cheeses, fresh flatbreads, and Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), and enjoy their fantastic wine menu that features only organic or biodynamic vintages. This gay-owned hot-spot is a treasure in the neighborhood. The atmosphere is warm, and sexy, (excellent lighting) and the friendly staff will make sure you have a great time in this environment.
After dinner, cross the street and go to nellies sports Bar, located at 900 U Street, NW. This gay sports bar is a happening spot, with a great roof-deck, and cozy interior spaces. It’s loud and lively with a sporty (and not so sporty) gay crowd. In addition to cock- tails, and beer, of course, nellies has a great menu. Try the mini- sliders.
Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market
Check out the local produce, and the local vegetables as well. This is a hot spot for seeing the locals in action, and picking up some handmade soaps, cheese, and other seasonal goodies. Located at 20th and Q streets, NW. It’s open until noon every Sunday.
Drag Brunch at Perry’s is a Washington institution. Located in Adams Morgan, the all you can eat buffet offers more spice than you can imagine. Something about a drag-queen in the sunlight makes the whole experience quite memorable. The food can’t be beat. There are no reservations, so plan to either arrive early (line starts to form at 9-9:30) or come after 11:45 am.
Be a tourist at the Smithsonian museums, which are all free. Your tax dollars pay for these national treasures, so go enjoy them. See something you’ve never seen before, or visit an old favorite.
Chill-out at the Phillips Collection which offers Sunday concerts at 4pm from October through May. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. The museum, founded by Duncan Phillips and opened to the public in 1921 was the first museum in America dedicated to modern art. The galleries are located throughout the historic mansion, originally the Phillips home, and two additional buildings that were added later. It’s a very intimate setting, to view masterpieces from Monet to Rothko.
Early Sunday Dinner
Bistro Du Coin is a loud, brash and thoroughly French Bistro. You might have to wait to get in, but the food is worth it. It always feels like a party at Bistro Du coin. The mussels are delicious, and I’m a big fan of the rib-eye, which always comes with French fries and hollandaise sauce. The energy of the place is electric and it’s a fun way to have a last meal in town. The crowd is a mix of straight, gay, international, neighborhood residents and tourists. Hang out at the bar after dinner, and chat up the locals.