Every spring, more than 1.5 million people travel to Washington, D.C. to see the city’s spectacular 3,000 cherry trees in full bloom — a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC in recognition of the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan.
Since its inception in 1935, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has grown from a modest affair to a month-long extravaganza. The modern incarnation of the festival now spans four weeks of parades, parties, and ceremonies, living up to its self-declared reputation as the nation’s greatest springtime celebration. This year, the festival takes places from March 20 to April 14, 2019.
If you are planning a quick getaway to see the stunning sea of pink flourish among the nation’s most famous memorials and monuments, follow our curated guide for the best places to stay, eat and drink in the District.
WHERE TO STAY
Pod DC is Washington’s first micro hotel, offering an energetic and fun alternative to the typical hotel experience. Located just 15 minutes away from Reagan National Airport in the heart of Penn Quarter, and just a stone’s throw from Capital One Arena, the National Portrait Gallery and the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro, Pod DC features three unique social spaces for eating, drinking and meeting new friends. Whether you start your morning with a quick bite at Crimson’s Southern-inspired Diner or meet friends for evening cocktails at the subterranean Whiskey Bar, Pod DC is one-stop shop, even boasting a year-round rooftop –– The View –– with sweeping sightlines of the capital city.
Nestled right on Washington’s iconic Dupont Circle, The Dupont Circle hotel is an Irish-owned, four-star boutique hotel that has become a local favorite known for its elegance, vibrant décor and original artwork. Located just moments from the city’s historic National Mall and Smithsonian museum portfolio, the hotel is surrounded by international embassies, an energetic nightlife scene, and entertainment options galore, including music, art, fitness and much more. And when it comes to dining, the hotel has just revamped and relaunched its on-site dining options, recently debuting the globally inspired, farm-to-table the Pembroke restaurant and bar and glamorous, 50s-inspired cocktail bar Doyle.
WHERE TO EAT
Union Market is D.C.’s hippest feasting ground, featuring more than 40 culinary vendors that have something for every taste, from Korean tacos to fresh seafood to BBQ and much, much more. The sprawling, industrial-chic market is located within northeast Washington’s vibrant Union Market District, which boasts additional restaurant options like Stephen Starr’s St. Anselm, Pluma by Bluebird Bakery and the Michelin-starred Michelle Obama favorite Masseria.
Enjoy three floors of great music, fabulous food and craft cocktails at Crimson, the one-stop destination for all things Southern. Located in the heart of Chinatown inside micro hotel Pod DC, Crimson features a trio of spaces, including a rooftop bar with views of the Washington Monument, a Southern-inspired diner and a subterranean whiskey pub. After sightseeing, head over to Crimson for their specialty cheesecake with cherry sauce for $8.00.
The Pembroke, located in The Dupont Circle hotel, is D.C.’s newest dining sensation. This globally-influenced, farm-and-sea-to-table restaurant is bright, airy and full of spring hues, from plush blue velvet semicircle banquettes to coral leather couches and stunning marble tabletops. The new dinner menu embraces global accents from Morocco, France, Italy, Ireland, Spain and more, while the 10-cocktail drink menu complements The Pembroke’s impressively extensive wine list of nearly 70 bottles and almost 30 glasses of sparkling, white, red and rose from around the world.
WHERE TO DRINK
Located in the heart of the U Street Corridor, this British-style pub is decked out with Old World touches that are the perfect backdrop for enjoying gourmet pub grub on the wood-paneled main level, or sipping a beer-infused cocktail on the elegant and spacious roof deck.
Satellite Room is the ultimate dive bar and the perfect spot to enjoy beer, boozy shakes, pizza and loaded tots after a long day at the Tidal Basin taking in the cherry blossoms. Plus, it’s nearness to neighbor 9:30 Club means seeing a piece of iconic D.C. history up close — and maybe even taking in a concert or two while in town.
This new two-story, 6,000-square-foot waterfront pub is at the center of D.C.’s hot new neighborhood, The Wharf. The menu includes a wide range of hearty favorites from land and sea, such as fish & chips, short rib curry, crab cakes, bratwurst and much more to be enjoyed from any number of vantage points: the spacious ground-floor terrace, a second-floor balcony overlooking the Potomac River and a mezzanine level for an above-bar view.
Located in the heart of D.C.’s burgeoning Ivy City neighborhood, Republic Restoratives is Washington’s only women-owned and operated distillery. Besides producing its own in-house, limited-batch spirits — including Civic Vodka, Burough Bourbon, Rodham Rye and Chapman’s Apple Brandy — Republic Restoratives also features a tasting room, Ivy Room, which offers a variety of handcrafted cocktails.
Wurst and beer hall The Berliner is located in one of Georgetown’s last original warehouse spaces on Water Street. Inspired by family ties and modern Berlin comfort food, The Berliner’s menu offers classics like bratwurst, kofte kebab, pretzels and falafel. Featuring 24 beers on tap with a variety of domestic, international and seasonal brews, The Berliner is the perfect spot for midday drinks after exploring D.C.’s monuments and during happy hour they will offer seasonal drinks at a special rate. Grab a glass of Cherry Gose from Anderson Vally, CA ($3.00/.25L, $6.00/.5L, $12.00/1L) a Berliner Weisse (tart German wheat beer) with cherries and cherry syrup ($6.00/.25L) or a Black Forest brownie sundae with cherry sauce ($8.00)
Beloved Washington staple Bar Dupont recently unveiled its new identity as Doyle, a chic mid-century dream, bringing European style and quality service to the nation’s capital. The newly designed venue incorporates some of the building’s original 1950s architecture and features an exciting new menu of handcrafted cocktails.