Washington DC, the capital of the United States, is known for its iconic landmarks, rich history, and fascinating museums. When visiting DC for sightseeing, choosing the right area is important.
Depending on which time of year you are visiting in, some parts of the city may be more walkable than others. Let’s take a look at the best areas to stay in Washington DC for sightseeing.
Best Areas To Stay In For Washington DC Sightseeing: Walkable To Monuments & Museums
The neighborhoods listed first are those that have the closest proximity to the landmarks and famous attractions of Washington DC. If you want to walk to the attractions then it is best to stay in the first few areas mentioned. If you don’t mind a metro ride or taxi ride then you can really stay anywhere in DC as it is widely accessible through public transportation. If the weather is good, many tourists also opt to wander dc on an electric scooter.
The National Mall is a prime location for sightseeing in Washington D.C. The National Mall is a large park area that features many famous landmarks, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the National World War II Memorial. The National Mall is located in the heart of the city and is in close proximity to several other neighborhoods as well such as Penn Quarter and the Wharf.
Dining And Shopping Options In National Mall
Visitors will find a variety of dining options in the National Mall area, ranging from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. Food trucks and stands are also commonly found around the mall, offering quick bites for those on the go. Some popular restaurants in this area are fast-casual restaurants like Sweetgreen and Shake Shack. You can also dine at one of the other hotels in the area though this will likely be a more fancy experience.
For shopping enthusiasts, there are souvenir shops, museum gift stores, and upscale boutiques nearby where you can purchase gifts, clothing, and unique Washington D.C. memorabilia.
Best Hotels In The National Mall Area
There are a number of quality hotels in the National Mall area, providing comfortable and convenient accommodations for tourists. Some recommendations include:
St. Regis Washington DC
The St. Regis Washington D.C. is a great hotel for sightseeing. It is located in the heart of the city, just a few blocks from the White House and other popular attractions like the museums and the National Mall. This is a luxury option and comes with a luxury price tag.
Intercontinental At The Willard
This hotel is steps away from the National Mall and also is in close proximity to the Washington Monument. You can walk to almost all the major attractions from this hotel.
It is a great place to stay if you want to walk to the majority of the sights in Washington D.C.
Penn Quarter / Chinatown
The Penn Quarter neighborhood is known for its historic architecture, vibrant arts scene, and proximity to many popular attractions in the city, including the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, and the Verizon Center. If you are arriving into Union Station, then this area is also very convenient and close to the train station.
Dining And Shopping In Penn Quarter & Chinatown
Penn Quarter has plenty of food options to keep you satisfied. From places like Boqueria to Fig and Olive, there are several elegant dining options. If you are more interested in casual dining, there’s plenty of grab and go food and fast casual places. Right next to Penn Quarter is City Center which has several restaurants and shopping as well. If you are looking to do some high end shopping while you are in DC, this is a great area to stay in.
Best Hotels In Chinatown & Penn Quarter
The Conrad DC is one of the nicest hotels in DC. While it is very popular with business travelers, it also makes a great jumping off point for sightseeing. The Conrad is about a 10 to 15 minute walk to the White House and is adjacent to several shopping and dining options.
The hotel also has a great lobby bar as well as a rooftop bar where you can get a panoramic view of the city. It is far enough away that you are not in a very crowded area, but close enough to the attractions to make it convenient.
The Conrad also has spacious rooms and suites that are great for families. It is also a newer hotel compared to some of the other hotels on this list.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC
This hotel is actually a landmark property housed in a former post office. It is just three blocks from the National Mall and offers easy access to various attractions. The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington D.C. The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is located within walking distance of many restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, making it a great base for exploring the city.
The DC Wharf
The Wharf is a vibrant waterfront area in Washington DC, offering a mix of historic charm and modern amenities. This neighborhood is perfect for sightseeing, as it provides easy access to some of the city’s most beloved monuments and memorials.
Dining And Shopping In The DC Wharf
One of the key attractions at The Wharf is its array of dining and shopping options. With a variety of restaurants and stores to choose from, visitors can enjoy diverse culinary experiences and pick up unique souvenirs.
Best Hotels In The DC Wharf Area
When it comes to accommodations, The Wharf has several excellent hotel options.
Hyatt House is located in the heart of The Wharf. This hotel offers stunning views of the Potomac River, modern rooms, complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi, and a range of amenities such as a fitness center and a seasonal, heated rooftop pool. This is the most affordable hotel option in the Wharf area.
Another top choice is the Pendry. This is a brand new hotel that has sleek decor and large suites to accommodate families. There is also a pool that you can use after a day of sightseeing. The Pendry has a trendy rooftop restaurant that has amazing views as well.
The Intercontinental Hotel
There are two Intercontinental hotels in DC. This one is located in The Wharf, a vibrant waterfront neighborhood in Washington D.C. that offers a variety of attractions, dining options, and entertainment venues.
The hotel is also conveniently located near the National Mall and other popular attractions in the city. Also, the hotel offers a variety of amenities to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable, including a fitness center, spa, and rooftop pool with stunning views of the city.
Just a few doors down from the Intercontinental is the Hilton Canopy. This hotel is also a great option for exploring Washington D.C. It usually is slightly more affordable than the Intercontinental and the Pendry Hotel.
Overall, The Wharf is an ideal neighborhood to stay in while exploring the nation’s capital. It has a very convenient location, rich history, and impressive range of dining options and superb hotels.
Best Areas To Stay In For Washington DC Sightseeing: Close To Metro Stations
These next few neighborhoods are not quite as walkable to sightseeing but they have their own fun vibe. These neighborhoods have convenient metro access so that you can easily access the other parts of Washington DC.
Navy Yard is a newer area of DC and one of the best neighborhoods in DC. It is packed with plenty of dining options and is one of the best places to stay if you have young kids. There is a metro station in Navy Yard which connects it easily to the major attractions in DC. Although there are no museums very close to Navy Yard itself, the proximity of the metro line makes it easy to get around.
The one downside to Navy Yard is that it is difficult to walk to other neighborhoods. So, if you are not interested in taking the metro then this may not be the best place for you to stay.
If you enjoy sporting events, Navy Yard is home to Nationals Park. This could be a good or bad thing depending on what your goals are for your travel. If you don’t plan to enjoy a sporting event, staying here during one may be a nuisance for you.
Dining And Shopping In Navy Yard
Navy Yard in Washington D.C. has a vibrant dining scene with a variety of options for different tastes and budgets. Some popular spots include Osteria Morini which is a restaurant serves handmade pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and other classic Italian dishes. Another popular place is All-Purpose Pizzeria. This casual eatery serves Neapolitan-style pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Chloe is a great option if you’re looking for a more upscale vibe. This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant serves small plates, shareable dishes, and entrees made with seasonal ingredients.
In terms of shopping in Navy Yard, there are a few small boutiques. These are mostly small businesses and there is not a lot of shopping in this area.
Best Hotels In The Navy Yard Area
The Thompson Hotel
The Thompson Hotel is the best hotel in this area and is in close proximity to the metro. It also has a great restaurant on the ground floor as well as a rooftop bar.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars in this area if you want to take a break from sightseeing. Depending on when you book, you can get a great deal at this luxury hotel.
The Courtyard by Marriott Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard
If you’re looking for something a bit more budget friendly, this Marriott property is very close to the metro station. It is not a luxury hotel but the guest rooms have all the basics covered. There’s also plenty of dining nearby after you have spent a day exploring the nation’s capital.
Dupont Circle is a vibrant neighborhood in Washington DC, known for its lively atmosphere, diverse dining options, and bustling nightlife. The area is also popular among LGBTIQ+ travelers and offers easy access to some of the city’s best landmarks, making it an ideal base for sightseeing. Dupont Circle is also easily walkable to Logan Circle which also has a variety of food options.
Dining And Shopping In Dupont Circle
The neighborhood features a variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes catering to different tastes and budgets. Dupont Circle is also home to numerous boutique shops and cool bookstores, providing plenty of opportunities for visitors to find unique gifts and souvenirs.
In Dupont Circle you will find some amazing Italian food as well as many casual spots for you to dine. In Dupont Circle you can check out Tatte which is a coffee shop that has a French bistro vibe. Also, Call Your Mother has amazing bagels and breakfast options. Emissary is also a great casual spot for a bite. Boqueria is a fun place for happy hour and dinner after visiting the sites.
Best Hotels In The Dupont Circle Area
Travelers looking for accommodations within Dupont Circle have several options to choose from, ranging from budget-friendly hotels to more luxurious establishments. Some of the highly-recommended hotels in the area include:
The Dupont Circle Hotel
Dupont Circle Hotel is located in a very central area of Washington D.C. and is walking distance to many popular sightseeing attractions. If you are staying at the Dupont Circle Hotel you can walk to the Phillips Collection. The White House and the National Mall are a bit further. The Dupont Circle Hotel is about a 30-minute walk from the White House.
More importantly, the Dupont Circle Hotel is adjacent to the Dupont Circle metro. This makes it a very convenient location for sightseeing. You can easily access all parts of Washington DC by using the metro here. There are also two popular restaurants located right inside this hotel (pictured above).
The St. Gregory Hotel
The St. Gregory Hotel is located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington D.C. The hotel is situated on M Street NW, just a few blocks from Dupont Circle itself. Dupont Circle is known for its vibrant dining and nightlife scene, as well as its historic architecture and proximity to many popular attractions in the city. The St. Gregory Hotel is also located within walking distance of the metro, making it easy to explore other parts of the city.
If you are looking to be far from the downtown area and the masses of tourists then staying in Georgetown may be the right fit.
Dining And Shopping In Georgetown
Georgetown is also home to some of the best shopping in all of DC. Many popular stores can be found on M Street as well as on Wisconsin Avenue. If you love shopping, this is a great part of town to stay in.
Best Hotels In Georgetown
West End & Foggy Bottom
Foggy Bottom and West End are adjacent neighborhoods located close to Georgetown. The neighborhood is bounded by the Potomac River to the west, 17th Street NW to the east, Constitution Avenue NW to the south, and Pennsylvania Avenue NW to the north. Foggy Bottom is home to the main campus of George Washington University.
The Foggy Bottom neighborhood and West End areas have good metro access so you can travel by metro or ride share here. Foggy Bottom has a laid back vibe and it might be the right choice for you if you want to be away from the crowds. If you are hoping to walk to attractions then we don’t recommend staying here.
Dining & Shopping In West End / Foggy Bottom
Best Hotels In West End / Foggy Bottom
There are plenty of hotel options in this area.
Park Hyatt West End
Arc Hotel Foggy Bottom
This budget hotel is just a couple blocks away from the Foggy Bottom metro station.
Best Area To Stay In DC For Sightseeing: Summary
One of the most popular areas to stay in Washington DC for sightseeing is around the National Mall, which hosts a variety of historical monuments and museums, including the United States Capitol and the White House. Staying close to the National Mall means that you’ll be able to easily access these must-see sites during your trip, as they are just a short walk away. Penn Quarter is also very close to the majority of the sites as is the Wharf.
If you want to be further away then you can stay in Navy Yard and use the metro to get around. You can also stay further away in Dupont but this will be a long way to the attractions. Georgetown is the furthest away but has a great array of shopping and dining if that is important to you. First-time visitors to DC can opt to stay in either the National Mall area, Penn Quarter, or Chinatown. This is will make it an easy walk to get to many tourist attractions.