As the seat of power in this country, Washington, D.C. is where the most important decisions are made that directly impact you as an American. With that said, the city is more than just national monuments and Congressional staffers in crisp suits. It’s home to a thriving gay community and an emerging middle and upper-middle class. Once derisively known as “the Murder Capital,” crime has sharply declined over the past ten years, making D.C. the safest it’s been in a generation. Let me give you the scoop on what to see and do in our nation’s capital.
HOW TO GET THERE
The city is served by two major airports. The first is Washington Dulles International Airport, located 25 miles west of the city, and connected with D.C. by taxi, Uber and the Washington Metrorail system. The second is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, located just three miles south of the city. It is also easily serviced by taxi, Uber and Metrorail.
Delta and U.S. Airways fly directly from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International AIrport to both Dulles and Reagan National. Delta and U.S. Airways also have daily direct flights from airports in West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa. AmericanAirlines and United Airlines fly directly to both Dulles and Reagan National from Miami and Key West. Flights are very affordable, with many one-way discounted flights offered for $100 or less.
WHERE TO STAY
If you want luxurious accommodations with a distinct European feel, try the Sofitel Washington
The Quincy Hotel (202-223-4320) offers oversized rooms for every budget (even the smallest one is a roomy 400 square feet). Each room has a microwave, refrigerator, and free WiFi, and the hotel’s location in the Golden Triangle District puts it close to Dupont Circle and The White House. The William Lewis House (202-462-7574) is a gay-owned bed and breakfast that has been welcoming guests for nearly 20 years. There are ten guest rooms, all decorated with antiques. Enjoy a continental breakfast each morning and a happy hour in the early evening.
WHERE TO PLAY
JR’s Bar and Grill (202-328-0090) is a great place to people-watch; if you’re looking for trendy urban professionals and sexy, young gym bodies, this is the place to go to. It’s hopping nearly every night of the week. Go to The Fireplace (202-293-1293) if you want a good drink (we mean really good) and a fun and quirky experience. Go upstairs to dance the night away to some hot beats. Number Nine (202-986-0999), co-founded by Ed Bailey, a former DJ, is different in that you won’t find DJs here, nor will you find loud music. The focus is on a calm, quiet
Larry’s Lounge (202-483-1483) is equal parts hip gay bar and neighborhood hole-in-the-wall. A place where you can get food and drinks with similar ease, Larry’s offers one of the best outside drinking options in the city — just snag a seat on the patio. Nellie’s (202-332-6355) is the city’s gay sports bar, featuring a popular happy hour each night and the most popular gay trivia night in the city on Wednesdays. Town Danceboutique (202-234-8696) calls itself the city’s “largest gay dance club,” and they might be right; the floor is absolutely massive.
Cobalt (202-232-4416) offers three floors of wining, dining and fun. If you’re looking for a popular brunch spot, dine at Level One on the first floor. On the second floor, there is an ultra-lounge called 30 Degrees where chic cocktails and martinis are the order of the day. Go up to the top floor for a hot dance party helmed by internationally-known DJs. If you’re looking for eclectic, Duplex Diner (202-265-7828) fits the bill. Where else can you find unlimited tater tots with your happy hour drinks? (6 to 8 p.m. daily.) On Fridays, Washington’s most happening ’80s theme night spins music straight out of a John Hughes movie.
WHERE TO GO
Washington, D.C. is filled with so much history, and it can be easy just to get lost in the
The National Mall is home to quite a few prominent monuments and memorials. The two-mile Mall area features the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Pay respects to our fallen soldiers at the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Don’t miss the Washington Monument: it
Book a tour of The White House at least three weeks in advance of your arrival (call 202-456-7041). It is now even more exciting to visit the residence of the First Family because you can now take photographs inside the massive building. Photography was banned over 40 years ago but you can thank First Lady Michelle Obama for removing that rule. Snap those selfies!
If you decide to visit Washington, D.C. in the springtime, definitely take a walk along the Tidal
If you love shopping, take note of five malls you must visit. Bring your charge cards! DCUSA, in Columbia Heights, includes many big-box stores that will keep you occupied for hours. The three-level Shops at National Place is adjacent to The White House and offers lots of cool amenities, such as a large food court. For more upscale shopping, visit Georgetown Park in the ritzy Georgetown neighborhood. Gallery Place is a mixed-use development which also includes offices, condominiums, and a 14-screen movie theater. Then there’s Union Station, the main train station for the city, which also includes some of the best shopping the city has to offer.
If you’d like to learn more about Washington, D.C., visit the official tourism website at washington.org.