Washington, D.C. Area Map
Washington, D.C., is laid out on a grid pattern, with numbered and lettered streets intersected by diagonal avenues. Most of these diagonal avenues are named after states. Generally, streets running east to west have lettered names in alphabetical order as you travel north. So you would walk north to get from K Street Northwest to L Street Northwest. The numbered streets run north to south and increase as you travel west in Northwest D.C. and as you travel east in Northeast D.C. Therefore, you would walk west to get from 19th Street Northwest to 20th Street Northwest; you would walk east to get from 11th Street Northeast to 12th Street Northeast.
Northwest is where you'll find most government office buildings, as well as the majority of the city's postcard-worthy attractions. This quadrant is also home to a bunch of the top nightlife and entertainment options and a burgeoning restaurant scene.
Accessible via all Metro lines at Federal Center SW, L'Enfant Plaza, Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter and Judiciary Square stations.
A beautiful green space that stretches for nearly 2 miles and serves as a central point of the city, the iconic National Mall is anchored by the U.S. Capitol on one end and the Lincoln Memorial on the other. In the middle, the Washington Monument marks the highest peak of the city. Numerous noteworthy (and mostly free) museums line the Mall's sides, including the National Gallery of Art and the recently opened Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. Keep in mind, the Mall sprawls over both the Northwest and Southwest quadrants.
Accessible via all Metro lines at Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter, Metro Center, Judiciary Square and Gallery Place-Chinatown stations.
Located north of the National Mall, the Penn Quarter area has a flourishing group of art galleries and restaurants, as well as some of the city's most interesting museums (like the National Portrait Gallery and the International Spy Museum). It's also where you'll find the Verizon Center – where the NBA's Washington Wizards and the NHL's Washington Capitals play, and where many major recording artists perform. The media-focused Newseum and the historically significant National Archives Museum can be found nearby as well.
Accessible via all Metro lines at Gallery Place-Chinatown, Metro Center, Judiciary Square and Mount Vernon Square 7th Street-Convention Center stations.
Northeast of Penn Quarter, Chinatown is a vibrant and historic neighborhood brimming with trendy dining establishments and plenty of entertainment options. Anchored between H and I Streets and 5th and 8th Streets Northwest, Chinatown plays host to a string of hotels, clubs and shops. The area also features a plethora of Chinese and Asian-inspired restaurants.
Accessible via all Metro lines at Dupont Circle, Farragut North, McPherson Square, Farragut West and U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo stations.
Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut avenues intersect at Dupont Circle, a roundabout that lends its name to the surrounding area. This is one of the hippest areas in D.C., and it's also the heart of the city's gay community. Restaurants, boutiques and bars surround the actual circle.
Accessible via the Red, Green and Yellow Metro lines at Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo and Columbia Heights stations.
Despite its small size, the Adams Morgan area just north of Dupont Circle is another one of the city's trendiest, busiest neighborhoods. Eclectic bars, clubs and restaurants are scattered throughout. D.C.'s Metro does not directly service Adams Morgan, but the area is within walking distance of several Metro stations. Multiple bus lines also service the area.
U Street Corridor
Accessible via the Green and Yellow Metro lines at U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo and Shaw-Howard University stations.
To the east of Adams Morgan on U Street between 9th and 18th streets Northwest is an emerging part of the city called the U Street Corridor. Once a historically black area where blues and jazz kings like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong played soulful numbers in nightclubs and theaters, U Street brims with new jazz clubs, bars, shops and restaurants. Howard University, a well-known historically black university, is located to the east.
Accessible via the Red Metro line at Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan and Cleveland Park stations.
Picturesque with its stately residences and canopies of trees, Woodley Park is home to the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, a handful of antique shops and a collection of excellent restaurants. This neighborhood sits northwest of Adams Morgan and just east of Washington National Cathedral.
Accessible via the Blue, Orange, Silver and Red Metro lines at Foggy Bottom-GWU and Dupont Circle stations, as well as the DC Circulator bus and 10 Metrobus lines – the 30-series, the D-series and the G2 bus.
Georgetown, just west of Dupont Circle, is another popular (and swanky) D.C. neighborhood. Along the district's main corridor, M Street, and housed inside converted row houses, you'll find chain stores galore, including J.Crew, Coach and Nike, among many, many others. Plus, Georgetown boasts some of the city's best gourmet cupcake institutions, including Georgetown Cupcake, Sprinkles and Baked & Wired. There are also quite a few restaurants with various price points and atmospheres. During your visit, you can't miss wandering along the neighborhood's cobblestone streets or heading to the waterfront to take in scenic views of the Potomac – both of which make for an ideal way to cap off a day of sightseeing.
Accessible via the Blue, Orange, Silver and Red Metro lines at Foggy Bottom-GWU, Farragut West, Farragut North, McPherson Square, Metro Center and Federal Triangle stations.
South of Dupont Circle is the Foggy Bottom area, where the George Washington University campus resides. The neighborhood, which was originally the main industrial portion of the city, is now largely residential. The few restaurants and bars found here mostly cater to the area's college residents, but there are a few standout attractions, including the Watergate complex (now The Watergate Hotel) and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Accessible via the Blue, Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow Metro lines at Smithsonian, L'Enfant Plaza, Federal Center SW, Waterfront, Anacostia, Navy Yard Metro, Capitol South, Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter and Federal Triangle stations.
The smallest of the four quadrants, Southwest is home to a selection of museums right off the National Mall, including the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – all part of the Smithsonian Institution. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Washington Monument also sit in this part of the city. On the most western end of the Mall are the majestic Lincoln Memorial and the beautiful Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. And a few blocks south of the National Mall is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which offers superb views of the Tidal Basin.
Accessible via all Metro lines at Union Station, NoMa-Gallaudet U, Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood, Brookland-CUA, Fort Totten, Deanwood, Minnesota Ave, Benning Road, Stadium-Armory, Capitol Heights, Judiciary Square and Capitol South stations.
Northeast D.C. is home to the Capitol Hill neighborhood and another pocket of universities, including Trinity Washington University, The Catholic University of America and Gallaudet University. Gallaudet, notably, was founded by Congress as the world's first school of advanced learning for the deaf. The U.S. National Arboretum, a free botanical garden and research center, can also be found here.
This district, which refers to a portion of H Street Northeast between 12th and 14th streets, is a small but increasingly popular part of town. The area is home to a number of trendy restaurants, as well as a hip nightlife scene that tends to be less expensive than the spots in Northwest D.C.
The Library of Congress, Union Station, the Supreme Court of the United States, the Folger Shakespeare Library and a bunch of Victorian row house residences that surround the U.S. Capitol are part of a neighborhood aptly named Capitol Hill, or simply, "the Hill." Filled with many young professionals who work for U.S. senators and representatives, the area also has a good assortment of restaurants and shops. Travelers should note that Capitol Hill straddles both the Northeast and Southeast quadrants.
Accessible via the Blue, Orange and Silver Metro lines at Eastern Market and Capitol South stations.
The main point of interest in the Southeast quadrant is Capitol Hill's Eastern Market, located only a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol. In addition to its meat and produce counters, the redbrick public market also plays host to an art gallery and a flea market.
Barracks Row, located a couple blocks south of Eastern Market along 8th Street Southeast, is named for the Marine Corps Barracks, which have anchored the area since 1801. Restaurants, bars, boutiques and even a classical acting academy line the street. Charming row houses sit nearby.
The LEED-certified Nationals Park is situated near the Anacostia River and is home turf for the Washington Nationals professional baseball team. Across the river from Barracks Row is Anacostia, home to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Note: Anacostia isn't the safest area, so you might want to steer clear after dark.
Located southwest of Washington, D.C., across the Potomac River is northern Virginia, where some of D.C.'s most iconic attractions – such as The Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery – reside. An array of hotels and restaurants are also available here.
Accessible via the Blue, Orange and Silver Metro lines at Rosslyn, Court House, Clarendon, Virginia Square, Ballston, East Falls Church, Arlington Cemetery, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Crystal City and National Airport stations.
Arlington refers to a large swath of land across from the Potomac River in Virginia. The area is bursting with high-rise office and apartment buildings and streets lined with picturesque homes, as well as interesting shops, restaurants and bars. Plus, accommodation options are generally more affordable in this part of the Washington metropolitan area.
Accessible via the Blue and Yellow Metro lines at Braddock Road, King Street, Eisenhower Avenue and Van Dorn Street stations.
Located west of the Potomac River and south of Arlington, Alexandria is primarily a residential area. Most of the city's shops, restaurants and bars reside in the historic Old Town, which overlooks the Potomac River and features various boutique hotels. Just about 7 miles southwest is George Washington's Mount Vernon, the former estate of inaugural president George Washington.
Accessible via the Red Metro line at Bethesda and Silver Spring stations.
Washington, D.C.'s main Maryland suburbs are Bethesda and Silver Spring. Bethesda is a mainly residential area, with open-air shopping and a handful of restaurants and bars. Silver Spring has a livelier downtown area, which is all about bright and shiny modernity. High-rise apartments and office buildings scream contemporary, as do the many shops, eateries and watering holes.
Baltimore and Annapolis are approximately an hour's drive from the District and make for nice side trips from the area. Baltimore is also accessible by both MARC and Amtrak trains; MARC is the significantly cheaper option.