If our Instagram feed is to be believed, there are two activities to do in Washington, D.C., in spring: Marvel at the pastel blooms that line the waterfront during National Cherry Blossom Festival and explore the Smithsonian's 17 free attractions. Having returned from two weekend trips to the nation's capital recently, I realize that's just the start—and if your itinerary only includes the classic tourist spots, you're missing out.
A raft of new openings are making Washington, D.C., one of the most exciting U.S. cities to visit this year. At the center, is the new District Wharf, a hub of buzzy restaurants, cafés, and boutiques with waterfront views. An ideal day-trip destination for locals or a place to stay for visitors—the InterContinental boasts unrivaled suite and rooftop views—it's quickly becoming the place to eat, drink, shop, and stay in the nation's capital. Pack your bags and add these seven things to your Washington, D.C., itinerary.
Trust us: You've never seen the city like this before.
Sip Locally Made Rosé at District Winery
D.C.'s first winery absolutely lives up to the hype. The Brooklyn Winery offshoot is located in The Yards with expansive views of the Anacostia River. No, there aren't any grapevines here—the urban winery sources grapes from around the U.S. and makes premium small-batch wine on-site. Its most exciting drop? Don't miss the winery's very first rosé, a dry wine with notes of guava, strawberry, and spices.
Grab a Sweet Treat at Ice Cream Jubilee
It's impossible not to feel a sense of nostalgia and happiness when you step inside Ice Cream Jubilee—it's infectious. Founder Victoria Lai quit her job as a lawyer and presidential appointee at the Department of Homeland Security to pursue something that made her happy: making ice cream. And boy, was that the right decision. Lai's creations are innovative and mouthwatering; think Banana Bourbon Caramel, Cardamom Black Pepper, and Thai Iced Tea, to name a few.
Wake Up to Water Views at the InterContinental
The Wharf might appear to be out of the way on a map, but the new $2 million downtown development makes it one of the most buzzy places to stay in the city. The InterContinental Washington, D.C., is at the heart of it all, boasting unparalleled waterfront views of docked yachts, passing ferries, and bustling restaurants that line the water. Our vote goes to the Water Suite, which has a corner vantage point, floor-to-ceiling windows, and the perfect desk space for business travelers.
Try Kumquat Beer at Bluejacket Brewery
You don't have to be a "beer person" to spend an afternoon at Bluejacket Brewery. The innovative brewery, restaurant, and tasting room has changed the way we think about and appreciate beer, with its unique blends that incorporate ingredients like apricots and passionfruit. Our top picks? Order Forbidden Planet, the brewery's first beer, which the owner describes as "beer for people who don't think they like hops," and Little Golden Gem, a light, wheat-based kumquat brew spiced with coriander and salt.
Visit the Burning Man Exhibition
It'd be remiss of us to create a guide to D.C. without including at least one standout exhibition. No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man is one of the most exciting to come to D.C.'s Renwick Gallery. Spanning room-size installations, costumes, jewelry, and artworks, it'll transport you to the festival's iconic desert location.
Sample Carribbean Creole Crusine at Kith/Kin
You might recognize Kwame Onwuachi from Top Chef Season 13, but his latest restaurant, Kith/Kin, proves the rising star isn't a one-hit wonder. The Afro-Caribbean fare fuses flavors inspired by Onwuachi's heritage, from his childhood in the Bronx and Nigeria and training in classical French cuisine. The star item on the menu is the whole fried red snapper, a large share dish with brown stew sauce, cilantro, and chives.
Discover Your Next Favorite Band at Pearl Street Warehouse
The Wharf might be populated with dog-walking locals and stroller-pushing young parents by day, but there's certainly no shortage of vibrant nightlife offerings after dark. Be sure to add Pearl Street Warehouse to your evening plans: The intimate live-music venue is the perfect spot to gather with friends, nibble on bar bites, and discover your next favorite local band.
Planning a trip to D.C.? Shop our favorite weekender bags to travel in style.