The neighborhoods of the Upper Northwest rank among the nation's most wealthy and privileged. There are big attractions, including the outstanding National Zoo, the massive National Cathedral, American University, upscale shopping in Friendship Heights (Chevy Chase), and several nice wining and dining strips, which serve as good alternatives to more frenzied and chaotic Adams Morgan and crowded and traffic-congested Georgetown.
Luke the Lion at the National Zoo
Glover Park is the section of the Upper Northwest closest to downtown—just north of Georgetown, and has the bulk of the area's nightlife, which serves as a slightly older and less raucous complement to its collegiate neighbor to the south.
Woodley Park has a strip with restaurants and bars and is also home to the National Zoo and the National Cathedral.
Cleveland Park most notably, but also Van Ness and Tenleytown to the north along Wisconsin and Connecticut Ave have popular commercial strips with restaurants, bars, and small stores. And in the west of Tenleytown, you'll find big American University.
Further north is Friendship Heights, technically part of Chevy Chase, nationally famous for its wealthy and powerful residents, and locally famous for its high-end retailers on Wisconsin Ave, which spill north across the city border into Maryland.
Little known to travelers, and even most area residents, are the Palisades in the extreme west of the city, where you'll find some of the city's most expensive homes, the C&O Canal trail along the Potomac River, and a handful of fantastic, upscale restaurants.
The Metrorail Red Line runs through this part of the city, and it is pretty self explanatory, given that the stations are all named after the neighborhoods and their major attractions. Woodley Park-Zoo for Woodley Park and the National Zoo, Tenleytown-American University for Tenleytown and AU, etc. The National Cathedral, Glover Park, and the Palisades, like Georgetown, are not served by Metro, and will require either a car/taxi/rideshare or bus ride.
Driving is another option, though competition for parking spots can be fierce. You can usually find parking on side streets off of Connecticut and Wisconsin Ave, although you might have to walk a good ways from your car, and parking is usually limited to two hours in neighborhoods closer to downtown. The Palisades, along the extreme west of the city, are best visited by car, and it's quite easy to park there.
If driving in this part of the city, be aware that during weekday rush hours Canal Rd in the west becomes one-way and reverses directions during weekday rush hours (M-F 6:15AM-10AM inbound, 2:45PM-7:15PM outbound). Similarly, Connecticut's left lanes are reversible, so pay attention—you don't want to find yourself charging into oncoming traffic!
Taxis are generally not hard to catch along the main avenues (Wisconsin and Connecticut), but will be impossible to find elsewhere.
Metrobus operates service on the major thoroughfares in these neighborhoods, but frequent stops and slow traffic make rideshare a better option.
Routes #31, #32, and #36 all run between Georgetown and the Friendship Heights Metro station along Wisconsin Ave. On the weekends after midnight, the buses run once every hour until 2AM.
Routes #L1, L2, and L4 run the length of Connecticut Ave 5:30AM-midnight daily. The L2 continues into Adams Morgan, while L1 and L4 head further south along Connecticut to Dupont Circle and then on to the West End.
Routes #N2-N6 all run along Massachusetts Ave from Dupont Circle to American University.
Route #D6 is the only reasonable way to reach the Kreeger Museum via public transport, which runs through Georgetown along Reservoir Rd, coming from Capitol Hill and Dupont Circle.
The Washington National Cathedral
The Japanese Garden at the Hillwood Estate
The Zoo and the National Cathedral dwarf any other attractions here in both size and number of visitors, but if you have a little extra time, the Hillwood Estate and Kreeger Museum are two of the city's greatest hidden gems.
- Kreeger Museum, 2401 Foxhall Rd NW (By public transport: take the D6 from Dupont Circle Metro at P & 22nd towards Sibley Hospital), ☎ +1 202 338-3552, . Tu-F 10:30AM, 1:30PM (by reservations only on weekdays), Sa 10AM-4PM (open to public). Little known even to locals is this private house-museum with an impressive collection of paintings by the impressionist and early modern masters. The house itself is a work of art, designed by modernist architects Philip Johnson and Richard Foster. Adults: $10; Student/Seniors: $7. edit
- Hillwood Estate, 4155 Linnean Avenue NW (A little under a mile from the Van Ness-UDC station—about a fifteen minute's walk), ☎ +1 202 686-5807, . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; tours: 11:30AM,1:30PM, garden tours: 10:30AM, 12:30PM (Spring & Fall) cafe: 10AM-4PM, lunch: 11AM-2:30PM, tea: 2:30PM-3:30PM. A hidden gem of magnificent proportions. Marjorie Merriweather Post, prominent businesswoman and heiress to the Post Cereal fortune, fashioned her estate next to Rock Creek Park to be an extraordinarily stately and luxurious site for entertaining guests, housing her impressive art collections, and with the intention of leaving it behind for the world to enjoy. The mansion is a treasure trove of French and Russian decorative arts, much of which she obtained from the USSR, whose government under Stalin was then auctioning off a good portion of its cultural heritage to finance its war efforts. Second in grandeur only to the art collection itself are the French and Japanese-style gardens, with an orchid-focused greenhouse—great places to linger long after the tour. Suggested donation: $12,$7/student,$5/child. edit
- National Cathedral (Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul), 3001 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 537-6200, . Visitor hours: M-F 10AM-5:30PM, Sa 10AM-4:30PM, Su 1PM-4PM; Tours: every half hour (Su: last tour at 2:30PM); Mass (Episcopalian): M-F noon, Sa 7:30AM,noon, Su 7:45AM,8:45AM,10AM (contemporary), 11:15AM; Evensong: usually M-F 5:30PM, Su 4PM; Organ demonstration: M,W 12:30PM-1PM. The impression of walking up to the world's 6th largest cathedral, a hulking mass cut over a period of 83 years of 150,000 tons of stone, is alone worth the trip. Tours are a must if you really want to see the cathedral, and the towers and the crypt are off limits without a guide during the busy season. The organ demonstrations are spectacular and loud. Check the website for events, as there is often children's programming as well as major concerts. Suggested donation: $5/3 (child). edit
- National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 633-4800, . 8AM-7PM; Winter: 8AM-5PM, last admission 1 hour before closing. A collection of 400 species, including 2,000 animals. Get a map at the entrance, take your time, and be prepared to walk a great deal. Bring water—the concessions here are insultingly expensive. The most crowded exhibits are nearly always the Pandas and the Ape House. The pandas are perhaps the zoo's shyest residents. The Ape House is fun no matter the crowds. Other hits include the Seals & Sea Lions Exhibit, the Reptile House, the remarkable Aviary, and the irresistibly cute prairie dogs. Free. edit
- American University Museum at the Katzen Center, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, ☎ +1 202 885-1300, . Tu-Su 11-4. Free. edit
- Fort Reno Concerts, Nebraska Ave and Fort Dr, ☎ +1 202 355-6356, . July-August M,Th 7PM-9:30PM. Fort Reno was one of the bedrocks of the legendary and celebrated D.C. punk/hardcore/straight-edge scene, and evolved to encompass later post-hardcore and other local indie rock. The concert series was founded in 1968 as a sort of government-sponsored hippie fest to try and bring some love, joy, and sense of community back to the district post-1968 riots. Having run annually since, this is one of the truest local traditions, is beloved by the community, and a great way to delve further into that elusive city beyond the federal government and neoclassical memorials. No alcohol, no glass bottles, but plastic bottles are allowed. Free. edit
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is the largest park in DC.
- Peirce Mill, 2401 Tilden St NW, ☎ +1 202 282-0927, . Milling Demonstrations: April-October on 2nd and 4th Saturday, 11AM-2PM. A historic water-powered mill in the park and a national historic site built by Isaac Peirce in 1829. Free. edit
- Rock Creek Golf Course, 6100 16th Street NW, ☎ +1 202 882-7332, . dawn-dusk daily. The 18 holes of golf in Rock Creek Park are a bit rough. That's not to say you can't have a good experience here, as it is quite a novelty to play golf deep in the woods, despite being in the city. The back 9 holes are challenging due to extreme hills and narrow fairways. Par 65. Golfers might want to consider the other two major courses in the city: Hains Point in Waterfront and Langston in Near Northeast. $15-20/nine holes, $20-25/eighteen. (38.9667,-77.0403) edit
- Rock Creek Horse Center, 5100 Glover Rd NW, ☎ +1 202 362-0117, . Tu-F noon-6PM, Sa-Su 9AM-5PM. If you wish you had opted for a country vacation instead of a trip to D.C., it's not too hard to make believe in Rock Creek Park. The horse center offers trail rides, horseback riding lessons (group and private), and pony rides throughout the summer months. The trail rides are very popular, and reservations often are booked more than a month in advance. The pony rides and lessons also require reservations, but are much easier to get. For those visiting on a whim, and not interested in paying for a ride, you can just stop by and pet and feed the horses for free. If you traveled to the city on horseback, they offer full-service public stables for $600/month. Trail rides: $40/1 hour; pony rides: $20/10-15 minutes; lessons (1 hour): $50 group, $90 private. edit
- Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, 5200 Glover Rd NW, ☎ +1 202 895-6070, . W-Su 9AM-5PM. Deep inside the park, the Nature Center offers hands-on exhibits, guided nature walks, an "observation beehive," and a full planetarium. Especially good for kids. Free. edit
- Turtle Park (Friendship Park), 4500 Van Ness St NW, ☎ +1 202 282-2198, . Rec center: M-F 2:30PM-9PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. Turtle Park has the coolest playground in town. The centerpiece is an enormous sandbox littered with eminently climbable turtle sculptures and plastic shovels and buckets. In the summer, you can get the sand off your kids away without a trip to the bathrooms at the "sprayground." The park is fenced in and has plenty of shade, as well as four baseball fields, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, and a rec center. edit
The area around the Friendship Heights Metrorail station has many clothing stores - both discount stores and high end stores.
- Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss of the Beyond, 3428 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 363-4797, . A toy store with a selection of unique items, and quite the wild name. edit
- Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 364-1919, . M-Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 10AM-8PM. This is a quite possibly the city's favorite independent bookstore, with a non-exclusive focus on politics, and frequent, excellent lectures. It is far off the beaten path, about a mile north of the Van Ness-UDC Metro Station, but it's a rewarding destination. edit
- Tempo Bookstore, 4905 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 363-6683, . M-Sa 10AM-7PM. This is a bookstore wholly dedicated to language resources: language learning books, software, linguistics texts, teaching tools, etc. A great place for philology nerds. edit
- The Container Store, 4500 Wisconsin Ave (At the Tenleytown Metro Station), ☎ 202-478-4000, . Mon-Sat: 9am-9pm; Sun: 11am-6pm. You can pretty much buy anything to put anything in at this store. edit
- 2 Amys, 3715 Macomb St NW, ☎ +1 202 885-5700, . M 5PM-10PM, T-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su noon-10PM. A gourmet Italian restaurant with a big focus on Neapolitan style pizza. With popular food and top-notch service, the waits can be long, but make no mistake, this is D.C.'s most popular pizzeria for a reason. If the noise bothers you, request a table in the upstairs dining room. $11-18. edit
- Byblos Deli, 3414 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 364-6549, . Mediterranean food. Outdoor seating. edit
- OpenCity Diner, 2331 Calvert St NW, ☎ +1 202 332-2331, . Su-Th 6AM-midnight, F-Sa 6AM-1AM. Late night "diner" (more of a large cafe) with free WiFi, good tea, booze, and vegan friendly! edit
- Osman & Joe's Steak 'n Egg Kitchen, 4700 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 686-1201, . 24 hours daily. The quintessential greasy spoon (which can be hard to find in the D.C. area), serving eggs, steak, hash browns, bacon, and of course the local "delicacy" scrapple to a crowd of locals and AU students 'round the clock in a small diner. Serves by day a peaceful handful of diner patrons, by (late) night a packed, intoxicated crowd. Patio seating. $3-17. edit
- Rockland's Barbeque, 2418 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 333-2558, . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Voted best BBQ in the city numerous times. Traditional pit BBQ. Offers many traditional southern sides like homemade style mac and cheese and collard greens. Also offered grilled vegetarian options. Wide selection of small production hot sauces and BBQ sauces. The signature dish is the pulled pork. $5-25. edit
- Sprig and Sprout, 2317 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 333-2569, . Vietnamese sandwich shop that serves pho, banh mi & rice bowls. edit
- Surfside, 2444 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 380-9353, . Tacos, burritos, and margaritas. edit
- Vace's Pizza, 3315 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 363-1999. M-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Another contender for D.C.'s best pizza is this New York style Italian deli. The pizza is 100% authentic New York style and done well (the subs are great too. No tables or delivery—carry out only. Whole pizza or by the slice. There is another location in Bethesda. $8-12. edit
- Arcuri, 2400 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 827-8745, . Italian restaurant and bar. edit
- Comet Ping Pong, 5037 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, ☎ +1 202 364-0404, . Mon: 5-9PM, Tues-Thurs: 5-9:30PM, Fri: 5-10:30PM, Sat: 11:30AM-10:30PM, 11:30AM-9PM. Comet is another great pizza place in DC. However, this is not your average restaurant. There are Ping-Pong tables in the back, clam pizzas, and concerts on Saturday nights. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' Guy Fieri called in some of the best pizza he'd ever eaten. A local favorite! Try the wings! Also serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. DEFINITELY kid-friendly. $6-20. edit
- Coppi's Organic, 3321 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 966-0770, . A cozy Italian restaurant. edit
- Fat Pete's BBQ, 3407 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 362-7777, . Texas-style brisket and bourbon. edit
- Indique, 3512-14 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 301 244-6600, . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, Sa-Su noon-3PM; dinner: Su-Th 5:30PM-10:30PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM. Indique specializes in southern Indian cuisine, usually crafted into something just a little unique, and serves its customers in a really cool, attractive space. $15-35. edit
- Kotobuki, 4822 MacArthur Blvd NW, 2nd floor, ☎ +1 202 625-9080, . M-Th noon-2:30PM,5PM-9:30PM, F-Sa noon-2:30PM,5PM-10:30PM, Su 5PM-9:30PM. One roll of sushi costs $1.25-3, but it's actually good! There really isn't anything else you need to know, but the atmosphere, particularly for lunch, could well trick you into thinking you were in a little local dive in Osaka. $7-20. edit
- Medium Rare, 3500 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 237-1432, . A well priced steakhouse. edit
- Old Europe, 2434 Wisconsin Ave, ☎ +1 202 333-7600, . Tu-Th 11:30AM-3PM, 5PM-9PM; F-Sa 11:30AM-3PM, 5PM-10PM; Su 1PM-3:30PM, 4PM-8PM. A traditional German restaurant not far from the Embassy, serving the best German food you will find in the D.C. metro area. Schnitzel is the specialty! $10-25. edit
- Petits Plats, 2653 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 518-0018, . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; brunch: Sa-Su 11:30AM-4:30PM; dinner: Su-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM. A French-American bistro in a city short on bistro cuisine is a nice find. The service is incredibly friendly, and the familiar bistro favorites are quite good, from the french onion soup to Boeuf Bourguignon, braised veal, pastas, and salads. At lunch they also offer inexpensive wood-fired pizzas from next-door Pizze. In a pretty old townhouse, it's equally amenable to a romantic dinner or a casual lunch. $15-35. edit
- Pho 14, 4201 Connecticut Ave NW (At Van Ness metro station). Arguably the best Vietnamese food within the city limits. edit
- St. Arnold's Mussel Bar, 3433 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 621-6719, . Belgian food including mussels, fries, waffles, and a great beer selection. edit
- BlackSalt, 4883 MacArthur Blvd NW, ☎ +1 202 342-9101, . Lunch/brunch: M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, Su 11AM-2PM; dinner: M-Th 5:30PM-9:30PM, F 5:30PM-11PM, Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5PM-9PM. This is the one restaurant in the Palisades neighborhood that is famous throughout the city. Cuisine is New American seafood, although there are some great non-seafood entries as well. The seafood is incredibly fresh, and the dishes are inventive, such as an arctic char with green mole, plantains and "citrus braised pork belly." The adjoining seafood market has some of the highest quality fish in the city. $35-60; tasting menus: $74/five course, $89/seven course. edit
- Et Voila!, 5120 MacArthur Blvd NW, ☎ +1 202 237-2300, . Lunch/brunch: Tu-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, Su 11AM-3PM; dinner: M-Sa 5PM-10PM, Su 5PM-9:30PM. Washingtonians like their Belgian mussels and pomme frite, and this particular restaurant serves them well, particularly those fries. $18-32, prix fixe: $20-35. edit
- New Heights, 2317 Calvert St NW, ☎ +1 202 234-4110, . M-F 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. New Heights is a great place for a night of complex, inventive American cuisine. Don't skip dessert. The bar has an excellent selection of gins, which is refreshing, given the number of establishments around the city with great menus of cocktails or whiskies. $25-50, three course prix-fixe: $35. edit
Upper Northwest is a much more friendly and comfortable option compared to the nightlife-centered districts. Gin lovers must check out the bar at New Heights (above).
- Atomic Billiards, 3427 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 363-7665, . Su-Th 4PM-2AM, F-Sa 4PM-3AM. Cleveland Park's pool hall has weird futuristic decor, a few good microbrews on tap, and pool, shuffleboard, and darts. The pool tables are a bit expensive, and there is no kitchen if you are hungry, but it's a good option for a fun night nonetheless. Pool: $12-20/hour per table. edit
- Breadsoda, 2233 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 333-7445, . Kitchen: noon-11PM daily; bar: Su-Th noon-1:30AM, F-Sa noon-2:30AM. It has all you could want of a basement-level dive bar: pool, ping pong, good sandwiches, relaxed and friendly atmosphere—except it's clean and attractive. Happy hour: 4PM-7PM daily. Sandwiches: $4-6. edit
- Cleveland Park Bar & Grill, 3421 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 806-8940, . A great rooftop deck and beer selection. edit
- Mad Fox Taproom, 2218 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 791-0389, . Locally brewed beer. edit
- Nanny O'Brien's Irish Pub, 3319 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 686-9189, . Su-Th noon-2AM, F-Sa noon-3AM. Laid back with excellent beers on tap. Monday night Irish jam sessions. Beer: $4-11. edit
- Days Inn Connecticut Avenue, 4400 Connecticut Ave NW (One block from the red line Van Ness/UDC Metrorail Station), ☎ +1 202 244-5600, . A standard chain hotel with what you would expect (cable, WiFi, etc.). This is a pretty ideal, if boring, low-budget option for D.C. visitors. $85-100. edit
- Kalorama Guest House Woodley Park, 2700 Cathedral Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 328-0860, . Less than a block from the zoo, this is definitely the only hotel in the D.C. area where you can open your windows in the morning and hear monkeys howling in the distance. It's also a magnificent bargain for the location. No televisions or phones are provided in the rooms. $90-120. edit
- Woodley Park Guest House, 2647 Woodley Rd NW, ☎ +1 202 667-0218 ([email protected]), . One of Washington D.C.'s loveliest B&B's set in a peaceful, safe & historic neighborhood. An excellent value steps to the Metrorail, neighborhood restaurants, Adams Morgan, Dupont circle, the National Zoo and National Cathedral. Hospitable owners and staff are an invaluable source for experiencing DC from an insider's point of view. A Fresh, delicious buffet breakfast is provided every day. $145-$260. edit
- Embassy Suites Hotel at the Chevy Chase Pavilion, 4300 Military Road NW, ☎ +1 202 362-9300, . An upscale extended stay hotel in the middle of D.C.'s most upscale shopping strip, and a block away from the Friendship Heights Metro stop. $270-550. edit
- Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Rd NW, ☎ +1 202 328-2000, . checkin: 4PM; checkout: noon. A city unto itself, this hotel covers sixteen acres. It has hosted a long list of U.S. presidents, dignitaries and other VIPs. It's a very easy walk to both the metro, the National Zoo, and the Woodley Park dining strip. Outdoor heated pool. $170-250. edit
- Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St NW, ☎ +1 202 234-0700, . A grand old hotel in leafy Rock Creek Park, near the National Zoo, that once was a premier destination for visiting dignitaries and celebrities, from the Beatles to Emperor Selassie. Free WiFi, resort-style outdoor heated pool, fitness center, and over 100,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel was built in 1930 and has hosted several Presidential Inaugural Balls. $170-240. edit
- Kimpton Glover Park Hotel, 2505 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 337-9700, . This is an all-suites local boutique hotel, albeit a big one in a perfectly lovely and very safe neighborhood. Since it's up the hill, the top floor rooms facing south and east have spectacular views. $220-280. edit
Almost all cafes and many restaurants and supermarkets offer a free WiFi connection. Computer terminals are accessible for free at the following public libraries:
- Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 282-3080, . M,W,F-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, Tu,Th 1PM-9PM, Su 1PM-5PM. edit
- Palisades Library, 4901 V St NW, ☎ +1 202 282-3139, . M,W,F-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, Tu,Th 1PM-9PM, Su 1PM-5PM. edit
- Tenley-Friendship Library, 4200 Wisconsin Ave NW, ☎ +1 202 244-3212, . M,W 1PM-9PM, Tu-W,Th-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, Su 1PM-5PM. edit
For better nightlife and restaurants, visit the neighbors to the south: Georgetown and Adams Morgan, or the neighbor to the north: Bethesda.
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