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East End

Rewrite: huge trim, especially of PADC history; consolidate neighborhood info; rescue good content from earlier versions; move info to sections


The East End, just north of of the National Mall is the center of tourism in the city, home to the lion's share of the city's museums and event venues, and full of restaurants, bars, and large hotels. Its heart beats through the ceremonial stretch of Pennsylvania Ave, which runs through the Penn Quarter from the White House to the Capitol Building, serving as a bridge from the city center to the Mall (as you might expect, this road has nice views).


In the early 1990s, when Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Abe Pollin arrived for the first time by limousine at 7th St and F St NW to scout out possible sites for a new arena, he was told not to get out of the vehicle. The site, then a parking lot, had drug dealers doing business there, and the neighborhood was crime-ridden and deserted at night. But, he decided that was the place to build his new arena. The Verizon Center (then the MCI Center) opened in December 1997, and since then, the neighborhood has experienced a remarkable turnaround with tremendous gentrification.

Chinatown is quite safe nowadays and lively in the evenings. As an increasing number of chain stores and restaurants have opened in recent years, and Chinatown increasingly resembles a miniature Times Square with activity day and night into the wee hours. On the other hand, it now struggles to resemble the once thriving ethnic community for which it is named, though even new businesses in the neighborhood are required to post signage in Chinese. Some shops and restaurants remained and quite recently more have opened on and just steps away from H Street, again infusing H Street with more of an Asian flavor. But those expecting something like New York's Chinatown will be sorely disappointed.

South of Chinatown, Penn Quarter and Gallery Place (the bustling entertainment area between the Verizon Center and the National Portrait Gallery) comprise the heart of the East End, and indeed have a valid claim to be the commercial and touristic heart of the city. The Penn Quarter is dominated by the Pennsylvania Ave stretch, whose sidewalks and parks comprise a National Park, is the city's number two staging ground for races, large festivals, and parades. Penn Quarter is distinguished from the rest of downtown by its nineteenth century buildings and facades. After the opening of the Verizon Center in 1997, and the resulting development boom, most of these buildings were redeveloped as the ground-floor facades of private luxury apartments and office buildings, resulting in the creation of an "arts and entertainment" district. The biggest draw for city visitors, however, is Penn Quarter's theater district, and its tremendous quantity of first-rate museums.

Judiciary Square, located to the east of Penn Quarter, is home to the United States District Court building, along with the D.C. Superior Court building, and various other government buildings. Just north is the massive, 2.3 million square foot (210,000 m²) Convention Center, just north of Mt Vernon Square. The Convention Center was completed in 2003, and has since been the favorite site for presidential inaugural balls.


  • American Art Museum.
  • International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW (Metro:Gallery Place/Chinatown), +1 202 393-7798 (), [1]. Admission: Adults: $20, Seniors: $15, Children (5-11): $15, Children (4 & under): Free.
  • The J. Edgar Hoover FBI building. No longer open for tours.
  • Koshland Science Museum.
  • Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences, Corner of 6th & E St NW (located near the Judiciary Square Metro station), +1 202 334-1201, [2]. 10AM - 6PM (except Tu). $5/adult, $3/seniors, children, students, active duty military.
  • National Archives, (Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial via the Green and Yellow Lines), [3]. Rotunda and exhibit hall, Open Daily except 25 December; 10AM-5:30PM (day after Labor Day through March 31), 10AM-7PM (April 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day weekend), 10AM-9PM (Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day). In summer you can go in the evening and avoid the long queue (everything else in town is closed then anyway). See the original Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, and other displays. Free.
  • National Building Museum, 401 F St NW, +1 202 272-2448, [4]. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Located in the Pension Building, the building itself is a highly recommended for its architecture, with an expansiveopen interior space with massive columns. The space is used on occasion for special events, including Presidential inaugurations. There is a small cafe inside, to the right of the entrance, and places to sit and relax, as well as a gift shop. The National Building Museum features long-term exhibits on the planning and building of Washington, D.C., and on green building and communities, along with various short-term exhibits and special events. Free, suggested donation $5.
  • National Crime and Punishment Museum.
  • National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave NW. (located a couple blocks north of Metro Center), +1 202 783-5000, [5]. 10AM-5PM (M-Sa); Noon-5PM (Su). $8/adult, $6/student, free/children (18 and younger).
  • National Portrait Gallery.
  • National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave NE (Metro: Union Station on the Red Line. Just west of Union Station.), +1 202 357-2700, [6]. Daily except 25 December 10AM-5:30PM. Exhibitions of how mail has been delivered throughout history, rare stamps, and other ways that the mail shapes culture. Free admission..
  • Newseum.
  • Old Post Office Tower, Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th St NW, +1 202 606-8694, [7]. Summer (1st weekend in June through Labor Day) M-W & F 9AM-7:45PM, Th 9AM-6:30PM, winter (Labor Day through Memorial Day) 9AM-4:45PM, Sa-Su and holidays 10AM-5:45PM (all year).. At 315 feet this is one of the tallest buildings in D.C. Enter through the food court and take the elevators to the 270-foot observation deck for excellent views of D.C. Bell-ringing practice is held on Th from 7PM-8PM Free. Free admission.
  • Ronald Reagan Building. The building frames both the Navy Memorial and the historic 8th Street axis between the National Archives and the Old Patent Office Building. It is the second largest federal office building in the region after the Pentagon.


Penn Quarter is distinguished from the rest of downtown by the number of smaller-scale 19th century buildings and facades that have been restored and integrated into the new developments from 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, to Gallery Row and the Clara Barton/Lafayette development (at 7th and D streets), to Carroll Square (at F and 10th streets), and the 800 block of F Street.


The Navy Memorial in Market Square Park, Indiana Plaza, and John Marshall Park,


The Verizon Center [51] is home to both the Washington Wizards [52] of the NBA and the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals [53]. The Georgetown Hoyas [54] college basketball team also plays games at the Verizon Center, as do the WNBA's Washington Mystics [55]. As well, the Verizon Center hosts major concerts, WWE wrestling, and various other events throughout the year. Tickets are sold through Ticketmaster [56], or at the box office.

In 1997 Abe Polin, the local sports baron, saw a future in the neighborhood two decades ago and decided that this was the place to build his new arena. The Verizon Center (then the MCI Center) opened in December 1997, and since then, the neighborhood had its second development boom—

Verizon Center: Bridging Penn Quarter and Chinatown is the Verizon Center; the arena takes up the block between F and G, 7th and 6th streets. In the early 1990s, when Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Abe Pollin arrived by limousine to inspect a vacant urban renewal site at 7th and F streets, scouting for a new arena site, he was told not to get out of the vehicle. The site's immediate neighborhood appeared somewhat deserted and dangerous. (Unbeknownst to most, it had a low rate of crime, given few people other than artists who had studios in the neighborhood, went there, especially after dark.)

Non-Verizon Center

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center hosts events throughout the year, including shows geared towards the public, as well as trade shows and conferences. The popular Washington Auto Show takes place annually in late January or early February, the Washington Home and Garden Show is in March, and the Washington Craft Show takes place in November.


The balcony where President Lincoln was assassinated - Ford's Theatre
  • Flashpoint.
  • Ford's Theatre, 511 10th St NW (Between E and F St NW, near both the Metro Center and Gallery Pl-Chinatown Metro stations), +1 202 347-4833, [8]. This is where John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, and he was taken across the street to the Petersen House where he died. Ford's Theatre is not only a historic site, but remains a working theater, with regular performances. Note: Ford's Theatre has been closed for renovations, but is scheduled to reopen in February 2009. Tours are free, but show tickets range from $40 - $55.
  • National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave NW (located across from Freedom Plaza, near the Metro Center and Federal Triangle Metro stations), +1 202 628-6161, [9]. First opened in 1835, many Presidents have come to see performances, with many famous performers back in is heydey. National Theatre now hosts broadway shows and musicals, and other events.
  • Shakespeare Theatre, 450 7th St NW (near the Gallery Pl-Chinatown and Archives-Navy Mem'l-Penn Quarter Metro stations), +1 202 546-9606, [10]. Puts on plays by Shakespeare, as well as other playwrights.
  • Warner Theatre, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave NW, +1 202 783-4000, [11]. Reopened in 1992, the Warner Theatre hosts broadway shows, concerns, dance, and other events.
  • Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St NW (near both Archives-Navy Mem'l-Penn Quarter and Gallery Pl-Chinatown Metro stations), +1 202 289-2443, [12].


  • Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14, 701 Seventh Street NW (next to the Verizon Center), +1 202 393-2121, [13]. The Regal cinema shows all the popular, current movies. Though, beware that this movie theater is popular among young adolescents (especially on weekends and in the evenings) who may be rambunctious. Ranging from $8 for children to $10.75 for adults. Discounts also for seniors, students, military, and matinees.
  • E Street Cinema, 555 11th Street NW (Entrance is on E St, between 10th and 11th, near the Qdoba), +1 202 452-7672, [14]. A Landmark Theaters cinema, showing independent films. The E Street Cinema is quiet, and does not draw the same youth crowd as the Regal cinema. $10 general, $7.50 before 6PM on weekdays, $7.50 for seniors, children, and $8 for students.

Ice skating

  • Sculpture Garden Ice-Skating Rink (at the National Gallery of Art), Constitution Avenue and 7th St NW, +1 202 289-3360, [15]. Seasonal (November to March), weather permitting; open 10AM - 7PM (M-Th); 10AM - 9PM (F-Sa); 11AM-7PM (Su). Relaxing place to enjoy the fresh air, listen to music, and enjoy the surroundings, including a view of the National Archives building. Take a break from skating to enjoy hot cocoa or a meal at the Pavilion Café, next to the skating rink. Note that the sculpture garden itself closes at 5 PM (6 PM on Sundays), and access after that time is restricted to the ice rink only. $7 adults, $6 children, students, and seniors; $3 for skate rental.
  • Pershing Park Ice Rink, 14th St and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, +1 202 737-6938, [16]. Enjoy ice skating in the shadow of the Ronald Reagan Building and the Willard Hotel (specially decorated during the holiday season). (Currently closed.


  • Lucky Strike Lanes, 701 7th Street NW (Next to the Verizon Center), +1 202 347-1021, [17]. 12PM-12AM (M-Th); 12PM-2AM (F); 10AM-2AM (Sa); 10AM-12 PM (Su). Lucky Strikes is a combination bowling alley and lounge. After 9PM, only those age 21+ are permitted, and there is a dress code (no sportswear, baggy clothes, etc.)


The Penn Quarter was once the capital's premiere shopping district. Macy's is the only remaining department store, with a number of shops nearby on 13th Street and several shops both on F Street between 14th and 9th, and on 7th Street between G and H streets and near D Street. Downtown, especially the Penn Quarter, also has a number of art galleries and exhibit spaces, many museums and entertainment destinations, and a wide variety of restaurants. Shops and offices catering to the daytime business and lobbying crowd are concentrated around Metro Center and the "New Downtown" of Connecticut Ave and K Street (West End).

Downtown shopping west of 15th Street is more dispersed, but there are shops at International Square, located near the Farragut West station on the Orange and Blue Lines, and along Connecticut Avenue norht of K Street, and here and there on streets near Connecticut Avenue. On the eastern edge of Downtown there are many shops and one of the largest food courts at Union Station. There are also shops oriented to tourists and a food court at the Pavilion at the Old Post Office (Pennsylvania Avenue at 12th Street, NW, near the Federal Triangle Metro station).

All Smithsonian museums have gift shops and they are tax-free. The largest and can be found in the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum. The National Gallery of Art has multiple gift shops. The gift shop in the National Building Museum is one of the best not run by the Smithsonian Institution, focusing on modern design.

During the spring, summer, and fall, a farmers market takes on 8th Street, NW, between D and E streets each Thursday afternoon between 3:00 and 7:00pm. During the holiday season in December, the Downtown Holiday Market is setup on F Street NW, between 7th and 9th St, with an array of handcrafted items, jewelry, pottery, and edible goods. And on a Saturday in mid-September Arts on Foot includes an Art Market with some 80 artists and craftsmen selling their art on F Street. NW betweeen 7th and 9th streets.

Art galleries

At one time, Penn Quarter also had numerous art galleries and artist studios, a few of which remain. But with the development booms downtown over the past three decades, the artists have fled the soaring rents, and the galleries followed them north.

  • Edison Place Gallery.
  • Goethe-Institute.


Both the Reagan Building and the Old Post Office Building, a block to the east, include food courts.


  • California Tortilla, 728 7th St NW, +1 202 638-2233, [18]. 11AM-10PM (M-Th); 11AM-11PM (Fr-Sat); 11AM-9PM (Sun). Burritos, tacos, quesadillas, salads, and other tex-mex food served in funky setting. $5-10.
  • Capital Q, 707 H St NW, +1 202 347-8396, [19]. 11AM-9PM (M-Th); 11AM-10PM (Fr-Sat); Noon - 8PM (Sun). Texas-style barbecue joint serving pulled pork and chicken, variety of sandwiches , ribs, and other options.
  • Chop't Creative Salad, 730 7th St NW, +1 202 374-3225. 10:30AM-10PM (M-Sat); 11AM-7PM (Sun). A variety of salads, made-to-order. $5-10.
  • Nando's Peri-Peri, 819 7th St NW, +1 202 898-1225, [20]. Nando's is a South African chain, which recently opened in D.C. They serve spicy chicken and sandwiches, as well as chicken livers, and vegetarian options including salads and veggie burgers.
  • Old Post Office Pavilion food court, Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th St NW (Close to the National Mall).
  • Qdoba, 555 11th St NW (located on E St, between 10th and 11th St), +1 202 347-8477, [21]. Burritos, quesadillas, tacos, nachos, and other options made to order. $5-10.
  • Red Velvet Cupcakery, 675 E St NW (Corner of 7th and E St, near Gallery Place-Chinatown and Archives/Penn Quarter stations), +1 202 347-7895, [22]. For a nice treat, enjoy cupcake varieties including mocha/espresso, peanut butter cup, and other options. $3.25 per cupcake or $36 for a dozen..
  • Smartkart, 7th and F St NW (outside the National Portrait Gallery), [23]. 11AM-4PM. Chicken Estofado, Tacos, and Julias Empanadas, along with organic snacks, served from an eco-friendly electric vehicle. $5.
  • Teaism, 400 8th St NW (by the Navy Memorial), +1 202 638-6010. 7:30AM-10PM (M-F); 9:30AM-9PM (Sat-Sun); Brunch served on weekends until 2:30PM. Teaism has a large selection of teas, and an adjacent tea shop where you can get some to take home. In addition to tea, they serve a variety of Asian dishes including Japanese bento boxes, udon noodle soup, ochazuke, Thai and Indian curry, and many vegetarian options. Breakfast is also delicious at Teaism, and their salty oat cookies are a must. $3-4 for tea, $10-15 for a meal, $20 for afternoon tea.


  • Jaleo, 480 7th Street NW, +1 202 628-7949. Many credit this loud, happy restaurant in the Penn Quarter (a local chain) for the current boom in Spanish tapas bars. Serves tasty tapas and wonderful sangria, as well as a great selection of ports and sherry. It is highly acclaimed Jose Andres' first restaurant, and one of the best options in the area.
  • Marrakesh, 617 New York Ave NW, +1 202 393-9393, [24]. Moroccan Cuisine, belly dancers, eat with your hands. The food is excellent, the serving staff to be good, and the atmosphere to be wonderful. The seven course meal is the only food served. There are some minor choices for main dishes, or if you want a vegetarian meal. The website lists the current meal choices. Be sure to check out the back hallway with pictures of all the famous visitors.
  • Matchbox, 713 H St NW, +1 202 289-4441, [25]. 11AM-10:30PM (M-Th); 11AM-1AM (Fr-Sat); 11AM-10PM (Sun). Pizza and bistro place, also serving sandwiches, burgers, salads, and entree, and a good place to go for a drink. Matchbox has outdoor seating when the weather is warm.


  • Minibar by José Andrés (Cafe Atlantico), 405 8th Street NW, +1 202 393-0812, [26]. Mr. Andrés' wild culinary ride. This six seat restaurant within a restaurant dishes up everything from cotton candy foie gras to lobster injection to beet tumbleweed. Expensive.
  • TenPenh, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW, +1 202 393-4500, [27]. Tastes and textures of the Far East influence the cooking here. Refreshingly eclectic dishes and startlingly new sauces. Expensive.
  • Zaytinya, 701 9th St NW, +1 202 638-0800. 11:30AM-10PM (Sun-M); 11:30AM-11:30PM (Tu-Th); 11:30AM-Midnight (Fr-Sat). Serves a variety of meat, seafood and vegetarian Greek and Lebanese mezze, along with large selection of wines.


  • ESPN Zone, 555 12th St NW (At 12th St and E St NW, near Metro Center station), +1 202 783-3776, [28]. Not a place to take a date, but a fun place that is a little expensive, but with over 200 TVs and 13 foot tall TV all tuned to sports, it is worth it.
  • Indebleu, 707 G Street NW (Off of 7th St, near the Verizon Center and Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station), +1 202 333-2538, [29]. Stunning decor, $15 drinks, and young D.C. types rubbing elbows with each other make Indebleu a hot spot not to be missed. Also a full service restaurant upstairs.
  • R.F.D. Washington, 810 7th St NW, +1 202 289-2030, [30]. 11AM - 1:30AM (M-Th); 11AM - 2:30AM (F-Sa); Noon - 12:30AM (Su). R.F.D. is a shoot-off of the Brickskeller, a Dupont Circle landmark. There are 30 varieties of beer on tap, and nearly 300 choices of bottled beer. R.F.D. serves standard American food, along with a selection of seafood and other regional dishes. Despite serving beer, it's also suitable for families eating there before Washington Capitals or Washington Wizards games at the nearby Verizon Center or when sightseeing downtown. There is outdoor seating when the weather is warm.
  • Zola, 800 F St NW (At the International Spy Museum, a block from the Verizon Center), +1 202 654-0999, [31]. 11:30AM - Midnight (M-F); 5 PM - Midnight (Sa); 5 PM - 10 PM (Su). Place for a nice lunch or dinner, or for drinks. Reservations recommended.



  • Hotel Harrington, 1100 E St NW (corner of 11th & E Streets NW), +1 202 628-8140, [32]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: Noon. Rooms from $99 per night.
  • Red Roof Inn, 500 H St NW (near the Judiciary Square Metro), +1 202 289-5959, [33]. checkin: 1PM; checkout: Noon. Rooms from $130 per night.
  • Washington International AYH Hostel, 1009 11th St NW (off of Massachusetts Ave, near the Washington Convention Center), +1 202 737-2333, [34]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. $25 - $40.


  • Hampton Inn, 901 6th St NW (on Massachusetts Avenue), +1 202 842-2500, [35]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: Noon. Rooms from $249 per night.
  • Holiday Inn on the Hill, 415 New Jersey Ave NW, +1 202 638-1616, Toll free 1-800-638-1116, [36]. This hotel is conveniently located close to many D.C. attractions such as the US Capitol, Union Station, and the Smithsonian museums. This hotel offers business and leisure accommodations with a number of children’s activities for fun family vacations.
  • Hotel George, 15 E St NW, +1 202 347-4200 (fax: (202) 347-4213), [37]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: Noon. Rooms from $229 per night.
  • Marriott Courtyard, 900 F St NW (near the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro), +1 202 638-4600 (fax: (202) 638-4601), [38]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: Noon. Rooms from $169 per night.
  • Washington Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th St NW, +1 202 737-2200, [39]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: Noon. The Marriott at Metro Center Hotel is centrally located in downtown Washington D.C. Its location near the Metro rail system provides business, family, and leisure travelers easy access to the hotel. Rooms from $189 per night.
  • Wyndham Downtown Washington Hotel, 1400 M St NW, +1 202 429-1700, [40].


  • Embassy Suites, 900 10th St NW (off of Massachusetts Avenue, near the Washington Convention Center), +1 202 739-2001, [41]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. Suites from $339 per night.
  • Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H Street NW, [42]. Luxurious hotel, centrally located in Penn Quarter. In-lobby Metro Center access. Walking distance to US capital, Verizon Center, historic monuments or the Smithsonian Museums. 888 Elegant Guestrooms, with City and Lagoon Views. Full-service business center and 32 meeting rooms.
  • Hotel Monaco, 700 F St NW (convenient to the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station), +1 202 628-7177, [43]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: Noon. Rooms from $279 per night.
  • JW Marriott Hotel Washington, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave NW (near Freedom Plaza), +1 202 393-2000, [44]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: Noon. Rooms from $259 per night.
  • Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel, 999 Ninth Street NW, +1 202 898-9000, [45]. A distinctive luxury hotel in D.C.'s Chinatown, and convenient to the Washington Convention Center.
  • Willard Inter-Continental, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, [46]. Luxurious, historic hotel near the White House and the Old Post Office. A national historic landmark



  • Cosi, (601 Pennsylvania Ave NW), +1 202 347-0307, [47]. 7AM-5PM (M-F). This particular location of the coffee and sandwich shop offers free WiFi.
  • Kogod Courtyard (Reynolds Center, National Portrait Gallery), 8th and F Streets NW, +1 202 633-1000, [48]. 11:30AM-6:30PM. Free WiFi is available in the Kogod Courtyard at the Reynold Center Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. There is a small cafe in the courtyard where you get coffee and sandwiches. The courtyard is a peaceful, quiet place to escape for a break. Note that your bag will be inspected when you come into the museum.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW (Near the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station), +1 202 727-0321, [49]. 9:30AM-9PM (M-Th); 9:30AM-5:30PM (F-Sa); 1PM-5PM (Su). Provides free WiFi, along with public termninals.
  • Freedom Plaza and Pershing Park, Pennsylvania Ave between 13th and 15th St NW, (703) 842-4851, [50]. The Open Park Project provides free WiFi for both Freedom Plaza and Pershing Park.

Get out

  • The obvious place to go from the East End is the National Mall, just to the south, where you will find, well, just about all of the capital's main attractions.
  • The nightlife here is plentiful and very visitor-friendly, but it is very much divorced from real Washingtonian culture—head up to the north central neighborhoods of Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan and the U St Corridor to see how the locals like to wine, dine, and party.