Capitol Hill is more than just a metonym for the U.S. Congress. In addition to housing some of the nation’s most powerful edifices, Capitol Hill is the largest historic residential neighborhood in Washington, D.C. and one of the most densely populated.
The neighborhood consists of traditional D.C. row houses, a common sight in the city as it satisfied the need for tighter developments with the areas contrasts on space and residents’ desire for detached homes as opposed to apartment complexes. With a mix of styles and period developments, Capitol Hill is a great area to stroll and enjoy the mingling of architectural styles. Plus row homes are simply cute.
Residents, politicians, and the political-obsessed crowd can be seen walking and enjoying Pennsylvania Avenue’s shops, restaurants, and bars. In fact I’ve been told several times that roughly one-third of members of Congress live in Capitol Hill while in Washington.
But it’s not all commercial, the charming Eastern Market has hosted farmers’ stands with fresh meat and produce since 1873 and is home to a weekly weekend flea market. While Barracks Row (8th Street SE) is one of the city’s oldest corridors and has been revitalized with some of the city’s restaurants, bars, galleries, and shops.
As previously mentioned there is no shortage of historical landmarks and government entities in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Here you’ll find the U.S. Capitol, the Senate and House office buildings, the Supreme Court building, the Library of Congress, the Marine Barracks, the Washington Navy Yard, and the Congressional Cemetery. With the opportunity to tour the majority of these it’s no wonder that this neighborhood becomes a bit overrun when peak tourist seasons rolls around (roughly April-Labor Day). If you plan on taking tours, book in as far in advance as possible. Tours do fill up quickly and often.
Also be on the lookout and aware that police lines and motorcades are a common occurrence in the areas as it’s an important governmental area, as obvious from list of landmarks above. :) Last time we were in the area the President’s motorcade came through—armored vehicles, ambulances, motorcycle police, flagged cars…it’s a sight and definitely a cool item to check off your D.C. bucket list.
Website | @easternmarket_dc | Address: 225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
A gathering spot for the neighborhood, Eastern Market is a public market that comes alive on the weekends with fresh produce like fresh fruits, veggies, meats, baked goods, etc., and artisan stalls with arts, crafts, jewelry, and antiques, and more. Parking is limited so using public transit or ride-sharing services is recommended.
Scary DC Tours
Website | @Address: Meeting location dependent on tour type
D.C. just might be the most haunted capital city and Scary DC Tours brings the city’s stories of haunted places, scandalous tales, and sightings of ghosts & apparitions to life with their historically accurate and engaging tours. They offer several tours like Horror on the Hill which covers iconic places like The Supreme Court and Capitol buildings, and a haunted pub crawl.
East City Bookshop
Website | @eastcitybookshop | Address: 645 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
This women-owned independent bookshop is full of books (obviously), clever cards, and unique gifts. It also hosts community programs like author readings, book clubs, and speaker series. Check online for upcoming events.
Take a Walk in A Park
With 59 parks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood designed by Pierre L’Enfant, the French-born designer who designed the basic plan for Washington, there is no shortage of green spaces to enjoy the outdoors. Highlights include Folger Park and it’s 1,000 ornamental trees, Marion Park which dates to 1791, and Lincoln Park which has statues of President Lincoln and Cicil Rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune.
All the world’s a stage.
All that glitters is not gold.
To thine own self be true.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said, read, or heard these phrases? That’s everyone, right? Unless you live under a rock which means you wouldn’t even be reading this blog post.
William “The Bard” Shakespeare remains the greatest writer, poet, playwright, and dramatist in the English language, and D.C.’s Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest collection of printed works of The Bard as well as rare Renaissance books, works of art, and manuscripts. The building itself if beautiful inside and outside. Admission to the Folger is free and docent-led tours are offered daily, no reservation required.
Website | Address: 201 E Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003
The Folger Shakespeare Library is also home to an Elizabethan theater—The Folger Theatre. The theatre performs a variety of classical and modern plays related to or inspired by Shakespeare and his works. Check online for upcoming performances.
Hand-drawn + painted illustrations now available in my shop!
Website | @visitthecapitol | Address: First St SE, Washington, DC 20004
Regarded as one of the most iconic neoclassical buildings in Washington, The U.S. Capitol Building is where the U.S. Congress and House of Representatives have met for more than two centuries. Tours are free and open to the public. Advance reservations are recommended—especially during high tourist season—and can be reserved up to 90-days in advance on the U.S. Capitol’s website. The tour consists of a 45-minute guided tour of the building & its exhibitions and 13 minute video. Please arrive well in advance of your tour time to complete security screenings. Some same day tickets are available as well. Whether you book a tour or not, take time to walk around the outside of this buildings. The East side is the primary entrance, but the West side is more recognizable as it faces the National Mall and has been the site for most presidential inaugurations since 1801.
Library of Congress
Website | @librarycongress | Address: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540
Officially serving as the U.S.’s leading research library, The Library of Congress (LOC) is the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S. It was established in 1800 when second President John Adams signed the congressional act officially transferring the seat of government to the new capital city of Washington D.C from Philadelphia. The LOC is open to the public, offering daily first-come, first-served guided tours and self-guided tour options, although only high-ranking officials may check out materials. In addition to the more than 38 million books, the LOC also contains recordings, photographs, maps, sheet music, manuscripts for a collection consisting of more than 167 millions items.
In our opinion The Thomas Jefferson Building of the LOC is one of the most beautiful places in Washington, specifically the elaborately decorated Great Hall.
Website | @marines | Address: 8th & I Streets SE, Washington, DC 20003
Founded by third President Thomas Jefferson and the second commandant of the Marine Corps in 1801, The Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. is the oldest active post in the Marine Corps.
Nicknamed "8th & I" for the Barracks’ location of 8th Street SE and I Street SE, the Barracks the site of the Home of the Commandants— home for the highest-ranking officer of the U.S. Marines and the oldest continually occupied public building in the District—and home to many recognized units including the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps., the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, the Marine Band, the official Marine Corps Color Guards, and the Marine Corps Body Bearers.
Tours can be booked through companies like D.C. Military tours.
And don’t miss during the summer months the Friday Evening Parades! From May through August on Fridays at 8:45 p.m., the units take part in a one hour and fifteen minute performance that starts with a concert by the U.S. Marine Band. It’s a universal tribute to the professionalism, tradition, and discipline that is the U.S. Marines.
The Supreme Court of the United States
Website | Address: 1 First St NE, Washington, DC 20543
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. The inaugural session was held in February 1790 in the then-capital of New York and moved to Philadelphia in 1790 with the nation’s capital. When the nation’s capital was moved to Washington DC, the Supreme Court moved as well occupying what’s now referred to as the Old Supreme Court Chamber, a room now on the ground floor of the North Wing of the current Capitol Building. The neoclassical building as we know it today was completed in 1935 with marble quarried from Vermont, Georgia, and Alabama. However the Spanish ivory vein marble which lines the courtroom itself was quarried near Siena, Italy.
SCOTUS does not offer guided tour, but it does offer free self-guided tours where visitors can watch a short film, walk through court-related exhibitions, and take advantage of education programs offered. Court sessions are also opened to the public and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Do note that the entry line is especially long during peak tourist season.
Fun fact: The fifth floor is home to the gym which includes a basketball court nicknamed the “Highest Court in the Land.” :)
This neighborhood is home to some of DC’s most delicious and best new up-and-coming restaurants. There is something for everyone. Seriously—every couple steps there are different eateries to try. The biggest concentration is on Barracks Row (8th St. SE, south of Pennsylvania). Barracks Row is lined with a colorful eclectic mix of bakeries, pizzerias, and new concept eateries. We’ve no where near tried all the restaurants here (…yet!) but we’ve included a few standouts so far.
Website | Address: 505 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 + locations on 14th Street, and in Ballston Quarter, Fairfax and Reston.
A classic and still popular DC establishment. Ted’s is always consistent and the fact that they serve breakfast all day is a big win in my book! Leather booths, art-deco inspired design with classic movie screenings…we’re there. LeBraun’s recommendation—Nana’s beer biscuits and sausage gravy and one of their homemade peanut-butter-bacon poptarts. They’ve also got boozy milkshakes, classic dishes like grilled cheese and tomato soup, BLTs, and burgers. It’s classic hearty portions of comfort food with a modern twist. PLUS they now carry the Impossible Burger for all the vegans out there. :)
Website | Address: 717 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Continually one of DC’s hottest restaurants, Rose’s Luxury serves eclectic American small blacks in their converted classic neighborhood rowhouse. Their menu changes often and seasonally but keeping with serving all the tasty delights. Go as at least a group of four so you can order one of everything and share! Plus their desserts and specialty cocktails are worth the wait alone. They’ve just started taking reservations a month in advance so plan ahead, yay!
Good Stuff Eatery
Website | Address: 303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 + Georgetown location
This laid-back industrial burger joint founded by Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn is always a tasty choice. They’ve got classic burgers, turkey burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers and topping galore! My favorite the Fried Green Tomato Veg with a side of the handout fries. They also boosts a few not-your-average salads. YUM! LeBraun recommends finishing up with one of their famous Toasted Marshmallow hand spun shakes. Your already on the way, right?
Website | Address: 1309 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004 + several DMV locations
Started as a food truck back in 2009, District Taco now has several brick and mortar locations around the DMV where they continue serving their always fresh Yucatan style Mexican food. They’ve got all your favorites from breakfast meals like Huevos Rancheros and breakfast tacos to all-day delicious options such as tacos, quesadillas, bowls, and burritos in a BYO format—choose your meal, choose your base, and choose your toppings! For a quick, quality meal, District Taco’s the place to satisfy your south of the border cravings.
Website | Address: 749 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 + Georgetown location
Looking for a sweet treat in DC? Not much hits the spot like a delicious gourmet yeast doughnut from District Doughnut. Classic flavors are offered year-round but I highly recommend going for one of their seasonal offerings. This spring our favorites were Cherry Blossom (Vanilla bean dough, cream cheese glaze, cherry pie filling, pie crust crumble, cream cheese drizzle), Baklava (Vanilla bean dough, honey orange pistachio glaze, baked phyllo), and Blueberry Glazed (Vanilla bean dough, fresh blueberry glaze).
Website | Address: 523 8th St SE, Washington, D.C. 20003 + Clarendon location
Are you a fan of Balkan cuisine? We are now thanks to Ambar! Mezze, bread and spreads, baked pies, sausages, seafood, lamb, chicken, pork, veal, salads, flatbreads, and gorgeous fresh veggies! Everyone will find something here. We’d recommend ordering several dishes for the table and sharing so everyone can enjoy a bit of everything. Plus their unlimited weekend brunch service is worth waking up early on Saturday and Sunday for. :)
Bonus: They have a allergy-labeled menu for those of us with dietary preference or restrictions!
Note: We haven’t eaten at this location, but enjoyed their Clarendon location.
We, the Pizza
Website | Address: 305 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 + Crystal City location
The name says it all. It’s DC punny and they serve pizza! :) Order their NYC-style pizza by the slice or pie and enjoy their homemade sodas (My fave: Their Don’t Forget Your Ginger Roots Soda) takeaway or in their classic fast-casual space.
GETTING TO CAPITOL HILL
There are three Metro stops within walking distance of The U.S. Capitol:
- Capitol South – Located at First Street between C and D Streets, SE (Orange, Blue and Silver Lines, 0.3 miles)
- Federal Center – Located at the southwest corner of Third and D Streets, SW (Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines, 0.6 miles)
- Union Station – Located at First Street, NW, and Massachusetts Avenue (Red Line, 0.5 miles)
The DC Circulator buses, which run between many of the city's main attractions popular neighborhood with 10 minute intervals between buses, has two routes (Union Station - Navy Yard & National Mall Route) that make stops near the Capitol. Passengers may use SmarTrip cards or have exact fare in cash.
The Capitol Hill neighborhood has limited public metered street parking so public transit is recommended.
As always walking and biking when possible is encouraged.