If you make it into town early enough for breakfast, start your day at Little Penn Coffeehouse, a new neighborhood spot with a midcentury-modern vibe from the owners of Penn Social, where you can sip a cup of locally brewed joe from DC’s own Compass Coffee and nosh on a bagel.
Once you’re full and fueled, check out the District’s newest museum, the Museum of Illusions, home to over 50 mind-bending exhibits. It’s a fun experience for both kids and adults, so be sure to take your time — and plenty of photos. If you’re interested in a more classic museum, there’s always something new at the National Portrait Gallery. One Life: Maya Lin, the first biographical exhibition dedicated to the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is on view through April 16.
When you’re ready to break for lunch, grab a bite at Tatte Bakery & Café, a popular Boston concept that made its local debut in 2020 and opened last year. Don’t be dissuaded by the long line — it moves fast, and it’s worth every minute for fare like Halloumi, shakshuka, tartines, and Israeli-influenced pastries.
While in CityCenterDC, why not enjoy some luxe shopping? Aficionados of fine clothing will love perusing its newest lavish retailers, such as Swiss fashion brand Akris and Italian menswear purveyor Brioni. A new, permanent space for Louis Vuitton is planned for 2023.
In the evening, consider catching a game or concert at Capital One Arena. Although it’s called the neighborhood home for over 25 years, the venue boasts several new concessions that offer a taste of the region, including Alexandria-based Bun Papa and local barbecue joint Federalist Pig.
If the arena environment isn’t your jam, you can still get all the excitement and watch multiple games simultaneously next door at sports bar chain Tom’s Watch Bar, which opened its first DC location in December. For a pre-event dining experience with some international flair, try Tonari, which specializes in wafu dishes — a blend of Japanese and Italian flavors.
If you’re in the mood for a nightcap, sidle up to the gorgeous bar at the Waldorf Astoria, which opened last June in the Old Post Office building and former Trump International Hotel. Or, make plans to dine at celebrity chef José Andrés’ new “theater of shared plates,” The Bazaar, inside the extravagant, nine-floor atrium known as Peacock Alley. A tip for those whose feet ache after walking around the city: The hotels boasts a 10,000-square-foot spa. It’s a relaxing alternative to museums or shopping.
Iconic Spot: Ford’s Theatre
For history buffs, no trip to Penn Quarter is complete without a visit to the site where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. If it weren’t for the line of people out front, Ford’s Theatre would be a fairly unassuming building tucked away from the bustling area surrounding Capital One Arena. Ford’s Theatre houses a museum where visitors can learn about the Civil War, Lincoln’s presidency, and his assassination. A one-act play about that fateful night, One Destiny, resumes in March alongside the historic theater’s usual schedule of live performances. 511 10th St. NW, Washington, DC
Feature photo courtesy washington.org
This story originally ran in our March issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.