On a recent visit to Washington D.C. with her college-age daughter, World Traveling Mom didn’t want to hassle with parking a car. So she chose to stay in Dupont Circle, a neighborhood with plenty to enjoy in walking distance. Things to do near Dupont Circle include tons of restaurants, cafes, and shops. Plus, it is a short walk to Washington D.C. museums.
Things to do Near Dupont Circle – Where to Stay
Dupont Circle has lots of overnight options. But since I love one-of-a-kind boutique hotels, I picked a Washington D.C. treasure, The Tabard Inn. Originally, the Inn was three separate townhouses. The Inn is an idiosyncratic hodgepodge of elegant and funky rooms, sometimes at odd angles. Antiques fill the public and overnight rooms. Quirky posters and art cover the walls.
And the Tabard Inn retains some of the architectural features of its past as an elegant city house. The cozy, wood paneled first floor lounge is chock-a-block with comfy sofas around a giant fireplace. Likely, this warm inviting room once was the family parlor. It feels like a ski lodge. And I could imagine reading while sipping wine in front the fire. But this cozy livingroom is also a perfect place to meet friends or enjoy an evening drink.
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When I walked into the tiny, welcoming lobby of Tabard Inn, I immediately felt at home. Because I’d booked at the last minute, the only room left was a walk-up on the third floor, making it feel even more like someone’s house. My shared bathroom was euphemistically called “European style.” But at $150 a night, including breakfast at the Inn’s restaurant, it was a bargain.
Things to do Near Dupont Circle – Architecture and Shops
One of my favorite things to do near Dupont Circle is enjoy this historic neighborhood’s beautiful architecture. We window shopped at the boutiques, clothing stores, bookstores, and cafes near Dupont Circle. And of course people-watched on its lively streets. My daughter and I love reading. So we spent a happy hour at Kramerbooks & Afterwords, one of the original bookstore cafes. Kramerbooks has books about politics, of course, but also fiction, history, biography, and a children’s section.
Things to do Near Dupont Circle – Walking Distance to Museums
My daughter and I are big walkers. So we walked from Dupont Circle to the Washington D.C. Mall to visit museums. National museums are free in Washington D.C. That makes museums a must-do in this city. For example, the Air and Space Museum, with its planes and rocket ships – free. And the National Gallery of Art, with Leonardo da Vinci and Degas, the National Museum of American History – also free.
African American Museum
My daughter and I first tried to visit the Mall’s newest museum, the hugely popular National Museum of African-American History and Culture that opened in 2016. While it had no tickets available, we were happy to learn that the Museum releases tickets online each morning at 6:30 a.m. Also, the Museum gives away tickets in person on weekdays at 1 pm in front of the museum. Now that we know how to get tickets, we plan to visit on a weekday.
Instead, my daughter and I walked over to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I’ve wanted to visit for years. While advance tickets may be needed in spring and summer, we got there at 10:15 a.m. on a Saturday and went inside without a wait. The Holocaust history museum is fascinating and rewarding. But realistically, this is an emotionally challenging place. And it is not a good fit for every kid. My college-age daughter and I spent three gut-wrenching hours looking at photographs and reading history. We watched grainy black and white contemporary videos, read stories of people who survived – or died in – Europe’s Jewish ghettoes and concentration camps. We saw piles of the victims’ personal possessions.
Afterwards, we needed an emotional breather. We wandered back to the African-American Museum to sit at their outdoor picnic tables. And welcomed the opportunity to sit with a drink from one of the food trucks to reflect – and people watch. For suggestions of don’t miss spots for kids in Washington DC, check out these places.
Things to do near Dupont Circle – Eating
Eating is one of the fun things to do near Dupont Circle, and there are tons of restaurants. We’ve enjoyed both brunch and dinner at Kramerbooks, the famous bookstore café. On this trip, we thoroughly enjoyed dinner at Kapnos DC, a longish walk from Dupont Circle. At Kapnos, we ate Mediterranean food like charred octopus, hummus, smoked eggplant, and original creations, like short rib phyllo.
As I stayed at Tabard Inn, I had $10 toward breakfast at the Inn’s restaurant. That was perfect for light meal. But since Tabard Inn is well known Washington D.C. brunch location, we splurged on the big weekend brunch menu. We ate both in the pretty glass topped courtyard and at the inside cafe tables.
These are just some of the fun things to do near Dupont Circle. For more ideas about how families can navigate Washington DC and what else kids might enjoy, check here.
Have you visited Washington D.C. with your family? What did you enjoy? Tell us about it in the comments.