Virtuoso Traveler 2018 August Long Weekend: Washington, D.C.

Long Weekend: Washington, D.C.

Views of Georgetown and the Potomac River.
Views of Georgetown and the Potomac River.
Photo by Eurobanks/Getty Images
Score yet another victory for Washington, D.C. The Washington Capitals’ recent Stanley Cup win – the hockey team’s first title in its 44-year history – is even more cause for celebration in this dynamic city, which has seen a surge of new restaurants, entertainment venues, exhibition spaces, and revitalized neighborhoods pop up in recent years.

“There’s a whole new buzz in D.C. these days,” says Jessica Griscavage. The Virtuoso travel advisor, who hails from nearby McLean, Virginia, says a wealth of notable museums, iconic sights, and buzzing nightlife firmly places the U.S. capital among the world’s most vibrant and entertaining cities – one that deserves a second look. “If you haven’t been to D.C. in a while,” she urges, “now is the time to come back and visit.” With the lofty Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. as your swank base, here’s a three-day blueprint to see what all the buzz is about.
The Yard at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
The Yard at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Photo by The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. 

Day One

A half century before there was even a city to explore, Georgetown thrived as a port along the banks of the Potomac; today, it’s a hub for high-end fashion, hip cocktail lounges, and luxe hotels. The neighborhood’s historic incinerator sat abandoned for decades until its rebirth as The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C., which smartly incorporates exposed metal and brick into its modern design. (The original gantry crane sits atop the hotel lobby space, while the 130-foot-high smokestack now houses a private venue for power lunches.) Griscavage’s room to book: the 2,400-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Suite, with a wraparound terrace offering views of Georgetown and the river.

Ease into the weekend with a Lavender Frosé and a breath of fresh air in The Yard, the hotel’s multitiered garden patio, before a little retail therapy along Georgetown’s boutique-lined cobblestoned streets. At Hu’s Wear and sister shop Hu’s Shoes, owner Marlene Hu Aldaba handpicks a curated selection of haute couture she’s spotted on runaways from Manhattan to Milan. Then make your way to Fiola Mare, James Beard Award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi’s rustic Italian restaurant and Michelin-starred celebrity magnet (tables fill fast, so have your travel advisor book well in advance).

Day Two 

Signature biscuits and gravy in Degrees Bistro provides sufficient fuel to get behind the carbon-fiber wheel of a Tesla Model S, arranged exclusively through the hotel. After a brief demo of the dashboard command center and a test run around the block, you’re ready to head along the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. NMAAHC has been the hottest exhibition ticket in town since its 2016 opening, and while admission is free (as it is at all 19 Smithsonian museums), entry passes are strictly timed and must be reserved up to three months in advance. Spend a few hours perusing the vast collection of artifacts, from a restored 1853 slave cabin and open-cockpit biplane used by the Tuskegee Airmen to Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and Michael Jackson’s black fedora. A current exhibit on the cultural impact of Oprah Winfrey runs through June 30, 2019.

The NMAAHC’s Segregation Gallery.
The NMAAHC’s Segregation Gallery.
Photo by Eric Long
Next up: a half-hour drive along Maryland Route 190 to nearby Potomac, Maryland, for a visit to the Glenstone Museum, a private gem of contemporary art and architecture set on 200 wooded, rolling acres. A new 50,000-square-foot expansion, due for completion in late 2018, increases the exhibition space by nearly fourfold, while also adding a bookstore and two cafés. Guided tours of the art-filled landscape, including two recently installed outdoor sculptures, are offered daily. Admission is free, although visits must be scheduled in advance.

Back in D.C., District Wharf is the place to be. Griscavage calls the new mile-long waterfront development “one of the city’s biggest openings in a long time. All the chefs want to be there!” That elite list includes Top Chef contestant Kwame Onwuachi, who serves up D.C.’s only Afro-Caribbean cuisine at Kith/Kin. Walk off those stewed oxtails along the Wharf’s four themed piers; look to catch a live performance at the 6,000-seat, “acoustically advanced” Anthem or a more intimate venue such as the Pearl Street Warehouse.
A sculpted fire pit blazes on District Wharf’s Recreation Pier.
A sculpted fire pit blazes on District Wharf’s Recreation Pier.
Photo by The Wharf

Day Three

Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding on the Potomac are all the craze these days; rentals are available at Key Bridge Boathouse. Another active option: Reserve one of the hotel’s complimentary bikes and cycle along a section of the C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Canal’s former towpath. (The 185-mile trail, which ends in Cumberland, Maryland, is spectacular during fall colors.) For a more controlled sweat, pedal one of the fitness center’s Pelotons before a deep-muscle massage or other ESPA treatment in the recently transformed spa.

Spend your last capital hours checking out the Navy Yard neighborhood along the Anacostia River. Anchored by its namesake former shipyard and the National Museum of the U.S. Navy, the redeveloped area is now home to trendy restaurants and bars such as craft brewery Bluejacket, the Riverwalk Trail System, and plentiful green spaces, along with Nationals Park. With the Washington Nationals looking to make Major League Baseball playoffs again in 2018, D.C. just may have another reason to celebrate.

Not your average beers: Craft brews from Bluejacket.
Not your average beers: Craft brews from Bluejacket.
Photo by Bluejacket

Stay

Of Virtuoso’s 11 hotels in the city, here are three worthy options:

Exposed elements from the 1932 incinerator, a National Historic Landmark, create a sense of place at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. Cozy up in front of the Living Room’s wood-burning fireplace.

Completely renovated in 2017, the 220-room Park Hyatt Washington, D.C. is centrally located and regularly celebrated for its Michelin-starred Blue Duck Tavern; President Obama has been known to drop by for a slice of its apple pie.

Directly across from the White House, the 145-room Hay-Adams offers convenient access to the Smithsonian museums. Highly recommended: rubbing elbows with D.C.’s elite at Off the Record bar and the hotel’s private monuments-by-night tour.

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. 
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. 
Photo by The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. 

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