By SUSAN FAREWELL
There’s a lot more happening in DC than the new administration. The District is abuzz with museum openings, new restaurants, hotel openings, re-openings and special events galore.
Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find.
On the Museum Front
The biggest headline news has been the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Don’t assume you can just show up and get in, however. Far from it. In fact, there are no advance time-slot passes left through the month of April. May passes become available on Feb. 1st.
If you’re eager to visit the museum before then, there are a couple of same-day options. On the day you want to go, go online at 6:28am. Beginning at 6:30am, same-day passes (up to four per person/family) are available online until they run out. On weekdays only, there are a limited number of walk-up passes (one per person) available starting at 1 p.m. on the Madison Drive side of the building. Get in line a solid half hour beforehand.
Also noteworthy, the National Gallery of Art reopened its East Building, after a three-year-long renovation. Make sure you head up to the roof terrace to see the gigantic cobalt blue rooster, a nearly 15-foot high sculpture by Katharina Fritsch. Destined to become the most Instagramed site in town, it’s definitely worth posing next to. Steps away is the Calder exhibition, a room filled with the artist’s mobiles and whimsical figures.
Mark Your Calendar
While it’s too early to say when the cherry blossoms will be in their full glory, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has its signature events scheduled between March 20th – April 16. Among them are the Opening Ceremony on March 25th; The Cherry Blossom Kite Festival April 1st, The Parade, April 8th and the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks April 15th. Do yourselves a huge favor and get Grandstand tickets for the parade here (on sale now). It’s the best way to see all the celebrity entertainers, the giant helium balloons and the lavishly designed floats.
What About the White House?
A word about visiting the White House…chances are you already know that you need to contact your local congress person for tickets. This can take time and unfortunately, can be cancelled with a moment’s notice. A truly worthwhile alternative that requires no advance planning is to head to the White House Visitor Center and White House Historical Association.
When it Comes to Dining
The restaurant scene in DC is seriously booming. Neighborhoods especially hot for foodies are Shaw, which has had more than a dozen restaurants open since 2015 and the 14th Street corridor, from Thomas Circle Park to Florida Ave NW, which has had no fewer than 30 restaurants open in the last five years. Also noteworthy is Barracks Row, a street on Capitol Hill with a Main Street USA feel—which is home to several of DC’s most progressive restaurants including two opened by local chef Aaron Silverman: Rose’s Luxury and Pineapples & Pearls.
Perhaps the biggest buzz in DC restaurants is happening in Georgetown—the opening of Reverie by Chef Johnny Spero come summer. Back from having worked at Mugaritz (one of San Sebastian, Spain’s Michelin-starred restaurants), the young, dynamic chef is sure to please Washingtonians and visitors alike with wonderful, contemporary and imaginative meals.
With administrations coming and going, Washington DC is forever changing and it’s reflected in its hotels. Just in the last six months alone, The Watergate Hotel re-opened after being closed for several years for a complete transformation, The Fairmont lifted the curtain on their 27 million dollar renovation and the Trump International Hotel opened in the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue.
And though not every hotel is in the news, Washington pros continue to return to some of the long-standing Washington classics including The Dupont Circle Hotel (pictured here is its 3-bedroom Penthouse Suite), The Jefferson and The Hay-Adams.
Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC, a Westport-based travel design firm. Contact her by calling 203-222-7238 or write here.