Monument of Dr.Martin Luther King jr framed by cherry blossoms

 ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿฝ Skip to: Best Places to Stay in DC | Best Neighborhoods | Neighborhoods to Avoid Staying in DC  | Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for a place to stay in DC? I moved to DC over ten years ago and have lived in different neighborhoods all over the district. Whenever friends visit, I always give them a rundown of DC, and I want to provide you with the same advice.

Washington, D.C., offers a wealth of sights and experiences, and choosing the right place to stay can significantly enhance your visit. Use our detailed guide to the capitalโ€™s best neighborhoods to find your ideal match, whether you’re here for the landmarks and museums, brunch and nightlife, or a blend of both and more.

Looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Washington DC? Here are my top picks for hotels in DC: 

Best Neighborhoods to Visit in DC for Tourists

Capitol Hill | Penn Quarter | Georgetown | Dupont Circle | Logan Circle| The Wharf

Choosing the right neighborhood to stay in while visiting DC is crucial. My favorite neighborhoods are Capitol Hill, Penn Quarter, Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, and The Wharf. If you’re here to explore the Smithsonian and the White House, I recommend staying near the National Mall or the Capitol.

If you plan on enjoying DC’s nightlife and popular brunch spots, consider staying in Dupont Circle or Logan Circle.

When considering where to stay in Washington, D.C., each neighborhood has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown of Capitol Hill, Penn Quarter, Georgetown, Dupont Circle, the DC Wharf, and Logan Circle:

Capitol Hill: Best Area to Stay in DC if You Don’t Have a Car

Capitol Hill is a charming neighborhood known for its historic architecture, tree-lined streets, and proximity to the U.S. Capitol. Tourists can enjoy many local markets, cafes, restaurants, and cultural attractions like the Library of Congress and Eastern Market.

Finding a metro in the Capitol Hill neighborhood is easy, but you may not even need it if you plan sightseeing at major DC attractions. The White House, National Hall, and the Smithsonian are all within walking distance.

I don’t recommend driving in Capitol Hill unless you come on a weekday during shoulder season. Finding free parking during the weekend is like finding a needle in a haystack, and parking can cost up to $80 a day. Due to its sensitive location, Capitol Hill can experience heavy traffic and lots of police activities.

Penn Quarter:

a silhouette of a man who is looking at the Lincoln Monument, a statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting on a chair.
Lincoln Memorial at night

Penn Quarter gets busy during the tourism season, but its location is unbeatable. It’s within walking distance of the National Mall, Smithsonian museums, and many restaurants. It’s metro accessible, so you’ll always be a short train ride or walk from most DC attractions.

On the flip side, it’s also home to the Capital One Arena, so I would avoid staying here during a game unless you’re there to watch, as it can become very crowded and loud. It’s also not a great place to stay if you’re on a tight budget, as it’s a more expensive part of the city.

Hotel Recommendation: Riggs Washington DC

Georgetown: DC’s Most Charming Neighborhood + Little France

Georgetown is often considered one of the Frenchiest places in America. Georgetown hosts an annual market to celebrate French culture and cuisine every year. There are also a few French bakeries and restaurants like Brasserie Libertรฉ and La Grande Vache.

As a history lover, I fell in love with it’s cobblestone streets, beautiful vintage townhomes, and canals unique to Georgetown. It’s also home to Georgetown Cupcakes, which is good, but you can find better in the city.

If shopping is more your thing, you’ll enjoy the upscale boutiques and cafes located on M Street.

And lastly, if you’re an outdoor lover, Georgetown is only a quick walk to waterfront parks and summer kayaking.

There are a few drawbacks to staying in Georgetown, though. Although its a safe and affluent area, there is no direct metro stop (locals will tell you this is intentional). It’s also one of the most expensive places in the city if you’re on a budget.

Dupont Circle:

row house in Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle is perfect for those seeking vibrant nightlife and cultural activities.

Logan Circle

a roundabout in Logan Circle at night
Photo by Danny B on Unsplash

Logan Circle appeals to those looking for a trendy residential area with great dining options. It’s a vibrant neighborhood known for its lively nightlife, featuring numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants. It’s a cultural hub with art galleries, embassies, and historic landmarks and is well-connected by the Dupont Circle Metro station. However, Logan Circle can be busy and noisy, especially on weekends, and both housing and dining can be pricey.

Capitol Hill: Best Place to Stay in DC for Sightseeing

Capitol Hill is ideal for history lovers and those wanting quick proximity to major attractions. You can skip the Uber and walk or cycle to the National Monument, the White House, and Smithsonian museums.

The Wharf: The Waterfront DC

As a water baby, the Wharf is one of my favorite places, especially during Cherry Blossom season. The views are perfect and there’s always a new restaurant opening up. It’s a great place to stay if you’re a foodie or want to experience coastal living in the middle of the city.

The Wharf is also well-connected by public transit, making exploring other parts of the city a breeze. On the downside, the Wharf can be crowded, especially during weekends and events. Also, hotels and dining are expensive, and free parking is hard to find.

I hope this makes it easier to find a hotel in DC. If a neighborhood wasn’t on this list, then I don’t recommend staying there as a first-time tourist. Enjoy your trip to DC and don’t forget to check out hidden gems like the Capitol Columns .

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I stay outside of DC?

I love neighborhoods like Old Town Alexandria, Arlington, or Rossylyn. Old Town Alexandria has a water taxi that goes directly to DC, and Rossylyn is only a short walk away.

Should I rent a car in DC?

I don’t recommend renting a car in DC because parking is difficult to find in most neighborhoods, especially near the White House and Smithsonian museums. Plus, most things are within walking distance. If you’re sightseeing at the capitol, so you won’t need a car at all. If you plan to do local hikes, I recommend renting a car.

Should I fly into Dulles International Airport or Reagan Airport?

It depends on a few factors, like where you plan on staying and flying from. I have a blog post with a more detailed response here.

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