When it comes to shopping, the nation’s capital doesn’t quite measure up to New York City in terms of fame and stature. But what may surprise visitors to Washington D.C. is there’s actually a wide variety of shopping options, from unique vintage clothing stores to high-end fashion boutiques. While the top attractions in Washington D.C. are obviously the national monuments, memorial parks and world-class museums, time should be put aside to visit at least one of the many popular shopping neighborhoods. The following is a shopping guide to the five of the best in the District of Columbia.
Capitol Hill is best known for being the location of the U.S. Capitol. But this historic neighborhood filled with 19th-century brick row houses and manor houses is also an exceptional destination for shopping. Just minutes southeast of the Capitol building is Eastern Market, the oldest continuously operated public market. Visitors can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables here, in addition to artisanal cheese, fresh seafood and delectable pastries. The historic structure built in 1873 also hosts a weekend farmer’s market when local farmers and other food vendors showcase the freshest food in the District of Columbia. Also not to be missed is Barracks Row, the oldest commercial neighborhood one block over on Seventh Street, where a number of retailers and moderately priced restaurants can be found.
Situated just north of downtown and the White House, Dupont Circle is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the nation’s capital . A mixture of businesses, shopping and an upscale residential area, the neighborhood name refers to the 19th-century traffic circle bearing nine points, similar to the rotary that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The vibrant neighborhood is filled with trendy boutiques, vintage clothing shops and national retailer, with the center of activity along Connecticut Avenue between R Street Northwest and M Street Northwest. Shopping stops in this trendy neighborhood should include the upscale women’s boutique Betsy Fisher, vintage jewelry store Tiny Jewel Box and two of D.C.’s most popular bookstores — Second Story Books and Kramerbooks. On Sundays, there is a farmers market conveniently located between the Dupont Circle Metro Station and the Dupont Circle.
Friendship Heights-Chevy Chase
Visitors hoping to find high-end retailers like Tiffany & Company, Lord and Taylor and Bloomingdale’s should head directly to Friendship Heights. Located in the northwestern section of Washington D.C., Friendship Heights features upscale shopping that actually spreads across the Maryland border and is anchored by four trendy shopping centers. The majority of retailers can be found at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue Northwest and Western Avenue Northwest with Mazza Gallerie and Chevy Chase in D.C. and The Shops at Wisconsin Place and the Collection at Chevy Chase in Maryland. The latter is a great spot to begin a shopping excursion, with luxury retail stores like Cartier, Dior, Bulgari, Jimmy Choo, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany and Company. Mazza Gallerie also features a number of luxury brands including Neiman Marcus, Ann Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Store. Visitors hoping to use public transportation can take the R Line to the Friendship Heights Metro station.
If visitors have only a day to go shopping, some places like Union Station or downtown are convenient choices. But for the most complete shopping experience, a better option is in Georgetown, primarily along M Street Northwest and Wisconsin Avenue. Visitors will find a wide selection places to shop, from vintage clothing stores to fashionable boutiques, along with several sporting goods stores and a spacious shopping mall with a lovely atrium known as Georgetown Park. Among the recommended places to shop in Georgetown are vintage clothier Ella-Rye, Anthropologie, Barneys New York and the North Face. Although Georgetown is not served by MetroRail, visitors hoping to use public transportation can take a Circulator bus via Georgetown-Union Station or via Dupont Circle-Georgetown.
For visitors traveling by car or relying on public transportation, Union Station is likely the most convenient shopping destination in D.C. Opened in 1907, Union Station is the primary transportation hub in the District but it also has a three-level shopping center featuring fashion and accessories, specialty items and more than 30 places for casual dining. Popular brand names like Ann Taylor, Chico’s, H&M and Victoria’s Secret have retail stores, as well as chocolatiers like Godiva and Neuhaus and accessory stores like Swatch, Claire’s and Swarovski. Plenty of parking is available at Union Square and is also served by Metro buses, MetroRail’s Red Line and Amtrak.
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