One of the best outdoor-concert experiences you’ll ever have is just outside of D.C. in Vienna, Virginia, at this performing-arts amphitheater. Kick back on the sloped general-admission lawn with an alfresco meal (you can bring your own picnic setup, including the alcohol, or buy libations on-site) as you take in live shows by Reba McEntire, Sting, and Sheryl Crow.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Exploring all of D.C.’s culture would take weeks, so we recommend starting with the first national museum dedicated entirely to the African American experience. Reserve passes to see an exceptional lineup of exhibits, screenings, and tours. A recent exhibit spotlighted Oprah Winfrey—one of Rach’s favorite people—and her effect on American culture.
At this airy pasta shop in D.C.’s Van Ness neighborhood, you can get handmade tortellini, maccheroni carbonara, and short ribs that were braised for 72 hours. For a more upscale experience, try Sfoglina’s sister restaurants: Fiola offers tasting menus (think lots of black truffles) in Penn Quarter, and Fiola Mare serves coastal seafood in Georgetown.
This historic hotel was popular in the 1930s, but after a recent renovation, the centrally located place mixes art deco with modern luxury. Look for specialty rooms, including the Selina Meyer Presidential Suite in honor of the final season of HBO’s Veep. Outside of your room, enjoy Neapolitan pizzas at Via Sophia Osteria, or snag a seat at the hotel’s speakeasy-inspired bar, Society, for cocktails.
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Go see the water lilies (sorry, Monet, we mean actual water lilies) and other wildlife at this serene area of Anacostia Park. To catch the famed flowers in full bloom, check out the Lotus and Water Lily Festival from July 13 to 14. If you can’t make it then, there’s plenty of activity throughout the year, including a riverwalk trail, paddle boats, a golf course, and more.
Whether you’re searching for a crochet shawl or a color-it-yourself tote bag, it’s easy to get lost inside this 3,000-square-foot warehouse, a shoppable incubator for indie designers and artisan brands. Every part of the decor is made within D.C., so it’s a wall-to-wall shopportunity. Afterward, you can take advantage of the riverside neighborhood with a waterfront stroll.
Call Your Mother Deli
Wood-fired bagels worth traveling for are the star of this “Jew-ish deli,” which makes them in unique flavors like za’atar and offers candied-salmon and bacon–peanut butter schmears to go on top. At lunch, go beyond bagels with the pastrami or turkey cheesesteak on a challah sub roll or a taco loaded with brisket, pastrami, and jalapeños. It’s classic yet modern, just like Mom.