Eastern Market draws crowds from all over the area for its weekend open-air flea market (Seventh St., SE, between Pennsylvania and North Carolina aves.). Vendors selling jewelry, furniture, artwork, crafts, and produce set up shop every Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 5. Some accept credit cards, but many accept only cash. For bold bargain hunters, vendors are typically willing to barter.
During the week (except Mondays, when the market is closed), only food and flower vendors are on hand. Produce merchants and florists set up outside the Eastern Market building—on the corner of Seventh and North Carolina—under an awning, but the meat, seafood, and baked-goods vendors are in the temporary building across the street.
One block south and one block east of Eastern Market is the Barracks Row neighborhood, which takes its name from the Marine barracks on Eighth Street between G and I. Along Eighth are a number of quaint shops and boutiques selling everything from art supplies to stationery to haute goodies for your pet. In summer, the neighborhood’s restaurants spill onto the sidewalk, as residents and workers dine outside in the sunshine.
Among the Marines who live and work at the Southeast barracks are members of the Drum and Bugle Corps and the US Marine Band. On Friday nights in spring and summer, they give free performances for the public, but during the rest of the week, particularly in the warmer months, they can be heard practicing in the courtyard near the commandant’s house at Eighth and G. Their music provides the neighborhood with a festive soundtrack.
Noon: Lunch in Dupont Circle
It’s off to Dupont Circle in Northwest DC for lunch. From Eastern Market, hop aboard an Orange or Blue Line subway train at Seventh and Pennsylvania, and ride across town for lunch. You’ll need to change trains at Metro Center and get on a Red Line train headed toward Shady Grove. Ride two stops and get off at Dupont Circle.
At Zorba’s Cafe (1612 20th St., NW; 202-387-8555), feast on good Greek dishes on the cheap. The souvlaki and gyros are juicy and flavorful, and don’t miss the spreads for pita: top-notch hummus, baba ghanoush, and taramosalata (whipped cod roe). The kitschy dining room, with plastic fruit-print tablecloths and everything-Greek-goes decor, gives the place a quirky, relaxed atmosphere. In nice weather, try to snag a seat on the outdoor patio for prime people watching.
1:30 PM: Phillips Collection
Take in art at the Phillips Collection (1600 21st St., NW; 202-387-2151), the country’s first museum of modern art. Among the American and European artists represented in its 2,500-piece permanent collection are Renoir, van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Picasso, Matisse, and Cézanne. In addition, the gallery hosts temporary exhibitions, which in 2008 include “Degas to Diebenkorn: The Phillips Collects” (through May 25), featuring nearly 100 works by European and American artists, and “Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow,” a retrospective featuring Weston’s photographs from the 1920s through ’80s.
Admission to the permanent collection is free Tuesday through Friday, though contributions are accepted. Saturday and Sunday, it costs $10 for adults, $8 for college students and seniors. Visitors under 18 are free. Ticket prices for the temporary exhibits vary but usually cost around $12.
3 PM: Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
A short walk south from Dupont Circle is the Cathedral of St. Matthew (1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW; 202-347-3215). The building draws inspiration from Roman and Byzantine architecture and dates to the late 1800s. It held its first mass in 1895. Anchored by a 35-foot mosaic of St. Matthew, the interior is decorated in marble and semiprecious stones. It has been the site of several famous funeral ceremonies, including a Mass in 1957 for Senator Joseph McCarthy and, more famously, the state funeral of President John F. Kennedy on November 25, 1963. The church doesn’t offer tours, but the clergy welcome visitors who want to look around or take a break from busy city life.
3:45 PM: Shopping in Georgetown
Next, you’re off to shop in Georgetown. From Dupont Circle, Georgetown is just a short walk west on scenic P Street (about a mile). If you’re not up for the walk, catch the G2 bus at 20th and P streets and ride to Wisconsin Avenue and P Street. Bus fare is $1.35.
Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, Georgetown’s two main arteries, are home to many shops and boutiques. Retail chains such as H&M, Urban Outfitters, and J. Crew have found homes here along with smaller boutiques such as A Mano (for leather goods) and Wink (known for carrying designer jeans).
Georgetown University begins at 37th Street. Take time to tour the campus, where you’ll see Gothic-inspired architecture, views of the Potomac River, and, during the school year, students bustling between classes. You might even catch the Hoya spirit.
5:45 PM: Happy Hour, Georgetown Style
There are plenty of places in Georgetown to sip predinner drinks. Our pick is Mie N Yu (3125 M St., NW; 202-333-6122), a trendy Middle East-inspired spot that offers interesting fusion drinks such as Emperor’s Nectar (peach-flavored vodka with white-cranberry and blood-orange juice) and the Dancing Shiva (Bulleit bourbon, sweet and dry vermouth, mint, an orange slice, and a splash of bitters). If you’re going during the week, the after-work menu offers drink and food specials at the bar. The Marco Polo martini, made with Centenario tequila, Cointreau, lime, and sours, is just $4.25; red and white wine are the same price. Appetizers such as fried calamari or crab with cream cheese, sambal, and Japanese mustard cost $2 to $4. The after-work menu is available Monday and Tuesday from 5 to 7 and Wednesday through Friday from 4 to 7.
For dinner, it’s off to Hook (3241 M St., NW; 202-625-4488) for impeccably fresh seafood and killer desserts (house-made whoopie pie, anyone?). The restaurant is committed to environmentally friendly practices, so the menu changes daily to reflect whatever fish are in season and available. In addition to delicious food, count on a great atmosphere and good service—the executive chef makes the rounds himself to check on how you like it.
8:30 PM: Drinks and Dancing at Blue Gin
The split-level bar Blue Gin (1206 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-965-5555), which caters to a more mature crowd, is a far cry from the frat-house scene in Adams Morgan. From behind three bars, designer-clad mixologists serve posh cocktails like a martini with lychee juice and one with chunks of fresh watermelon. They also stock a lengthy list of wines and premium liquors by the bottle—but those are for guests willing to shell out a minimum of $300.
If you make a night of it, the party gets going by 10:30. With house music, disco, ’80s electronic, and classic R&B thumping through the speakers, the crowd takes to the dance floor and grooves late into the night. The bar is open until 2 AM during the week and 3 on weekends. After 9:30, there’s a $10 cover.
For more ideas of fun, food, and shopping in Georgetown, check out our neighborhood guide.