Mixing Business and Pleasure: Quick Escapes in Washington, D.C.

by  Darren Murph | Dec 24, 2012
Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C.
Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. / BackyardProduction/iStock

Washington, D.C. is expecting its prominence in the convention world to explode once the Washington Marriott Marquis opens in May of 2014. Until then, it’s unlikely that the nation's capital will rival Orlando or Las Vegas when it comes to handling mega-events, but it’s still quite capable of hosting plenty of people in the weeks ahead. After all, the inauguration alone is going to make its 68 square miles seem pretty crowded. In an effort to get you outside of the boardroom and into the wilds of D.C., we’re offering up two restaurants, two attractions, and one bar that you can hit with just a few extra hours between meetings.

In a sense, categorizing Rogue 24 as a “restaurant” is doing the place a severe disservice. Yes, it’s a place to walk into hungry and exit satisfied, but it’s just as much an activity as it is an eatery. It’s only a few blocks from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and if you’re able to locate its back alley entrance, you’ll be treated to one of the most unique restaurants this nation has to offer. Yes, you’ll be ponying up $75 per person at a minimum for a four-course pre-fixe menu, but the open kitchen and exotic tastes make it a pleasure to expense.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chatman's D'Vine Bakery & Cafe is a stellar choice for those in need of a quick lunch or a box of goodies to charm clients (or a significant other back home). It’s a quiet gem of a place located just blocks from the city’s convention hall, and if you were wondering where D.C.’s pinch of southern hospitality was located, it’s here. The sweet potato pie is nearly as delightful as the owner.

Being such a compact place, D.C. is one of the easier locales to get navigate. In other words, there’s really no attraction here that’s not reachable via mass transit, and moreover, reachable within just a few minutes. For newcomers to the city, you can easily spend an entire evening gawking at the statues and monuments that sit just outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Most of these are truly moving, and in all seriousness, a tour of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the District of Columbia War Memorial is worthwhile, even for repeat visitors. Best of all, all of these are free attractions overseen by the National Parks System, so feel free to toss a donation in if you see fit.

Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of museums outside of one’s home city. There’s usually just so much more to do outside in places that are foreign to you. But in D.C., you’d be missing out if you didn’t pop your head into one of the many museums under the Smithsonian blanket. You’ll find 17 of these dotted around the city, and if you have a few hours to spare, you can blaze through a couple while leaving the rest to hit on your return. Don’t bother spending too much time trying to choose a specific one; they’re all world class facilities.

Before bidding The District farewell, I’d recommend a final stop at Passenger. It’s close to the convention hall, and it’s an atmosphere-driven eatery that doubles as an excellent cocktail bar. Be it for dinner, drinks, or a combination of both, you won’t leave without a smile on your face.

This is a recurring feature exploring must-visit locales in a variety of cities. If you find yourself traveling to a place for business, why not venture out and enjoy your surroundings?

See our Washington, D.C. destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights.

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