Wondering where to stay in Washington DC? You’ve come to the right place. I’m a DC local living in the city.
Washington, DC is full of distinct neighborhoods that give the city character. In this article, I go over all the best places to stay in Washington DC. This guide includes the best hotels and neighborhood recommendations so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
There are so many attractions to see and things to do in DC. At the end of the day, where you stay in the city can impact your entire trip.
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Best Places to Stay in Washington DC
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Washington DC? Here are my top picks:
- 🏆 Best Overall Hotel – Canopy by Hilton
- 🗺️ Best Location – Hotel Hive
- 💎 Best Luxury Hotel – Willard InterContinental Washington, an IHG Hotel
- 👪 Best for Families – Hyatt House Washington DC/The Wharf
- 💻 Best for Business – Cambria Hotel Washington
- 🛎️ Best Boutique – The Line Hotel DC
- ✨ Best Near Entertainment – The Dupont Circle Hotel
- 🏨 Best Trendy Hotel – Moxy Washington, DC Downtown
- 🛏️ Best Budget – District Hotel
Ok, let’s do a deep dive of the best areas and neighborhoods in Washington DC:
11 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Washington DC
Washington, D.C. is separated into four quadrants: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. Northwest is the largest quadrant and includes many iconic Washington, D.C. landmarks. Overall, the neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. are a mix of commercial and residential areas.
Downtown DC is where to stay in Washington DC if you want to be close to all the notable landmarks. If you book a hotel in the area, you’ll only be a few blocks away from the National Mall, which includes the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building.
Downtown DC is also home to major museums like the Smithsonian museums, the Supreme Court Building, and the Library of Congress.
Downtown Washington DC is a very central neighborhood. There are multiple metro stations within the National Mall which makes getting around easier. The Mall is much larger than many perceive it to be, so be prepared to walk.
Overall, staying Downtown is best for anyone who wants to prioritize all the famous DC landmarks on their trip. This area is especially great for families and first-time visitors.
Pros of Staying in Downtown:
- Close to iconic monuments and attractions
- Easily walkable and bikeable
- Multiple metro stations
- Safe area with many tourists
Cons of Staying in Downtown:
- There can be a lot of traffic
- Hotels can be more expensive
📚 Downtown Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Iconic DC Landmarks
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Downtown
Georgetown is one of DC’s most famous neighborhoods. It’s a quaint and upscale neighborhood. Georgetown is an ideal location for those who prefer luxurious attractions during their stay.
This neighborhood is great for couples. The Graham Georgetown is a romantic and luxurious hotel right on the canal. Georgetown also has an extensive commercial area with luxury stores, quaint coffee shops, and fine dining restaurants.
Georgetown sits on the banks of the Potomac River. Restaurants like Nick’s Riverfront Grill allow you to dine on the water. Georgetown Waterfront Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
Georgetown is close to Downtown DC, so this neighborhood puts you near many popular monuments and attractions. Do note that Georgetown does not have a metro stop, so you will most likely need a car to get to other areas of the city.
Pros of Staying in Georgetown:
- Many restaurants and stores within walking distance
- Outdoor activities on Georgetown Waterfront
- Located near famous attractions
Cons of Staying in Georgetown:
- Hotels can be pricey in the area
- The neighborhood does not have a metro stop
📚 Georgetown Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Shopping
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Georgetown
Dupont Circle is a favorite neighborhood for many DC locals. Dupont Circle is located just north of Downtown DC. It’s in a prime location to visit both monuments and local attractions.
Staying in Dupont Circle is especially ideal if you like visiting museums. The Dupont Circle Hotel is right on the traffic circle, making it a central location to explore the neighborhood.
Many of the DC’s embassies are in Dupont Circle. Visitors are welcome to tour the embassies as a way of exploring other country’s cultures. The famous Phillips Collection and Dupont Underground are two museums art lovers should visit.
I recommend the restaurant, Vagabond, for a menu inspired by the world’s surf destinations. Try Board Room for a bar with a twist; here you can grab a drink and play your favorite board games. DC Improv Comedy Club hosts local and big-name comedians.
Pros of Staying in Dupont Circle:
- Plenty of options for dining, entertainment, and nightlife
- Close to notable attractions
- Close to other cool neighborhoods
- The neighborhood is accessible by metro and public transit
Cons of Staying in Dupont Circle:
- Can be congested with traffic
- Prices can be high
📚 Dupont Circle Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Culture and Entertainment
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Dupont Circle
Adams Morgan is a vibrant neighborhood with plenty of activities and nightlife entertainment. This neighborhood is ideal for young people visiting Washington DC who want to be near a variety of options for nightlife. I recommend The Line Hotel—a hip boutique hotel in the heart of Adams Morgan with three restaurants and two bars.
18th Street is lined with restaurants, bars, and clubs that offer visitors a good time. Madam’s Organ is one of the most famous bars in the area. The club features live music every night, a dance floor, and multiple bars. For dinner, Lucky Buns offers gourmet burgers. The DINER is open 24 hours and is great for brunch.
Adams Morgan has plenty of locally owned shops, too. Readers will love Lost City Books. And if you’re looking to give your home a new look, check out Urban Dwell. Adams Morgan is also close to U-Street, which offers more nightlife, dining, and shopping options.
Pros of Staying in Adams Morgan:
- Many dining, entertainment, and shopping options.
- Nearby other vibrant neighborhoods.
- Metro accessible
Cons of Staying in Adams Morgan:
- Can be a congested area
- Nightlife can be a bit rowdy
📚 Adams Morgan Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Nightlife
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Adams Morgan
Capitol Hill is perfect for anyone wanting a quaint but luxurious retreat when looking for where to stay in Washington DC. This neighborhood is directly behind the United States Capitol building and is full of quiet, tree-lined streets and beautiful Victorian row houses.
Stay at the Capitol Hill Hotel to be close to landmarks, such as the Supreme Court, the United States Botanic Garden, and the Air and Space Museum. When staying in Capitol Hill, you will experience much less hustle and bustle of the city.
I recommend visiting Eastern Market in Capitol Hill. This market is a local staple and has restaurants and shops to explore. Bullfrog Bagels is a great place to grab breakfast before sightseeing. On Sundays, Eastern Market becomes one of the largest vendor markets in DC. It’s a great place to shop from local artists and small businesses.
Pros of Staying in Capitol Hill:
- Close to Downtown, Navy Yard, and other attractions
- Bike or bus to the National Mall and Monuments
- Accessible by metro and public transportation
- Quaint neighborhood
Cons of Staying in Capitol Hill:
- Can be an expensive area
- Not many hotels in the neighborhood
📚 Capitol Hill Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for a Quaint Neighborhood
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Capitol Hill
The Southwest Waterfront sits on the banks of the Potomac River. This neighborhood is ideal for families and individuals looking for where to stay in Washington DC because there is so much to do!
The Wharf is a popular commercial area with restaurants, bars, and entertainment right on the water. The historic fish market is a must-visit location and Jessie’s is the place to go for buying fresh seafood. Whisky Charlie, which is located in the Canopy by Hilton Hotel, has a stunning rooftop lounge and bar that overlooks the water.
In the winter, there is a stand that sells hot chocolate and marshmallows for s’mores, which you can roast over a campfire. The Wharf is a great place to stay if you’re seeing a concert at The Anthem, an iconic concert venue.
Southwest Waterfront is also close to other desirable neighborhoods including Downtown and Navy Yard, where the baseball stadium is located.
Pros of Staying in Southwest Waterfront:
- Tons of great restaurants and bars
- Close to attractions and other neighborhoods
- Accessible by metro and public transportation
Cons of Staying in Southwest Waterfront:
- The bars and restaurants can be pricey
- Waterfront is a bit of a walk from the metro stop
- It can be congested for drivers
📚 Southwest Waterfront Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Waterfront Entertainment
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Southwest Waterfront
Navy Yard borders the Southwest Waterfront to the east. The neighborhood is newly developed with plenty of restaurants and bars for visitors to experience. The rooftop beer garden, Takoda, is a great place to grab a drink. As is Dacha Beer Garden right on the water.
The Navy Yard neighborhood is a favorite for sports fans. Nationals Park and Audi Field are located here. If you’re a fan of baseball or soccer, Navy Yard is the ideal neighborhood to stay in. Thompson Washington DC is located right near Nationals Park, so you will have a close walk to and from a game.
Navy Yard is conveniently located near Southwest Waterfront and the Wharf. You’ll have plenty of waterfront entertainment options in these two nearby neighborhoods. Navy Yard also borders Capitol Hill and Downtown, so it’s easily accessible from other busy areas in DC.
Pros of Staying in Navy Yard:
- Nationals Park and Audi Field are nearby
- A walkable neighborhood
- Metro accessible
- Many restaurants and bars nearby
Cons of Staying in Navy Yard:
- There can be a lot of traffic
- Not easy to drive in
- Can be rowdy on the weekends because of bars and sports games
📚 Navy Yard Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Sports and Entertainment
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Navy Yard
🎟️ Top Attractions – National’s Park, Audi Field
Chinatown is where to stay in Washington DC if you want to have access to a variety of attractions and other neighborhoods. NOMA, Downtown, and Shaw are nearby neighborhoods.
Chinatown is near the Washington Convention Center, which you can walk to, or reach with a short drive or metro ride. Capital One Arena is in Chinatown, too. So, if you want to see an event here, Chinatown is the best neighborhood to stay in.
Nearby Gallery Place and Penn Quarter offer bars, restaurants, and luxury shopping. The Motto by Hilton has a rooftop bar and Southern comfort food restaurant, Crimson, on the first floor. This hotel is centrally located in the neighborhood. It’s within walking distance of Capital One Arena, a movie theater, and dining establishments.
For a more boutique experience, stay at the Riggs Washington DC, a luxury hotel that was once the Riggs National Bank building. The hotel bar is marked with historic and beautiful marble columns.
Pros of Staying in Chinatown:
- Central neighborhood near other attractions
- Walkable neighborhood
- Many restaurants and stores
- Accessible by metro and buses
Cons of Staying in Chinatown:
- Can be congested when driving because of the proximity to Downtown
- Some crime in the area, particularly at night
📚 Chinatown Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for a Central Location
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Chinatown
👉 Pro Tip: Some streets in this neighborhood have seen a recent uptick in crime. Just be mindful when walking around.
Logan Circle is where to stay in Washington DC for beautiful architecture and lots of DC history. I recommend visiting the Logan Circle Heritage Trail. Here, you can see the Letcher Art Center, a school used by famous jazz musicians and the site of a Civil War contraband camp.
The restaurants in Logan Square are quite popular with locals. 14th Street is lined with acclaimed bars and restaurants. Le Diplomat is a favorite for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Etto makes a great date night spot. I like finishing the night with dessert at Milk Bar.
Walter E. Washington Convention Center is located between Logan Circle and Shaw. The Cambria Hotel Washington is located nearby. So, if you’re attending an event at this convention center, Logan Circle is the neighborhood to stay in.
Pros of Staying in Logan Circle:
- Great dining, bars, and cafes
- Nearby Downtown, landmarks, and other neighborhoods
Cons of Staying in Logan Circle:
- No metro stop in the neighborhood
- It can be congested, especially in busy commercial areas
📚 Logan Circle Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for DC History
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Logan Circle
Foggy Bottom is known for being the home of George Washington University (GW). This is where to stay in Washington DC for parents of students at GW.
The Hotel Hive is located right on the edge of the George Washington University campus. Stay here if you’re visiting a GW student, touring the school, or attending an event on campus.
Foggy Bottom is conveniently located next to Downtown. This means you can be close to
monuments, the National Mall, and the White House without being right in Downtown. The Lincoln Memorial is straight down 23rd Street northwest of the Hive Hotel.
Foggy Bottom is also the location of the Watergate Hotel, which offers a luxurious stay and views of the Potomac River. This hotel is near the Kennedy Center. So, it’s a good choice if you’re in town for a performance here.
Pros of Staying in Foggy Bottom:
- Located near Downtown and the monuments
- Good for George Washington University students and parents
- Accessible by metro
Cons of Staying in Foggy Bottom:
- Can be congested when driving
📚 Foggy Bottom Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for George Washington University Visitors
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Foggy Bottom
Woodley Park is mostly a residential neighborhood. Stay in Woodley Park if you want a neighborhood feel instead of the hustle and bustle of the city. This neighborhood has homes with beautiful architecture and close access to Rock Creek Park.
The Smithsonian National Zoo sits on the edge of Woodley Park. The Washington National Cathedral is also near this neighborhood. Walk around the grounds and gardens during the spring to enjoy the cherry blossoms. And be sure to look out for the Darth Vader gargoyle!
There are plenty of local restaurants and small businesses to explore here. Open City is a gourmet diner that serves breakfast all day long. Han Palace has an extensive dim sum menu that lovers of Chinese cuisine will enjoy.
The quiet atmosphere makes Woodley Park an ideal neighborhood for those looking for a peaceful retreat in DC. The Omni Shoreham Hotel provides a luxurious stay in the city. Woodley Park also has a family-friendly vibe, so it’s a great place for people traveling with kids.
Pros of Staying in Woodley Park:
- Quiet family-friendly neighborhood
- Many local restaurants and bars
- Away from the busier and touristy areas
Cons of Staying in Woodley Park:
- The neighborhood is metro-accessible, but the metro stop is not central
- Not near neighborhoods with other attractions or monuments
📚 Woodley Park Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for a Neighborhood Feel
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Woodley Park
Tips for Staying in Washington, D.C.
Utilize the Metro
Washington DC has an extensive metro system that can take you almost anywhere you need to go in DC and the surrounding parts of Maryland and Virginia. You can get a 1, 3, or 7-day unlimited pass that lets you ride the metro for a flat rate. A metro card is also good for the bus.
Wear Comfortable Walking Shoes
You’ll likely be doing a lot of walking no matter what sights you see. For example, the National Mall is about 2 miles long and DC museums are enormous. Walking within DC neighborhoods and to and from metro stops is the best way to get around. Since you’ll be on your feet so much, comfortable shoes are a must.
Try the Capital Bikeshare
Biking is one of the best ways to get around DC, especially when the weather is nice. The Capital Bikeshare has stations all around the city where you can rent a bike and pay by the minute. You can get a single ride or a day pass. It’s one of the best ways to avoid getting stuck in car traffic.
Plan Museum Visits in Advance
There are 84 museums in Washington DC. 21 museums are part of the Smithsonian Institution. It’s impossible to see all the museums in one visit to DC. Many museums take hours to get through. Take a look at DC’s museums and choose which ones you want to visit before arriving in the city.
Visit the National Mall at Night
The National Mall and monuments don’t close. I recommend spending at least one night visiting the monuments at night. They’re beautiful with the night sky and illuminated by light. You can go for a stroll or sit outside the monuments. Plus, these monuments are often less busy at night.
Consider the Time of Year You Visit
Be mindful of the time of year you visit DC. Summers can be hot, humid, and crowded. Mosquitoes are also prevalent in the summer. Spring can be beautiful, especially when the cherry blossoms bloom. However, this is a heavily visited time of year. Spring and summer are great times to visit but be prepared for crowds and higher prices.
Look for Local Events
When planning your trip, check out some of the local events happening in the area. There are plenty of concerts, markets, and community days that happen year-round. Spending time where the locals go is the best way to truly experience Washington DC.
FAQs About Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
What are the best areas to stay in Washington DC for first-timers?
What are safe areas to stay in Washington DC?
Safe areas to stay in Washington DC include Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Woodley Park, Adams Morgan, Logan Circle, and Foggy Bottom. These areas are busy, touristed, and commercial. You should still practice general safety precautions no matter where you are. For more, see my full guide to safety in DC.
How many days is best for Washington DC?
A minimum of three days is best for visiting Washington DC. Seeing the monuments and museums can take a few days. You should spend a week in Washington DC to really get a feel for the city and see everything.
Where can I stay in DC without a car?
Overall, you have plenty of great options when looking for where to stay in Washington DC. You can stay in areas near historical landmarks, residential neighborhoods, and everything in between. Check out our guide to the best day trips from Washington DC for more ideas on places to visit.
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