Washington, DC is so much more than the Smithsonian museums and the National Mall. During this pandemic it allowed me to explore the city in a new light without having to compete to see and experience the beauty of the city. In this travel guide, I take you to different parts of the city to explore different cultures that have built this transient city into a one of a kind travel destination. Get ready to learn, see, and do in Washington, DC.
- Black Lives Matter Plaza: In June 2020, the mayor of DC dedicated two blocks of the city to the Black Lives Matter movement. The concrete is spray painted with the famous monarch in big yellow block letters that lead you down a path to the White House. On this particular day I saw activists taking down the infamous signs and art work that decorated the fence barricade that surrounded the White House. Items from the Black Lives Matter Memorial fence will be donated to the Smithosnian, the National Archives and other organizations that are willing to preserve these one of a kind relics. Walking through the promenade that is dedicated to being unapologetically black is a humble and inspiring experience.
Munch Tip: Parking around the White House and Black Lives Matter Plaza can be hard to come by due to the amount of security around the area. I suggest you either take a ride share service or public transportation.
- Frederick Douglass in Capitol Hill Walking Tour: I stumbled across this tour in a newsletter I subscribe to called 730 DC. The newsletter provides content on hot topics that are centered around all things DC. The tour was hosted by author and historian John Muller. You can tell his passion for Frederick Douglass and his achievements based on the intricate details he shared with the group on Douglass’s life on Capitol Hill. On the tour we stopped by Douglass’s townhouse and ended the tour at Lincoln Park. In the park you will see a statue dedicated to Mary McCleod Bethune and another statue on the opposite side of the park depicting a black man kneeling at the heels of Lincoln. This statue was constructed to represent Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves. Recently, protests were held requesting the removal of the statue from the park but as of today the National Park Service has not come to a resolution. The two hour tour is a great way to explore a part of the city that is now barricaded by fences and the Army National Guard due to the events that occurred on January 6th. The price of the tour is very reasonable; costing between $12-$15.
Munch Tip: Before taking the tour I read the book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David Blight. This book allowed me to have a reference point to understand what the tour guide was describing during the tour. If you want to learn more about Frederick Douglass’s life, head down to Anacostia to visit his home, Cedar Hill, now National Historic Site. While there you can take in some of the most beautiful views of DC.
- Dupont Underground: The Dupont Underground exhibit is located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of DC, The location is easily accessible by metro via the red line. Dupont Underground is a one of a kind experience that has repurposed an abandoned streetcar underpass into a creative canvass for up and coming local artists. During my visit an insensible exhibition was being held that showcased foods, clothes, beauty products and art for purchase from black vendors. The permanent graffiti and murals on the wall reflect the current pulse of the city and all have been commissioned by local artists. Dupont Underground is a rotating exhibit space and is a great excuse to visit on multiple occasions. There is no entrance fee to enter the space.
Munch Tip: Make sure to take home a souvenir from your visit. The reception desk has several items for purchase that have a suggested donation of one dollar.
- 14th Street Graffiti Museum: Located a few blocks down from the popular restaurants in the area is the open air Graffiti Museum. The purpose of this establishment is to provide an outlet for local artists to practice and showcase one of a kind pieces. The museum requires all visitors to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Hours of operation are 11 AM to 4:30 PM everyday. There is no admission to enter and is completely free.
Munch Tip: Make sure to check the museum’s social media pages before visiting. Even though I visited during the designated times listed, the gates were locked.
- National Museum of Women in the Arts: In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to check out the newly reopened museum to see the moving exhibit by Sonya Clark. The exhibition is entitled Tatter, Bristle and Mend amplifies the injustice experienced by African Americans while taking the time to honor the ingenuity of her ancestors through the visual representation of beauty supplies and hair styling techniques. I was thoroughly in awe of the creativity of Ms. Clark and how she literally weaved some of her own hair into the pieces to show that something so beautiful could be monetized to help build a nation. The second floor of the museum is fully dedicated to her work and could easily take you a whole hour to view the collection, which in actuality only seems like minutes because the art is so engaging. This exhibit will run from March 3 – May 31, 2021. The cost to enter the museum is $10 for adults and free for youths 18 and under. Operating hours are Monday-Saturday 10 AM – 5PM and Sunday 12PM – 5PM.
Munch Tip: It’s highly encouraged to purchase your tickets online before visiting. However, if you prefer to pay in cash, the museum will honor that form as payment as well.
- The Gift Shop: There is a new store in town that focuses on curating and selling black owned products from local artists in the DC area. The store is located in the newly revamped Union Market area. This innovative concept is the brainchild of the Creative Theory Agency, an award winning Advertising Age (AdAge) small agency of the year recipient. The agency focuses on representation through visual content, branding and creative authenticity. The space where the Gift Shop is housed is multi-purposed. The front of the space is dedicated to the store and the back is where you can see the work being created by the Creative Theory Agency. For a small collection the pieces available in the Gift Shop were inventive and beautifully crafted. My eye was immediately drawn to the home goods section. I love when everyday items can act as artistic focal points in your home that ignites a conversation. I couldn’t help but purchase the Creative Theory pillow ($50) and the Power to the People T-Shirt ($30). I can’t wait to rock my new T-Shirt throughout the DMV.
Munch Tip: There currently is not an online store to purchase items from the Gift Shop. However, I was told by the Gift Shop employee that there will be a steady rotation of items flowing through the store, so make sure to come back often.
- CHIKO: A fusion fast casual restaurant that combines the best dishes from Chinese and Korean cuisines. I was made aware of this establishment by the abundance of Instagram pictures I had seen posted by my fellow foodies. So it goes to say that I was super excited to try this restaurant. Lucky for me it was restaurant week when I visited The lunch special included a snack, side and an entree all for $22 plus tax. My menu consisted of napa cabbage kimchi, pork & kimchi pot stickers and spicy bulgogi stir fry. There are currently only two locations in the DC area, but I am crossing my fingers and waiting patiently until a Virginia location will open.
Munch Tip: Order ahead online. I made the mistake of ordering when I arrived at Chiko’s and had to wait 40 minutes.
- Oohhs & Aahhs Soul Food Restaurant: When I want some good down home soul food, I head straight to U street and wait patiently at Oohhs & Aahhs. The pandemic has not slowed down service at this restaurant that was featured on the Food Network Show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. There are two locations in DC but I always recommend to people that they should visit the original location on U street. My go to dishes are fried shrimp with a side of yams and macaroni & cheese or the smothered turkey wings with cabbage and sweet potatoes. On this particular visit I ordered both so that I would have leftovers for the next day. No meal can be complete without a side of cake. When choosing between the many options, you have to get the hummingbird cake. I am the first to attest that I am not a cake fan, however I can vouch that is the BEST cake that I have ever eaten. So, if you only go for dessert, you will not be disappointed.
Munch Tip: The wait can be a little long to get your food. Oohhs & Aahhs now offers online ordering allowing for you to get your food a little quicker.
- TaKorean – Union Market: One of the newest redeveloped areas in Washington DC is the Northeast section of the city where Union Market is located. I like to think that Union Market is the template for the food hall trend in DC. There is a mix of food and shopping options that could easily send your senses into overload. Since I was looking for a snack to hold me over for the afternoon, I chose the always reliable TaKorean to curb my appetite. TaKorean is a fast casual Mexican and Korean food chain that allows foodies to have an elevated taco or bowl with the complexity of Korean staples such as kimchi or hoisin tofu. My order consisted of two tacos that were filled with chicken and tofu. The prices are very reasonable equating to $4 per taco or three tacos for $10.47 plus tax.
Munch Tip: Head to the rooftop of Union Market to enjoy your meal with a great view of Gallaudet University and the DC cityscape. Tables are socially distant allowing for plenty of space between you and others.
The Munch Travelogue Quick Sheet
This quick sheet provides you with a central location for all the addresses and website information for all the locations listed in the Washington, DC travel guide.
- Black Lives Matters Plaza
Address: 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 2006
Hours of Operation: Always Open
- Fredrick Douglass in Capitol Hill Walking Tour
- Dupont Underground
Address: 19 Dupont Circle, NW Washington, DC 20036
Hours of Operation: Fridays 3PM-7PM & Weekends 11AM-7PM
- 14th Street Graffiti Museum
Address: 4632 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20011
Hours of Operation: Open Daily, 11AM – 4:30PM
- National Museum of Women in the Arts
Address: 1250 New York Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20005
Hours of Operation: Monday to Saturday 10AM-5PM & Sunday 12PM-5PM
- The Gift Shop
Address: 1258 4th Street, NE Washington, DC 20002
Hours of Operation: Wednesday – Sunday 11AM-6PM
Address: 2029 P Street, NW Washington, DC 20036
Hours of Operation: Every Day 11AM-9PM
- Oohhs & Aahhs Soul Food Restaurant
Address: 1005 U Street, NW Washington, DC 20001
Hours of Operation: Sunday – Thursday 12PM-10PM & Friday – Saturday 12PM – 1AM
- TaKorean – Union Market
Address: 1309 5th Street, NE Washington, DC 20002
Hours of Operation: Everyday 11AM-9PM