We asked Javier Loureiro, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own but also from his team of expert Les Clefs d’ Or concierges with more than 100 years of experience combined. Prime shopping and dining punctuate this bustling American capital. Here you can visit cultural institutions, tour historic monuments and weave your way through countless museums, all against the beautiful backdrop of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.
Private Collections and Tours
You will find a rare treat in Glenstone, the private art collection owned by the Rales brothers that features post–World War II American and European art. The collection is housed in a serene 150-acre (60-hectare) property just outside the city and is virtually unknown beyond the art world. The Kreeger Museum, set within more than five acres (two hectares) of sculpture-filled gardens and tranquil woods, focuses on 19th- and 20th-century paintings by Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Cézanne and many more. There are also private tours of some of the city’s most fascinating landmarks. A curator from the Capitol Historical Society can guide you through the U.S. Capitol and even grant you access to the Capitol dome, an area not generally open to public viewing. A private tour of Mount Vernon includes entry into George Washington’s tomb and the restricted third floor of the main house.
Miles of Trails
With more parkland per capita than any other city, Washington, DC, is truly an outdoor paradise. Rock Creek Trail’s diverse scenery draws hikers and cyclists from around the world, while the Mount Vernon Trail offers great views into the city along the Potomac River. Visitors to this trail can view monuments, watch planes landing at Gravelly Point and even bike to Mount Vernon if they have the energy. Another favourite recreational spot is Theodore Roosevelt Island. This living memorial dedicated to the 26th president of the U.S. features several lighted nature trails that allow visitors to escape from the city and view wildlife. If you take the trip to Theodore Roosevelt Island, bring your walking shoes, because cycling is not allowed.
Only in DC
Travellers to the U.S. capital can take advantage of a few activities not available anywhere else in the world. If arranged in advance, private groups may tour the White House, the home of the president since 1800 and a central symbol of American democracy. Those looking for a glimpse of the political system at work may observe Congress—both House and Senate—in action, and watching an oral argument at the Supreme Court offers insight into the judicial system.
As an international hub, DC offers some of the finest and most eclectic dining in the world. Within the historic Georgetown neighbourhood, Marcel’s offers award-winning French cuisine, while Cafe Milano delights with Northern Italian fare. For a real Washington experience, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle is perfectly suited for the politically savvy. Part bookstore and part café, this favourite stop for DC’s power politicians offers the most eventful coffee break you can take. Adventurous eaters should try Rasika in the Penn Quarter, where chef Vikram Sunderam serves traditional Indian fare with a contemporary twist. The signature dish, palak chaat—crispy spinach—is a must to start any meal.
The Kennedy Walking Tour of Georgetown provides an in depth conversation about the intricate architecture and history of the neighbourhood. A prominent stop on the tour is the beautiful White Graevener Hall at Georgetown University. Ride or stroll down Embassy Row, home to a rich collection of former mansions that now serve as embassies. For the most scenic view in town, stand atop the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial facing the U.S. Capitol at sunrise or sunset. Stand beside the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial plaque and you’ll have a panoramic view of the National Mall’s treasured monuments.