Washington D.C. -
Isn't Something Happening There Soon? Wait, Don't Tell Me...Oh right, on January 20th, some 4,000,000 people are expected to converge on Washington, D.C. to experience and celebrate the inauguration of the 44th president, Barack Obama. If you don't already have reservations in hand, you still have a shot at being able to join in the revelry. Consult the city's tourism website, Destination DC and the Presidential Inauguration Committee's website. There is lodging available for next week on Craig's List, although we obviously don't vouch for their style.
If you can't make it - not to worry. D.C. has become (while no one was watching) an exciting, vibrant city that's eager to entertain you night and day, no matter when you choose to visit:
Donovan House - Hotel
For proof that D.C. really is on the fast track to trendiness, just look at Thomas Circle and the Donovan House hotel holding court there. This Thompson Hotels Group property positively oozes coolness, from leather-wrapped beds (you've always said you're into leather), pod-like chairs, and cocoon spiral showers in the guest rooms to the swanky rooftop bar and lounge. The cutting-edge design lures a fashion-forward crowd to match. Deluxe rooms: $300-$400.
Hay-Adams - Hotel
You can teach an old horse new tricks. The classic D.C. hotel just across Lafayette Square from the White House has become a shining example of environmentally friendly standards. From recycling to serving organic food to sourcing one-quarter of its electric power from renewable resources, the hotel shows a decided effort to minimize its carbon footprint. The bonus? The hotel hasn't sacrificed one bit on luxury or comfort to do so. Deluxe rooms: $400 and up.
Newseum - Unique Museum
OK, you're under 30 and won't even read the newspaper on your computer? How about if we gave you one on a 700 foot screen? Play a reporter in an interactive newsroom, feel virtually "on the spot" in a 4-D theater experience of a journalistic moment, or otherwise indulge your inner news hound. Play historian at one of the 130 interactive stations, which help visitors explore five centuries of news history. Or play with your...imagination in the 2 broadcast and 15 theaters. This is not to miss. Tickets: Adults $20, Youth: $13.
Oldies but Goodies: Tours of the White House and The Capitol. (They're not the Newseum, but still...) Contact your Senator or Representative's Office for tickets/help. Better idea: make a large contribution to your Senator or Congressman and get a personally guided tour. (OK, maybe that isn't a "better" idea.)
Adour - French Restaurant
What do Tom Daschle, Chevy Chase, and Mario Batali have in common? Starred in the Three Musketeers? No. They were all among the first to dine at Adour, the Alain Ducasse restaurant. From a gougere (this is why wikipedia was invented) beginning to a tray of raspberry-pin and chocolate macaroons at dinner's end, each meal here is an exquisite pleasure. With shimmery silver and gold decor setting a romantic mood, and enough space between tables to induce secret-spilling, Adour is the perfect pick for both a sexy tete-a-tete and getting your Congressperson to introduce some pork-barrel legislation. Entrees: $30-$40.
Black Squirrel - American Restaurant
If you have trouble figuring out which beer to order at a football game, imagine the trouble you'll have with the Black Squirrel's 50-beer list, including the Belgian Chimay, one of 11 brews on tap. The long, slender room features polished wood floors and red walls hung with posters of pop-culture icons. Just when it seemed that Adams Morgan's non-stop party scene had chased away D.C.'s fine-dining establishments, along comes the Black Squirrel, brandishing a fine-pedigreed chef and a menu of scaled-up American comfort food. Entrees: $10-$20.
Central - French Bistro
Don't even bother trying to call: this hot spot's reservation line is eternally clogged. The man responsible for Central's unflagging popularity is internationally known chef Michel Richard, whose restaurant Citronelle is Washington's very best. Central is Richard's love letter to America, presenting an enticingly affordable menu of French and American favorites, served in a very cheery and casual bistro setting, complete with a television (mon Dieu!) mounted in the corner of the adjoining on-view bar. Entrees: $20-$30.
Gin and Tonic Tavern - Bar
For those that like bars that hail from the "less is more" design philosophy, it's high time to spend some quality time at Gin & Tonic. This no-frills watering hole is a long, brick-walled tavern with two bars, a DJ booth, a smattering of tables and chairs, and, well, not much else. But you'll hardly notice the sparse decor when the prepster crowd swarms in for hearty drinking and heartier dancing. The bar's namesake is obviously always a cocktail option, but the sixteen brews are the most popular libations of choice.
The Gibson - Bar/Lounge
Serious about its cocktail and its old-school cool atmosphere, The Gibson is a bar-bar, no questions about it. An old-timer concoction lent the place its name, but there are plenty of new creatively named mixes that are sure to raise a couple eyebrows--Salad Days Sour anyone? Atmosphere is paramount as well: dim lighting, a no-standing-at-the-bar policy, and a strict 48 max capacity all make for an exceptional experience minus the classic crush of people. Gibson eschews lines and all the nasty attitudes that go with them, so the key is to book a spot (they'll accept reservations for half the seats).
For more recommendations, please go to Night+Day.
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[NOTE: BWC does not accept advertising revenues from establishments that we review. Thus, unlike many travel providers, our reviews are completely unbiased.]