Planning a Washington, DC, vacation and not sure where to base yourself? Set your sights on Dupont Circle. Named after the famous traffic circle at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, and New Hampshire Avenue, Dupont Circle is a historic neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, DC, offering travelers plenty of interesting attractions and activities.
Dupont Circle is known for its vibrant cultural scene, historic architecture, and trendy cafés and restaurants. The area is home to many iconic landmarks like the Dupont Circle Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Several stately foreign embassies give the district a cosmopolitan feel.
The neighborhood is also well-known for its LGBTQ+ community and lively nightlife, and you’ll find plenty of dive bars, dance clubs, and music venues on Connecticut Avenue. There’s also a good choice of hotels catering to all budgets in the area.
Ready to begin your Washington, DC adventure? Plan it all out with this complete guide for what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC.
Looking for more ideas for your trip? Check out our United States Travel Guide for more tips & recommendations on when to visit, where to go & what to do on your vacation!
What to see & do in Dupont Circle
The Phillips Collection
If you’re an art enthusiast, The Phillips Collection is one of DC’s must-visits. This museum in Dupont Circle boasts a fantastic collection of modern and contemporary art featuring renowned artists such as Van Gogh, Rothko, and Renoir.
Duncan Phillips and Marjorie Acker Phillips founded The Phillips Collection in 1921, and it exudes an intimate atmosphere with a personal touch from its founders. Take some time to appreciate the inspiring artwork and find moments of reflection in the spaces designed specifically for retrospection.
After exploring the museum, check out the Phillips Collection Gift Shop for a unique art-inspired gift or souvenir. You can also grab a light lunch at the Vradenburg Shop and Café to fuel up for the rest of your day in DC.
For an exceptional, one-of-a-kind art experience, delve into the city’s depths with a visit to the Dupont Underground. Located beneath the streets of Dupont Circle is an enormous, abandoned streetcar station that’s been transformed into an innovative arts and culture space.
Created by a local arts group, the Dupont Underground gallery boasts diverse art installations and exhibitions set along the old railway tracks by local and international artists. Immersive displays feature light installations and soundscapes, and massive murals adorn the subway walls.
Beyond the art, the Dupont Underground also offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of DC’s transportation system. Take a guided tour to learn more about the trolley station’s past and its transformation into the underground venue it is today.
Heurich House Museum
Soak up some of Washington, DC’s rich history with a unique cultural experience at the Heurich House Museum. Also known as the Brewmaster’s Castle, the museum celebrates the life of successful German brewer Christian Heurich.
Set in a beautifully preserved Gilded Age mansion, the Heurich House Museum delves into the life and times of the Heurich family during the late 19th century. Fascinating exhibits tell the family’s story and their role in shaping the city’s culture and society.
Take a tour of the mansion and admire the elegant Victorian and Edwardian furnishings, original artworks, and the family’s personal possessions. Head outside and explore the beautiful gardens sprinkled with plants and sculptures. Enjoy a moment of peace and tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
The third Thursday of the month sees the Heurich House Museum hosting the History & Hops series, where local craft breweries pay their respects to Heurich. Join the fray and sample some of the region’s finest brews!
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
If you’re a sacral architecture fan, you must stop at the magnificent Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Also known as St. Matthew’s Cathedral, this church is a beautiful example of Romanesque and Byzantine-style architecture. The cathedral’s most impressive features include its beautiful stained-glass windows, intricate mosaics, and a grand pipe organ.
Named in honor of the Apostle Matthew and completed in 1895, the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle is currently the seat of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. The church has hosted numerous significant events in American history, including political and royal funerals and a mass held by Pope John Paul II in 1979.
To better understand the church’s history and architecture, join one of the guided tours. Take some time to appreciate the cathedral’s interior, adorned with magnificent works of art, sculptures, and tapestries.
National Geographic Museum
When you visit the National Geographic Museum in Downtown DC, it’s like taking a virtual walk through the pages of a National Geographic magazine. Based in the globally renowned magazine’s headquarters, the museum features outstanding exhibits uniquely representing our world and is one of DC’s must-see attractions.
Explore the exhibitions focused on cultural heritage, natural history, and scientific discoveries, and stroll through ancient Egypt or discover Peruvian gold. Experience fun interactive exhibits like seeing frogs in their natural environment.
Don’t miss the National Geographic Photo Ark exhibit, showcasing some of the most awe-inspiring images from the magazine’s archives. Created by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, the display features breathtaking photographs of the world’s most endangered species to raise awareness about the importance of conservation efforts.
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Keep an eye on the museum’s calendar for hosted events like film screenings, workshops, and lectures by famous explorers and researchers.
* The National Geographic Museum is currently closed for renovation*
Woodrow Wilson House
Visiting the house of this former President is a must if you’re a history or politics buff! Located on Embassy Row, the beautifully preserved Woodrow Wilson House honors the life and legacy of President Wilson, the 28th President of the United States.
Explore the house on a guided tour to get an extraordinary glimpse into the private life of Woodrow Wilson, his family, and their impact on American history. Wander around the rooms filled with original furnishings and personal items while learning about his exceptional contributions to history.
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Stroll through the magnificent gardens around the Woodrow Wilson House and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of this hidden oasis in the heart of the city. The museum hosts various special events and programs throughout the year, so check their calendar to see what’s on.
Where to eat & drink
Dupont Circle has a vibrant foodie scene, and you’ll find a fantastic array of places to eat & drink.
For a taste of France in the heart of Washington, DC, head to Bistrot du Coin. This charming French cafe is cozy and warm and serves the most delicious traditional French cuisine and wine. Feast on classic French onion soup and French staples like escargots, boeuf bourguignon, and coq au vin. Pair the incredible food with a good French red. Salut!
Head to the Med at Agora DC, where you can tuck into traditional delights from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and Morocco. Enjoy pre-dinner drinks at the lively bar and dine on the cozy outdoor patio for an authentic Mediterranean alfresco-style evening. You can also enjoy Turkish-style breakfasts and brunches on the weekends with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys!
When you’re craving tacos, tostadas, and tequila, go to Lauriol Plaza. This popular go-to spot for Mexican food is always packed with locals and has a bustling, vibrant vibe. Multiple levels of dining space are decorated with colorful murals and bright artwork. Book a table on the rooftop patio for starlight dining. Sizzling fajitas and frozen margaritas are the order of the day!
Relax with a cold brew over a game of Monopoly or Scrabble at the funky Board Room bar. Laid-back and relaxed, the bar is a haven for gamers of the board kind, with an extensive collection of board games and card games to enjoy. You’ll also find a menu of casual pub grub and classic libations.
Residents Café & Bar is the go-to spot for the prettiest patio dining in Dupont Circle. The stylish café has a beautiful, heated patio covered with pink cherry blossoms and is the perfect place for a quiet, romantic meal. Standout dishes range from shrimp and grits to crab cakes; some excellent wines are on the menu.
Dinner and live jazz sound like your kind of gig? Jojo Restaurant & Bar is the perfect spot to feast on sublime French and American cuisine and live blues, jazz, and soul music.
Where to stay
As it lies within the heart of Downtown DC, Dupont Circle is one of the most popular neighborhoods to stay in Washington, DC. There’s a great selection of accommodations here, with everything from boutique hotels to vacation rentals. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, expand your lodgings search to nearby downtown neighborhoods like Logan Circle, Penn Quarter, and Foggy Bottom.
Based in a beautiful Art Deco-style apartment building, Lyle DC offers stylish guest rooms with kitchenettes and modern amenities. Stay fit in the 24-hour on-site gym and enjoy a complimentary buffet breakfast every morning. The Lincoln Memorial is just two miles away.
Canopy by Hilton Washington DC Embassy Row
If you’re looking for a great starting point to explore the many tourist attractions in Washington, DC, you’ll love Canopy by Hilton Washington DC Embassy Row. Located on a tree-lined avenue in Downtown DC, the hotel has modern rooms with Nespresso machines and minifridges for your convenience. Start your day with a complimentary breakfast every morning, and take advantage of the hotel’s loaner bikes to discover the city’s charms at your own pace.
The Jefferson Hotel is a luxurious retreat close to the White House. Situated in a magnificent 1926 Beaux-Arts building, chic guest rooms have four-poster beds, fireplaces, and marble baths for an indulgent experience. Treat yourself to the luxe spa and opulent fine dining restaurant or relax and sip cocktails in the upscale bar with terrace seating.