Finding some great shopping in an urban center such as our nation’s capital typically means thinking neighborhoods rather than stores. So if you’re looking for the best shopping in DC, then it’s wise to search out the best neighborhoods in DC first and you can be sure that the shopping experience will be worth the visit. By all means, stay away from the malls. Why, do you say? Simply put, malls don’t give you the experience of the unique shopping that comes with the kind of retailers you’ll find in the finest of neighborhoods. On the other hand, if it’s just a typical chain store that you’re looking for, then by all means go to the mall. Otherwise, explore a few of these DC neighborhoods and you certainly won’t be disappointed. Three neighborhoods, in particular, come to mind: Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and U Street. |
Georgetown Georgetown, of course, is the granddaddy of DC neighborhoods and actually was a town before it was a neighborhood, preceding even the founding of our country. Since it has such a rich history, being founded in 1751, this neighborhood is awash in spectacular architecture and remarkable row houses, so if you’re a history buff looking for a great place to shop, then Georgetown is your place. It’s especially known for its designer and mainstream boutiques, and what seems to be and unending series of cafes, restaurants and bars, which is a good thing because you’re sure to get hungry and thirsty while doing your shopping. This community sits right on the Potomac River, so sitting waterside while sipping cocktails might end up being just the kind of diversion you need from a full day of shopping at the more than 470 shops that line the neighborhood. And if you really would like a respite from hoofing around the stores, be sure to stop at the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, a 53-acre gardener’s paradise in the middle of Georgetown.
Dupont Circle Dupont Circle is basically a traffic circle, park, neighborhood, and historic district all rolled into one! After a decline in the 1960s, the neighborhood saw a resurgence beginning in the 1970s, taking on a bohemian look and feel and soon becoming a popular gay and lesbian community. By the 1980s and 1990s, gentrification began to accelerate and today the area has become a more mainstream, trendy location lined with coffeehouses, restaurants and bars, a weekly farmers market, and plenty of upscale retail stores. If it’s high-end shopping you want, then look no further than Dupont Circle. However, if you’re an avid reader or vintage antique hunter you’ll find Dupont's second-hand shops right up your alley, so to speak. Given all the beautiful Victorian architecture, delightful cafes, and trendy retail shops and art galleries, you’ll find the neighborhood is simply perfect for exploring on foot while you do your shopping. Then, when the shopping wears you down, you can stop at any number of boutique spas where you can drop in for a relaxing massage.
U Street Corridor The U Street Corridor, as it’s called, is a commercial and residential district in the northwest corner of DC, with most of the area being a part of the larger Shaw neighborhood and the west side of it overlapping into the Dupont Circle neighborhood. The nine-block stretch of U Street is not only filled with a plethora of shops, but also a wide assortment of restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries, and music venues, so it might be hard to stay focused on just shopping. In fact, this hustling, bustling street was once known as "Black Broadway" for its abundance of music clubs and popular nightlife. Shopping is definitely more on the funky side, but you’ll certainly be entertained while you do!
Obviously not mentioned is DC’s downtown district, which overflows with shopping opportunities, but it might have to wait another day after perusing these three neighborhoods. As you can see, however, the best shopping in DC is often found in the best neighborhoods.
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