By Bill Malcolm*


Spring is the perfect time to visit the nation’s capital city. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, the museums are free, and there is always something new to do. A new LGBTQ+ bar opens soon on 14th Street, the sixth new gay bar in a year. So the nightlife is unbeatable. And after San Francisco, it is the most walkable (and gayest) city in North America.


Washington DC PrideImage Credit: Destination DC


Getting there

I took American Airlines into Reagan airport which is a short hop on the Metro into DC. The flight was on time and service was great. American is my new fave and they have a huge hub at DCA (airport speak for Reagan airport). Skip the paid Wi-Fi ($13). It did not work, and the flight attendants had no idea how to get a refund. (I was on a Republic Airways partner flight.) Once in town, I walked everywhere or used the great Metro subway system. Car is not needed. DC has notorious traffic congestion. 


Where to stay

The Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle) has great rates, top notch service, an outdoor swimming pool, and is steps to the bars and restaurants on 14th Street NW. They even clean your room everyday (a rare treat these days) and give you a normal four cup coffee maker (also unheard of). The rates are affordable but vary daily. I paid an average of $150 per night (although one night was just $111), which is a deal in D.C. 

The Streets Market (1221 Mass Ave) is nearby and has great salads to go and Route 11 potato chips (a Virginia chip maker with a cult following). 


Where to eat

DC-4Image Credit: Creative Commons

The Reren Lamen (817 7th Street NW in Chinatown) has popular noodle dishes, but my yellow curry was tasteless with large chicken pieces that tasted more like dumplings. 

There is a Sweetgreen nearby the hotel (14th and P). Try the new MISO glazed salmon with brown rice. Founded here, the fast casual healthy eating chain has locations all over town.

Grab a coffee at the Compass Coffee. Locations throughout D.C.

The Unconventional Diner had a great spicy shrimp dish, Caribbean shrimp, and grits. 

For steaks, you cannot beat Double Eagle Steak House in City Center. (City Center is a new high end shopping area across from the Westin)


What to Do

DCImage Credit: Destination DC

The Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian Museum of American Art (aka the Donald Reynolds Center for American Art and Portrait Gallery) is necessary. There is an orchid show in the atrium which also has a café. Don’t miss the Presidential portraits as well as the new portrait of Oprah. Both are free as are all the Smithsonian Museums.

Walk up to the Zoo and through Rock Creek Park with the DC Frontrunners. They meet Saturdays at 9:30 am for the walk (and at 10 am for the run). Meet at 23rd and P in Dupont Circle.

There is always something happening at the Washington Convention Center. I went to the travel show. The HRC National Dinner is also held there.

Take a hike with the Adventuring Club to the nearby mountains.



DC-3Image Credit: Creative Commons

D.C. has six new gay bars. I always stop by the Number 9 (happy hour 5-7 p.m. weekdays and 11-12 p.m. on weekends). The nearby Trade is a lot of fun (happy hour 5-9 p.m.). The newest one opens on 14th Street NW soon. 


For more information

The Washington Blade is in print and online. Pick up a copy at the Number Nine and many other locations. They are also on line as is the Metro Weekly. Midtown DC has local neighborhood events.

For even bigger savings, visit in the sizzling summer months (June-August) or in the winter (December-January). 

Thanks to Visit DC for their travel tips. 


*Bill Malcolm is an award winning travel writer, having been recognized by the Florida Press Association for his travel columns on Milan and Chicago which appeared in Embrace Magazine of Ocala. He was second place finisher. His syndicated LGBTQ+ travel columns run in publications throughout North America. Unlike other travel writers, he pays his own way and focuses on value. 


Featured Image Credit: Unsplash