Washington, D.C. Places

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Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle Walk

Two hours should be enough to walk the main sights here; longer if you want to linger in some of the neighborhood's fascinating small museums and enticing cafés.

Take the Metro to the dramatic Dupont Circle Q Street exit and you'll find yourself in the heart of it all. If you arrive on a Sunday morning you'll emerge into the year-round Fresh Farm Market at the corner of Q and 20th streets. The large island in the middle of the traffic circle a few paces down Connecticut Avenue is a lively urban park, vibrant with skateboarders, chess players, and street performers, congregating around a marble fountain created by Daniel Chester French. On sunny days the surrounding benches are pleasant spots for people-watching, newspaper reading, or relaxing with a cup of coffee or a snack. Also nearby is the bookstore Kramerbooks & Afterwords, which has a popular café, open daily and throughout the night on Friday and Saturday.

See and Be Scene

Dupont's gay scene is concentrated mainly on 17th Street. A variety of gay-friendly, lively, and offbeat bars and restaurants stretch between P and R streets, many with outdoor seating perfect for people-watching. JR's Bar & Grill and Cobalt are favorites. D.I.K. Bar is the place to be on the Tuesday before Halloween for the annual High Heel Drag Race down 17th Street. At the informal block party, elaborately costumed drag queens strut their stuff along the route from Church to Queen streets and then race to the finish line.

Northwest of Dupont Circle

Head up the main north–south artery of Connecticut Avenue, lined with shops, restaurants, and cafés that are busy day and night. Turning left onto R Street you'll pass number 2131, an understated white-painted town house, home to FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt between 1916 and 1920. Detour a block south on 21st Street to find the Phillips Collection, founded as the first permanent museum of modern art in the country, with a collection including works by Renoir, Degas, van Gogh, Picasso, Cassatt, Klee, and Matisse.

Along R Street lies a variety of art galleries. Nestled among them is the nonprofit Fondo Del Sol Visual Arts Center, devoted to the cultural heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean. Detour east on R Street for the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, which displays weapons, uniforms, medals, recruitment posters, and other military memorabilia related to American Jews serving in the U.S. military. You'll see some very unrestrained architecture in this neighborhood, including an Italianate mansion built in 1901 at 15 Dupont Circle. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife lived here in 1927 while the White House was undergoing a renovation. Coolidge welcomed many dignitaries as house guests there, including Charles Lindbergh after his transatlantic flight.

At the west end of R Street, Sheridan Circle and Massachusetts Avenue are home to a cluster of embassies in striking villas. North on Massachusetts Avenue, S Street edges into the Kalorama district. The Woodrow Wilson House shows the former president's home pretty much as he left it. On display are his personal possessions, such as hats and canes, and many gifts from foreign dignitaries.

Just south of Sheridan Circle the Bison Bridge is guarded by four bronze statues of the shaggy mammals. Nearby, the Anderson House was bequeathed by Larz and Isabel Anderson to the Society of the Cincinnati, an exclusive club of the descendants of Revolutionary War officers. Next door, the Walsh-McLean House was once home to the last private owner of the Hope Diamond (now in the National Museum of Natural History). Head back to Connecticut Avenue for tea, lunch, or a snack before continuing on.

Southeast of Dupont Circle

Past Dupont Circle, heading down Massachusetts Avenue toward Scott Circle, you'll pass the Brookings Institution and the Johns Hopkins University D.C. campus buildings. The Christian Heurich House Museum, once known as the Brewmaster's Castle, was the home of a German-born beer magnate and is nearby on New Hampshire Avenue. Scott Circle is decorated with statues of General Winfield Scott, Daniel Webster, and S. C. F. Hahnemann. If you walk to the south side of the circle and look down 16th Street, you'll get a familiar view of the White House, six blocks away. Nearby, down 17th Street, the National Geographic Society brings its magazines to life with interactive exhibits, photo galleries, and live shows.

A few sights lie clustered on or near M Street south of Scott Circle, including two noteworthy religious institutions. The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the most influential African-American churches in the city. The Renaissance-style St. Matthew's Cathedral, the seat of Washington's Roman Catholic diocese, was where President Kennedy's funeral Mass was held.

Logan Circle

The epicenter of this neighborhood, sometimes called MidCity, is at the intersection of P and 14th Streets. This is where the bars and restaurants buzz by day and spill out onto the sidewalks at night. In the early 2000s, gentrification took hold and brought to life a once derelict neighborhood. Revitalized it certainly is, but take a moment to notice the layers of history.

Logan Circle itself can be found to the east along P Street, a circle of brooding redbrick Victorian mansions built between 1875 and 1900, and the surrounding streets where many prominent African-Americans once lived. One block south of the circle on Vermont Avenue, the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House features exhibits on the achievements of African-American women. Around the corner on 14th, you'll come across the highly regarded Studio Theater, a number of contemporary art galleries, more boutiques, and music venues, all part of 14th Street's thriving arts scene, continuing right up to U Street.

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