Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. Travel Guide
Dupont Circle Summary
- Casual, relaxed, residential atmosphere
- Beautiful brownstones on the residential blocks
- Home to the striking mansions of Embassy Row
- Restaurants to fit every budget
- Modern art museum the Phillips Collection is home to an amazing assortment of Impressionist works.
- The famed Brickskeller offers more than 1,000 types of beer.
- Popular farmers' market Sundays
- Dupont Circle itself offers great people-watching.
- The center of Washington D.C.'s gay community
- Relatively far from the museums and monuments arrayed around the National Mall
- Area bars attract young and sometimes rowdy crowds, especially on weekends
- Substantial homeless population
What It's Like
It's not a stretch to say that Dupont Circle is the most famous traffic hub in the United States. But Dupont Circle the neighborhood is a lot more than the small park at its center that gives it its name. Just north of downtown, the area isn't too far from D.C.'s major tourist attractions, but has a welcoming lived-in feeling to counterbalance all that sightseeing. Block by block, Dupont Circle mixes the commercial, institutional, and residential: Stately Embassy Row is here, as are rows of well-kept brick brownstones, art galleries, bookstores, some excellent restaurants up and down the price spectrum, and historic buildings like the Cathedral of St. Matthew, where J.F.K.'s funeral was held. Long the heart of gay life in Washington, Dupont Circle hosts both sober-minded rallies and frivolous entertainments like the annual High Heel Drag Queen Race. A bohemian enclave for decades, Dupont Circle also means nightlife. There are watering holes of all kinds, from the divey Big Hunt to the upscale 18th Street Lounge to Apex, a popular gay dance club that's been around for more than 25 years. A word of warning: the later the hour, the rowdier the young bar scene gets. That said, gentrification has made Dupont Circle pricier and less cutting-edge than, say, the nearby U Street Corridor. But it still maintains enough of its eclectic charm and vitality to serve as a fun and interesting home base for any D.C. excursions.
Where To Stay
Befitting the loose, hipster vibe of the neighborhood, a number of boutique hotels have popped up in Dupont Circle in the last few years. The Hotel Palomar, Hotel Madera, and Carlyle Suites all come in at a good price, often under $200. The Dupont Hotel is a luxury option right off the circle. And up Embassy Row, both the Hilton and the Fairfax are tucked away among the mansions.