What to do and see in Washington, DC.
Washington Monument at sunset.
and power, that's Washington – where the President
comes first, world leaders congregate, cabinet members play
heavyweight, the Supreme Court rules, Congress vies for votes,
lobbyists cajole, lawyers argue and the media decide the headlines.
Top diplomats from more than 170 nations live and work here;
black-tie events are de rigueur and, now, so is donning cowboy
hats. Stuffy old Washington has blossomed into a fascinating
world center that is hip, fun and accessible.
The Meridian International Center.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform at the Season Opening
Ball Concert of the National Symphony Orchestra.
Gala at the British Embassy; 301.718.4990
Finnish Embassy, 3301
Massachusetts Avenue; 202.298.5886;
Gold Cup, Great Meadow,
the American Indian; 202.633.1000;
Symphony Ball, The Kennedy Center;
American Art Museum Renwick Gallery;
Last year's International Gold Cup race.
National Museum of the American Indian.
Charter Company, a division of International Silver
Company, cocktail shaker; 1928, enameled silver, ebony.
Dallas Museum of Art, The Jewel Stern American Silver
Collection, part of Modernism in American Silver
20th-Century Design at the Renwick Gallery.
2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW;
800.332.3442; $475 - $6,400
One Lafayette Square NW; 800.424.5054;
$345 - $5,250
Oriental, 1330 Maryland
Avenue SW; 888.888.1778; $405 - $8,000
Pennsylvania Avenue NW;
800.327.0200; $269 - $4,200
3251 Prospect Street NW; 202.333.6183
701 14th Street NW; 202.393.3983
3000 M Street NW; 202.625.2150
at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel; 202.787.6006
1401 K Street NW; 202.216.5988
2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; 202.296.7700
at the Four Seasons Georgetown; 202.342.0444
1226 36th Street NW; 202.965.1789
1909 K Street NW; 202.955.9494
1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW; 202.393.4500
3333 M Street NW; no phone at press time
2900 M Street NW; 202.333.1529
3338 M Street NW; 202.625.9199
Gallery, 2922 M Street
1044 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202.337.1390
3312 Cady's Alley NW; 202.333.5343
1514 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202.338.4404
Now you can attend a gala at the British
Embassy and dine with an ambassador, explore Georgetown's
hot, new Cady's Alley or bike on the
C & O Canal, hop a water taxi for lunch
in Olde Town and still catch the highly acclaimed
Washington Ballet or National Symphony
at the Kennedy Center that same night.
“There has been a transformation
of Washington,” says Four Seasons concierge
Mel Odilao. A fixture at this luxury Georgetown hotel for
almost 25 years, Odilao has seen dramatic changes in the Nation's
capital. “Washington used to be a sleepy town and now
it's an international city comparable to Paris.”
You need only decide among numerous first-choice hotels, must-try
restaurants and unique events.
Georgetown's Four Seasons has been
gloriously “reinvented,” with expanded plush suites
by interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon (of
Four Seasons' Georges V Paris fame), an intimate spa,
and Seasons restaurant, which serves the
city's best Sunday brunch and afternoon tea.
Located on Pennsylvania Avenue
near the White House is the historic beaux
arts Willard InterContinental, featuring
a new sidewalk café and spa. The cozy Hay-Adams
on Lafayette Square overlooks the White House.
Between The Mall and the Jefferson Memorial
is the huge, sparkling new Mandarin Oriental,
with an impressive spa.
When it's time to dine, Michel
Richard's Citronelle in Georgetown and CityZen
at the Mandarin Oriental are tops. Cafe Milano
in Georgetown is a must for Euro chicks and stars such as
George Clooney, Bo Derek and even Dr.
Ruth. Teatro Goldoni's Chef Fabrizio
Aielli, a CBS regular, creates Venetian specialties (don't
miss his fritto misto) that will make you think you're
on the Grand Canal. If you love seafood, head for Kinkead's.
Over at Georgetown's 1789, chef Ris
Lacoste (formerly of Nantucket's 21 Federal) is famous
for her seasonal specialties and incredibly succulent lamb.
For adventure, try DC Coast, TenPenh
and Ceiba, a celebrated group of restaurants
that are adding Acadiana (Cajun seafood)
this fall. And watch for the opening of Zengo,
a product of chef Richard Sandoval and Plácido
Domingo (they created New York's hit Pampano
together and will add chef Alan Yu for this
Latin-Asian “give and take” (that's zengo
Love a party? Then join Kennedy Center
vice-chair Alma Powell and former
Secretary of State Colin Powell on September 24 as
they open The National Symphony's 75th season with a
star-studded concert followed by the annual NSO Ball,
signaling the beginning of Washington's fall social
calendar. Music director Leonard Slatkin
has invited three of today's most distinguished guest
artists: pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Itzhak
Perlman and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
The NSO Annual Decorators'
Show House, to be held October 2 - 31, is another
popular fall event. Twenty-four local interior and landscape
designers will magically transform Hidden Brook Manor,
a private McLean residence.
Of all the diplomatic invitations, the
British Embassy is always one of the most coveted. On October
5, you can walk up the red carpet to meet His Excellency,
the British Ambassador and Lady Manning in their
grand residence, built in 1928 and designed by Britain's
renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Washington
sculptor Lolo Sarnoff heads this 17th
Annual Gala for her organization, AFTA (Arts
for the Aging). With wines from around the world
and a buffet dinner prepared by the Ambassador's chef,
you will be in a wonderful mood to bid on auction items that
include other embassy events.
October 14 is the Meridian Ball.
Attend a pre-ball dinner at one of 35 different embassies
and then join all the ambassadors and VIP guests for dessert
and dancing at Meridian International Center,
a fabulous hillside mansion that is on the Historic Registry.
Also not to be missed on Embassy
Row: The Finnish Embassy, a contemporary green glass
house, is holding Sauma [Design as Cultural Interface],
an interactive design show, from October 7 - November 13.
Smart clothing, multimedia installations, new sauna concepts,
experimental kitchens and innovative multipurpose furniture
will be on display to celebrate Finnish Design Year.
Autumn in Virginia horse country means
the International Gold Cup at Great Meadow
on the third Saturday in October. Wear your hat, take a gourmet
picnic and enjoy this glamorous steeplechase.
Back on The Mall, be sure to visit to the
Museum of the American Indian, an undulating
sandstone building that is unforgettable. And if you go to
the new World War II Memorial, don't
forget FDR's “walking memorial” nearby.
Over at the Renwick Gallery, there's
a wonderful Art Deco silver show and Winslow Homer
at The National Gallery. Some of the niftiest
gifts can be found in museum shops.
Then there's shopping in Georgetown.
First stop, Cady's Alley on M Street
for delightful designs for you and your home. Gore
Dean is a magnificent mélange of fine antiques,
Debbie Dean's own designs, top-drawer tablewear and
outrageous must-haves. On the cobblestone street behind, discover
relish, overlooking the Canal and offering
fresh European fashions for men and women, all handpicked
by Nancy Pearlstein (whose family owns Louis of Boston). Pause
at Leopold's Kafe + Konditorei before
you investigate Washington's newest furniture import,
award-winning Artefacto from Brazil.
Further down M Street, Keith Lipert
Gallery is well known for consistently high-quality
design. Go there for glamorous fashion jewelry and unusual
personal and business gifts. Ann Hand, who's
known for her patriotic pins and custom designs, has a new
store at the corner at 29th and M. Both these boutiques are
rich in Washington souvenirs to wear home.
Two special dress shops on Wisconsin
Avenue are Pirjo, just below the Canal and always
a delightful surprise of unusual Scandinavian women's
wear, jewelry and house gifts, and The Phoenix,
up the hill and offering beautiful Indian jewelry, Mexican
designs and sophisticated-yet-relaxed women's wear.
Before heading back to your hotel, there
are big decisions to be made: just up Wisconsin, Argentine
ice cream at Isee Icy, or Belgian truffles
at Leonidas or irresistible French pastry
at Patisserie Poupon. Forget the calories
– this is an experiment in international living!
and media consultant Gail Scott, author of Diplomatic
Dance: the New Embassy Life in America, is a native Washingtonian,
former TV anchorwoman and radio host.
Image 1: JakeMcGuire.com, Image 2: Courtesy of the Meridian
International Center, Image 3: Courtesy of the National Symphony
Orchestra, Image 4: Virginia Gold Cup Association, Image 5:
Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution, Image 6: Courtesy of
the Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery.