What to Do in Washington D.C.
Forget the caricatures of D.C. as merely a government town. Anyone who lives here long enough will recognize its charms. With free museums, verdant green space, and a thriving restaurant and arts scene, the District stands tall among American cities. What’s more—it’s easily navigable by foot, bike, or Metro.
The Annual Meetings are a blur of activity, but don’t forget to budget some time to take in the capital’s attractions. If it’s your first time to the city, check out our previous insider’s guide. For those ready to explore a bit further, IMF Connect has the inside track to this city we call home.
Most visitors to D.C. are already familiar with the National Mall from movies and television, but nothing can compare to seeing it in person, particularly in the autumn. Nevertheless, there’s more than one way to experience the monuments.
For something unique, we recommend the Segway Scooter Tour. There’s a 3-hour and 2-hour option, and though the tickets are a bit pricey, this guided tour draws raves from visitors and locals alike. For those who have never ridden a Segway before—and that should be most people—have no fear, the tour begins with a demonstration of how to operate these quasi-futuristic vehicles.
Visitors who would rather experience the Mall the old-fashioned way (you know, on foot or in a car) should consider a nighttime tour, which provides a glittering journey past Washington’s most famous attractions. It’s a vantage that most tourists never experience.
Delegates have no shortage of excellent restaurants to choose from close to the IMF. But for those who are willing to travel a bit further afield, a few destinations are worth the trip.
CityCenterDC, also known as Palmer’s Alley, boasts more than 30 luxury retailers and restaurants in walking distance to the National Portrait Gallery and Chinatown. Need a lighter wallet? The sales staff at Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Bulgari are eager to help. Dreaming big? Drop by the Tesla showroom and get up close to Elon Musk’s car of the future.
If you build up an appetite while shopping, Momofuku CCDC and its sweet-tooth companion Milk Bar made a huge splash when they opened in 2015. The D.C. outpost of celebrity chef (and northern Virginia native) David Chang’s growing empire serves the bowls of ramen and pork bao sandwiches that started a national food craze. Only you can decide whether it lives up to the hype. Afterward, Milk Bar’s cereal milk soft serve will bring out your inner child.
Searching for something a little more low-key? Union Market is set in a rapidly transforming part of town north of Union Station. Surrounded by food wholesalers, the vibe is more industrial than luxury, but once inside the warehouse-style indoor market, approximately 50 vendors offer everything from oysters to Korean tacos. There’s also a “pop up” branch of the Angelika art house theater.