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9 Best Neighborhoods in Washington, DC

By: Davina Ward
November 30, 2020

Washington, DC pretty much has it all. MLB, NBA, NFL, and WNBA teams, extensive green space and parks, tons of historical sites, and a walkability score that’s through the roof. It’s perfect for anyone looking for a city that doesn't lack things to do.

That said, whether you’re already looking at Washington DC apartments or still researching the city, it’s important to get to know the best DC neighborhoods.

Here’s a list of the best neighborhoods in Washington DC that you consider during your search. Let’s dive in!

1. Adams Morgan

Adams Morgan is filled with history like most DC neighborhoods. Residents and visitors will note the beauty of the many 19th-century row houses that adorn the streets.

This small neighborhood has many brag-worthy features. They include a gorgeous community garden, an Annual Adams Morgan Day Festival, and tons of parks, including the Walter Pierce Park.

Adams Morgan is a favorite among the younger crowds, including millennials. Muzette offers residents a chance to become an international singing sensation with its karaoke offerings alongside delicious cuisine.

Those who enjoy a bit more rugged entertainment can make their way to the Jack Rose Dining Saloon. There they can peruse their huge selection of whiskey.

Transportation is a breeze in DC, and it's known as a highly walkable and bike-friendly city. The same is true for Adams Morgan.

It's not uncommon to find cyclists riding the neighborhood's bike lanes. You also won’t notice a lack of pedestrian foot traffic.

For those who work in the city, commuting from the neighborhood is easy with access to the Metro Red Line. In short, it's a prime location in a colorful little neighborhood with lots to offer any prospective resident.

2. Dupont Circle

Another neighborhood mired in history, Dupont Circle is known for its post-Civil War era buildings and the famed Dupont Circle. The traffic circle that is touted as the center of this fun neighborhood is also home to a small green space for lounging and riveting games of chess.

The stone chess tables are notorious for hosting some seriously entertaining matches.

Beyond the exciting games of chess, residents of Dupont can make their way to the numerous bars and restaurants that lie within the neighborhood borders.

Those who are more history or politically-inclined can head to Embassy Row. That’s the popular collection of over a hundred international embassies, missions, and residences located on Massachusetts Ave NW.

Keep in mind that it's a popular tourist attraction. That means parking is limited and it's always busy.

If you're in the market for a nice rental, you'll find one in the many row houses of Dupont Circle. Or, you may be able to rent a room out of one of the few homes in the area.

You won't have trouble commuting wherever you choose to live in Dupont Circle. The Red Line is easily accessible for quick public transportation.

That’s why the neighborhood is popular with young professionals. Perhaps you'll take a trip to the massive and ever-popular farmer's market founded in 1977. It’s still going strong to this day.

3. Georgetown

Georgetown is known as the home of a well-known university of the same name. However, it's got a lot more to offer residents.

This neighborhood was the site of many historical events. It was designated as a historic site.

In short, taking a stroll down Georgetown streets can feel like an impromptu history lesson. Massive 19th-century mansions can be seen looming over the neighborhood alongside the embassies that continue into Embassy Row.

Georgetown is, among other things, a shopper's paradise. This neighborhood's commercial streets are filled with tons of high-end designers and boast significant retailers such as H&M and Anthropologie.

You'll also find many small businesses offering distinct designs and products on your Georgetown shopping spree.

If you're looking for a little more peace and quiet, then head down to the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Have a picnic, gaze out at the water, birdwatch, or go for a run. There are tons of things to do.

You can even get lost in a labyrinth if you'd like to get a taste of ancient pastimes. Just be careful of children traversing the path. Kids enjoy mazes, too!

If you’ve worked up an appetite, then you can grab a bite to eat at one of Georgetown’s “streateries.”

4. Capitol Hill

Have you ever wanted to taste the rare air of the US government in action, but don't fancy a run at the public office? Then Capitol Hill is the place for you!

This neighborhood is aptly named and is home to many significant buildings. Those include the Supreme Court and the Capitol Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Not to mention, it wouldn't be out of place to see your local congressman or representative out grocery shopping. Capitol Hill is generally home to those that work in government.

However, the attractions of Capitol Hill aren't limited to government buildings. If you're considering marking the move to Capitol Hill, you'll have access to a robust entertainment selection featuring many restaurants, vintage storefronts.

You can visit any of these shops on foot or via the readily available Union Station. If you get the chance, don't miss stopping by the Eastern Market. You'll find tons of great food, arts, and other products. Those will certainly weigh you down on the walk home!

Plant lovers and botanists flock to the US Botanic Gardens in the same numbers that book lovers head down to the Library of Congress. All in all, there’s something for everyone in Capitol Hill.

5. Foggy Bottom

Yes, Foggy Bottom has a strange name. And, yes, it has an ever-present eerie fog that led to the name.

However, it's a bright and vibrant DC neighborhood with a culture all its own. Not to mention, it’s one of the safest neighborhoods in DC.

Artists are easy to spot in this neighborhood. It's home to the JFK Center for Performing Arts. It's become DC's premier arts location and features incredible performances year-round. You can visit Foggy Bottom by taking the Metro's Orange Line.

The lovely row houses dating back to the 1800s are filled with an array of individuals from artists to restaurateurs. That's not all surprising, as the neighborhood features a five-star restaurant and whiskey bar tucked into the bowels of the Watergate building — yes, that Watergate.

Political scandals aside, residents have access to the scenic views of the Potomac while they enjoy a bike ride or run in the neighborhood.

Rock Creek Park is over a century old and spans a full 1,754 acres in the city. A planetarium, Civil War forts, and horse trails are just a few of the fun activities the park offers. It's the crown jewel of Foggy Bottom.

6. Penn Quarter - Chinatown

Penn Quarter and Chinatown are actually two distinct DC neighborhoods. They have unclear and overlapping borders. Consequently, people use their names interchangeably.

This area could arguably be defined as the entertainment hub of DC. The neighborhood has undergone significant change in the past few decades.

The construction of Capital One Arena, home to the Washington Wizards, Mystics, and the Capitals makes this one of the most popular areas of the city as thousands flock to see games.

Moreover, the Smithsonian's American Art Museum and the National Portrait gallery attracts hordes of museum lovers. Oddly enough, the neighborhood is also home to the headquarters of the FBI.

It's also important to note that the name "Chinatown" refers to the DC area that was once home to many Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans. That number has dwindled to almost nothing. The name is no longer accurate.

That said, the large, stunning Friendship archway was constructed through a collaboration of Washington DC and Beijing. It looms over the neighborhood and is truly a beautiful monument.

7. Navy Yard

The Navy Yard is another neighborhood steeped in history. The neighborhood is dominated by the Washington Navy Yard. While the location no longer serves as a shipyard, it currently serves as the administrative center for the U.S. Navy and houses the Naval Historical Center.

However, the most popular neighborhood attraction is by far the Nationals Park for the MLB team the Washington Nationals.

Residents of the Navy Yard neighborhood benefit from the extensive redevelopment in the area over the last couple of decades. New residential and commercial buildings have cropped up in the area.

Additionally, projects like the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge have added to the visual appeal of the neighborhood. Many projects are still ongoing. They’re expected to increase both the residential and commercial space in the neighborhood.

Most residents enjoy Yards Park, a portion of the Anacostia Riverwalk. It includes an outdoor recreation space, a boardwalk, and a space for outdoor performances. It also features a lovely dancing fountain that is illuminated at night.

8. Chevy Chase

This neighborhood is known as the small town within the city. That’s because of its proximity to downtown DC and small-town vibe. It's perfect for young families and couples who are looking to settle down.

For those who enjoy the delights of the city, but want a quiet place to retreat, you can't get better than Chevy Chase (not to be confused with the bordering town of the same name in Maryland).

There are tons of playgrounds and green spaces that make it the ideal location for families with children. Unfortunately, food and entertainment options may feel a bit limiting in the neighborhood.

However, with downtown DC so near and the few local favorites holding out, residents rarely complain. One of the most attractive features of Chevy Chase is how close it is to Rock Creek Park. There’s never a lack of adventure there.

9. Columbia Heights

Columbia Heights is a favored neighborhood among local artists and those who welcome the diversity of the neighborhood. The large Latino population has brought the vibrancy of Latino culture to Columbia Heights.

The GALA Hispanic Theater is one of the premier artistic venues in DC. Additionally, the Mexican Cultural Institute features cultural programs and educational programs that are open to the public.

If you're a fan of the outdoors, the Meridian Hill Park offers views of gorgeous fountains, statues of Joan of Arc and Dante, information exhibits, and riveting Sunday Drum circles.

It’s also wheelchair accessible and the local favorite. You can head here to walk off your meal after checking out 11th Street NW’s plethora of bars and restaurants.

If you're planning to walk or bike in the area, you should know that it's notoriously hilly. For those that prefer a less strenuous commute, the Metro's Yellow and Green Lines can get you around.

Final Thoughts

Finding a great apartment can be challenging. Not to mention, a major city like Washington DC can make it difficult to pin down a neighborhood and apartment that meets all your needs. That’s where Apartment List comes in.

To find your dream DC apartment in a neighborhood you love, just get started with our quiz!

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AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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