Why I Love Capitol Hill in the Winter

Capitol Hill is known for its charming historic architecture

Many weekends, I hop on the Metro and head down to my favorite DC neighborhood, Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill’s boundaries begin east of the U.S. Capitol and encompass many important landmarks, including the United States Supreme Court, Union Station, the Library of Congress and Barracks Row. Architecturally diverse homes dating back to the late 19th Century and early 20th centuries have been restored to their original glory. Here are some of the highlights:

Capitol Hill pics (1 of 6)
Folger Shakespeare Library has a gift shop every reader and writer loves!
Capitol Hill pics (5 of 6)
The US Supreme Court has an excellent visitors center in the lower level explaining the genesis of the building and displaying important moments in the Judiciary Branch’s history.

Besides the many historic attractions in the neighborhood, there are dozens of new shops, parks and restaurants to explore. Here are some of my favorites:

Taking the daily tour of the U.S. Capitol is so worthwhile

The sprawling concrete park around the U.S Capitol offers lots of room to explore before descending underground into the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. Tour the Capitol Grounds, to see the Capitol Reflecting Pool—six acres in size—where you’ll see duck families swimming and tourists on Segways rolling by. Underground in the Visitors Center, you’ll find a restaurant, movie and comfortable places to rest. Wander through Emancipation Hall, with its historical statues and touchable 11-foot tall model of the Capitol dome. Take the one hour tour to learn more about this important landmark.

The best water park is also the best place to go ice skating. Capitol Hill’s most recent sensation is Washington Canal Park, part of the Capitol Riverfront development on the Anacostia River. The park spans three blocks, situated between I and M Streets, Northeast, and 2nd Street and 2nd Place Northeast. In warm weather, the Canal Park water jets and fountains will entertain youngsters for hours. In the winter, the park features an outdoor ice skating rink. Throughout the year, the park hosts events like a farmers market and festivals.

My favorite place to shop in all of DC is at Eastern Market. A Washington DC tradition, hanging around Eastern Market’s outdoor Flea never ceases to delight visitors and locals alike. Stop inside any time for the city’s best blueberry pancakes at Market Lunch. Eastern Market is closed on Mondays.

Original arts and crafts at the Flea Market outside of Eastern Market

The Flea Market at Eastern Market is a year-round destination featuring colorful produce, handmade crafts, fresh baked goods, to repurposed furniture. While strolling by, you’re bound to run into some entertaining street performers. The Flea Market is open on weekends.

Street performers entertain in Barracks Row around the Flea Market

Located at the edge of  Capitol Hill is the beautiful Library of Congress. Called “the people’s library,” well-known authors, recording artists and illustrators come here to discuss their work and allow audiences to ask questions. Tour Jefferson’s collection and see the real Gutenberg Bible. You can’t take the books home, but you can spend an hour or two reading and exploring.

The beautiful ceiling in The Library of Congress

If you want to buy books, there are a few bookstores, like Riverby Books, Fairy Godmother (for kids) and Capitol Hill Books in the neighborhood.

The U.S. Botanic Garden’s glass enclosed Conservatory remains comfortably warm throughout the year, so the beautiful plants and trees continue to flourish even when there’s snow on the ground. There are different exhibits throughout the year, including a replica of the U.S. Capitol made of plants and the Story of Chocolate. Another great Washington tradition—the Gardens are completely free and open Monday through Saturday, except Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

There are dozens of choices to make at WE THE PIZZA

Where to eat? If you love pizza, you will love We The Pizza. Their expansive menu of toppings will delight the adventurous. Order the full pie or a slice—they come with irresistible toppings like forest Shroomin’, to Spinach & Artichoke and Cajun Chicken & Andouille sausage. Located on 305 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E.

Try the coffee and baked goods at Bakery Nouveau, a cozy, friendly place to hang out!

Aficionados will not find fault with the gourmet bakeries, coffee shops and award winning restaurants in the neighborhood either. The best restaurant in the nation, according to Bon Appetit Magazine is Rose’s Luxury, and it’s in the Barracks Row neighborhood, part of Capitol Hill. Other neighborhood favorites are Ted’s Bulletin, Ambar and the popular Belgian bistro, The Belga Cafe.

The fries are stellar at the Belga Cafe

So there you have it. Just a few of the many wonderful reasons to spend some time on Capitol Hill. What are your favorite spots? Any photos of the Botanical Garden would be lovely if you feel like posting one. Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @DCWriterMom for insider information on more worthwhile DC spots.

The Unofficial Guide to Washington DC – I am one of the co-authors. Hope you’ll consider picking one up. It’s a perfect gift for both local families and tourists who want to learn more about Washington DC and the surrounding suburbs.



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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

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