If you’re seeking a weekend of history, culture and fun in Washington, D.C., there’s no better place to make your home base than the Kimpton Banneker Hotel. This luxurious boutique hotel is just blocks from the White House, the National Mall, and the sophisticated Dupont Circle. From here, you can enjoy yourself more and travel less between destinations.
Named after Benjamin Banneker, a free Black man who helped establish the original borders of Washington, D.C., this hotel provides a truly local experience. Artwork by the District’s most fascinating creators spread across the lobby and 144 guestrooms. And the hotel’s two restaurants feature chef-driven fare made from locally sourced ingredients. This unique blend of art, elegance and history stands out against the classical 18th-century architecture of the surrounding neighborhood.
Are you ready to explore D.C. like a local? This 2-day itinerary will help you maximize your stay.
Getting Around Washington, D.C.
Fly into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport—a 4-mile drive to the Banneker. You can get a rental car from several vendors, but it’s not required! The Dupont Circle and Farragut North Metro stations are a short walk to the hotel and can connect you to Metro lines.
Once in D.C., a fun way to travel is the Capital Bikeshare program. Unlock a rented bike for a single trip or get a 24-hour pass for just $8 per day to see the sights on your schedule.
Day 1: Masterworks, Museums, and Music
Morning in Dupont Circle
There’s no better way to kick off the day than with a hearty breakfast at French bistro Le Sel on the hotel’s ground floor. People-watch from the breezy patio while you enjoy a buttery croissant or fluffy French omelet.
After breakfast, it’s time for a self-guided hotel art tour – that’s right, the Banneker is home to various artwork by acclaimed photographers and artists. First, in the Lobby Living Room, you’ll discover works by Peruvian-American photographer Susana Raab and Nigerian-American artist Victor Epkuk. Next, keep an eye out for colorful, abstract paintings by “Aziza” Claudia Gibson-hunter in the Quill Board Room. The hotel has even more artwork, from your room to the rooftop bar and more – keep an eye out for the art wall with its black and white masterpieces.
Ready to venture out? Begin your D.C. adventure with a tour of the Woodrow Wilson House, the post-presidency home of the 28th president and his family. This 1915 Georgian Revival mansion still holds many of the family’s personal items, furniture, and state gifts.
Next, stroll down Embassy Row. Once home to the city’s nouveau riche, these stately Gilded Age buildings now house the diplomatic offices of over 100 countries, with their various flags flying proudly along Massachusetts Avenue.
End the morning with some retail therapy in Dupont Circle, home to charming boutiques and uniquely D.C. storefronts. Wander the stacks at independent bookstore Kramers, a local institution since 1976. Love designer clothing and accessories? Head to Secondi, one of D.C.’s longest-running consignment shops featuring brand names such as Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton at affordable prices. And don’t skip a trip to GoodWood, a local favorite, if you’re seeking vintage furniture, textiles, home goods, artwork and other unique curiosities.
An Afternoon at the Museum
Drop your purchases back at the Banneker before lunch at the nearby Agora DC – it’s just a short five-minute walk from the hotel. The menu unites the fresh flavors of Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon in a charming space bedecked with patterned tile and colorful textiles.
After lunch, spend the afternoon at one of Washington, D.C.’s many museums. The rambling O Street Museum is dedicated to the creative process. Behind secret doors, themed rooms are packed with artifacts from Rock & Roll memorabilia to Tiffany’s stained-glass windows. Whatever you’re expecting, prepare to be surprised.
Explore a piece of neglected history at the African American Civil War Museum. These exhibits honor the stories of the Black troops who fought in the Civil War, many of whom fought for their freedom. Outside, a monument lists the names of all 209,145 Black men who fought for the Union.
A Musical Evening
After a day of exploring, it’s time to head back to the Banneker and freshen up for a night of dinner, drinks and entertainment. Start with cocktails and small plates at Lady Bird on the hotel rooftop. Snack on savory charcuterie and mini lobster rolls while overlooking incredible views of the White House and Washington Monument.
Up next? It’s off to The Hamilton Live, a music venue and restaurant that harkens back to the clubs of the past. Reserve a private table and sip craft cocktails like the Hamilton Mule while enjoying live performances from bands such as Fast Eddie & The Slowpokes or musical tributes to Frank Sinatra and The Beatles.
Day 2: Soak Up the History of the District
A Morning of Fitness and Fashion
Kickstart your day with some yoga and nature. Grab a complimentary yoga mat courtesy of the Banneker and head to the nearby Meridian Hill Park. With views of the beautiful cascading fountain and reflecting pool, practice your warrior pose and sun salutations in the fresh morning air.
Once you’re limbered up, take a short walk to Busboys and Poets for breakfast. This artsy, eclectic space is a local hub for artists and writers – order mouthwatering staples such as smoked salmon benedict or sweet potato pancakes with 100% pure local maple syrup.
Next, head to CityCenterDC for a dose of luxury shopping and history. Fashion fans can indulge in Dior, Gucci, Burberry, Hermès, and more in this glitterati playground. If you prefer famous figures to fashion, head to the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian to view portraits of noteworthy Americans, from politicians to scientists to film stars. Take a docent-led tour to catch all the highlights of this 23,000-piece collection.
Afternoon at the Mall
Just around the corner from the National Portrait Gallery, head to The Smith for a lively lunch. This stylish American brasserie with international flair has a raw bar, hearty pastas, and crisp salads to keep your energy up for the afternoon. Of course, the extensive cocktail menu doesn’t hurt, either!
Spend the afternoon soaking up Washington D.C.’s history and culture at the National Mall. Start by booking a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building to see the iconic Capitol Rotunda and the sculpture exhibits in the National Statuary Hall.
Next, visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, dedicated to traditional African arts, history, and contemporary works from current artists. A short walk away, a stunning building sheathed with glass and an intricate metal lattice is home to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The exhibits tell the stories of tradition, tragedy, and triumph by African Americans throughout the centuries.
Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Washington Monument, one of the most instantly recognizable symbols in the world. Get a ticket to the top for a 360° view of the Capitol Building, the White House, and the rest of the National Mall.
Just outside the Mall, visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial for a peaceful moment of reflection before the great man’s towering statue among the cherry trees. Finally, follow the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial for a photo op with the statue of President Abraham Lincoln.
Spend the Evening in 1865
As the day ends, enjoy a quick and delicious dinner at Arepa Zone, a Venezuelan counter-service restaurant specializing in handmade arepas, cachapas, and taqueños. Colorful and casual, this is the perfect place to discover (or re-discover) Venezuelan cuisine! It’s also just five minutes from the Banneker if you need to refresh and recharge.
Pack in a little more history (and entertainment) at Ford’s Theatre, the site of President Lincoln’s assassination. Today, the theater stages plays and performances about Lincoln and the American experience and also highlights local BIPOC writers and performers – all in a space restored to its 1865 appearance. Be sure to call ahead for the current schedule and tickets.
End the night toasting an incredible weekend with late-night cocktails on the rooftop at Banneker’s Lady Bird as you gaze one final time out on the glittering D.C. skyline.