An Insider's Guide to Washington DC

Coming to the GAC? Here's a few suggestions for places to eat, sites to see, and things to do while in DC.


Coming to DC for the GAC? Before you finalize your schedule, we’d like to offer a few suggestions on places to eat, sites to see and things to do.  Have a lunch scheduled? Read below for some alternatives to a chain restaurant to make that meal a little more interesting.  Looking for souvenirs? See our recommendations for unique places to find them. Have a spare hour? Check out some once-in-a-lifetime options. 

Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian (on the Mall at 4th and Independence) is the talk of the town when it comes to food. Just a few blocks from the Capitol, plan to have lunch here while on your hill visits. The Winter Menu, organized into 5 regional groupings, includes such delicacies as Baked Oysters, Grilled Venison, Blue & Pumpkin Corn Breads, and Buffalo Chili as well as over 20 desserts!

On the other side of the Mall, consider stopping by the National Gallery of Art for two reasons you may not think—eating and shopping! The NGA Shop is actually a collection of stores and a great place to find special gifts.  There is a large bookstore in the underground tunnel that connects the East and West Wings of the Gallery, along with a Kids Store. Upstairs has jewelry, reproductions and more.

NGA also has four eateries. My favorite is the The Cascade Café which offers made-to-order salads, wood-fired pizzas, and sandwiches, all with a view of the cascade waterfall from the glass pyramid skylights above.

While you’re in the neighborhood, take a stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue by the Newseum, where you can read headlines from papers around the world. Consider paying the entrance fee to enjoy these Top 10 Things to see including the Berlin Wall Gallery, a 9/11 Gallery and, my favorite, the Editorial Cartoon exhibit (good for a few giggles, no matter your political leanings).

For a bit of exercise, consider ice skating in the NGA Sculpture Garden then enjoying hot chocolate in the Pavilion Café. You can gain admission and rent skates for just $10.

Want to take in some theater but conscious of your budget? We recommend and Cultural Capital for half price events. Goldstar is especially good with pictures. Some tickets can be purchased well in advance of the event and this will save a trip to the half-price ticket booth on 7th Street.

Travel halfway around the world while never leaving DC by visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors at the National Geographic Society (17th Street, between L and M). This is the largest collection of artifacts to travel to the US from China, including life-size figures, weapons, armor, and coins from the underground tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi.

NGS is right around the corner from Callahan & Associates, so please feel free to stop by and say hello if you are in the neighborhood. We can offer you space to work, check your email or make some calls in privacy.

Just a stones throw from the Convention Center is Acadiana, self-described as “a contemporary interpretation of a Louisiana Fish House.” Be sure to try the biscuits and cream cheese & jalapeno jelly they bring you to start. Reservations will be necessary.

Further afield is Founding Farmers, at 20th and Pennsylvania, a restaurant that is reasonable and “socially conscious”. The menu is fun and has great American Cuisine. The décor is a bit trendy but acceptable for casual all the way up to business professional or business casual.  

For a treat, drop by Red Velvet Cupcakery (675 E Street, in Penn Quarter). Any reason to celebrate sends the Callahan staff on expeditions for these delicious cupcakes in a variety of flavors, including the famous Red Velvet, chocolate grenache Devil’s Food, and espresso-infused Morning Call cupcakes.

Eastern Market is a great place to go on the weekend. You can find fresh produce, arts and crafts, antiques, and Washington DC souvenirs.  It’s convenient to get to as it’s right off the orange/blue metro lines.

Please share your favorite places with us as well





Feb. 8, 2010


  • Excellent suggestion! And while you're in the neighborhood, stop by the Botanical Gardens (en route from the Capitol Visitors Center to the American Indian Museum). They have miniature replicas of all the famous buildings in DC among the plants. A great place to warm up for a few minutes.
    Alix Patterson
  • Since the last GAC, they've opened the new US Capitol Visitor Center. It's amazing! You can look online to schedule tours of the Capitol Building as well as stop by any time to view the exhibit on the history of the Senate and the House. A great destination for families:
  • The Shakespeare Theater at the Landsberg is playing Richard II and Henry V on alternating nights with one actor playing both lead roles. this is the equivalent of memorizing the entire Comedy of Errors. Great theater and great descriptions of power used and abused.
  • Great tips, Alix. And don't forget the International Spy Museum just a few blocks down from the Convention Center toward the Mall. Super interesting if you enjoy the history of espionage. Great gift shop, too.
    Mike Lawson