(AP) - The National Mall, a look at the White House and cherry blossoms in springtime are all musts for visitors to Washington, D.C. But once you’ve got the essentials covered, including whatever monuments and museums are on your list, consider spending a few hours in Dupont Circle, a neighborhood with gems that range from a popular indie bookstore to a beer brewer’s Victorian mansion. The area also includes a gas station on the National Register of Historic Places and the Phillips Collection, a modern art museum.
Take the Metro to the Dupont Circle stop and look for a white marble fountain in a circular plaza. That’s the center of the neighborhood. Streets extend out from the circle like spokes on a wheel.
The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St., is probably Dupont Circle’s best-known attraction. Through May 8, “Seeing Nature” offers 39 paintings from five centuries, including Impressionist works and David Hockney’s large, colorful 1998 depiction of the Grand Canyon. In the museum’s permanent collection, be sure to see Renoir’s lively “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” and spend a moment in the Laib Wax Room, a closet-sized space lined with fragrant, yellow beeswax.
The Heurich House Museum, billed as “the brewmaster’s castle,” is a 31-room home at 1307 New Hampshire Ave., built in the 1890s by Christian Heurich, a German-born beer-maker. Heurich was best known for his Senate brand of beer. He survived Prohibition by temporarily turning his beer business into an ice-distribution company, and he was still making beer when he died in 1945 at age 102. The Kennedy Center sits on the land where his factory was located.
Hour-long tours of Heurich House are offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but you must reserve online (free, $5 suggested donation). Every third Thursday of the month, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the museum partners with a local craft brewery for “History & Hops,” offering tastings and tours for $30. This spring, a company called DC Brau plans to launch a new beer inspired by Heurich’s legacy.
Dupont Circle is also home to many embassies. On one block, a white statue of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, graces the Indonesian embassy, while the flag of Portugal flies from the embassy next door. Another block literally houses embassies from A to Z: Argentina and Zimbabwe.
Two curiosities in the neighborhood: Spanish Steps, a flight of stone stairs at S Street and 22nd Street named for the famous steps in Rome, and a gas station on the National Register of Historic Sites at 2200 P St. across from Rock Creek Park. The gas station was built in 1936 by Gulf Oil to look more like a bank or library than a filling station. It’s a Sunoco station today, with “SNACK SHOP” written on the tidy building that helped earn its historic designation.
Other attractions in the area include the Woodrow Wilson House, 2340 S St., and the Textile Museum, 701 21st St.
SHOPPING AND DINING
Connecticut Avenue has lots of small, fun shops, including for dog owners, The Cheeky Puppy, 1709 Connecticut Ave.; for women’s clothing and accessories, lou lou boutiques, a regional chain with stores at 1601 and 1623 Connecticut Ave.; and beads at Beadazzled, 1507 Connecticut. On the second floor of 1702 Connecticut Ave., the Secondi consignment store sells designer finds, ranging from a DVF wrap dress for $98 to a Chanel coat for more than $1,000. Second Story Books & Antiques, 2000 P St., draws treasure-hunters with its outdoor carts of $4 books, while Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, 1517 Connecticut Ave., draws crowds on weekends for both books and brunch (try the Cubano sandwich and black bean salad).
If bowls of vegetables and grains are your thing, Jose Andres’ Beefsteak at 800 22nd St. is one of several nearby options. You’ll also find dim sum restaurants, a Shake Shack, empanadas (Julia’s), tapas (Boqueria) and the local Teaism chain, among many other eateries.
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