Washington, D.C./Capitol Hill

The U.S. Capitol Building

Capitol Hill is a venerable neighborhood just east of the Capitol building, best known as the main residence in the city for the legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government, and for the staffers who run the place. Rare is the visitor who skips a visit to the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court steps, or the Library of Congress, but time permitting you should make an effort to head further east to see this beautiful neighborhood, and to have a nice meal on Barracks Row while listening to the politicos chatter away. The Hill extends several miles east of the Capitol to RFK Stadium and the Anacostia river.


Capitol Hill, just east of the Mall, plays a central role in the country's political life, as two of the three branches of the federal government—the legislative and the judicial—are located here. The government spills far over into the neighborhood itself, as this is the favorite residential section of town for congressional staffers, as well as any other type of politico you can imagine. Streets are abuzz with intense political debate, and you'll encounter this head on when visiting a neighborhood bar or restaurant.

Capitol Hill is worth exploring regardless of your interest in politics, though. It is a beautiful historic neighborhood of eighteenth and nineteenth century rowhouses in a wide range of architectural styles, and a wandering stroll from the Capitol to Barracks Row along residential side streets is a nice way to take in this quintessentially Washingtonian neighborhood. The upscale dining scene here has exploded in recent years, particularly along Barracks Row (centered on actual seventeenth century U.S. Marines barracks at 8th and I St) and along Pennsylvania Ave. North of the Capitol Grounds is grandiose Union Station, which is both a major point of entry into the city, and also a historical landmark in its own right, with a beautiful, gilt main hall. The other big historical attraction is the huge Eastern Market, which is a fine place to browse, admire, or grab something good to eat.

Get in

By Metrorail

For more information on riding the Metrorail in Washington DC, see Washington DC#Get_around.

The Blue, Orange, and Silver lines have stations just south of the Capitol Grounds at Federal Center and Capitol South. Further from the city center Eastern Market and then Stadium-Armory can be reached on the same line. Eastern Market is the most convenient stop for exploring the Capitol Hill neighborhood, as well as the eponymous market and Barracks Row. Stadium-Armory is closest to both RFK Stadium and the Congressional Cemetery.

The most prominent stop is certainly at Union Station, 40 Massachusetts Ave, ☎ +1 202 289-1908 on the Red Line, which is an easy walk from the Capitol, and is right by the Amtrak/Marc train station.

By train

Union Station is the central train station for the city, and trains come and go primarily along the Northeast Corridor, although you can likely find a train heading in any direction, the majority of which are operated by Amtrak.

Union Station is also the end point for the MARC Trains heading north through the Capital Region of Maryland to Baltimore. As the MARC serves primarily commuters, train departures and arrivals are concentrated at the beginning and end of the work day.

By bus

The following are the main bus routes operating in these neighborhoods, along with links to timetables and route maps. For more information on riding buses in Washington DC, see Washington DC#Get_around.

By car

Street parking is not too hard to find on side streets once you get far enough east of the Capitol Building, and away from Eastern Market and Barracks Row. The traffic patterns are disastrously convoluted, though—even by D.C. standards. Main east-west routes run along Constitution and Independence, as well as Pennsylvania and Maryland Ave. Coming from Anacostia, the main bridges are at Pennsylvania Ave and E Capitol St. There are no main roads heading north-south throughout the area, only the complex diagonals.

RFK Stadium has large public parking lots where event parking costs $15, and it's a relatively easy drive from outside the city, as it's just off I-295/DC-295. The traffic, on the other hand, is properly a nightmare in about a square mile radius around the stadium during events.

Taxis are easy to catch around the clock in the western portion of this area, particularly around monuments and main dining strips, but you will not find them in the residential areas.


The Contemplation of Justice, U.S. Supreme Court

The main attractions on Capitol Hill are all concentrated in the U.S. Capitol Complex, grounds managed by the Architect of the Capitol, covering roughly the three blocks east of the Mall. These include the Capitol Building and its grounds, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, Library of Congress, and congressional office buildings.

Capitol Complex

Capitol Grounds Monuments

Supreme Court spiral staircase

The presidential monument choices on the Capitol Grounds are odd. Each of the presidents honored here are better known for presidential trivia and undistinguished presidencies. President Garfield is best known for holding the nation's second shortest presidency of little more than six months, ended by his assassination in 1881. His near predecessor Ulysses S Grant is considered one of the country's worst presidents, whose tenure was marked by corruption and alcoholism. He is better remembered as the Union General-in-Chief during the Civil War, and indeed the monument is solely dedicated to that image.

Other attractions


  • DC United, 2400 E Capitol St SE (RFK Stadium - Stadium Armory Metro),  +1 202-587-5000. Directly related to the RFK Stadium entry, the DC United are the last sports team remaining at the stadium. A founding member of the MLS, and with four MLS cup titles under their belts since 1996, United matches are always exciting. With a rabid and diverse fanbase, relatively inexpensive tickets, and an excellent tailgate atmosphere in lot 8 before the matches, these are not to be missed. Tickets run $23-52, and for most matches only the lower bowl is on sale, so all seats are good. Premium matches (such as friendlies against European clubs) can run slightly more, and the upper bowl opens for these. For the full experience, hook up with some members of the Barra Brava supporters club before the match in lot 8; as long as you're friendly, sporting black (do NOT wear the colors of the opposing team), and willing to stay on your feet, jumping up and down and learning their chants, they'll gladly hook you up with a $32 ticket that gets you into their designated sections, 135-138. These special tickets are cash only, and become available 15 minutes prior to kickoff; you must be accompanied by a member to purchase. $23-52.


Union Station and Eastern Market are big shopping destinations in the city. Union Station houses a big shopping mall inside with plenty of high end and mid-range stores, while Eastern Market is much more offbeat, and geared to a lazy day of browsing. Outside these two heavyweights, Capitol Hill is an unorthodox shopping destination, but it does have a relatively small collection of unique and offbeat shops dispersed throughout the neighborhood, especially on Pennsylvania Ave near the Library of Congress and by Barracks Row.




Historic Barracks Row

Restaurants in Barracks Row cater to repeat diners and to a sophisticated crowd. While this is starting to change, you are still unlikely to have a genuinely bad experience here.

Union Station offers just the opposite—plenty of bad options catering to diners who will never be back. B. Smith's is the one restaurant inside worth seeking out. Otherwise, knock-off Chicago pizza at Pizzeria Uno's is OK for a sit down meal; the cafeteria food on the bottom level is best for the cheapest and quickest meals.




The gilded ceiling of Union Station

The high-end restaurant scene in Capitol Hill, long one of the city's best, is really taking off. Reservations are a must at most of the following.


There's certainly no shortage of bars in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, most of which are concentrated around the West side of the Capitol, and on the Eastern Market/Barracks Row strips. Catering to a diverse crowd of overworked hill staffers, lobbyists, lawyers, lawmakers, Marines from the nearby Barracks and neighborhood locals, there's something for everyone.


View over the Mall from the Capitol

A small hotel or B&B on the Hill is a great choice for a stay in D.C., and one that is usually overlooked. It's a great neighborhood for walking, has a fine nightlife and dining scene, and is well-served by Metro.





Most cafes and restaurants offer free WiFi. Otherwise, the two public libraries in the neighborhood offer both public terminals and free WiFi, or you could just enjoy the public WiFi on the steps of the Capitol Building!

Go next

Routes through Capitol Hill

East End Waterfront  W  E  Anacostia Largo
East End Waterfront  W  E  Anacostia New Carrollton
Gaithersburg East End  W  N  Near Northeast Wheaton

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, March 11, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.