Washington, D.C./Upper Northwest

The neighborhoods of the Upper Northwest rank among the nation's most wealthy and privileged. There are big attractions, including the outstanding National Zoo, the massive National Cathedral, American University, upscale shopping in Friendship Heights (Chevy Chase), and several nice wining and dining strips, which serve as good alternatives to more frenzied and chaotic Adams Morgan and crowded and traffic-congested Georgetown.

Understand

Glover Park is the section of the Upper Northwest closest to downtown—just north of Georgetown, and has the bulk of the area's nightlife, which serves as a slightly older and less raucous complement to its collegiate neighbor to the south. Woodley Park has a strip with restaurants and bars and is also home to the big sights: the National Zoo and the National Cathedral.

Cleveland Park most notably, but also Van Ness and Tenleytown to the north along Wisconsin and Connecticut Ave have popular commercial strips with restaurants, bars, and small stores. And in the west of Tenleytown, you'll find big American University.

Further north is Friendship Heights, technically part of Chevy Chase, nationally famous for its wealthy and powerful residents, and locally famous for its high-end retailers on Wisconsin Ave, which spill north across the city border into Maryland.

Little known to travelers, and even most area residents, are the Palisades in the extreme west of the city, where you'll find some of the city's most expensive homes, the C&O Canal trail along the Potomac River, and a handful of fantastic, upscale restaurants.

Get in

By metro

The Metro Red Line runs through this part of the city, and it is pretty self-explanatory, given that the stations are all named after the neighborhoods and their major attractions. Woodley Park/Zoo for Woodley Park and the National Zoo, Tenleytown/American University for Tenleytown and AU, etc. The National Cathedral, Glover Park, and the Palisades, like their southern neighbor Georgetown, are not served by Metro, and will require either a car/taxi or bus ride.

By car

Driving is another option, though competition for parking spots can be fierce. You can usually find parking on side streets off of Connecticut and Wisconsin Ave, although you might have to walk a good ways from your car, and parking is usually limited to two hours in neighborhoods closer to downtown. The Palisades, along the extreme west of the city, are best visited by car, and it's quite easy to park there.

If driving in this part of the city, be aware that during weekday rush hours Canal Rd in the west becomes one-way and reverses directions during weekday rush hours (M-F 6:15AM-10AM inbound, 2:45PM-7:15PM outbound). Similarly, Connecticut's left lanes are reversible, so pay attention—you don't want to find yourself charging into oncoming traffic!

Taxis are generally not hard to catch along the main avenues (Wisconsin and Connecticut), but will be impossible to find elsewhere.

By bus

D.C.'s bus system is not always the fastest way to travel, but the network is extensive to the point that you can reach any destination even in this outer neighborhood without a car.

Routes #31, #32, and #36 all run between Georgetown and the Friendship Heights Metro station along Wisconsin Ave. On the weekends after midnight, the buses run once every hour until 2AM.

#L1, L2, and L4 run the length of Connecticut Ave 5:30AM-midnight daily. The L2 continues into Adams Morgan, while L1 and L4 head further south along Connecticut to Dupont Circle and then on to George Washington University.

Routes #N2-N6 all run along Massachusetts Ave from Dupont Circle to American University.

#D6 is the only reasonable way to reach the Kreeger Museum via public transport, which runs through Georgetown along Reservoir Rd, coming from the Dupont Circle metro station at P and 22nd St NW.

By foot

The Woodley Park/Zoo Metro stop is actually the closest stop to Adams Morgan. It's just a half mile walk over the Calvert St Bridge from the station to the heart of Adams Morgan.

See

The Washington National Cathedral
The Japanese Garden at the Hillwood Estate
Luke the Lion at the National Zoo

The Zoo and the National Cathedral dwarf any other attractions here in both size and number of visitors by a long shot, but if you have a little extra time, the Hillwood Estate and Kreeger Museum are two of the city's greatest hidden gems.

Do

Concerts

Theater

The Uptown Theatre

Parks

Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park is the largest park in DC.

Other parks

Buy

Luxury stores

There are many high-end luxury department stores on Wisconsin Avenue, centered around the Friendship Heights Metro Station, including Loehmann's (5333 Wisconsin Avenue NW), J Crew (5335), Neiman-Marcus (5300), Ann Taylor (5300), Brooks Brothers (5504), Bloomingdale's (5400), Saks Fifth Ave (5555), Mervis Diamond (5480), World Market (5335). The Collection at Chevy Chase at 5471-5481 Wisconsin Avenue includes several additional high-end stores such as Jimmy Choo (5481), Bvlgari (5481a), Christian Dior (5471), Tiffany & Co (5481), Louis Vuitton (5481), Gucci (5481), and Cartier (5471).

Boutiques

Books

Electronics

Household goods

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

The Upper Northwest is not the nightlife capital of the city, by a long stretch. It is, however, a much more friendly and comfortable option if you don't want to be surrounded by trying-too-hard, trendy twenty-somethings. Gin lovers must check out the bar at New Heights (above).

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Almost all cafes and many restaurants and supermarkets offer a free WiFi connection. Computer terminals are accessible for free at the following public libraries:

Public libraries

Go next

For better nightlife and restaurants, visit the neighbors to the south: Georgetown and Adams Morgan, or the neighbor to the north: Bethesda.

Routes through Upper Northwest

Gaithersburg Bethesda  N  S  Dupont Circle East End


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