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Shopping in DC can be haute or cool, high-end or bargain basement, St. John and pearls or boho and Birkenstocks. The city and its environs have nearly every top department store and retail chain but also offer a significant number of boutiques and homegrown emporiums where shoppers can discover the alluring or unique.
Historically, DC has been a destination for antiques, art, home decor and furnishings, jewelry, books, and political memorabilia, and in the main shopping arenas you’ll find countless opportunities to browse these specialties. In the past decade, the city has also cultivated a fledgling boutique industry aimed at tempting fashionistas to shop locally for memorable clothes, fabulous shoes, and matchless accessories.
The city is still not considered a fashion powerhouse by any stretch, but its young residents and international population have helped increase Washington’s focus on style, and the demand has spurred growth of numerous small businesses.
Georgetown remains the one-stop neighborhood for meeting any shopper’s desires: The area’s major thoroughfares, M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, are lined with stores, from independent boutiques carrying current styles to unique furniture stores, antiques shops, and home accessories warehouses selling everything from traditional American and European furniture to the latest creations of master woodworkers.
On weekends at the height of the day, Georgetown is jammed with crowds, mainly visitors, who flock to its storefronts as well as its restaurants and pubs. Just over a mile away, the scene at Dupont Circle trends more local: Shops range from high-end retailers south along Connecticut Avenue to the fun, funky, and unusual closer to the traffic circle.
Another favorite haunt for Washingtonians is the Capitol Hill area: The Sunday flea market at Eastern Market draws a lively crowd, with more than 100 vendors who hawk crafts, jewelry, art, clothing, handbags, beads, and more. The Capitol Hill area also has a number of neighborhood stores carrying home goods, accessories, and gifts.
If you’ve come to DC for a high-end shopping fix, you’ll be able to meet that yen as well, but you’ll need to head farther afield from the city center, either to northernmost Wisconsin Avenue and into Chevy Chase, Maryland, with the home stores of Dior, Gucci, and Cartier as well as department stores such as Barneys New York Co-op, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdale’s, or into the Virginia suburbs, including nearby Arlington, with its small but convenient mall accessible by Metro, or to Tysons Corner near McLean, Virginia, home to the area’s largest shopping mall, the granddaddy of them all, Tysons Corner Center, as well as its upscale neighbor, Tysons Galleria, which combined have more than 400 stores under two roofs.
- Best Antique Furniture: Susquehanna
- Best Shop for Browsing Antique Art: L’Enfant Gallery
- Best Museum Shop: The National Gallery of Art
- Best Book Store: Politics and Prose
- Best Flea Market: Eastern Market
- Best Tacky, Quirky, and Quixotic Gifts: Chocolate Moose
- Best Place for the Perfect Bauble: Tiny Jewel Box
- Best Store for Kids: Spy Museum Store
- Best Consignment Shop: Secondi
© Patricia Nevins Kime from Moon Washington DC, 1st Edition