With its mix of grand and humble historic buildings (rowhouses, embassies along 16th Street NW), Columbia Heights reels in a mix of creatives, international professionals and, thanks to its leafy parks, bikers and picnickers. It’s one of DC’s most densely populated 'hoods, too, supporting a swath of homey restaurants and bars. Plus, a longtime Hispanic population means attractions like the GALA Hispanic Theater and the Mexican Cultural Institute lend the area a multiculti vibe.
The area’s main drags are 11th, 14th and 16th streets starting at U Street NW. Along 16th Street, you’ll find embassies and international organizations, most housed in impressive early 19th-century structures with architectural flourishes – turrets, stained glass, balconies. You can check out exhibits on south-of-the-border art and life at the Mexican Cultural Institute, housed in a grand mansion (and one-time Embassy of Mexico) with a mural of that country’s history painted on its interior stairway.
Nearby, Meridian Hill Park, a two-level, European style park with terrazzo walls holds fountains, statues and, every Sunday, a lively afternoon drum circle.
One of Petworth's best-known claims to fame is President Lincoln's Cottage, but while the rest of the neighborhood might not be familiar to visitors yet, residents recognize its unique flair and offerings. From neighborhood gatherings to unique pop-up restaurants and independent shops, Petworth has something special for all visitors. Dig deeper and discover both one-time and all-the-time activities to enjoy in this neighborhood throughout the year.
Petworth is known for its community events. Held in early summer, Celebrate Petworth is an annual event anchored around art, music, food, healthy living and family. You’ll want to visit the festival’s Arts Zone, featuring local arts vendors, clothing boutiques, live muralists and performance artists. Little ones will love the Kids Zone, which includes crafts, a puppet theater and storytime.
The Petworth Jazz Project is a free music series held in Petworth Park at 8th and Taylor Streets from May through September. Past performers include Kris Funn, Herb Scott and Akua Allrich.
Have an interest in arts and crafts? Petworth’s Upshur Street Handmade Art and Craft Fairis an annual event held each December featuring vendors, sponsors, performers, shoppers, entertainers and local businesses who crowd the sidewalks for a fun neighborhood celebration.
Home cooks will want to visit The Petworth Community Market, a weekly farmers' market held on Saturdays from May through November. The market features produce, prepared food and local vendors such as Sweet Crimes, Panorama Bakery and Harrar Coffee and Roastery. The market also hosts performances by musicians and artists, as well as chefs who put together cooking demonstrations.
Exploring the neighborhood’s restaurant scene is also a must – Petworth is home to not one, but two, of Bon Appétit's best new restaurants in America for 2017. Himitsu, the no reservations, quaint 24-seat restaurant inhabiting the Upshur strip, delivers on what first-time restaurateurs Kevin Tien and Carlie Steiner call “New Japanese.” And just across the street is Timber Pizza Co., a former food truck turned brick-and-mortar that's been wowing pizza lovers in a cool, industrial chic space.