A picture is worth a thousand words—but an even better picture is worth a thousand Instagram followers. Boost your social media coolness by posting pics of these very snappable sights and attractions around the capital. From some of D.C.’s most popular monuments to under-the-radar restaurants and neighborhoods, here are the most Instagrammable places in D.C. The best part? Most of these are completely free to visit.
Union Market heart wall
This wall of multicolored hearts is so cheerful, it would probably outshine a rainbow. Created by Los Angeles-based street artist Mr. Brainwash, the mural has served as the backdrop for countless wedding proposals, photoshoots and fun-looking snaps.
The sleek shopping destination pulls out over-the-top decorations to celebrate each change of the season. This past winter, for example, CityCenter twinkled with hundreds of miniature lights that embraced the holiday season. As the weather turned warmer, the new spring decor included thousands of pink kites that make for an eye-catching photo background.
No design detail is overlooked at this 14th Street bistro that takes a playful approach to French cuisine. The most photogenic offerings? The cocktails. Served in a variety of oh-so-interesting glasses, they will entice your followers to run, not walk, to Bresca and snap their very own photo. Take the Bee's Knees, for example: Presented in a bee-shaped vessel with flappable wings, the perfectly concocted cocktail is not only pretty but absolutely delicious.
Inspired by the global travels of owner Rose Previte, Maydan is a feast for both the eyes and the stomach: Tapestries from around the world line the walls upon entry and, inside, a flurry of chefs prepares Middle Eastern-inspired food over a huge open fire. The wallpaper upstairs is a kaleidoscopic backdrop for charmingly mismatched chairs and a chevron bar: Basically, the perfect Instagram shot.
As Washington D.C.’s oldest neighborhood, Georgetown is full of historic architecture, including the signature multi-colored row houses that line its streets. Mix that with cobblestone streets, quaint sidewalk cafes and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and you’re likely to run out of storage space after taking endless pictures.
Grand, flooded with light and great for people-watching, the Kogod Courtyard is absolutely a must-visit and an expected inclusion on our list. Attached to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum, it’s a popular respite—with a ceiling made entirely of glass!—for exhausted museum-goers and locals in the know who need to take a break.
No matter how many times you’ve visited D.C. or how long you’ve called it home, you will never get sick of taking selfies with Abe. Bonus points: From the steps of this stoic monument, you can enjoy seeing the city from a whole lot of different vantage points. May we suggest taking a straight shot of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool?
Great Falls Park, Virginia
Less than an hour-long drive outside of D.C., travelers will stumble upon this gorgeous hiker haven. In addition to nature trails galore, find craggy waterways and scenic overlooks. Although breathtaking throughout the entire year, the area becomes particularly picturesque during the fall, when the beautiful foliage needs no filter.
The Line Hotel
This church-turned-hip-hotel is the holy grail of Instagram vignettes: From the stately columns out front to the range of rich tapestries and wallpaper within, nearly every nook and cranny at The Line is worth taking a picture of.
This Australian cafe has a lot of things going for it: Floor-to-ceiling windows that promise gorgeous lighting, carefully prepared food and coffee so good, you’ll want to start advertising it yourself. For the ultimate Instagram snap, order each one of the lattes and don’t be scared when they come out in an array of relatively odd colors—they are made with turmeric and beets.
Katharina Fritsch's “Hahn/Cock”
A recent addition to the National Gallery of Art, Katharina Fritsch's “Hahn/Cock” sculpture is a striking backdrop for any shot. The bright blue, 15-foot rooster is perched on the roof of the gallery and can even be gazed at from the street below. Keep in mind, though, that the nearer you are to the sculpture, the more exciting the picture.
Legend has it that a paint job gone wrong is responsible for the huge painting of a watermelon on the side of this house in the Shaw neighborhood. Stare at the property from the front and marvel at the fact that the perfect photo is just a few steps to the right.
This colorful, intricate symbol of harmony marks the entrance to Chinatown. Beyond it, find some of the city’s best take-out joints and restaurants (we’re particularly fond of Daikaya) so, after taking some pictures, make sure to wander the streets in search of hand-pulled noodles and soup dumplings.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
There is basically no way to take a bad picture of the acclaimed cultural center. Inside, a towering ceiling and white columns are offset by a bright red carpet. The exterior of the sprawling building is supported by delicate pillars, all right below a huge rooftop that offers a one-of-a-kind view of the Potomac River.
Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building
There’s symbolism lurking on almost every surface of the Library of Congress, which was decorated by nearly 50 different artists and houses a rich variety of photographic vignettes. You don’t have to be a bookworm to appreciate the nods to some of the world’s most influential authors and thinkers, including the various quotes from the likes of Cervantes and Hugo that adorn the Great Hall.
Meridian Hill Park
Pick a spot, any spot, within this Mount Pleasant park and you’ll be in a prime shot-snapping position. On the lower level, a magnificent set of stairs frames a cascading fountain, while the upper portion of the area is home to a Joan of Arc statue. On Sundays, the drum circle draws all sorts of characters, so the people watching isn’t bad, either.
What was once a church that sat vacant for over 20 years is today a technicolored event space and community center. Covered in a remarkably eye-catching neon color pattern on the outside, courtesy of Georgia-based artist Hense, the inside of the venue is just as striking, making it the perfect subject for a photoshoot to be posted on Instagram.
This Logan Circle garden shop sells succulents, fiddle-leaf figs and ivy plants, making it a well-curated sort of jungle that shop owner Amanda McClements tailors to customers’ plant and photo needs.
Capitol Hill Books
Organized? Ha. Visually appealing? You bet. Though you’re not likely to immediately find what you’re looking for in Capitol Hill Books’ disheveled stacks, you’ll at least have a lot of fun looking. The used book store opened back in 1991 and is still the ideal respite from the city’s hustle and bustle during weekends.
Fox Loves Taco
Tacos on their own are pretty Instagrammable. Add to them a Matisse-inspired wall and plants and you’ve got yourself a social media home run. The owners of this Brookland vegetarian taco shop admit that said wall was also inspired by Saved by the Bell—which may be the reason why we always leave the premises humming the show’s theme song.
Blagden Alley murals
Find colorful murals in Blagden Alley—a hidden enclave in Shaw—splashed on nearly every surface. We’re partial to the smile-inducing “LOVE” by Lisa Marie Thalhammer. The letters are painted in rainbow bright colors and serve as a good reminder that, after all, “love is all you need.”
When you’ve had all the beer you could ever dream of at Dacha Beer Garden, pose for a photo in front of the 50-foot mural by artist Byron Peck of the one and only Elizabeth Taylor giving the side eye. The work anchors the alfresco beer hall and honors Taylor’s donation to the Whitman-Walker health clinic in the Shaw neighborhood.
This futuristic art space in Southwest DC hosts rotating exhibits that immerse visitors in a different world. Digitized images of falling leaves, cherry blossoms or undulating water are projected on the walls. The best part: They respond to your every move. This calls for a Boomerang to be posted on social media.
The Capitol Columns at the Arboretum
In the middle of a field within the National Arboretum stands a stark and jarring sight: 22 massive Corinthian-inspired columns. They once supported the U.S. Capitol, until they became too fragile to withhold the weight and were eventually replaced by replicas. The originals have found permanent residence at the Arboretum and across our social media feeds.
The Spanish Steps
Constructed in 1911 within the city’s picturesque Kalorama neighborhood, the Spanish Steps are a multi-tiered marvel that has served as the setting for countless proposals, photo shoots and picnics. Also boasting a fountain, the impressive staircase is flanked by magnolia trees and other blossoming foliage.