- Download our Moving to Washington DC Guide (PDF)
The lifestyle in Washington, DC reflects the city's vibrant population. As a city that serves as a hub for politicians, lobbyists and professionals, DC has cultivated a lively social scene. The city offers an enviable lifestyle that provides a broad array of leisure activities for locals and expats alike, contributing to the unique cultural fabric of the city.
New arrivals in Washington can enjoy a wide enough range of entertainment venues, shops, activities and eateries to satiate their own unique cultural appetite while enjoying all the city has to offer.
Shopping in Washington, DC
Shopping is a key activity in Washington, DC. The city's oldest neighbourhood, Georgetown, hosts several designer boutiques, and new arrivals can enjoy a scenic shopping and dining experience at picturesque local retail centres such as Georgetown Park and the Washington Harbor.
Newcomers should drop in at the Georgetown Flea Market to browse its selection of antiques, jewellery, books, rugs, toys and linens. They could also head to Penn Quarter and Chinatown for a similar selection.
Another great shopping area is the Dupont Circle neighbourhood. It's full of bookshops, designer boutiques, and vintage shops. Those exploring the area can also enjoy the FRESHFARM Market.
Eating out in Washington, DC
Those looking to grab something to eat in Washington, DC, are spoilt for choice. Being an ethnically diverse capital city, DC has a wide variety of restaurants and cafés catering to local and international tastes and a range of budgets.
For the more enthusiastic foodies, the city hosts some vibrant food festivals throughout the year. Those wanting sizzling summer sustenance can check out the National Capital Barbecue Battle, while others may enjoy familiarising themselves with the culinary elite at the annual Taste of Georgetown festival.
Nightlife in Washington, DC
The nightlife in Washington, DC is vibrant, with plenty of variety. Atlas District is one of DC's trendiest areas, while other key areas for nighttime entertainment include Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle and Georgetown. Another trendy area is the Penn Quarter, which offers several wine and lounge bars.
Outdoor activities in Washington, DC
There are many parks throughout Washington, DC that are usually bustling with happy families, doting romantics and chatty picnickers. Such parks are an ideal place to get away, enjoy the fresh air and throw a Frisbee around.
DC is also one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US, with many exclusive bicycle lanes and trails that elevate cycling to a perfectly valid form of eco-friendly transportation.
The city also caters to sports enthusiasts of all types, with frequent opportunities to spectate not only baseball and American football games but also soccer, rugby, tennis, ice hockey and even lacrosse. The city boasts numerous major sports stadiums, such as the RFK Stadium and National Park, which host weekly matches for the city's various professional teams.
For new arrivals looking to play sports in Washington, DC there are plenty of health and fitness centres in and around the city that offer sporting facilities.
Although the outdoor activities within the city area itself may seem somewhat limited to especially adventurous new arrivals, the many idyllic camping and hiking spots in neighbouring Maryland and Virginia should be more than enough consolation.
What is there to do in Washington, DC?
"I like going to runs over Rock Creek Park down to Georgetown. Grabbing coffee with friends and brunches on Sundays.
[I'm friends with mainly] other expats, but locals are also in my group of friends. They love the cultural richness and variety of the city as well." Read more about Gustavo's experience as a Peruvian living in DC.
►See and Do in Washington DC gives an overview of popular attractions in the city.
Are you an expat living in Washington DC?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Washington DC. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance - 10% off any plans bought in November and December 2023
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.