Washington, D.C., is buzzing. Want to gauge the volume of new developments? Just look at the city’s skyline. Across all of the city’s quadrants, there are 60-some cranes hoisting steel and glass, a testament to the $9-plus billion in physical developments across the District.

Eclectic neighborhoods are decorated with bustling cafés, restaurants and shops. September is prime time for fall arts, and with so much going on in the city, there’s no better time to be in D.C.

Neighborhood News & New Hotels


Transforming downtown is CityCenterDC, the 10-acre luxury, mixed-use development that The New York Times called “a $700 million complex envisioned as a modern-day Rockefeller Center.”

Many high-end shops and eateries are open: Burberry, Caudalie Spa, Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Grill, Fig & Olive, Hermes, Longchamp and Paul Stuart. More familiar luxury brands, including Carolina Herrera, Dior and David Yurman, are still to come. D.C.-area natives David Chang and Christina Tosi will open iterations of NYC favorites, Momofuku and Milk Bar, respectively.

Additional homegrown talent at CityCenterDC includes Rob Duncan and Violetta Edelman’s coffee and gelato shop Dolcezza, and chef Amy Brandwein at Centrolina, an A-Z Italian market and osteria. The development will eventually include D.C.’s first Conrad Hotel, a 370-room luxury property due to open in 2018.

Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C.

On May 1, 2014, The Marriott Marquis opened with 1,175 rooms, including 49 suites, and more than 105,000 square feet of function space, including a 30,600-square-foot Marquis Ballroom and two 10,800-square-foot ballrooms. Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C., is conveniently located next door to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, connected via an underground concourse.

Trump Hotel

On May 31, 2014, the Trump organization took possession of the Old Post Office (Washington’s second tallest building), according to a 60-year lease with the GSA. The historic building is receiving a $200 million renovation and is on track to emerge in March 2016 as a luxury 271-room Trump Hotel property.

The Old Post Office will include street-level restaurants, a café and a library. Its atrium will have a fitness center, a 4,000-square-foot Mar-a-Lago spa by Ivanka Trump, and meeting space.

Kimpton Hotels – Carlyle Dupont Circle

Kimpton Hotels acquired the Carlyle Suites and is refurbishing the property, to be called The Carlyle-Dupont Circle. Boston-based chef Michael Schlow will helm The Riggsby, the property’s 75-seat eatery. This spring, Kimpton acquired the 153-room Savoy Hotel in Glover Park, which will bring its number of D.C. properties to 10.

Watergate Hotel

The infamous Watergate Hotel is being updated to a luxurious Potomac-side perch with a $125 million renovation by Euro Capital Properties. The 338 guest rooms, topped with rooftop bar, The Top of the Gate, boasting views of Roosevelt Island, the neighboring Kennedy Center and Georgetown University’s towers, is expected to open in 2016.

In a nod to its swinging ’60s and scandalous ’70s history, Mad Men costumer Janie Bryant was tapped to design staff uniforms. The property also will house two ballrooms.

The Wharf

The area along the Southwest waterfront, home to Arena Stage, Entertainment Cruises and the historic 200-plus-year-old fish market, is being reimagined into a mixed-use riverside workspace/living space with a riverfront “boardwalk” feel. The existing yacht club will be rebuilt along with a 450-foot public pier.

Among the promised developments are restaurants, offices, a major live music venue and two hotels including The Wharf InterContinental, a 278-room, 12-story hotel with meetings space, an infinity pool and a 5,000-square-foot roof deck overlooking the Potomac.

Special Events

September–November: Women’s Voices Theatre Festival, citywide

More than 50 D.C.-area theaters are producing a world premiere, by a woman playwright. This is the largest-ever effort by an American city to spotlight women’s theater to date in an effort to offset the absence of work by women in an art form strongly supported by women.

September 26–27: Landmark Music Festival, East Potomac Park

In an effort to raise funds and awareness for the refurbishment of the National Mall, more than 40 artists will be spread across five stages in West Potomac Park on Sept. 26 and 27. The two-day concert features Drake, Alt-J and The Strokes, and showcases musical talent from around the world.

On the National Mall

The National Museum of American History opened its reimagined first floor, a history of invention, business and marketing in America, in 2014; its second floor will reopen after a renovation in 2016, and the third floor in 2017.

The Renwick Gallery, the national museum of craft and decorative arts, reopens Nov. 13. A special opening exhibition, “WONDER,” featuring original installations by nine major contemporary artists, will accompany the reopening.

The National Gallery of Art will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2016, and the National Park Service, in celebration of its centennial anniversary, will encourage people to “find their park” and enjoy the beauty, history and recreation of the great outdoors.

Construction on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture continues. The building, designed by David Adjaye, will occupy a space between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History, the last designated museum space on the National Mall.

Elliott L. Ferguson, II, is president & CEO of Destination DC, the official convention and tourism corporation for Washington, D.C. He can be reached at 202-789-7099.