8 Things to Do in the U Street Corridor of Washington DC

Explore One of DC's Most Historic Neighborhoods

The U Street Corridor of Washington DC is one of the city’s most vibrant historical areas with many things to see and do. Dating back to the 1870s, the U Street neighborhood was the center of Washington's African American community with many black-owned businesses, entertainment venues, and social institutions. In the early 20th century, the area became known as "Black Broadway" as Duke Ellington was one of many national figures who called the neighborhood home. Today, the area is in transition and rapidly developing with the opening of many new nightclubs, restaurants, shops and residential buildings.

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    Jazz
    ••• Photo © Blend Images - Jon Feingersh

    U Street is one of Washington, DC’s nightlife hot spots and is home to some of the city’s best jazz clubs and dance halls. Enjoy live entertainment in the historic neighborhood that launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes. Dance the night away at a nightclub with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system.

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    African American Civil War Memorial and Museum
    ••• Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The Memorial and Museum commemorate more than 200,000 soldiers of the U.S. Colored Troops who served during the Civil War (1861-1865). Their names are inscribed on the Wall of Honor alongside the Spirit of Freedom sculpture. The museum offers exhibits, videos, and programs that highlight the contributions of African Americans during the Civil War.

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    U Street Corridor: Washington DC
    ••• © Library of Congress

    Among one of the top things to do in the U Street Corridor, is to explore the area by following Cultural Tourism DC's Heritage Trail. Follow the self-guided walking trail, locating 14 illustrated signs that highlight the important historical sites in the neighborhood. You can also pick up a map at the Greater U Street Neighborhood Visitor Center at 1211 U Street NW.

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    Ben’s Chili Bowl
    ••• Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    A Washington DC landmark since 1958, the eatery has won many awards and is recognized as a “must go” place to eat when visiting the nation's capital. Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx, Martin Luther King Jr., and even President Barack Obama have been seen eating at Ben’s.

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    Attend a Concert or Theatrical Performance

    Howard Theatre
    ••• Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    With the recent renovations of several historic theaters, the U Street Corridor is becoming a popular destination for live entertainment. The Howard Theatre offers a wide range of performances and a Sunday Gospel Brunch by the Harlem Gospel Choir. The Lincoln Theatre offers a variety of multi-cultural experiences and programming. The Source is a 12-seat black box theatre, home to the annual Source Festival and regular performances by Washington Improv Theatre.

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    The U Street Corridor is growing in popularity as one of Washington DC's top neighborhoods for dining and nightlife. You will find a wide selection of restaurants, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining. Be sure to enjoy some happy hour specials or late night dining options.

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    Meridian Hill Park
    ••• © Justin Schuck

    Take a walk a few blocks north to 16th and W Streets NW and enjoy the Italian-style garden at Meridian Hill Park. The 12-acre site is formally landscaped and maintained by the National Park Service. The park has a large waterfall and sits on a hill overlooking downtown Washington DC. 

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    Farmers market
    ••• © Martin Leigh/Getty Images

    On Saturdays, from May through November, the 14&U Farmers’ Market is a lively marketplace and prime place to shop for local and seasonal items including fruits, eggs, vegetables, cheeses, grass-fed meats, preserves, breads, juices and cider, pies, cookies, sauces, and plants.