6-Day Culinary Itinerary: DC, Baltimore, and Alexandria

If food and culture is the focus of your perfect holiday, then this is your go-to itinerary for exploring the Capital Region. 

The Wharf fish market, Washington, DC
Maine Avenue Fish Market in DC's Wharf neighbourhood (Photo courtesy Washington.org)
DC Metro Food Tours
Explore DC's diverse culinary landscape with DC Metro Food Tours (Photo courtesy DC Metro Food Tours)
Tall Ships in Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland
Baltimore Inner Harbor (Photo courtesy Visit Baltimore)
Waterfront of Alexandria, VA
Alexandria offers many waterfront dining options (Photo courtesy Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association)
Bar PX, Alexandria, VA
PX is known for it's speakeasy vibe and creative cocktails (Photo courtesy Eat Good Food Group)
The Wharf fish market, Washington, DC
DC Metro Food Tours
Tall Ships in Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland
Waterfront of Alexandria, VA
Bar PX, Alexandria, VA

Days 1 & 2: Washington, DC

Eat your way around Washington, DC with DC Metro Food Tours, currently offering more than twenty culinary tours in the area such as Georgetown, Capitol Hill, Little Ethiopia, Dupont Circle, and Eastern Market.  Whatever tour you choose, be sure to finish with dessert at the original Georgetown Cupcake which opened in 2008 and has now expanded with locations in Bethesda, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. 

Food and culture go hand in hand at these Smithsonian museums. The National Museum of American History is home to the exhibit, FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000, where Julia Child’s home kitchen serves as the opening story of the Museum’s first major exhibition on food history. Opened in 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest Smithsonian Museum and one of the most popular tickets in town. While admission is free, timed passes are required. While visiting, be sure to have a meal at the museum’s Sweet Home Café, featuring foods showcasing the rich culture and history of African Americans.

Visit DC’s newest neighbourhood, The Wharf, to discover a mix of the city’s past and present. Opened in 2017, The Wharf has revitalized the Potomac River waterfront in the southwest part of the city. The Wharf’s opening brings more than 20 new restaurants and bars from some of DC’s top chefs to the neighbourhood as well as a distillery. The Wharf is also home to Maine Avenue Fish Market, the oldest, continuously operating open-air fish market in the US. The market features many ready-to-eat options made with some of the freshest seafood in the city.

DC received its first Michelin Guide in 2016, covering more than 100 restaurants around the metropolitan region. Whether you want to indulge in a multi-course feast at minibar by José Andrés or Pineapple and Pearl, two of the city’s 2-star establishments, or explore the diverse cuisines and cheap eats from the guide’s Bib Gourmands and Under $25 lists, the guide is essential for exploring the vast landscape of the city’s booming dining scene.

Days 3 & 4: Baltimore, Maryland

Say farewell to DC and move on to Baltimore, a must-visit destination for food lovers. Known for crabs and fresh seafood, there’s much more to Baltimore’s culinary scene.

The Inner Harbor is a must-visit destination when traveling to Baltimore. Fuel up for a day of touring at Miss Shirley’s Café, a Baltimore-favourite for its eclectic, Southern inspired breakfast, brunch, and lunch.  Afterward, spend some time touring the harbour’s top attractions, including the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, and Port Discovery Children’s Museum.  Go shopping at The Gallery and Harborplace. Finish the day by getting out on the water with a dinner cruise of the harbour on the Spirit of Baltimore.   

Get the full experience of Baltimore and its cuisine with Charm City Food Tours, which combines history, architecture, culture, and local cuisine from family-owned restaurants and shops in the area's historic neighbourhoods. Or spend an afternoon touring Baltimore’s best breweries including Heavy Seas, Oliver, and Diamondback on a City Brew Tour. Also included on this tour is a beer-centric meal at Brew House No. 16.

Lexington Market has been selling local foods since 1782. Today, the market’s 130 merchant stalls offer prepared foods and in-market dining as well as vendors selling fresh meats, seafood, and produce. Stop by to sample several Baltimore must-try foods like the nationally-acclaimed crab cakes at Faidley Seafood, Berger Cookies from Berger’s Bakery, or Goetze’s Vanilla Caramel Creams from Konstant’s Candy.

Combine art with dining at one of the cities art museums. Discover one-of-a-kind art at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), a museum dedicated to showcasing the works of American artists who have not been formally trained.  While at the museum plan to have lunch or dinner at Encantada, located on AVAM's 3rd floor. The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) houses an internationally renowned collection of 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art and the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world. John Shields - nationally acclaimed cookbook author, chef, and host of his own syndicated cooking program — brings his signature Chesapeake Bay cuisine to the BMA with his restaurant, Gertrude's.

Days 5 & 6: Alexandria, Virginia

Just across the Potomac River from DC, and about a 1.5-hour drive from Baltimore, discover historic Alexandria, Virginia. 

King Street is a walkable mile in Old Town Alexandria, lined with independently owned eateries and unique shops.  Popular eateries include Hank’s Oyster Bar, The Majestic, and Society Fair. Looking for a meal with a view? Continue down King Street to the waterfront. Here you’ll find several restaurants specializing in seafood and views, including Chart House, Blackwall Hitch, and Viola’s Dockside Grill.

Also located on the waterfront, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to the largest number of publicly accessible artists’ studios in the US. Housed in a former naval munitions plant, the art centre features 82 studios, seven galleries, and more than 160 juried artists. Stop into the centre’s EatsPlace Café & Marketplace for a bronut (brownie/doughnut) or a glass of wine.

Given its proximity to DC, Alexandria has a long history of catering to presidents and political elites. Whether you want to try some of the Obama family’s favourite eateries like Restaurant Eve, or something more classic, like Gadsby’s Tavern, a favourite of George Washington and the first five US presidents, Alexandria’s dining options are truly historic. 

Cruise down the Potomac River from Old Town Alexandria to George Washington’s Mount Vernon with Potomac Riverboat Company. This seasonal tour allows you to take in the views along the river as you cruise to the estate of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Guests can also cycle to Mount Vernon along the Mount Vernon trail, and then take the return cruise from Mount Vernon to Alexandria. If time allows, stop in for a tour of the working recreation of George Washington’s distillery and gristmill or enjoy the dishes of early America at the colonial-inspired Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant.

Finish your culinary tour of Alexandria with a creative cocktail at PX, a speakeasy-inspired lounge, or grab a beer at Port City Brewing Company, a craft brewery whose name harkens to Alexandria’s history as an important colonial seaport. 

Hungry for More?

Explore Capital Region wine and cuisine. Discover food tours across DC, Maryland, and Virginia and view our culinary photo tour

Related: 
Tours & Trails
Wine & Cuisine