Inauguration Travel Guide to D.C.

A tourist's ticket to cozy bars, cheap eats and how to survive the Metro.

Jan. 16, 2009— -- You're one in nearly two million heading to D.C. this weekend, but don't get lost in the crowd.

Though Washington's 90,000 area hotel rooms are filled to the brim, last-minute tourists can attempt to scoop up potential cancellations or vacancies by calling 800-422-8644, a clearinghouse for hotel availability.

Whether you're living in luxury or crashing on a couch, take some tips from the locals on where to go for a full morning breakfast or a warm evening cocktail. During the busy and exciting hours in between, lace up your walking shoes and enjoy the city, from the H and U Street corridors to Georgetown, Adams Morgan and Capitol Hill.

As you navigate the city, keep in mind that Washington is divided into four quadrants: NW, NE, SE and SW. And wherever you go, remember these three critical rail rules:

Metro is running on a rush-hour schedule from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Inauguration Day. Stations closest to the festivities will be closed for security reasons Tuesday until after the parade. Others close to inaugural balls will close early. For details, visit

For the latest information on the MARC train to and from Maryland, click here.

Come In From the Cold: Bars with Fireplaces

Tabard Inn: A living room fireplace and wood-beamed ceilings make this cozy downtown inn an ideal cranny in which to slip out of the cold weather. Winter cocktails include warm apple cider with rum, Irish coffee and hot buttered rum. The Tabard Inn is hosting its own small inaugural ball Tuesday night. The bar and restaurant on the first floor will also be open for extended hours Friday through Tuesday, serving dinner until 11p.m. and light fare and cocktails until midnight.

Just south of Dupont Circle. 1739 N St. NW, (202) 331-8528.

Murphy's: A neighborhood Irish pub wedged between the enormous hotels that flank Woodley Park, Murphy's fireplace makes the bar a good getaway for Shepard's Pie and drink specials. Murphy's has extended inauguration hours, open from 9 a.m.- 4 a.m. from Friday through Tuesday. Also on tap: Live entertainment Friday through Monday, starting at 9 p.m.

Woodley Park. 2609 24th St NW, (202) 462-7171

Meals With a Side of History: Washington's Famous Eats

Ben's Chili Bowl: This slice of history was famous long before Obama visited last weekend with D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty. The chili dogs and cheese fries are topped with stories of another time that includes greats like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. Ben's also stayed open through the riots following the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and has stood as a landmark in civil rights history as the area around it undergoes countless transformations. Ben's is still on a roll. On Monday afternoon an Obama ice sculpture will grace the front of Ben's, courtesy of New York's Cakeman Raven. "Larry King just left," co-owner Nizam Ali told ABC Thursday. "Ellen called!"

U Street Corridor. 1213 U St. NW, (202) 667-0909

Old Ebbitt Grill: Ulysses, Grover, Warren and Teddy drank here. Since 1856, presidents and Washingtonians have arrived at the establishment known as D.C.'s first saloon. This weekend, Old Ebbitt is open Friday through Tuesday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. The restaurant is closed for a private event Tuesday during the parade but reopens for dinner that night at 6 p.m. On Sunday night, Old Ebbitt is also the venue for the public Red Goes Blue Inaugural Bash, hosted by Young Lawyers for Obama. Other than that, it's good business as usual. "We're geared up for what we always do best, just expecting lots of people," said managing director David Moran.

Penn Quarter. 675 15th St. NW. (202) 347-4800

The Willard: In a coveted location along the inaugural parade route, the hotel is home to the Willard Room restaurant, the Round Robin Bar, and French bistro Café du Parc. Eight presidents stayed at the Willard the night before taking the oath of office. To seal its place in history, bartender and "recreational historian" Jim Hewes has concoted a presidential cocktail menu, from the non-alcoholic Coca Cola with a slice of lemon for George W. Bush to the Orange Blossum for Rutherford B. Hayes. ("Washington's pressmen spiked the oranges with gin at the 'teetotalling' Hayes inaugural in 1877," the menu reads.) There's a simple Budweiser for Gerald Ford ("Gerry has always been a man of and for the people.") and the new Obama Shake: Fresh fresh fruit mixed with flavored vodka, raspberry liquor and cream, descibed as "smooth and steady, served tall and cool."

Penn Quarter. 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, (202) 628-9100

Inauguration Weekend Halftime: Places to Watch the Playoffs

Rhino Bar and Pumphouse:

If the lure of the past can't pull you away from the present, you've got games to watch. If your heart lies with the NFC, Eagles fans unite at Rhino Bar in Georgetown where Barack-O-Bombs have been added to the menu in the spirit of inauguration.

Georgetown. 3295 M Street NW (202) 333-3150.

Pour House:

If you're cheering on the Steelers Sunday as they battle the Ravens for the AFC championship, best to head to the Pour House on Capitol Hill. (Local Steelers fans will tell you if you want to cheer on the Ravens, feel free to head north to Baltimore.) The Pour House has pierogies on the menu, Pittsburgh paraphernelia on the walls and enough TVs to let you watch the game from every angle. (If you're cheering on the president-elect a day or two later, the Pour House will be opening at 8 a.m. Monday and Tuesday for breakfast to accommodate inaugural crowds.)

Capitol Hill. 319 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, (202) 546-1001

D.C. Celebrities v. Hollywood Celebrities: Where to Spot Them Both

Café Milano: There are Washington celebrities, like politicians and diplomats, and then there are celebrity celebrities like actresses and rock stars. You might spot both kinds of A-listers at Georgetown's Café Milano, where dinner is available until midnight. Drinks and light fare continue until 2:30 a.m. this weekend and 2 a.m. Monday and Tuesday.

Georgetown. 3251 Prospect Street, NW (202) 333-6183

The Mayflower: VIPs also often converge on the historic Mayflower hotel. Its recent claim-to-fame is the rendezvous spot for former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his call girl, but the week ahead could bring more family-friendly sightings. The Mayflower will welcome stars, including Cyndi Lauper, Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainwright and Thelma Houston, among others at Tuesday night's unofficial Human Rights Campaign Equity Ball.

Farragut North. 1127 Connecticut Ave NW (202) 347-4430

We Are One Concert: Perhaps your best bet for star spotting is Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the free "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Among those in the lineup of all lineups rocking the inauguration are Beyonce, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige, Usher and Garth Brooks, to name just a few.

Lincoln Memorial, Jan. 18.

Creative Coalition Inaugural Ball: The unofficial Tuesday night ball is already sold out at the Harman Center for the Arts, but those lucky enough to attend will be among the stars. Anne Hathaway, Susan Sarandon, Marcia Cross and Ashley Judd are among many celebs stepping into their gowns for the event. Actors slated to join in include Josh Lucas, Blair Underwood, Adrian Grenier and Spike Lee.

A Solid Start to a Full Day: Breakfast and Brunch

Open City: The popular diner in Woodley Park is staying open 24 hours from Friday through Tuesday with the bar up and running until 4 a.m. Even on a normal weekend, Open City is crowded, but we're guessing if you're in town this weekend you're okay with that. Locals keep coming back for all-day breakfast that includes OC scrambles and the chocolate and peanut butter Washington Carver shake. Sister establishments The Diner and Tryst Coffeehouse are just as popular in Adams Morgan.

Woodley Park. 2331 Calvert St NW, (202) 332-2331

Bourbon: Two words: Chili Mac. The perfect combination will warm you up before trekking downtown or satiate you after these historic days. Brunch at Bourbon begins early at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Because weekly mayhem is typical in Adams Morgan, the neighborhood establishments have agreed not to stay open as late as 4 a.m. other than on Tuesday night. At the restaurant and bar's location in Glover Park, a more mature neighborhood crowd is allowed to stay out late, with closing time at 4 a.m.

Adams Morgan. 2321 18th St. NW, (202) 332-0800

Glover Park. 2348 Wisconsin Ave. NW, (202) 625-7770

Sonoma Wine Bar: Just a few days away from the big weekend, it could be hard getting a reservation Tuesday night at Sonoma but the owners have extended their hours for the inaugural weekend to accommodate the crowd flow. Opening Monday morning at 10 a.m. and Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. for an earlier brunch, Sonoma will be open all afternoon and ready to bend with the needs of a wine-loving crowd. With two flat screens on the second floor and another available at the downstairs bar, if the crowds discourage you from trying to make it to the Mall on Tuesday morning, wine lovers might find this cozy Capitol Hill favorite a good second option.

Capitol Hill. 223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE (202) 544-8088

Eating on-the-Go: D.C.'s Best Quick Bites

Five Guys: Not those five guys. But those who love politicians will likely also love D.C.'s Five Guys burger joint. At the East Coast's answer to In 'N Out, tourists can indulge in the regional staple of Boardwalk fries seasoned with Old Bay and vinegar. Several Five Guys Burgers and Fries locations grace D.C., Maryland and Virginia, including one at Reagan National Airport.

Multiple locations.

Horace and Dickies Seafood Carryout:
If they seem unfazed by the crowds at Horace and Dickie's, it's because they are. Founded in 1989, Horace and Dickies isn't unfamiliar to hordes of people clamoring for a bite at their door. In fact, the quick stop seafood shack in Northeast D.C.'s H Street corridor says they're not doing anything special for inauguration, just serving up their affordable Southern soul food from 10 a.m. to midnight like they always do. Over the dinner din, a manager laughingly told ABC News, "We're used to the crowds!" Between the deep fryers and the regulars, it's close quarters at Horace and Dickies, so expect to stay as long as your fish fry and the line out the door will allow.

H Street Corridor. 809 12th St NE, (202) 397-6040

Hello Cupcake: There's a new cupcake in town and it's ready to celebrate. Hello Cupcake debuts it's Very Berry Obama cupcake in time to welcome the 44th president, boasting "an explosion of red and blue berries" in vanilla cake with a tangy/sweet cream cheese frosting and topped with stars and bars sprinkles. If you'd rather stick to the classics where cupcakes are concerned, the gourmet bakery has more than 20 flavors for you to choose from. Hello Cupcake isn't open on Sundays, rather, behind closed doors in cupcake production readying for the week. Owner and executive chef Penny Karas says they're sticking to their usual plan to deal with the crowds: "taking a deep breath and enjoying ourselves."

Just south of Dupont Circle. 1351 Connecticut Avenue, NW/Mon-Thurs 10-7; Fri-Sat 10-9; Closed Sunday

Jumbo Slice: Whether it's for an early lunch or a snack on your late night stumble home, there's only one Jumbo Slice pizza and you'll find it in Adams Morgan at Pizza Mart 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. every day of the week. For the past 14 years, it has been the original slice the size of your head, really, and the owners say they're stocked and ready for the inaugural crowds, with a few extra items on the menu just for this inauguration.

Adams Morgan. 2445 18th St NW, Sun-Sat 11a.m. - 3a.m.