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With the announcement of Microsoft Inspire’s exciting new name last week, we wanted to share some of our partners’ favorite local haunts and hot spots for the host city of Washington DC. This won’t be the first time partners gather in the historic capital, but as each year our partner conference gets bigger and better, 2017 is sure to be an event to remember.

We recently spoke with DC locals Steve Hall of District Computers, Nikkia Carter of Carter McGowan Services, and Dux Raymond Sy of AvePoint about their favorite restaurants, activities, and tips for out-of-towners. Get ready to explore the city, taste the local cuisine, and enjoy the historic atmosphere. Between attending the amazing conference sessions and visiting all the local attractions, this event is sure to inspire partners from around the world.

Explore Local Flavors

When asked about cool places to eat in Washington DC, Steve Hall said there are enough options that “you can pretty much treat each day as a completely different experience without even leaving the city.” He said that Barracks Row is the brand new, happening spot. With over 40 different restaurants, you’ll be sure to find something you love. He recommends Zaytinya for Mediterranean, Acadiana for contemporary creole, Ebbitt for American saloon dishes, Founding Farmers for farm fresh fair, and Union Market for whatever else strikes your fancy. He also said exploring Georgetown is a popular choice and that honestly just about anything down by the Convention Center is likely to be excellent.

“You can find so many unique little neighborhoods within that 10 square mile radius, each with its own culture or flavor. Some are more trendy and new, and some are more traditional, but you can just about find any variety of food in those neighborhoods.”

– Steve Hall, CEO, District Computers

Nikkia Carter says that the food truck scene is awesome, and that the trucks are all over the place. There’s one in particular, known as the Lobster Truck, that has a cult following.

Dux Raymond Sy says that at the top of his list is the very exclusive Minibar by Jose Andres. There’s a three month wait, so if partners want to get a seat while in DC, they should submit a reservation well in advance. Dux said that Purple Patch is a Filipino fusion restaurant which is also really good.

Get Inspired by Historic Attractions

While DC is known for all the historic museums and national monuments that helped shape life and politics in the US, there are several lesser known but still worthy attractions to see. Nikkia recommends going to the small museum under the Lincoln Memorial.

“Not a lot of people know about the museum under the Lincoln Memorial , so you can take your time and really get into the history.”

– Nikkia Carter, CEO, Carter-McGowan Services

Of course the Smithsonian Museums are world class attractions. From the National Air and Space Museum to new National Museum of African American History and Culture, all are considered “must-see” for visitors. Admission to the 19 museums and galleries is free, and most of them are conveniently located right on the Mall.

The National Zoo is free, huge, and a definite crowd-pleaser. It’s home to around 2,000 animals, out of which about a quarter are endangered. Highlights include Giant pandas, Asian elephants, and Sumatran tigers.

Of course, DC is special because visitors have the unique opportunity to talk directly with their congressional representatives.

“When you’re here, you can talk to your reps in person and tell your story. If you’re international, go meet your ambassador on Embassy Row. With a little bit of planning and calling ahead, you can absolutely go to the buildings and see how democracy works.”

– Steve Hall, CEO, District Computers

Travel Tips and Suggestions

Getting Around Town

Our DC locals said whatever you do, don’t rent a car because parking is a problem. Use Uber or Lyft to get around. The Metro Rail is also a good option, though it can be crowded and is undergoing a massive renovation that should end in May of 2017. All the new trains should be online by July, so it will be like an entirely new experience just in time for the conference. Steve also mentioned that they have a brand new street car that gets you from Union Station to Barracks Row for free. It runs all day and is an easy way to get around. Dux also suggested Segs in the City for a unique way to see the sights.

Avoiding the Crowds

For another tip, Nikkia said that when you’re visiting tourist attractions, pick your time of day carefully. The monuments and museums are sure to be busy during the summer, but you might have better luck in the early morning or later in the evening. Many monument tours run as late as 10pm so there is plenty of time to explore.


Nikkia and Steve both mentioned that travelers need to be prepared when it comes to the weather in DC. In July, the average temperature is 80°F. Steve said that with DC weather being so hot and humid in the summer, it can be extremely agitating especially if you don’t have proper hydration. Make sure you travel with water, and bring an umbrella if you have any sun sensitivity. Wear comfortable shoes if you’re going to be out for long periods of time because there’s a lot to see and you don’t want to slow yourself down with a poor choice in footwear.

Steve had this suggestion for partners, “I would say, ideally, get up early and get after it. Otherwise consider heading out around 4 or 5 to avoid the crowds and the heat in the middle of the day.”

Outside DC

If you have time to explore outside of the DC city limits, Dux recommended a visit to Old Town Alexandria and checking out wine country in Northern Virginia, which is essentially the Napa Valley of the east coast. You can also easily grab a train from DC to New York City, Boston, or Baltimore.

Ready to Join Us?

Washington DC is a great city for walking and with all the amazing places to eat and attractions to visit, partners will be sure to enjoy their time in the capitol before, during, and after the conference itself. If you are ready to join us for the partner event of the year, plan ahead and register today!

What tips would you share with partners excited to attend Microsoft Inspire in 2017? Share your advice with other readers in the comments below.

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