Last week, I listed some of my least favorite streets in DC (part 1, part 2). But the District also has many of the finest city streets in the world.

From Georgetown to Anacostia, Waterfront to Brightwood, Chevy Chase to Brookland, The Mall to the Atlas District, Washington, DC has hundreds of fascinating streets that exude the spirit of the nation and the soul of the city’s locals. Today let’s take a look at some of the best that DC has to offer.

20) M Street NE/NW

Most well known as Georgetown’s Main Street and for the Exorcist stairs, M Street (north) runs through many of the District’s most charming and urbane neighborhoods. Continuing east, it passes through West End, and cuts right through the heart of the Golden Triangle, Downtown, and NoMa.

19) Minnesota Avenue SE/NE

Anacostia is a neighborhood that has been phenomenally recapturing its historic charm, and that charm is spreading up Minnesota Avenue. From it’s beginning at Good Hope Road through quiet Randle Circle, Minnesota Avenue is slowly reaching its potential as one of DC’s Great Streets. A master plan for the intersection at Benning Road on up into Deanwood to help further the District’s latest success story on recapturing the charm and splendor of its neglected corridors.

18) M Street SW/SE

From the Southwest Waterfront to Nationals Stadium to the boathouses past Barney Circle, I love watching things on M Street (south) get better. Gone are the days when I would park in a seedy abandoned lot to attend a rave at Nation night club.

There is a rather handsome baseball stadium by that old spot, and I have not had to drive to that neck of the woods since the Metro opened there. Waterfront and Navy Yard are still up-and-coming, but what a world of difference the last five years have made for the M Street corridor. Fortunately, its growth it is being well documented.

17) Florida Avenue NW/NE

Excluding a troublesome intersection with New York Avenue and a couple not-so-scenic blocks by U Street, Florida Avenue is a street that exemplifies the beauty and culture of DC. Originally known as Boundary Street, it was the border for the original City of Washington. It hosts many beautiful row houses and charming walk-ups. Gallaudet University faces the homes of Capitol Hill North along the eastern stretch.

But perhaps most notable is the intersection of Florida and T near LeDroit Park, where the Howard Theater sits. Currently languishing in disrepair, a plan is in place to return the historic landmark to its original splendor, putting yet another colorful destination along Florida Avenue.

16) Beach Drive

This passage through an urban forest has enchanted me since I was a child. Entering the District in Chevy Chase, it runs its course mostly as a lazy, meandering creekside route, a rather fitting approach to the National Zoo.

It passes under regal bridges before ending on the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway in Woodley Park. The best part about Beach Drive is that it is closed to automobiles on weekends so that joggers, walkers, and bikers can enjoy the majesty of this uniquely preserved urban wilderness.

15) Georgia Avenue/7th St NW/SW

Start at Zanzibar on the Southwest Waterfront. Work your way up past the Mall and Gallery Place, beyond the Convention Center. At LeDroit Park, 7th Street is dedicated to Chuck Brown, the father of Go-Go, a uniquely DC brand of music.

North of Florida it becomes Georgia Avenue, the main street for Howard University, Petworth, Vinegar Hill, and Brightwood before crossing Eastern Avenue into Silver Spring. 7th/Georgia is the primary north-south corridor for the city, and truly is one of DC"s most iconic routes.

14) Good Hope Road

Good Hope is an aptly named route that is the face of Anacostia‘s historic district. Like much of the rest of that area, many areas are under construction as revitalization sweeps through River East’s most iconic neighborhood. One quiet spot, though, is the wooded stretch through Fort Stanton Park. Good Hope is the hallmark of River East, in more ways than one.

13) MacArthur Boulevard NW

This quiet tree-lined boulevard with a grassy median runs from Foxhall past the Georgetown Reservoir and up towards Glen Echo in Maryland. The Palisades neighborhood runs along the southern side of most of the route. Part of me likes passing through a gorgeous neighborhood I know I can never afford. Part of me likes the quiet, lazy pace of this street. Part of me likes the small town feel. Put it all together and you have one of the most pleasant and scenic boulevards in the area.

12) Trinidad Avenue NE

The Trinidad neighborhood is perhaps most widely known as the part of town that was shut down last summer

two years ago by police chief Cathy Lanier, who sought what were later deemed to be unconstitutional  searches of any non-resident entering the neighborhood after a murder spree there.

Unfortunately, this negative impression of the Northeast enclave has tarnished the reputation of another up-and-coming neighborhood. Though it may not boast the affluence of other Capitol Hill neighborhoods, but if you’re looking for boarded windows and abandoned warehouses, you’re not going to find any on Trinidad Avenue.  When I take people through Trinidad, they are often quite surprised to see a quiet neighborhood with mature trees and manicured front gardens.

11) Connecticut Avenue NW

From Farragut Square to Chevy Chase, Connecticut Avenue is the charming main street through several gorgeous parkside neighborhoods. The Red Line has helped create desirable neighborhoods and vibrant night life in Dupont Circle, Woodley Park, and Cleveland Park. Scenic street life is complimented by an elegant bridge over Rock Creek and the main entrance to the National Zoo.

Tomorrow: #10 through #1, the champion.

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Tagged: dc, public spaces

Dave Murphy is a Geographic Analyst for the Department of Defense and a US Army veteran. He is also a part time bouncer. He was born in Foggy Bottom and is a lifelong resident of the DC area. He currently resides in the Eckington neighborhood of Northeast.