Explore Washington D.C.

Eric Schaeffer's Perfect Day in D.C.

The artistic director of Signature Theatre takes in art, seafood and, of course, a show

Schaeffer, co-founder and artistic director of Arlington, Virginia’s acclaimed Signature Theatre, has Broadway cred but cherishes his home base. Here he takes us through his ideal day in and around the capital.

Morning: Rambling Man

Before the morning hustle begins, I'd walk through Penn Quarter and then stop at Poste for breakfast—yogurt, granola and fresh fruit. I’d continue to the Mall for the great museums, all free. My favorites? Air and Space, National Gallery of Art and U.S. Botanic Garden.

Poste, 555 8th St. NW, 202.783.6060

Air and Space Museum, 6th St. and Independence Ave. SW, 202.633.2214

National Gallery of Art, 6th St. and Constitution Ave. NW, 202.737.4215

U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, 202.225.8333

Orchid at U.S. Botanic Garden
Vanda Rothschildiana Orchid (Courtesy U.S. Botanic Garden)

Midday: Old Haunts

I’d head to Georgetown for some shopping, followed by lunch at Martin’s Tavern, which has a long history and a tasty bar menu.

Martin’s Tavern, 1264 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202.333.7370

Afternoon: Sublime Visions

Two miles north, Washington National Cathedral is a beautiful building, particularly the stained glass windows that range from traditional to contemporary in their design. For more art, I’d cross the river to the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria. I always discover a new artist in the collection of studios and galleries there.

Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202.537.6200

Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, Va., 703.838.4565

Torpedo Factory
Artist Chris Cardellino in her studio (Courtesy Torpedo Factory Art Center)

Evening: Stage Ready

For dinner, I’d stick close to the theater. Luckily the Shirlington neighborhood has more than a dozen restaurants in two blocks. I like Carlyle Grand Café for grilled salmon, Copperwood Tavern for farm-raised fare (plus popcorn at the bar) and Busboys and Poets for catfish with lemon butter and chicken pizza. Then it’s show time at Signature!

Shirlington, Campbell Ave. and S. Randolph St., Arlington, Va.

Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, Va., 703.820.9117

Signature Theatre
Signature Theatre (©Brooke Sabin)

Late Night: Winding Down

I’d drive back to D.C., past the illuminated monuments, and end up at Urbana to relax with some good conversation and a gin and tonic.

Urbana, 2121 P St. NW, 202.956.6650


Read our Q&A with Schaeffer.