With its impressive monuments and museums, its stately government buildings and mansions, Washington DC is easily recognizable as the United State's capital city. The city is mainly based on government and everything from museums to mansions bring millions of tourists each year. Washington DC is the second most visited city in the United States (after New York) and is among the top travel destinations in the world.
Popular with the young, hip crowd, Adams-Morgan is considered one of Washington's most colorful neighborhoods. Though it is primarily home to Latinos and West Africans, the neighborhood is brimming with people of many backgrounds. It's a great place to find ethnic restaurants and with its mix of nationalities, Adams-Morgan is one of the most interesting and cosmopolitan neighborhoods in the city. The cultural diversity is evident in its quirky shops and offbeat bars and clubs.
Just across the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington, Anacostia is a historic African-American neighborhood. The neighborhood, named after its Native American inhabitants, dates back to John Smith's arrival in the New World in 1607. Of particular interest are the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site , the Woodlawn Cemetery and the Anacostia Museum : a Smithsonian Museum showcasing African-American culture.
"The Hill" is known not just for the imposing U.S. Capitol , but for its interesting blend of government buildings, Victorian row houses, restaurants and shops. The Capitol dominates the neighborhood; the Supreme Court of the United States, the Library of Congress and Union Station are other prominent buildings. You'll also find Eastern Market , one of the city's oldest farmers' markets and the Folger Shakespeare Library , which features theater, chamber music, baroque opera and other performances.
Chinatown is a small neighborhood that is easily accessible by Metro or foot from downtown Washington. The neighborhood is marked by the colorful Friendship Archway and many of the city's Asian restaurants and shops are here. Chinatown is the site of the popular Chinese New Year's Day parade.
Washington's gay neighborhood is equally popular with heterosexuals looking for lively nightlife, exceptional restaurants and funky shops. With its historic townhouses, art galleries and theaters, Dupont Circle is a great place to explore. At the circle, three of the District's major avenues—New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts—converge. With its large central fountain and shade trees, the circle is a great place to sit and watch the crowds or enjoy lunch.
Once called Funkstown (after a German immigrant), Foggy Bottom has an institutional and bureaucratic air to it. It's the home of the Department of State , the Kennedy Center , the Watergate Hotel complex and George Washington University . Foggy Bottom derived its name during the late 19th Century when smoke from the neighborhood factories and the swampy air of the low ground combined to produce a permanent fog along the waterfront.
Trendy, fashionable and fun describe the atmosphere in Georgetown , Washington's oldest neighborhood. It's a neighborhood of tree-lined streets and handsome brick houses, but it's also home to Georgetown University and is a popular place to shop, take in dinner and a movie, and, of course, enjoy the nightlife. Busy M Street is lined with trendy boutiques and upscale stores, restaurants and bars.
The eastern shore of the Anacostia River is home to Arena Stage , Benjamin Banneker Circle and Fountain, and L'Enfant Plaza . The waterfront runs several blocks along Maine Avenue SW with piers, sailboats, yachts, fishing boats, seafood markets and restaurants to explore.
Alexandria & Arlington
These distinct Virginia communities across the Potomac River from Washington stand apart from other local areas. Alexandria's history stretches back to 1699, long before Washington DC was formed to become the nation's capital. Old Town Alexandria boasts hundreds of restored buildings—homes, churches and taverns from the 18th and 19th Centuries. Visitors can walk along cobbled streets and visit the revitalized waterfront. Arlington, on the other hand, is clearly part of contemporary Virginia. Arlington boasts many major attractions including: Arlington National Cemetery , the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and the Pentagon .
From Embassy Row to Capitol Hill, Washington is a city of people with tastes as varied as the opinions of Congress. At Washington's restaurants, diners will find everything from regional American specialties to varied ethnic food.
An area that has gone through a number of changes over the years, Adams-Morgan is now one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city and this is reflected in its eateries. If you want to try Ethiopian, Meskerem is a good bet. For Mexican, go for Mixtec . Grill from Ipanema is as good as its clever name suggests for fun cocktails and Brazilian food. Numerous bars and coffeehouses are open till late for after-dinner conversation and people-watching.
Chinatown is a great area to have a bite or two, make sure to try Tony Cheng's . Head to Seventh Street, once a fashionable shopping district, it is emerging as a center for arts and culture. For tapas and sangria, head to Jaleo or, if you're in the mood for Irish stew and a Guinness, visit Fado .
There are lots of exciting restaurants in the downtown area that cater to office workers. Whether you're going for a power lunch, a business dinner or just want to have a great meal, Old Ebbitt Grill and Brasserie Les Halles are Washington favorites. Craving seafood? Kinkead's boasts some of the best ocean fare in town.
With its many restaurants, shops and bars, Dupont Circle is a fun area to be on weekend evenings. Most of the bars above Massachusetts Avenue and P Street attract mainly a gay crowd, but everyone is welcome. If you're in the mood for upscale Southern food, try Vidalia . At The Palm you might catch a glimpse of a TV political pundit as you enjoy your steak and martinis. For a more calming environment, Teaism is an Asian teahouse with small meals and, of course, a wide selection of exotic teas. Sesto Senso is an Italian restaurant that transforms into a disco in the later hours. If you'd rather browse books and have coffee after dinner, try Kramerbooks .
Cosmopolitan and hip, Georgetown is full of student-oriented clubs. The older crowd can enjoy jazz at Blues Alley . Start down at the harbor area at Sequoia Restaurant for a drink as the sun sets over the Potomac. Stay for dinner, or head up to Georgetown for a fabulous Indian meal at Aditi or for some of the best Ethiopian fare around at Zed's . Citronelle features Californian-French cuisine and for historical ambiance, 1789 has a great atmosphere and food.
Old Town Alexandria
The town of George Washington and Robert E. Lee, Alexandria is steeped in history. Experience its past as you sample some of Washington's favorite dishes at Gadsby's Tavern Museum , where the General often dined. For decadent Southern food and outrageous desserts, Southside 815 is a must.
Just over the District of Columbia line in Maryland, Bethesda is the mecca for food lovers. Bacchus is popular for its Lebanese mezze and kebabs, and Bethesda Crab House is the place to go for some of those famous Maryland crabs.