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If you haven’t explored Washington, D.C. beyond middle-school field trips or history textbooks, you may not realize that our nation’s capital is a thriving travel hot spot. And not just because of the National Mall. There are countless ways to experience the city that don’t involve walking tours that shuffle between monuments and museums. Whether you’re in the mood for salsa lessons or some tasty ethnic cuisine, here’s where to go.

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Foggy Bottom

Ever heard of the White House? It’s Foggy Bottom’s—and possibly the world’s—most famous residence. Meaning you may see the president out and about. Either way, you’ll definitely see plenty of young people and restaurants, thanks to the nearby George Washington University. Check out the cheekily named Founding Farmers for a hearty brunch before hitting the neighborhood’s museums. Or head to Tonic, an old-fashioned pharmacy-turned-restaurant for some tater tots and other casual fare—it’s just a few blocks from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Georgetown

Welcome to the city’s shopping hub. In Georgetown, you’ll find high-end fashion along M Street, and plenty of local boutiques on Wisconsin Avenue. The neighborhood itself rivals the beauty of all those baubles and new outfits. Take a leisurely stroll down serene, tree-lined streets to discover historic buildings and stately old homes, as well as a waterfront park. If all that exercise makes you hungry, this district is also teeming with cafes, restaurants and bars.

U Street Corridor

Before Harlem sashayed onto the country’s jazz stage, there was U Street. During the 1920s, it was home to the country’s largest black, urban community, and was known as “Black Broadway” thanks to the iconic jazz clubs that helped launch the careers of Duke Ellington and Billy Taylor. The neighborhood’s lively spirit has been revived in recent years with a nightlife renaissance, and bustling bars—as well as some palatable Caribbean and soul food—once again lining the streets. You can still get a taste of old U Street at Ben’s Chili Bowl, an old-school chili dog stand and neighborhood institution.

Adams Morgan

If you find yourself with a taste for Ethiopian, Vietnamese or Ghanaian cuisine, the culturally diverse Adams Morgan neighborhood is your best bet. Its nightlife is also among the city’s funkiest. Colorful street art adorns its ample live-music venues, dive bars and late-night restaurants. The neighborhood is also something of a hipster mecca, though you’re just as likely to stumble upon salsa clubs and quaint cafes as you are ultra-trendy cocktail bars.

Woodley Park/Cleveland Park

Woodley Park offers a break from the city’s usual bustle. This affluent neighborhood is sandwiched between the Smithsonian National Zoo and Rock Creek Park. At the zoo, you can see giant pandas, lions and flamingos (the zoo is free, parking isn’t). Little ones can even meet alpacas and goats at the onsite kid’s farm. Rock Creek Park, meanwhile, offers miles of running and biking trails, as well as a planetarium—so plan ahead for a stargazing session.

Southwest Waterfront

This neighborhood is nestled along the Potomac, just beneath the National Mall. This makes it an ideal spot for checking out the DC Wharf, a revitalization of the open-air fish market that also includes eateries, bars, hotels shops and more and been all the buzz in the District since its 2017 opening. If you’re more interested in hitting the water, you can rent a paddleboat or kayak—it’s also a great way to get an up-close look at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Chinatown

Washington’s Chinatown does have the usual smattering of Chinese and Asian restaurants, but this district offers more than just good food. After a filling lunch, you can easily walk to Madame Tussauds to see wax replicas of your favorite presidents past, or test out your sleuthing skills at the International Spy Museum. Across the street, you’ll find the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the slightly more offbeat Crime Museum. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s all within walking distance of the National Mall.

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Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Washington DC

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