With its impressive monuments and museums, its stately government buildings and mansions, Washington is easily recognizable as a capital city. Government is the city's economic engine and government buildings—everything from museums to mansions—bring millions of tourists each year. Washington is the second most visited city in the United States (after New York) and among the top travel destinations in the world. Even though the city underwent a period of high security following the terrorist attacks in September of 2001, Washington is, for the most part, back to business as usual and welcoming visitors to its hotels, monuments, public spaces and historic buildings. It remains a dynamic city with charming and vibrant neighbourhoods where you'll find lively nightlife, fabulous shopping and wonderful restaurants. Adams-Morgan
Popular with the young, hip crowd, Adams-Morgan is considered one of Washington's most colourful neighbourhoods. Though it is primarily home to Latinos and West Africans, the neighbourhood 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 neighbourhoods in the city. The cultural diversity is evident in its quirky shops and offbeat bars and clubs. Anacostia
Just across the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington, Anacostia is a historic African-American neighbourhood. The neighbourhood, 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 Cemetrey 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 neighbourhood; the Supreme Court of the United States, Library of Congress (The)
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 theatre, chamber music, baroque opera and other performances. Chinatown
Chinatown is a small neighbourhood that is easily accessible by Metro or foot from downtown Washington. The neighbourhood is marked by the colourful 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. It's also home to the Verizon centre, an entertainment and sports complex.
Washington's gay neighbourhood is equally popular with heterosexuals looking for lively nightlife, exceptional restaurants and funky shops. With its historic townhouses, art galleries and theatres, 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. Foggy Bottom
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 centre
, the Watergate Hotel
complex and George Washington University. Foggy Bottom derived its name during the late 19th century: smoke from the neighbourhood factories and the swampy air of the low ground combined to produce a permanent fog along the waterfront. Georgetown
Trendy, fashionable and fun describe the atmosphere in Georgetown
, Washington's oldest neighbourhood. It's a neighbourhood 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. Southwest/Waterfront
The eastern shore of the Anacostia River is home to Arena Stage
, Benjamin Banneker Circle and Fountain, and 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 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 Cemetrey
, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and the Pentagon.