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Washington DC
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. Washington, though, is more than government. It's a dynamic city with charming and vibrant neighborhoods, where you'll find lively nightlife, fabulous shopping and wonderful restaurants.

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, Woodlawn Cemetary and the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, a Smithsonian Museum showcasing African-American culture.

Capitol Hill
"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, and the U.S. Supreme Court, Library of Congress and Union Station are other prominent buildings. But 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 is a small neighborhood, but 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 can be found here. Chinatown is the site of the popular Chinese New Year's Day parade. It's also home to the new MCI Center, an entertainment and sports complex.

Dupont Circle
Washington's gay neighborhood is equally popular with heterosexuals looking for lively nightlife, exceptional restaurants and funky shops. With its historic town houses, 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 appears institutional and bureaucratic; it's the home of the Department of State, the Kennedy Center, the Watergate complex and George Washington University. Foggy Bottom derived its name in a most unique way. During the late 19th century, 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. Yes, it's a neighborhood of tree-lined streets and handsome brick houses, but it's also home to Georgetown University and it's 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. Expect big crowds on the weekends.

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.

Alexandria & Arlington
These distinct Virginia communities across the Potomac River from Washington are very different. 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 cobbled streets and visit clipper ships along the revitalized waterfront. Arlington, on the other hand, is clearly part of contemporary Virginia. Arlington boasts three major attractions: Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Marines Corps War Memorial and the Pentagon. In the Rosslyn section, just across from Georgetown, is the Newseum, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the news business.