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Travel: Washington D. C.

Every summer, the nation’s capital is flooded with families, school groups, and foreigners anxious to be bear witness to the city’s vast cultural attractions. From monument-hopping on the iconic National Mall and visiting its many museums to ascending to the top of the Washington Monument (which was just re-opened last moth, after years of repairs), it’s easy to embrace the American experience of Washington, D.C. But the city has more than just free museums and government buildings going for it, especially if you want to experience more than just the urban/tourist scene.

Do

D.C.’s biggest secret doesn’t take place behind the closed doors of some lobbyist. It stands in plain sight: the low-horizon City of Trees (as it’s known) provides some serious outdoor distraction. The Bike Share program continues to be a huge success, with more city streets retrofitted to be cycle-friendly. You can rent kayaks from Jack’s Boathouse in Georgetown and paddle alongside the National Mall for a water’s-eye view of the monuments (or cruise over to Roosevelt Island). But don’t miss Rock Creek Park, a 1,754-acre swath of greenland that’s larger than New York’s Central Park. On days when D.C.’s infamous humidity hasn’t settled over the city like a wet washcloth, you can run, walk, or pedal from the monuments all the way to the upper stretches of northwest Washington, passing both iconic and seldom-scene sights along the way.

Eat

Save for the dining hall in the American Indian Museum, the Mall doesn’t have good food. Instead of making due with a vendor hotdog, branch away from the tourist scene and visit Union Market, a Pacific Northwest-style open market housed in a big warehouse near the NW/NE quadrants of the city. Here you’ll find loads of local cuisines—oysters, house-cured meats, amazing sandwiches, Korean—alongside an eclectic collection of shops. And you’ll see a part of the city that only locals tend to explore.

Drink

D.C.’s beer scene is humbled compared to some (we’re looking at you, Portland, and your 73 breweries). But even though the number of city breweries has yet to break the double digits, the city itself is a mini-beervana. You can toss a few back at Churchkey, which has a 555-beer menu, take a Saturday bike tour to breweries like D.C. Brau and Three Stars and pick up a few inexpensive growlers, or visit Bluejacket, a new brewery/restaurant near the Nationals Baseball Stadium. In D.C., it’s all about quality. But if you also get excited about quantity, don’t miss Jack Rose Dining Saloon, which houses the largest collection of bourbons and whiskeys in North America.

Stay

Check into the Hotel Monaco and you’ll be steeped in the history that defines this city. Part of the Kimpton hotel group, this boutique hotel is housed in the same building that served as the city’s first General Post Office, completed in 1866. The dog-friendly property is in Chinatown, a stone’s throw from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Portrait Gallery, close to restaurant-dense Penn Quarter, and near one of the subway’s central hubs.

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