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The National Portrait Gallery

It’s easy to put politics aside and enjoy some partisan-free fun in our nation’s capital.

If You Go

633 D St. NW
(202) 637-1222 www.rasikarestaurant.com

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
(202) 626-0015

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. NW
(202) 667-0909

Corcoran Gallery Gift Shop
500 17th St. NW
(202) 639-1789

A Mano
1677 Wisconsin Ave. NW
(202) 298-7200

Columbia Room
1021 7th St. NW
(202) 393-0336

Old Dominion BrewHouse
1219 9th St. NW
(202) 289-8158

Big Wheel Bikes
1034 33rd St. NW
(202) 337-0254

National Portrait Gallery
8th and F streets NW
(202) 633-8300

Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.
1150 22nd St. NW
(202) 835-0500
As the seat of our nation’s government, Washington, D.C., has always had drawing power. But graceful monuments, tree-lined public spaces, and the iconic architecture of the White House and the Capitol are just part of the city’s appeal. World-class museums (many of them free) and arts venues abound, and trendy new restaurants and shops are popping up constantly. Once a stodgy, sleepy city on the Potomac, D.C. has taken on a more sophisticated demeanor of late. Check out these can’t-miss stops while you’re here.

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Eat Go for modern Indian fare at the intimate Rasika(left) in the lively Penn Quarter neighborhood. Sample dishes include Palak Chaat (crisp spinach with sweet yogurt) and Lamb Coconut Fry (lamb with chunks of coconut) along with offbeat naans and chutneys. Central Michel Richard’s namesake celebrity chef brings his playful approach to French and American bistro cooking with delicious results. Lobster burgers, fried chicken and short ribs with housemade pappardelle delight, while his signature candy bar dessert is akin to an upmarket Kit Kat. And though the list of places where President Obama has dined continues to grow, Ben’s Chili Bowl was one of the first to make the cut. This expanded lunch counter, which opened in 1958 on U Street in D.C.’s former jazz district, is known for its chili half-smokes (D.C.-speak for a pork-and-beef hot dog) slathered with mustard, onions and spicy chili.

Shop For souvenirs that go beyond cheesy clichés, try the Corcoran Gallery Gift Shop, known for its jewelry, housewares and other art-inspired items, such as umbrellas printed with painter Gene Davis’ striped works and chiffon scarves featuring designs from 16th-century apothecary jars. Italian ceramics, French linens and Murano glass are among the treasures at A Mano, a crammed-to-the-rafters (in a good way) housewares shop in upper Georgetown. Look for name brands alongside hard-to-find European labels.

Drink The local cocktail culture has been thriving as mixologists up the ante on craft drinks. One of the best spots to hoist a glass is at the Columbia Room, a reservations-only, 10-seat bar-within-a-bar (tucked away in the larger and easier-to-get-into Passenger on the edge of Penn Quarter). Here, hand-carved ice, house-made bitters and a prix fixe, three-drink tasting menu are the order of the day. Just north of Penn Quarter is the low-key
Old Dominion Brewhouse, which serves IPAs, lagers and specialty beers like Oak Barrel Stout, all made in nearby Dover, Del.

Do Rent a bike at Big Wheel Bikes on the Georgetown waterfront, then hop right onto the scenic trail that edges the Potomac and rambles past the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Memorial all the way to the Jefferson Memorial. (You can also detour to the National Mall, where the Capitol building and the Washington Monument serve as bookends.) In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the National Portrait Gallery — located in the Patent Office Building, which doubled as a Union army hospital during the war — has an exhibit on Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, the first Union soldier to be killed. The permanent collection devotes three rooms to pivotal Civil War figures such as Frederick Douglass, Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Ward Howe, the abolitionist and activist who penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Stay When it comes to luxury, the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C. can’t be beat. But it’s also convenient; located on the West End, it’s an easy walk to the high-energy neighborhoods of Georgetown and Dupont Circle and a short Metro ride from downtown and the National Mall.