"My summer internship was in the summer of 1981. I was a junior in college. I arrived on July Fourth weekend - always a great day in Washington, with thousands and thousands of people on the Mall. I had actually never been to Washington before. I remember walking around the Mall all day long and then sitting up by the Capitol that night for the fireworks display, and just having so much fun and feeling like I was part of a big patriotic celebration. Then, on the following Monday morning, I took the subway into work for the first time. I came out of the subway and saw the Capitol dome lit up against a perfectly blue sky. It inspired me. From the moment I started as an intern - getting coffee and making copies and doing research for my local congressman, Mary Rose Oakar, and walking through the marble halls with the other interns - I knew it was the place I wanted to be. Washington is a center. It's a magnet. The whole country comes to Washington; it's where the country's business is done. From that first day, I was hooked."

george stephanopoulos' washington, d.c., essentials

the ritz-carlton, washington, d.c., $395-$4,500; (202) 835-0500

a.v. ristorante italiano, italian; $6-$16; (202) 737-0550

austin grill, tex-mex; $8-$11; (202) 337-8080

galileo, italian; $24-$35; (202) 293-7191

kramerbooks & afterwords cafe & grill, american; $8-$10; (202) 387-1462

market lunch (in eastern market), american; $2-$5; (202) 547-8444

palm restaurant, american; $15-$63; (202) 293-9091

pizzeria paradiso, pizza; $8-$16; (202) 223-1245

rupperts, american; $25; (202) 783-0699

blues alley, (202) 337-4141

the john f. kennedy center for the performing arts,
(202) 467-4600