Washington, D.C. Feature
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What Locals Do in Washington, D.C.
If you want to "go native" and get a sense for D.C. as the locals know it, try these experiences.
Shop at an Outdoor Market
Instead of sleeping in on a Saturday morning, grab your trusty canvas bag and a wad of cash and head to one of D.C.'s outdoor markets. The best-known venue, Eastern Market on Capitol Hill, underwent a modernization and restoration project after a devastating fire in 2007, and the building is gorgeous. It is the place to buy a quick meal or picnic ingredients and mingle with residents. On weekends there are craft, flea, and produce markets. The Dupont Circle farmers' market and Georgetown flea market are also popular with residents. And the Maine Avenue Fish Market in Southwest is a must-visit for seafood lovers.
Dine on Ethiopian Food
The District's many Ethiopian expats have introduced the community to their unique African cooking. The best restaurants, such as Etete, are in the U Street neighborhood. Meat and vegetarian dishes are ladled onto a large round of spongy injera bread, and diners eat with their hands, ripping off pieces of bread to scoop up the delectable stews. Using your hands instead of utensils adds to the sensual appeal of this cuisine.
Go for a Bike Ride
Your typical Mall-and-monuments tourist may not know that D.C. is home to several great bike trails—and the city's new bike share program makes it easier than ever for visitors to take advantage. The Capitol Crescent Trail and Rock Creek Trail are popular routes between D.C. and Maryland. For more ambitious cyclists, the Custis Trail in Arlington links D.C. to the 45-mi Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) trail in Virginia, while the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) towpath runs for nearly 185 mi between D.C and western Maryland. From there, the most hardcore peddlers can catch the Great Allegheny Passage trail, which extends another 150 traffic-free miles to Pittsburgh. On a warm, sunny day, expect to find the local paths bustling with cyclists, rollerbladers, and strollers.
Hang Out on U Street
You won't find many tourists in the U Street neighborhood, and many locals have only recently discovered the area. During the day, browse through the unique boutiques that line 14th and U streets NW, or read the Washington CityPaper at one of the many cafés. In the evening, select from trendy or ethnic restaurants, post up at a local bar like Dodge City, a newish hipster hangout, catch a popular indie band at the 9:30 Club, or some jazz at Bohemian Caverns.
Catch a Flick
A typical date night's dinner and a movie get a little more exciting in D.C. In July and August locals head to several outdoor venues to see classic films alfresco. The Mall's Screen on the Green is the most popular, but NoMa's Summer Screen, just north of Union Station, pulls an audience as well.
Several movie halls around the city play host to Filmfest DC (www.filmfestdc.org), an increasingly popular April festival boasting an always-eclectic collection of works from amateur and professional filmmakers worldwide.
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