Like few cities in America, Washington is both a beneficiary and a victim of perception. One version comprises marble, monuments and museums in the shadow of the Capitol dome. Great restaurants, wild clubs. More culture – the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, the Folger – than a city this size deserves, plus a National Mall that’s the front yard and public podium of the American people.
The other version of Washington is where too many wake up to a morning-after hangover of the American dream, transplants and aristocrats float above the fray, and the federal government seems to turn a blind eye to its own home.
Which is the real Washington? All of the above. Yet the two-cities-inone stereotype limits this great town. Like the nation she governs, DC is defined by her compromises, not her extremes. And conversations about where that nation is headed occur here with more frequency and passion than anywhere else in America.
When it comes to politics, DC’s homegrown will argue you under the table. That’s the soul of this city: not divisions or iconography, but a population that’s as intellectually stimulating as any Manhattan dinner party, and as comfortably down-home as mom’s mac ‘n’ cheese (which our soul-food joints cook best).
But don’t take our word for it. Real Washingtonians might be opinionated as hell, but they’re also twice as warm, so come visit, and see a global capital that’s local enough to love.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
Best places to stay in Washington, DC
Washington DC city guide
Climb the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, stare into Abe's stony eyes and read his Gettysburg Address chiseled in the wall. Stand where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous speech and feel the sweep of history.
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