The National Mall sits at the center of Washington’s Downtown. Stay near the eastern end of the Mall to be close to Capitol Hill and the long-distance trains from Union Station. A Washington hotel near the White House promises luxurious lodging and moonlight walks along the Mall. Downtown is most convenient for visiting the museums and monuments that crowd the city. Try the Asian flavors of Chinatown or the formal steak-and-seafood restaurants near the White House. With its large selection of Metro stops, Downtown is never more than a short subway ride from the rest of Washington.
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On the western shore of the Potomac River, Arlington is outside Washington, in the state of Virginia, but is a convenient place to stay when visiting Washington. Home to Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon, large numbers of military families live and work in Arlington, , making it a good location for reasonably-priced lodging, dining and shopping. Arlington’s Iwo Jima Memorial and nearby Lady Bird Johnson Park provide sweeping views of Washington’s Downtown monuments. Just south of Arlington lies Reagan National Airport as well as Alexandria, easily reached by Metro.
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North of the White House and George Washington University Dupont Circle radiates out to streets brimming with fashionable boutiques, brasseries and bars. Washington’s largest concentration of international embassies lies along Massachusetts Avenue, or Embassy Row, guaranteeing international flair at restaurants and cafés. Relax with possibly the world’s largest beer selection at The Brickskeller or pore over Picasso and O’Keefe at the Phillips Collection galleries.
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Set along the Potomac River west of the National Mall, Georgetown houses Washington politicos and dozens of bistros, bars, antique stores and designer boutiques. Begin your morning with a jog along the C&O Canal Towpath or a stroll through Dumbarton Oaks. You’ll walk a bit to reach the nearest Metro stop, but Georgetown’s redbrick colonial architecture makes the trip worthwhile. Sandwiched between Georgetown and the National Mall is Foggy Bottom, home to George Washington University and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The resident students draw a good selection of independent coffee houses and cafés. Visiting artists and diplomats have encouraged the growth of stylish boutique hotels and top-rate chefs.
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South of Downtown Washington, Alexandria lies on the western bank of the Potomac in the state of Virginia. Founded in 1749, the city’s Old Town has charming colonial architecture and eclectic boutique shopping. The largest collection of international restaurants in the Washington area lies in the Old Town, including Gadsby’s, where Thomas Jefferson entertained guests. Alexandria’s five metro stations make trips to Washington’s attractions quick and simple.
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