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4. Cruise with DC's aristocracy
Georgetown is the name of both one of the premier universities in the world and a neighbourhood that has long been the seat of Washingtonian royalty: a brick-and-old-stone tangle of leafy avenues, cobbled alleyways, diplomats walking their kids to prep school and professors deconstructing experimental theatre over glasses of merlot. But come Thursday night, this neighbourhood sublimates all of the above and becomes, basically, a big river of boiling hormones.

There is a distinctly upper-class crust to the Georgetown scene that sets it apart. Of course there is a reason the moneyed classes love this 'hood, although the appeal extends to anyone who hikes here. Dining is romantic and ethnically diverse, and sometimes, surprisingly affordable. Georgetown is the Sigmund Freud of DC's retail therapy, so shopaholics rejoice. And the historic veneer of the neighbourhood is well preserved, making it a magical place for a stroll in the early evening, as long as you avoid the traffic-clogged main drag of M St.

5. The neighbourly side of politics
What makes Capitol Hill appealing is its well-executed blend of DC neighbourliness and the city's political class. Washington is jokingly called "Hollywood for Ugly People" thanks to the high concentration of political types here, and many of these "stars" (who are hardly all unattractive, thank you very much) can be seen here walking their dogs weekday evenings on Mass Ave NE.

They are strolling by some of the city's most attractive old row houses, which are largely inhabited by families that are several generations-deep steeped in DC. And come the weekend, everyone, from the neighbourhood watch to presidential chiefs of staff, goes to Eastern Market to buy flowers, produce, paintings and the best oyster sandwiches in town. The most political address in the city is proof that a sense of community remains strong in a capital whose population tends to shift with elections every four years.

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© Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Lonely Planet's top five ways to capitalise your time in DC’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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