Capitol Hill

This area of the city not only consists of the most important government buildings in the country, but is also the largest and one of the oldest historic residential neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Stretching from the United States Capitol building east to the Anacostia River, the two square miles include the Supreme Court, Senate and House Office buildings, the Marine Barracks, Washington Navy Yard, Union Station and many important attractions such as The Folger Shakespeare Library and the rebuilt Eastern Market.

Capitol Hill, often overlooked by tourists, is well-worth exploring. It is a beautiful historic neighborhood of 18th and 19th century rowhouses in a wide range of architectural styles. The dining scene here has exploded in recent years. Pennsylvania Avenue is a lively commercial street with shops, restaurants and bars. Eastern Market is a public market on 7th Street SE, open since 1873, where vendors sell fresh meat and produce. Every weekend it hosts a giant outdoor flea market. Union Station's shops and restaurants inside the grandiose Beaux-Arts style building are also worth checking out.

Plan on spending some time in the Folger Shakespeare Library, which houses the world's largest collection of the Bard's works, and the favorite “Jungle Room” at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Getting there: Metro's Blue and Orange lines have stations just south of the Capitol grounds at Federal Center, Capitol South and further east at the Eastern Market. Or use the Red Line to Union Station.

Driving is accessible mostly through the east-west routes along Constitution, Independence or Pennsylvania Avenues. The trick is parking, but the further east you get, the easier it becomes.

Taxis are easy to catch around the monuments and along the main dining and shopping strips.