There's more to Washington, D.C., than politics and monuments. Neighborhoods across the city are being transformed into dining and shopping hubs. Check out these five.
Barracks Row/Eastern Market
Backdropped by the U.S. Capitol and rich with Victorian town houses, this section of Capitol Hill feels like it belongs in The West Wing—signature D.C. One highlight: the 1873 Eastern Market, a busy red-brick grocery hall. A multi-block crafts and antiques fair takes place outside the market on weekends, with offerings such as vintage barware and local art. Eighth Street SE, known as Barracks Row for the U.S. Marines quarters that lie at one end, is packed with pubs and retro-chic oyster houses like the clubby Chesapeake Room. Arrive early at chef Aaron Silverman's walk-in-friendly hot spot Rose's Luxury if you want to taste the pig-ear-and-mango salad or rib-eye tartare.
Just north of Capitol Hill in NoMa (short for North of Massachusetts Avenue), Union Market is crammed with food stalls like Takorean, which blends Korean and Mexican fare, and Buffalo & Bergen, which serves knishes, bagels, and egg creams. After lunch, browse shops like Salt & Sundry (Turkish hand towels, barrel-aged maple syrup) and Bazaar Spices, then head to the nearby Dolcezza gelato factory for something sweet.
At the forefront of this fast-developing zone, the Arts Walk is a series of street-level studios like Stitch & Rivet (leather goods) and Rachel Pfeffer (jewelry). Dance Place, down the street, hosts international choreographers and troupes. Eat at homey-hip restaurants like Smith Public Trust for global comfort fare (ginger ramen, red-velvet waffles) and Menomale for Neapolitan-style pizza.
This neighborhood's U Street was once called Black Broadway for its nightclubs and theaters, and great venues still stand today. Check out the 1922 Lincoln Theater for pop acts, Bohemian Caverns for jazz, and the tiny Velvet Lounge for up-and-comers. Shaw's restaurants are small and focused: Mockingbird Hill specializes in ham and sherry; Convivial does French-American dishes like escargot-in-ablanket. Hit the multibrand emporium Good Wood on U to find quirkycool dresses and Read Wall, on Eighth Street, for D.C.designed men's wear.
On the Anacostia River near Nationals Park, a restaurant-and-bar scene has risen among the office towers. After games, fans head to the Fairgrounds, a complex made of shipping containers, or the warehouse-like Blue Jacket to throw back made-on-site beers and pub food. Recreation includes Canal Park, with an ice rink next to a bar; the D.C. outpost of the New York Trapeze School; and the Ballpark Boathouse, which rents out kayaks and canoes.