This election season, our vote goes to Washington, DC itself—thanks to all that's afoot in town. See the Smithsonian's new National Museum of the American Indian (Fourth St. and Independence Ave. SW; 202/633-1000, www.nmai.si.edu ; free ), where Inuits construct kayaks and the cafeteria serves fry bread tacos. Then cab it over to the suddenly hip 14th Street neighborhood. Browse at Candida's (1541 14th St., NW; 202/667-4811 ), an international bookstore with a terrific kids' section, and catch the "buzz balls" (cream puffs in exotic flavors) at the Love Café (1501 U St. NW; 202/588-7100 ). Or hightail it to the National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202/673-0127, www.nationalzoo.si.edu ; free ) and its recently planted hands-on farm, with a petting zoo and a "pizza" garden (wedge-shaped beds ot tomatoes and herbs). The show not to miss is the Washington Ballet's new Nutcracker (Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW; 202-783-4000 ), set in a Georgetown rowhouse with George Washington in the starring role—how's that for a new spin on politics?
An offshoot of the popular District franchise, Cakelove, Love Café is a casual gathering spot serving coffee, sweets, and light meals. The café, like its sister shop, was founded by Warren Brown, a lawyer-turned-baker. Located on U Street, the eatery sells desserts and pastries from nearby Cakelove, including assorted cake slices and bedrolls (walnut cake covered with cream cheese icing). Savory lunch offerings run the gamut from black bean quesadillas to hummus and veggie pitas, while breakfast includes egg and bacon bagels, scones, and granola. Coffee and espresso drinks are served as well.