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Washington D.C. is a smaller city than you would expect, so it’s easy to see the sights and have fun at the same time just by walking around. Trek to some of the most interesting – and little-known – spots the city has to offer with the following walking tours:
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National
Originally conceived as a way to establish a connection between the Eastern Seaboard and the Great Lakes, the C&O Canal never reached its intended destination, but the public park that parallels the 184-mile waterway is a perfect escape from the business-like environment of Foggy Bottom. Entrances to the park are located on the side streets midway between K and M streets in Georgetown.
Capital Crescent Trail
For the adventurous crowd, the Capital Crescent trail parallels the C&O Canal before turning north into suburban Maryland. If you’re in the mood to get a real workout, consider hiking the seven miles from the beginning in Georgetown all the way to the Bethesda Metro station. To get to the trail, go to the end of K Street in Georgetown and head under the Key Bridge overpass – the entrance is just ahead.
Monuments and the National Mall
No trip to the capital city would be complete without visiting the requisite testaments to the nation’s historic figures and events. Enter the Mall at 21st and Constitution and stop by the somber Vietnam War Veterans memorial before checking out Lincoln in his chair. Then take Ohio Drive through West Potomac Park and check out the tribute to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on your way to the Jefferson Memorial. Take in the awesome views of the Tidal Basin before coming full circle to see the Washington Monument and World War II memorial.
Embassy Row and Observatory Circle
International intrigue literally swirls around this neighborhood, with foreign dignitaries always coming and going. Start at Dupont Circle and head west up Massachusetts Avenue, passing the various embassies left and right. Head over the Dumbarton Bridge and witness the massive Italian and British installations on your left. Complete your tour by rounding the hill around Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the U.S. vice president, to see the contemporary style of the Finnish embassy at 3301 Mass. Ave.
This rapidly gentrifying area is both a world of contrasts, with street musicians playing alongside young urban professionals, and an important African-American historical center. Start at the corner of 14th and U streets, the site of huge riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and follow U Street east past landmarks such as the Lincoln Theatre and Ben’s Chili Bowl. Hip venues like the Black Cat and the 9:30 Club are just a few blocks away from this buzzing center of activity. End your tour at the African-American Civil War Memorial, located just outside the entrance to the Metro at Vermont Avenue.