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Urban Exploration: Washington, D.C.( Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun / July 2, 2013 )
Yes, Baltimore seems to be in constant competition with its neighbor to the south, but it's the perfect summer getaway (even with its swamp-like weather). Apart from the many (and free) museums, world-class shopping and an almost overwhelming number of attractions, D.C.'s many distinct neighborhoods lead to some exciting discoveries. See, Washington's not all that bad after all.
Distance from Baltimore: 41 miles
Summer events/activities: The International Spy Museum (800 F St. NW; spymuseum.org or 202-393-7798; $14.95-$19.95) has opened its new "Exquisitely Evil" exhibit celebrating 50 years of James Bond villains; Citi Open, the district U.S. Open series tennis tournament (William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center, 16th and Kennedy streets NW; citiopentennis.com), kicks off July 27; Beyonce plays Verizon Center July 29-30; the Smithsonian Folklife Festival nestles on the Mall now through Sunday.
Cool lodging: The W Hotel (515 15th St. N.W.; wwashingtondc.com or 202-661-2400) offers a rooftop lounge, the capitol's only Bliss Spa and convenient access to many D.C. attractions. For those on a budget, the Holiday Inn - Central/Whitehouse (1501 Rhode Island Ave. NW; inndc.com or 202-483-2000) gives you everything you need and is located near many tourist attractions.
Eat here: D.C. is known as a foodie destination, with everything from the fresh oysters and mussels at BlackSalt Restaurant (4883 MacArthur Blvd. NW; blacksaltrestaurant.com or 202-342-9101) to the delicious brick oven pizza fare at Matchbox Chinatown (713 H St. NW; matchboxchinatown.com or 202-289-4441).
Don't miss: The shopping in Georgetown (georgetowndc.com) can easily fill a day -- and it could be a budget buster. But with stores such as Michael Kors, Rag & Bone and Ralph Lauren, even window-shopping (above) can be fun. And that's just the clothing stores.