Location: Washington D.C.
With nearly 30 percent of D.C.'s population employed by the federal government and an incredibly strong tourism industry, the District seems almost immune to economic downturn. Even during the height of the global recession in 2008–2009, D.C.'s top-notch hotels remained sold out, its exclusive restaurants and bars filled to capacity, and the city's landmarks grew busier than ever.
The overall cityscape of today's Washington, D.C., is largely the result of French master urban planner Pierre Charles L'Enfant. The district is divided into four quadrants, stemming from a central point: the U.S. Capitol Building. Within these dissimilar regions of NW, NE, SW, and SE lie varying combinations of grand Victorian homes, history-steeped single-family homes in varying gothic, Georgian, neoclassical, and contemporary architectural styles; cherry-blossom-lined streets separated by bustling squares and circles; and hodgepodges of low-rise buildings (mandated by law to be no taller than 20 feet plus the width of the bordering street).
Every year D.C. embraces its evolution as a one-of-a-kind metropolis, incorporating modernity while successfully keeping history in style. Outside the very public and controversial world of donkeys and elephants, here are a few reasons to fall in love with America's capital:
P.O.V. This rooftop bar at the W Washington D.C. offers a bird's-eye-view of the White House. Artisanal cocktails and tapas make it all the more compelling.
SMITHSONIAN MUSEUMS The Smithsonian Institution operates 17 museums and galleries in the D.C. Metro area, all of which offer entrance free of charge.
BEN'S CHILI BOWL This hole-in-the-wall is a D.C. legend. Regulars line up for the Original Chili Half-Smoke, a pork/beef sausage with mustard, onions, and spicy chili sauce.
NATIONAL ZOO This 163-acre zoological park houses nearly 400 different species. The most popular: the Giant Pandas, who recently welcomed baby Bao Bao.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL, WASHINGTON D.C. This ultra-luxurious 400-room and suite hotel marries D.C. decadence with Asian sophistication.
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