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The lifestyle in Washington DC reflects the city's vibrant population. As a city filled with politicians and lobbyists, plenty of time and effort are devoted to boasting about one’s expense account. Fat cats and 'yes men' alike pour their entertainment budgets into the DC scene and, at the very least, ensure that a lively lifestyle is readily accessible to locals and expats alike.
New arrivals in Washington can enjoy a wide enough range of entertainment venues, shops, activities and eateries to satiate their own unique cultural appetite while enjoying all the city has to offer.
Shopping in Washington DC
Shopping is a key activity in Washington DC. The city's oldest neighbourhood, Georgetown, hosts several designer boutiques, and new arrivals can enjoy a scenic shopping and dining experience at picturesque local retail centres such as Georgetown Park and the Washington Harbor.
Newcomers should drop in at the Georgetown Flea Market to browse its selection of antiques, jewellery, books, rugs, toys and linens. They could also head to Penn Quarter and Chinatown for a similar selection.
Another great shopping area is the Dupont Circle neighbourhood. It's full of bookstores and designer boutiques as well as vintage shops. Those exploring the area can also enjoy the FreshFarm Market.
Eating out in Washington DC
Those looking to grab something to eat in Washington DC are spoilt for choice. Being an ethnically diverse capital city, the wide variety of restaurants and cafes cater to both local and international tastes, as well as a range of budgets.
For the more enthusiastic foodies, the city hosts some vibrant food festivals throughout the year. Those wanting sizzling summer sustenance can check out the National Capital Barbecue Battle, while others may enjoy familiarising themselves with the culinary elite at the annual Taste of Georgetown festival.
Nightlife in Washington DC
The nightlife in Washington DC is vibrant, with plenty of variety. Atlas District is one of DC's trendiest areas, while other key areas for night-time entertainment include Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle and Georgetown. Another particularly popular area is the Penn Quarter, which offers several wine and lounge bars.
Outdoor activities in Washington DC
There are many parks throughout Washington DC that are usually bustling with happy families, doting romantics and chatty picnickers. Such parks are an ideal place to get away, enjoy the fresh air and throw a frisbee around.
DC is also one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US, with many exclusive bicycle lanes and trails that elevate cycling to a perfectly valid form of eco-friendly transportation.
The city also caters to sports enthusiasts of all types, with frequent opportunities to spectate not only baseball and American football games, but also soccer, rugby, tennis, ice hockey and even lacrosse. The city boasts several major sports stadiums, such as the RFK Stadium and Nationals Park, which host weekly matches for the city’s various professional teams.
For new arrivals looking to play sports in Washington DC, there are plenty of health and fitness centres in and around the city that offer sporting facilities.
Although the outdoor activities within the city area itself may seem rather limited to especially adventurous new arrivals, the many idyllic camping and hiking spots in neighbouring Maryland and Virginia should be more than enough consolation.
►See and Do in Washington DC gives an overview of popular attractions in the city.
Are you an expat living in Washington DC?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Washington DC. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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