U Street / Shaw

The birthplace of Duke Ellington and the center of Washington’s nightlife for much of the 20th century is once again thriving. On weekend nights, U Street rivals Adams Morgan for crowds, though with a slightly older vibe. “The cutting edge of what this city is and can be,” U Street is also equally intriguing by day, home to the African American Civil War Memorial, Lincoln Theatre and Howard University. Designer home-furnishings stores, boutiques and music clubs abound near the junction of 14th and U streets.

Pay a late-night visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl, home of DC’s signature dish, the chili half-smoke. Order some doro wat and tibi to share in Little Ethiopia. Groove to a live show at the newly restored Howard Theatre or Bohemian Caverns or see for yourself why the 930 Club is considered the best live music venue in the country. Shop for vintage clothing at Nana or funky home furnishings at Go Mama Go! Take in an edgy production at The Studio Theatre.