Discover Something New at Home in Washington, D.C.

Posted Nov 20th 2013 11:00 AMUpdated Dec 20th 2013 11:01 AM

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Remember that government shutdown? It didn't stop Washington one bit this year -- restaurants and bars flung open their doors early to give special discounts to furloughed workers, the Corcoran and Philips Collections welcomed new crowds to see their masterworks and one enterprising citizen even took it upon himself to mow grass on the Lincoln Memorial lawn. As the weather gets colder, D.C. finds creative ways to have fun, from brewery bike tours to flash-mob snowball fights in Dupont Circle.

New Restaurant: Kapnos

Mike Isabella's brash Italian fare made him famous as a "Top Chef All-Star," but he's even better taking a lighter hand with Greek cuisine at Kapnos, in the U Street corridor. Its name means "smoke," and you can't go wrong following that spirit to the succulent, grill-charred goat and a tender, heat-kissed arctic char.

Place to Bring a Little "Home" Home with You: Cork Market

After ending your meal on U Street, amble a few blocks south to Cork Market, the retail spinoff of D.C.'s cult-favorite answer to the foodie-friendly wine bars of London and Paris. You'll find rare, well-curated bottles to impress your relatives plus a selection of local baked goods and imported treats that make perfect last-minute gifts.

Word on the Street

Washington's hottest topic this year is nonpartisan -- whether the Redskins should change their name amid protests from American Indian groups. If you don't have an opinion on that one, try uniting your family table in frustration at when the Metro finally will be extended to Dulles airport. (Middle of next year? Maybe.)

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Elana Schor is one of a small group of New York City natives who prefers D.C., where she has lived for eight years. Her favorite local activities are running the Mall, paddling the Potomac, gawking at the Smithsonian and sampling all the homemade pop-tarts at Ted's Bulletin.

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