admoIn its very name, Adams Morgan carries with it a trace of the Civil Rights Movement. Until desegregation in 1955, the all-white John Quincy Adams Elementary School and the all-black Thomas P. Morgan Elementary School educated local students. When the two institutions merged, the resulting area was from then on known as Adams- Morgan (the hyphen was dropped a few years down the road). Today, the neighborhood has blossomed into a center of multiculturalism, thanks in part to the recent flow of immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean. On the second Sunday in September each year, Adams Morgan proudly showcases its character with the annual Adams Morgan Day Festival. On 18th Street, a pair of music stages, several karaoke booths, a collection of arts and crafts offerings and a vast sampling of ethnic flavors (try any ceviche you can get your hands on) lure in passersby. If you miss out on the big day or would prefer a more low-key visit to this up-and-coming corner of the District, head to a D.C. landmark like Tryst, located at 2459 18th Street NW. A haunt of the locals and a destination study area, this coffeehouse and lounge is perfect if you want to make new friends, sip on a freshly brewed coffee and nibble on a slice of cake. Stay late on weekend nights, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a fun bar setting.

That’s when you have no choice but to head over to The Diner, Tryst’s sister place right next door. It’s everything its name indicates, but the atmosphere is always fun (albeit consistently loud), the portions generous and the crowd much more intriguing than that of your average night at The Tombs.

Local landmark Madam’s Organ is celebrated for its live music available every night. There is a small cover charge, but the ambiance (akin to a dive bar, truly different from the other chic party spots in DC) is well worth it. Boasting multiple floors all with a different music scene, most of the crow gathers on the first level for listening and dancing along to the live band, usually of the blues variety. The upper floors also contain pool tables, space for eating delicious soul food and a rooftop terrace.

For a small drop in price and the best late-night munchies around, head to Amsterdam Falafelshop, another 18th Street landmark. With a prominently displayed sign explaining that it sells frites (“Pronounce FREETS,” not fries, the sign also advises), the place doesn’t just look and sound a little European — as of 2008, it’s started accepting the Euro as an alternative method of payment.

An eclectic food selection isn’t all you’ll find in Adams Morgan; stroll along 18th Street and you’ll stumble upon vintage clothing stores like Meeps & Aunt Neensie’s Vintage Fashionette, voted again this year as D.C.’s Best Vintage Store in the Washington City Paper. The spacious store has a great selection of ’70s and ’80s apparel, a welcoming staff, and price tags that won’t burn a hole in your wallet.

For sports lovers, another local favorite is the family-owned Fleet Feet (and not just any family — former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s father is the owner) around the corner on Columbia Road. The spot has a wide selection of running shoes, accessories and, like Meeps, a very knowledgeable staff.

Crooked Beat Records, an independent record shop at 2318 18th Street, has hardly bucked the trend. Ask any of the staff for recommendations on any genre of music from grunge to zouk, and he or she will produce at least five suggestions. The hipsters among you will rejoice at their vinyl collection (they’re a bit low on CDs, but who uses them these days, anyways?) and D.C. lovers will enjoy sifting through their “local bands” category. Here and throughout the neighborhood, you never know what you’ll end up finding.

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