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Walkingtown DC--How To Learn Your City

If this lovely weather holds up, which the guys over at the Capital Weather Gang say it more or less will, this should be a great weekend for one of my favorite Washington amenities, the jam-packed calendar of walking tours offered twice each year by Walkingtown DC.

Launched by the good folks at Cultural Tourism DC, this weekend full of walking tours is a mix of history, geography, music, ethnic studies, biking, discovering new neighborhoods, checking out the real estate, and generally finding new places.

I can vouch for several of the tours from past experience: The Capitol Riverfront tour of the new ballpark area will open your eyes both to the neglected past of that mysterious part of the city and to what various planners and developers have in mind for the next chapter of its history. Alley Living in Capitol Hill is a view of a world that few who don't live on the Hill know about, a glorious and inglorious past and a sometimes secret present (hey, don't tell the city inspectors what goes on in some of those alley buildings.)

D.C. transportation director Emeka Moneme is leading a bicycle tour of Anacostia, which is apparently all reserved so you'll have to wait till next time, but that should be a great one. Check the calendar, though, and you'll find other bike tours, such as one that looks at environmentally friendly buildings around town.

Some of my favorite tours from past years aren't on offer this year--if you see the Hillcrest tour come up on a future schedule, grab it--but one great thing about this festival is that there are new events each year.

I'm especially intrigued by the exploration of Florida and Capital City markets tomorrow, ending, deliciously enough, at the city's best Italian market, A. Litteri's, where the subs are Philadelphia quality.

Your guides for these tours run the gamut--developers hawking their properties, historians unleashing their deep knowledge, city officials getting all wonky on you, and professional tour guides strutting their stuff. I've had great guides and awful ones. There are so many tours that if one is truly bad, you should feel free to bail out and zip over to another one.

Some can't-miss offerings this time around: Mall expert Judy Scott Feldman on what the Mall memorials don't tell you (Saturday at 10), Cultural Tourism staffer Mara Cherkasky on Old Mount Pleasant (Saturday at 9:30), Mary Belcher and Eddie Becker on an Adams Morgan slavery story (Saturday at 11:30), Richard Layman's H Street NE Alley Tour (Sunday at 10), and a slew of others that I'm not mentioning because they're already full up.

See you out there.

By Marc Fisher |  April 25, 2008; 12:07 PM ET
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Good call on the Florida Avenue market tour - I've lived here more than 10 years and had never been out there. Very interesting to see a different part of the city. It's not just a place for wholesalers, lots of people were there doing their weekly grocery shopping since the prices are so low - it'd be a shame if they closed it down (which our tour guide indicated was a real possibility). And Litteris was great!

Posted by: dupont circle | April 26, 2008 8:20 PM

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