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Washington, D.C., used to be for two things: teaching the young ones a history lesson and work. But thanks to a fresh crop of hotels, restaurants, and shops, the city is now the Midatlantic’s District of Cool. Oh, and there’s some fun new stuff for the kids, too. Here, the reasons to book a trip asap.

1. You can taste the game-changing food boom 

2. Or just wander through a whole neighborhood of top-notch pupuserias

3. There are high-design hotels for everyone: In 2016, the city is poised to get its first “cool” hotel. The team behind L.A.’s Line Hotel is remodeling a century-old D.C. church for its second location. In the meantime, stay at the Beaux-Arts-style Jefferson Hotel, a.k.a White House North. (The Obamas live a few blocks away.)

4. You could spend an entire afternoon in Union Market, the district’s massive food hall

5. The soon-to-open Smithsonian museum will bring Aretha to the Mall. The National Museum of African American History and Culture won’t open until 2016, but it’s already the talk of the town. Inside will be everything from the dress Rosa Parks wore in prison to exhibits on influential musicians (Aretha Franklin, James Brown). The building itself nods to the black experience in America. The futuristic bronze design from architect David Adjaye (who designed Oslo’s Nobel Peace Center) honors the craftsmanship of freed slaves who became ironworkers. —Christine Ajudua

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6. Because coffee reform is here 

7. You can go beyond the Lincoln Memorial 

8. The drinks will transport you 

9. And last—but certainly not least—the district is getting a Momofuku Milk Bar