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Visit Amanda Hess' Washington, D.C. 

Amanda Hess knows about sex, and she's not afraid to write about it — and not in a corny, "Carrie Bradshaw" kind of way. She intelligently examines sexuality in Washington, D.C. for Creative Loafing's sister newspaper, the Washington City Paper, and its blog The Sexist. Seriously, where else could you learn about groping on D.C. trains? Hess also knows where you should go to have a good time in our nation's capital. After all, if you've decided to make the 400-mile trip from Charlotte, you should do more than just take pictures of the White House.

Best Places to Hear Live Music

"It depends on what you're looking for. The Black Cat is the best place to hear a mid-level band -- so, one who's touring but a little bit under the radar. The 9:30 Club, which is a few blocks away from there, is a bigger venue, and you get bigger acts over there. But my favorite place is Sixth & I, which is a synagogue. So, you get to sit down; and I feel like an old person, I want to sit down when I hear music. A lot of great people come through there, and it's a really beautiful place to see a show."

Best Place to Eat

"My favorite place to go ... it depends on if you're working at the City Paper where you go. Our staff usually goes to meetings and stuff at The Diner. It is one of the only places in D.C. that is open 24 hours to eat, so that's really good. The food is fine, but it's always available."

Best Place to Shop

"My favorite neighborhood for shopping is in Takoma Park, which is just outside of the district in the Maryland suburbs. They have a bunch of vintage shops there."

Best Nightlife Spots

"Right now the U Street corridor is probably the best place for someone from out of town to go. It's been more popular since the Obamas came to D.C. It has a bunch of restaurants and bars there. It is expanding pretty seriously right now. My favorite bar there is probably Marvin. It has a really good roof deck. Right next to Marvin is The Gibson. They have kind of expensive cocktails, but they are delicious."

Places to Avoid

"Our office is in Adams Morgan, but I would not go to Adams Morgan after 10 p.m. on weekends. It's a lot of vomit and, like, pizza everywhere and frat boys."

D.C.'s Best-Kept Secret

"What you find out after you visit D.C. is that doing the whole ... tour of all the monuments and the White House and the Washington Monument is horrible. Especially in the summer; it's extremely hot, and it's like a death march around the city. So probably the best thing to do if you come here is to go tour the Portrait Gallery, which is outside of The Smithsonian mall area. But it is still really beautiful, and there is a lot of stuff there. There is a really awesome interior -- a huge open-air patio in the middle -- and that's, like, amazing. And it's not super hot and muggy."

More info

Sixth & I: www.sixthandi.org

The Diner: www.trystdc.com/diner

• Takoma Park: www.takomaparkmd.gov

Marvin: www.marvindc.com

National Portrait Gallery: www.npg.si.edu

The Sexist blog: www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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