Obama: Washington's Man About Town

President Obama started his presidency at a full sprint, but in the weeks leading up to Inauguration Day he took some time to have a little fun outside of the office.

In fact, since arriving in Washington on Jan. 4, Obama may already be more visible around town than former President George W. Bush was in his eight years in the White House.

Some recent Obama outings:

Bobby Van's Steakhouse for a cocktail reception for new members of Congress and the Chicago press corps

Dinner at Equinox restaurant for wife Michelle's 45th birthday

A pickup basketball game at the Marie Reed Recreation Center in the Adams Morgan section of Washington

Dinner with conservative pundits and columnists at George Will's house in Chevy Chase, Md.

A half-smoke with Mayor Adrian Fenty at Ben's Chili Bowl, a D.C. landmark on U Street

A nighttime visit to the Lincoln Memorial with Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha

A brief cameo and remarks at a party for campaign, transition and inaugural staff at the DC Armory that featured Jay Z and Arcade Fire as entertainment

The president and his wife frequently dined out in their hometown of Chicago and even had a regular Friday night date until the rigors of the campaign kicked in.

"The Obamas are a young, urban family, and urban families tend to feel right at home in D.C.  It's great to see them out and about, getting to know our neighborhoods and restaurants already," said Bill Hanbury, CEO of Destination DC, the official convention and tourism corporation for the district.

The first couple have indicated that they plan to get involved in their new city and not just live behind the wrought-iron fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

"[W]e are neighborhood people," Obama said last week at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, a first of its kind event where a portion of the tickets were set aside for Washington, D.C., residents, some at no charge. "[I]f you think about it, the word 'neighborhood' starts with the word 'neighbor' because it indicates a sense that we as Americans are bound together. That what we have in common is more important than what drives us apart."

Obama's new neighborhood is a city with a black population of more than 50 percent.

"This is a very liberal, African-American city and the Obamas really symbolize something special to people here," said Sommer Mathis, editor of DCist.com, a blog dedicated to local news, entertainment and culture in the nation's capital. "I think it means a lot for the residents here, not just because he's a Democrat. This is a majority black city. People weren't pouring out into the streets after Bill Clinton won but there were celebrations in the streets here until 4 a.m. [on Election Night]."

Not the Bush White House Anymore

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, were never staples on the D.C. social scene and rarely went out to dinner in Washington. The early-to-bed/early-to-rise president's penchant for quiet evenings at home provided his wife with material for a comedic turn at a 2005 press dinner.

"I am married to the president of the United States, and here's our typical evening: Nine o'clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep, and I'm watching 'Desperate Housewives' -- with Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife," Laura Bush said jokingly.

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