Yet in the four years since he has taken up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Obama has left the lightest of footprints on the town he had promised to embrace and transform, adopting the role of a suburban dad. His preference for staying in the White House residence with family and friends — as opposed to venturing out or inviting people inside — mirrors his larger political decision to distance himself from a city whose very name is a synonym for dysfunction, corruption and disconnection from the mainstream of American life…

Nor has he chosen to spend much of his down-time exploring Washington’s neighborhoods, cultural life or burgeoning restaurant scene. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have gone to local restaurants 18 times since 2009 — once every two or three months, according to a calculation culled from pool reports and press accounts, a fraction of the visits Obama has made to golf courses on the leafy outskirts of the district…

Obama, a passionate advocate for public education, also rankled some local luminaries early in his term by opting to send his daughters to the exclusive Sidwell Friends School. But it didn’t surprise people who know Obama. He wanted his kids to get the best and didn’t care about the perception.

Michelle Obama has spent many of her days at events throughout the city and Obama has done his share of appearances, although many of them were linked to his reelection campaign. But as a family, they’ve ventured out tentatively — the occasional art museum drop-by on a Sunday, dinner outings, visits to Nationals Park (to cheer on his White Sox, not D.C.’s home nine) and one very memorable visit to the Verizon Center where Obama and his wife watched the Team U.S.A. basketball team in the middle of the 2012 campaign.