Adjacent to the Marine Corps War Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon (N. Marshall Dr. and N. Meade St.; 703-289-2500) is a bell tower that the Dutch gave to the US as a symbol of gratitude for help during and after World War II. The 50 bells hang in an open steel tower on a grassy park. Saturdays from 6 to 8, May through September, carilloners play free concerts—bring a picnic basket and enjoy the sweeping views of Washington.
Housed in the former site of the Newseum, Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd.; 703-875-1100) is one of the biggest performing-arts centers in Washington, with a 4,000-square-foot gallery, an equally large ballroom, and three theaters under its space-age dome. The center hosts eclectic visual-art and new-media exhibits as well as dance, theater, films, and music. Offerings skew toward a trendier crowd—the art shows in particular focus on contemporary work.
With plenty of craft brews to wash down juicy sirloin skewers and killer mac and cheese, the quiet bar at movie-poster-lined Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd.; 703-841-0001), the sister restaurant to nearby Ray’s the Steaks, is an underused spot to catch a game. Don’t miss owner Michael Landrum’s booze-fueled milkshakes—we love the Shake and Bake Cordial, made with bourbon and topped with bacon bits.
Regional Mexican cooking—you know, the kind blanketed in richly aromatic mole sauces, as opposed to a pound of Monterey Jack—is made with care at sunset-hued Guajillo (1727 Wilson Blvd.; 703-807-0840). To go with the tart margaritas and spicy lager-based micheladas, there are good braised-lamb tacos, warm tamales wrapped around chipotle chicken, and the crispy, orange-scented hunks of pork called carnitas. An oversize glass of tangy shrimp ceviche is a bright start to the meal and a nice way to counter heavier meat dishes.
Big Easy Decadence
Restraint is nearly impossible at pastry chef David Guas’s NoLa-inspired Bayou Bakery (1515 N. Courthouse Rd.; 703-243-2410). There are fabulous buttermilk biscuits served alongside a Mason jar of cream cheese and pepper jelly, Dat-O cookies, which taste like Oreos but better, and Zapp’s chips with bacony blue-cheese dip. And that’s before you get to the sandwiches—a cold-cut-stuffed muffuletta, a beer-boiled hot dog—which are draws in themselves. Our advice? Go, overindulge, and eat kale for the rest of the day in penance.
On the Big Screen
A major renovation to the AMC Courthouse Plaza 8 (2150 Clarendon Blvd.; 703-243-4950) has transformed this ordinary multiplex into one of the area’s best places to see a movie. The plush red recliners can be reserved—no more scrambling to find four seats together at the last minute—and have footrests that pop out like a La-Z-Boy. On a recent visit, we saw a woman come into the theater in her slippers. How’s that for moviegoing relaxation?
Pre-Loved and Lovely
The original location of Current Boutique (2529 Wilson Blvd.; 703-528-3079) resells gently worn castoffs, all displayed in a welcoming and well-organized space. A selective buying process ensures that the store is stocked with in-style finds from desirable brands. While this shop leans a bit more conservative than some of Current’s other stores—the consignment mini-chain now has four locations—major scores are still up for grabs. Recent gems: a DVF black-and-white silk dress for $110, gold Tory Burch flats for $75, and a purple leather Rebecca Minkoff cross-body bag for just $64.99.