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Washington’s Hidden Gems
Comments () | Published March 22, 2010

Sing Hallelujah . . . with the SBC Chorale at Southern Baptist Church Praise and Worship Center. The award-winning seven-member gospel group has twice been named the region’s top small group at How Sweet the Sound, an annual contest to find the country’s best church choir. You can hear the members’ powerhouse pipes belt out gospel standards, from traditional to contemporary, at some Sunday services. 134 L St., NW; 202-842-1953. 

Shiver at the evil Sweeney Todd . . . or thrill to another musical by Stephen Sondheim. Nobody does Sondheim like Shirlington’s Signature Theatre. The composer/lyricist himself has come down from New York to see artistic director Eric Schaeffer’s inventive takes on his work. Sweeney Todd—this season’s Sondheim offering among Signature’s varied productions—runs through April 4. Next spring it’s the revue Side by Side by Sondheim. 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-573-7328.

Swing to a red-hot blues legend . . . in DC’s Adams Morgan. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Bobby Parker has performed with such musical greats as Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, and longtime friend Carlos Santana. Legend has it Parker was a favorite of John Lennon’s. At 72, he still heats up a room with his lively R&B, performing at Madam’s Organ on the last Saturday of every month. 2461 18th St., NW; 202-667-5370.

Get dazzled on U Street . . . at the beautifully restored Lincoln Theatre. When the Lincoln opened in 1922, the neighborhood was known as Washington’s black Broadway. Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald jammed there. Today the Lincoln hosts special productions, jazz performances, the DC Jazz Festival, and works by emerging playwrights. This month Arena Stage brings Sophisticated Ladies, a tribute to Ellington’s music, to the Lincoln, where it should feel right at home. 1215 U St., NW; 202-328-6000.

Break for lunch with Bach . . . at the Church of the Epiphany’s Tuesday concert series. The weekly noontime recitals feature top classical musicians from the area, including the Washington Bach Consort (April 6 and May 4) and faculty from the Levine School of Music. It’s free, but small donations are requested for the 50-minute concerts. 1317 G St., NW; 202-347-2635.

Awaken your inner Whitman . . . at a reading by the US poet laureate,who every year reads from his or her work at the Library of Congress. On May 20, poet laureate Kay Ryan closes the institution’s literary season in the library’s Coolidge Auditorium. First St., SE, between Independence Ave. and E. Capitol St.; 202-707-5394.


Live out your baseball fantasies . . . by watching your son or daughter stomp home plate at Nationals Park. At some Sunday home games, kids ages 4 through 12 are invited to take to the field to participate in a fun run of the bases.

Feel the spray . . .of ice chips flying off Alex Ovechkin’s skates at a practice of the Washington Capitals. The NHL team runs drills and scrimmages at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. Practices—free and open to the public—are held at 10 am on game days, 11 on mornings following games, and 10:30 otherwise. 627 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington; 703-243-8855.

Spike a volleyball . . . or just watch a game at one of the six outdoor courts bordering the Potomac River between the Lincoln Memorial and the Kennedy Center. The courts were designed by former Energy Department analyst Roger Morris in the late 1970s as a way for burned-out bureaucrats to unwind. The pickup play is normally fours and doubles, and the high-profile setting often attracts an eclectic group of fit international players, making for some great people-watching.

Tee off . . . on the second floor of the two-tiered driving range at the East Potomac Golf Course at Hains Point. Considered one of the nation’s top driving ranges, the top-floor stalls give you views of the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and Reagan National Airport while you practice your swing. 972 Ohio Dr., SW; 202-554-7660.


Find a haven of tranquility . . . at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, the capital’s version of Calvary. Built in 1899 to be a stateside Holy Land with replicas of shrines around the world, the monastery is surrounded by a pretty garden, a Rosary Portico, and 15 miniature outdoor chapels that chronicle the lives of Jesus and Mary in mosaic. Join a guided tour for a peek at the Roman catacombs tucked beneath the monastery, or walk the quiet 44-acre grounds at your leisure. 1400 Quincy St. NE; 202-526-6800.

Stir your soul . . . by listening to the dynamic preaching of Reverend H. Beecher Hicks Jr., senior minister at the 6,000-member Metropolitan Baptist Church, which holds worship at 1400 First Street, Northwest, but is building a $50-million church in Largo. Hicks was named one of the country’s 15 greatest black preachers by Ebonyin 1993.

Explore the Koran . . .at the Islamic Center on Embassy Row. The mosque’s palatial exterior only hints at the grandeur inside. Tiles from Turkey adorn the walls, Persian rugs cover the floor, and a massive bronze chandelier from Egypt is the room’s centerpiece. The center is open to the public daily 10 to 5. Women are required to wear a head covering. 2551 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-332-8343.

Get naked . . . and get hot—really hot!—at a sizzling sauna party at the Finnish Embassy. The sweaty soirees are by invitation only, but if you’re lucky enough to get the nod from a member of the official “Diplomatic Finnish Sauna Society of DC”—guests tend to be from the media and PR worlds—you’ll enjoy one of Washington’s most unusual evenings: cocktails, dinner, and then hot times in the embassy’s authentic 190-degree Finnish sauna—first the ladies, then the men.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 03/22/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles