5 Fun Agendas for a Day Out in Penn Quarter

Planning a date night? Hosting out-of-towners? Here are ideas for a lively afternoon or evening.

By: Kathleen Bridges

Lucky Strike Lanes is a good place to bring a date. Photograph by Erik Uecke

Best of Penn Quarter

Girls’ Day
Head to the W Hotel’s Bliss Spa (515 15th St., NW; 877-862-5477) for a hot-cream manicure ($25) or a classic pedicure ($55). Then wrap those freshly polished fingers around a mimosa at Poste (Hotel Monaco, 555 Eighth St., NW; 202-783-6060), where the leisurely brunch includes chocolate-ganache doughnuts and a croque madame. Afterward, browse through European lingerie at Coup de Foudre (1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-393-0878), handcrafted jewelry at Mia Gemma (933 F St., NW; 202-393-4367), and quirky holiday gifts at the museum shop of the Reynolds Center (Eighth and F sts., NW; 202-633-5450), which includes the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum. End the afternoon at Co Co. Sala (929 F St., NW; 202-347-4265), whose weekday happy hour from 4 to 7 features a Prosecco-and-chocolate pairing ($9) and sweet and savory nibbles ($6 to $10).

Weekend Guests
Hosting out-of-towners gives you a chance to play tourist. At the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 888-639-7386; $21.95, ages 7 to 18 $12.95), you can browse Pulitzer-winning photos and report a breaking story in a fake newsroom. Then move downstairs to the Wolfgang Puck restaurant the Source (575 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-637-6100) for an afternoon aperitif—from 4 to 6, you can share three small plates from its Japanese-style izakaya menu for $20.11. Save room for dinner at the cozy Zola (800 F St., NW; 202-654-0999), where you’ll find seasonally inspired fare and floor-to-ceiling views of the neighborhood. Afterward, take your guests to the rooftop bar P.O.V. at the W Hotel (515 15th St., NW; 202-661-2400). The views of the White House and monuments take the sting out of the pricey craft-cocktail menu.

Day Out With the Kids
Curious children will love the International Spy Museum (800 F St., NW; 202-393-7798; $18, ages 5 to 11 $15). The “School for Spies” exhibit showcases 50 years of gadgets such as invisible ink and buttonhole cameras. For lunch, head to Hill Country (410 Seventh St., NW; 202-556-2050), where kids will get a kick out of the over-the-top Texas decor and offerings such as Longhorn Cheddar Mac & Cheese and where Mom and Dad might enjoy the slow-roasted beef brisket. Across the street, Pitango Gelato (413 Seventh St., NW; 202-885-9607) appeals to big- and little-people tastes—scoop up something chocolaty for the kids and a Caffe Espresso gelato for grownups.

Date Night
Start with a stroll through the Georgia O’Keeffes and Mary Cassatts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Eighth and F sts., NW; 202-633-1000), which stays open nightly until 7. Then trade your stilettos for bowling shoes at Lucky Strike Lanes (701 Seventh St., NW; 202-347-1021) for some flirty competition. The menu includes mini-burgers, salads, and a full bar. Up for more? The ten-seat Columbia Room (1021 Seventh St., NW; 202-393-0220)—tucked in the back of another bar, the Passenger—is a fun experience. Mixologist Derek Brown is serving some of the area’s best cocktails in his creative, three-course drink menu (two drinks are set, one custom-designed, for $64). Call ahead for a reservation.

Guys’ Night Out
It doesn’t have to mean bar food and ballgames. Take things up a notch with dinner at the gastropub Againn (1099 New York Ave., NW; 202-639-9830), where you’ll find such dishes as house-made kielbasa or pork belly with grits as well as a menu of single-malt Scotch and whiskey. Then head to the classy cabaret Sax (734 11th St., NW; 202-737-0101), where burlesque dancers, mimes, and other artists perform on a glass-enclosed stage. Later, grab a nightcap in one of the neighborhood’s many bars—maybe with a hard-to-find draft beer at RFD (810 Seventh St., NW; 202-289-2030) or a cigar in the overstuffed chairs at Shelly’s Back Room (1331 F St., NW; 202-737-3003).

This article appears in the December 2011 issue of The Washingtonian. 

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter