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Find the best views at these rooftop bars, parks, and bridges. By Elissa Miolene
Photo by redswept /

Jack Rose
2007 18th St. NW
From 4 to 7:30 PM, watch the fireworks at Jack Rose while enjoying a $4 can of Flying Dog, a complimentary coozie, and a great rooftop view. Also on deck: a BBQ style cook-off on a wood-burning pit grill, and half-price bites. No cover.

Cardozo High School
1200 Clifton St., NW
Get a great view of the show while avoiding the congestion of the Mall. Only two miles away from the action, this school in Columbia Heights is situated at a high elevation point that makes for easy viewing.

Avery’s Bar & Lounge
1370 H St., NE
From 3 to 9 PM, Avery’s hosts a day party on the roof of their H Street venue. Tickets are on sale for $5 before the event and $10 general admission at the door, but you might want to get there early to avoid a potential price increase. At Avery's, you'll hear DJ Hamp the Stampede perform while getting your fill on a $7 Ciroc special. At 10 PM, DJ Dopestar kicks off the night party.

1905 Restaurant
1905 9th St NW
1905 will be hosting their annual rooftop BBQ from 3 to 10 PM. Partnering with Atlas Brew Works, the event features an assortment of draft and canned beers for $5 all day. $20 tickets are first come, first serve; entry gets you three tickets that can be exchanged for beer and food.

Flight Wine Bar
777 6th St NW
Flight Wine Bar offers food, drinks, and a rooftop view. For $95 per person, you’ll gain access to a food buffet with a Southern twang, including dishes like fried chicken, mac and cheese, and BBQ bacon burgers. Beer, soda, and wine will also be provided.

Anacostia Park
1900 Anacostia Dr., SE
Just south of the Anacostia River, this park is a great place to settle down and watch the show. With 1200-acres stretching across the river, you’ll be sure to find a spot a little removed from the crowds.

DNV Rooftop
1155 14th St NW
DNV Rooftop starts their celebration a little early with happy hour at 3 PM on July 3. On Saturday, the roof will be open from 5 PM to 1 AM.

Rock and Roll Hotel
1353 H St., NE
Sync performs on the rooftop of the Rock and Roll Hotel on July 4, and tickets are free. Doors open at 3 PM, and the show starts at 5 PM.

Francis Scott Key Bridge
Nothing beats watching fireworks in the sky, with a view of the water at the same time. The Francis Scott Key Bridge is a great place to do both--just make sure to get there early, because it might get packed.

H Street Country Club
1335 H St., NE
H Street Country Club starts the weekend with a special brunch on Friday from 11 AM to 3 PM, offering bottomless mimosas for $12. On Saturday, watch the fireworks while drinking “Liber-tea” cocktails from 3 to 7 PM. No cover.

901 U St. NW
Prove your patriotism at Brixton’s hot dog eating contest, which takes place on the roof at 4 PM. Drink specials, beer promotions, and music by DJ Eskimo follows. No cover.

The Satellite Room
2047 9th St., NW
From 2 to 6 PM, the Satellite Room hosts Pie Fest, where guests pay $15 in advance, $20 at the door, for unlimited pie. That includes not only dessert pie, but also pizza pies. (Drink specials are not included in the basic cover fee.)

Know other spots to watch the fireworks? Send information to Elissa at

Posted at 10:10 AM/ET, 06/29/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Your ultimate guide to events, dining, and shopping this Memorial Day weekend.
Photograph by Huguette Roe /

Posted at 11:51 AM/ET, 05/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Tours, treats, festivals, and more. By Angie Hilsman
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock

Cruise the Potomac

Spirit of Washington

Moms receive a complimentary flower and mimosa during this two-hour brunch on Mother's Day. View Old Town Alexandria, the Jones Point Lighthouse, and other points of interest as you cruise along the Potomac. Mother's Day specials run all day and start at $59.90. 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, 3 to 5 PM, 7:30 to 10 PM.

Distinguish Wine Aromas


Treat mom to a wine tasting and learn how to distinguish wine aromas. Try six different wines and artisanal cheeses, and take advantage of discounts on the drinks you enjoyed most! $40; registration required; 4 to 5 PM.

Drink 19th-Century Teas

Tudor Place Historic House and Garden

Enjoy a Mother's Day Tea before touring one of America’s first National Historic Landmarks. The Tudor Place mansion, completed in 1816, contains 200-year-old silhouettes for your viewing. Later, have a local artist cut and frame a silhouette of you and yours. $40; 10 AM to noon, 2:30 to 4:30 PM.

Hang Out with Martha Washington

Mount Vernon

Catch a Martha Washington impersonator on the piazza, handing out lavender sachets to modern-day moms. Follow up with a garden and landscape tour at 11 AM, or roam the Mount Vernon estate. $17; 8 AM to 5 PM.

Shop at an Arts Festival

Bethesda Fine Arts Festival

Support local artists at this festival on Mother's Day weekend. Shop locally produced clothing, furniture, photography, and more, or rock out to live entertainment. Pizza, sausage sandwiches, and ice cream will be available. Free; 10 AM to 5 PM.

Sip and Paint

Derrick's Paintbrush

Have fun with mom while painting a 16 by 20 canvas under the instruction of a local artist. Refreshments and art supplies included. $35; 4 to 7 PM; registration required.

Smell the Azaleas

National Arboretum

Tour thousands of blooming azaleas while curator of the azalea collections Barbara Bullock lectures on the origins, culture, and research history of this shrub. Get advice about growing your own azaleas, and check out the progress of the Glenn Dale Hillside Renewal Project, a renovation designed for increased azalea blooms. $12; 1 to 3 PM; registration required.

Spa Day for Two

Qi Spa

Take advantage of this spa's "Mother and Daughter Bonding Ritual" special, and book a two-hour treatment for you and mom! Receive a 50-minute Parisian facial, a lavender oil massage, and complimentary spa tea or wine. $380; book online.

Start a Cook's Garden

Conservatory Garden Court

Stop by the U.S. Botanic Gardens and start a cook's garden for--or with--mom. Then try a few new recipes using your new plants. If cooking isn't your mom's thing, join the rose garden tour at the National Garden Lawn Terrace at 11 AM. Both events are free. 2 to 4 PM.

Tour an 19th-Century Apothecary

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

View the Apothecary Museum's collection of herbal botanicals, medical equipment, journals, and more, alongside displayed invoices from prominent customers, including Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee. Free for moms; $5; 1 to 5 PM.

Posted at 11:10 AM/ET, 04/29/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Decadent brunch recipes, fun activities to do with Mom, stylish gift ideas, and more!
Image via Shutterstock.

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Posted at 11:21 AM/ET, 04/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Celebrate Mother Earth all week long. By Emma Foehringer Merchant
Thundercat will perform at the Broccoli City Festival along with Erykah Badu and Willow Smith. Photo courtesy the Windish Agency.

With 4/20 behind them, hippies in Washington can now start celebrating their second favorite holiday: Earth Day. Here are the most fun—and informative—ways to celebrate Mother Earth this week.


Learn some climate science: NASA will present an exhibition at Union Station featuring their supercomputer hyperwall—128 computers that can display, analyze, and share data as a whole or on individual screens. Visitors can also view a model of the water cycle and calculate their carbon footprint. Also shown on Wednesday. 10 AM to 5 PM.


See some animals: Nothing beats spending time in the great outdoors on Earth Day. On Wednesday, the Zoo's Sustainability Committee leads two tours of the American Trail's green elements. Tours leave from the National Zoo Carousel at 11 AM and 1 PM.


Toast to some trees: The annual Canopy Awards party at Union Market Dock 5 rings in Arbor Day by admiring the city's urban forest and those working to increase our tree cover. Local folky band the Sweater Set will jam out on electric instruments like the glockenspiel along with the Lawsuits and Joy Classic. Though the event may sound casual, there's no tie dye allowed here; host organization Casey Trees recommends business casual. This is DC after all, people. $50 online, $60 at the door, 6:30 to 10 PM.


Do some gardening, eat some pizza: Join Dreaming Out Loud at Aya Community Garden to plant and tidy the space for growing season. The garden supports Aya Community Markets, which provide fresh produce to communities in need. Plus, &pizza will provide sustenance for volunteers. Meet at the Blind Whino in your best gardening gear. 3 PM to 6 PM.

Buy some plants: Friends of the National Arboretum hold their annual Garden Fair and Plant Sale at the arboretum on Friday and Saturday. The sale includes rare plants as well as standard options—a plant to suit every green thumb. Food trucks Dirty South Deli and DC Taco Truck will also be there. Friday from 10 AM to 1 PM for members, 1 PM to 4 PM for all; Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM.


Listen to some music and eat some vegetables: In its third year, the Broccoli City Festival at the Gateway DC Pavilion lauds sustainable living and live music. Whip your hair back and forth with Willow Smith, or sway along to the beat of the always-amazing and longtime vegan Erykah Badu, who goes by DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown when she's behind the turntables and will be headlining with Thundercat. Noon to 9 PM, $45.

Posted at 02:10 PM/ET, 04/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
$2 drinks, hot jazz tunes, "frozen" karaoke, and more. By Emily Codik

Snow day got you down? Don't fret. There are still a bunch of cool things to do around town, and let's be serious: Anything beats watching the dud that is Season 3 of House of Cards. Here's what's going on -- as well as what's canceled or rescheduled--around town.

What's still going on

Hot Club of Cowtown: Flinty

Hot Club of Cowtown at Hill Country BBQ Market

Nothing can stop this hot jazz band from Austin, Texas -- not even a winter storm. 9 PM, $18 to $22.

Pat Green at 9:30 Club

The Grammy-nominated performer will be crooning his country songs as of 10 PM tonight. $35.

Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-a-Whirl Band at the Hamilton

Vaughan, considered one of the most respected guitartists of pop music, will be rocking out with Jonny Grave. 7:30 PM, $30 to $40.

Comedy Night at the Topaz Hotel Bar

Laugh away the cold at this live standup comedy show, featuring ten local standup comics and a $25 cash prize for the best joke. 8 PM, free.

Grounded and Godspell at the Olney Theatre Center

The shows will go on at 7:45 and 8 PM, respectively. Tickets start at $38.

Kid Victory at Signature Theatre

Tickets for tonight are still available for this collaboration between Greg Pierce and John Kander, the famed composer behind Cabaret and Chicago. 8 PM, $29 to $80.

Beat the Clock Happy Hour at Nellie's Sports Bar

Kick the weekend off a little early with $2 drinks, starting at 5 PM.

"Frozen" Karaoke at Sticky Rice DC

Order a couple of sake bombs and grab the mic at this sushi bar in Northeast. 10 PM.

What's canceled/rescheduled

Exhibits and events at the Phillips Collection, including tonight's After 5 gallery talk and tasting

Brew Tours by DC Brew Tours

This afternoon's Cottage Conversation with Brian Jordan and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux at President Lincoln's Cottage has been rescheduled to March 26.

National Geographic Live’s Deep in the Okavango. Ticket holders should call 202-857-7700 tomorrow for a refund.

Tonight's performance of King Hedley II at the Arena Stage in Southwest has been rescheduled for Sunday at 2 PM. Ticket holders should call 202-488-3300.

DC9's show with Desert Noises, Paperhaus, and Linear Downfall

Signature Theatre's community event Inside Signature with Jake Winn

The craft beer tasting event at Paul's Wine & Spirits

Most Smithsonian museums (though the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History are open), Smith Center, Art League, and Artisphere, as well as Cutting-Edge Spanish Crafts at the former residence of the Ambassadors of Spain.

Know anything else that's canceled/still happening? Send information to

Posted at 02:37 PM/ET, 03/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Celebrate being single—or drown your sorrows—with these events around town. By Tanya Pai
Unlucky in love? Cheer up your Valentine's Day at one of these parties. Image via Shutterstock.

It makes sense Valentine’s Day falls in one of the chilliest months of the year: For those of us who once again find ourselves alone on February 14, it can feel like we’re quite literally being left out in the cold. But don’t let a Hallmark holiday get you down—plenty of bars and restaurants around town are embracing their cynical sides and offering up specials to make your night more fun (or at least help you numb the pain). Specials are offered Saturday, February 14, unless otherwise indicated.

Drown your sorrows with $15 cocktails at the Gibson, which offers live blues music by the Johnny Grave Trio on Thursday at 8. Tickets are $5 in advance or $10 at the door.

This Thursday, the W Washington DC renames itself the Heartbreak Hotel, inviting the anti-Valentine’s crowd for a show by local acts Furniteur, Pleasure Curses, and Outputmessage and $10 specialty cocktails beginning at 7:30. There’s no cover, but guests are asked to RSVP online.

Napoleon Bistro in Adams Morgan appeals to the old souls with a Love Hurts party on Friday starting at 6. Specialty cocktails such as the Smoother Operator (gin, ginger syrup, and Champagne) are on the menu, and old-school vinyl is on the soundtrack with odes to broken hearts by Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, and more. The bar will also screen a classic movie. Tickets are $10 online.

Takoma Park’s Republic offers live music during dinner and the chance to get out some unlucky-in-love frustration afterward with a performance by punk band Booze Riot. Bar manager Brett Robison mixes up themed cocktails such as one named for the evening’s headliner with rye, Amaro Averna, and sherry, and beer-and-shot combos are available for $5.

Carmine’s in Penn Quarter offers two packages geared toward the sadly single. First up is the “My Heart Will Not Go On,” featuring a bottle of Prosecco and the restaurant’s mammoth Titanic sundae ($65 for a group of six). Then there’s the breathmint-necessitating Girls Gone Garlic, which adds a meal of salad and pasta to the above ($125 for a group of six or more).

Think love is awful? Bar Pilar feels your pain, and is serving up a special offal menu to prove it. Try exotic dishes such as smoked head cheese with lemongrass-barbecue glaze and fried chicken skins or rabbit offal with whipped potatoes and mushroom-mustard sauce, paired with depressingly named yet delicious-sounding drinks such as the No One Will Ever Love You, with rye, prickly pear, Cocchi Americano, and lemon.

Anti-Valentine’s Day at the Daily Dish begins with an Unhappy Hour from 4:30 to 6:30, offering thematically appropriate drinks such as Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch and Snake Dog beer for $4 and a Suffering Bastard cocktail for $5. From 5:30 to 9:30 you can order off a special menu that includes dishes such as a Consciously Uncoupled vegan lentil patty topped with beef short rib, or the Lipstick on a Pig, with pork belly, charred beets, and blood orange gastrique.

For the second year, Town Tavern hosts a Cupid Is Stupid party starting at 8. RSVP for $10 online and get an open bar until 10, plus $3 domestic bottled beer, $4 rail drinks, and $5 Bacardi shooters until midnight.

Feeling a bit more hopeful about your romantic prospects? Head to Washingtonian’s Singles Soiree at Penn Social, featuring games, live music, drink specials, and the Singled Out DC gameshow. Tickets are $10 online or $15 at the door.

Posted at 03:33 PM/ET, 02/11/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Consider these bars your home away from home come Sunday. By Tanya Pai
Capitol Lounge is stocking up on kegs for Sunday. Image via Shutterstock.

As you may have heard, there is a football game on this Sunday. There are plenty of ways to enjoy it—at home, under a cozy blanket of pizza and wings; at a restaurant, trying to look sophisticated while stuffing your face with wild-boar chili or chips and guac; or at a friend's house, where you pretend to be a paragon of virtue by bringing something healthy. But some of you just want to watch the Super Bowl the way nature intended: surrounded by lightly sweaty, jersey-clad superfans who only let up on yelling at the TV to down a beer and order another. If you are one of those people, thanks for making America great—here's where you will find your own kind this Sunday.

Patriots Fans

Kelly’s Irish Times

The DC Area Patriots Fan Club is headquartering at this bar, which is offering a buffet of free food until halftime, so park yourself at a good table and be prepared to defend your territory with a butter knife if necessary. Other specials: $5 Sam Adams, $4 Miller Lite, and discounted shots—$3 for (sigh) Fireball and $5 for Jameson—every time the team scores a touchdown.

Capitol Lounge
In honor of the NFL Scandal That Will Not Be Named (At Least Not Here), this Pennsylvania Avenue bar will be “deflating” kegs on Sunday, offering free Sam Adams, Cold Snap, and Bud Light pints with the purchase of clam chowder between 5:30 and kickoff.

Murphy’s of Alexandria

The upstairs opens at 3:30, but the downstairs dining room is serving brunch as usual—head there early to chow down, and head up before things get crazy packed. All Sam Adams brews will be $4.

Seahawks Fans

Acre 121

The Columbia Heights eatery kicks things off at 3 PM with specials on Portland’s Widmer beer ($5 a bottle, $20 buckets), plus bottomless Blue Paddle Pilsner for $25. There’s also a special tailgating menu, packs of blue and green Skittles, Seahawks beads, and a pre-game raffle with prizes like Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman jerseys.

Penn Quarter Sports Tavern

The bar expects a “huge” turnout, so leave yourself even more time than you think you need. And don’t expect any frilly food specials—here, it’s strictly about boozing, with $12 Miller Lite pitchers, $15 Blue Moon pitchers, a bucket of any six beers for the price of 5, and $4 Miller Lite aluminum bottles. Make sure to eat beforehand—no matter who wins the game, everyone loses when there's a puker on the loose.

Posted at 03:38 PM/ET, 01/30/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to eat and drink your way through Obama’s sixth address. By John Scarpinato
Osteria Morini is one of several spots offering State of the Union specials tonight. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Each year around this time, we are reminded that we live in a place where presidential speeches are cause for drink specials and social gatherings. On the upside, that nerdiness means bars and restaurants are offering games, discounts, and creative commentary to coincide with President Obama’s State of the Union address. The speech is scheduled to begin at 9, but you don’t have to wait until then to start drinking. Grab your friends and a bar stool and take advantage of these specials. Know of another great watch party happening? Leave details in the comments or e-mail

Busboys and Poets

Multiple locations

Watch parties are planned for each location, including a gathering at the Brookland branch with CODEPINK creative director Tighe Barry and Busboys owner Andy Shallal. Activities include SOTU bingo and Stephen Colbert-style “right wing” commentary.

Capitol Lounge

229 Pennsylvania Avenue; 202-547-2098

Generation Opportunity hosts a free watch party event at this Capitol Hill hot spot. Space is limited, but you can add your name to the list here. Twenty-five cent wings will be offered post-speech for those arriving later.

Local 16

1602 U St., NW; 202-265-2828

A watch party hosted by Network for Progress is scheduled to take over this U Street spot. Find $5 drink and appetizer specials, raffle prizes, and free pizza for the early birds, starting at 7. A $10 donation is suggested at the door for those who don’t RSVP by 5 PM.

Lou’s City Bar

1400 Irving Street, NW; 202-518-5687

Lou’s dusts off the bingo cards for another year of State of the Union fun. The speech will play on televisions throughout the bar, and bingo participants will have the chance to win a $25 gift certificate.

Osteria Morini

301 Water St., SE; 202-484-0660

Grab an early seat at the bar and enjoy discounted drinks before the speech. Specials run from 4 to 7, enough time to get settled before the TVs tune in to Obama’s address at 9.


707 G St., NW; 202-347-8683

This Chinatown spot will play the President’s address with full sound. Arrive early for happy hour specials complete with discounted appetizers, drafts, and select wines from 4 to 7.

Shaw’s Tavern

520 Florida Ave., NW; 202-518-4092

Watch the State of the Union here while enjoying half-price burgers and pizza as well as $5 house wines and $5 Sam Adams.

Star & Shamrock

1341 H St., NE; 202-388-3833

The State of the Union will be shown on all the bar’s TVs tonight. Ask the bartender for instructions on a special drinking game to be played throughout the speech.

Union Pub

201 Massachusetts Ave., NE; 202-546-7200

Join the crowd at Union Pub for $4 bourbons, $12 Bud Light pitchers, and $5 craft cans while the President’s address plays on the bar’s TVs.

Ventnor Sports Cafe

2411 18th St., NW; 202-234-3070

This is Ventnor’s tenth annual State of the Union celebration, and all the usual rules apply. Pick a word or phrase you think the President is likely to repeat, and get $1 Jell-O shots whenever he uses it.

Posted at 02:59 PM/ET, 01/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
These games are livening up dinner parties and family get-togethers. Here are ten favorites—including some by local inventors. By Michael Gaynor
David Gardner (seated at left) owns 676 games and likes to play some with coworkers at the Motley Fool, the financial-advice firm he cofounded. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Forget Park Place and Baltic Avenue. A new generation of board games has energized the tired pastime, with smart concepts and strategies far more entertaining than just passing “Go” and collecting $200.

Called designer or Euro games, they had their cultural breakthrough with the ubiquitous Settlers of Catan, which has stayed atop the charts of bestselling board games in the US for nine years, according to the industry publication ICv2. The hobby game market—which includes dice and card games, among others—has nearly doubled since 2008.

The new audience includes adults who break out a game at the end of a dinner party as well as regulars at such places as the Board Room, a board-game bar in Dupont Circle, and Board and Brew, a game-centric cafe in College Park. David Gardner, a cofounder of the Alexandria investment firm the Motley Fool, says the mechanics of designer games reinforce strategy and decision-making instead of pure luck dependent on a dice roll. He’s built a collection of 676 games and organizes game nights with coworkers at the office.

At Labyrinth, a four-year-old game shop on Capitol Hill, owner Kathleen Donahue saw the phenomenon take off. She thinks gateway games like Settlers of Catan showed iPhone obsessives the value in the type of face-to-face interaction inherent in board games. There was also an economic component: “I went to the movies the other day, and it cost me $50 with tickets and popcorn and everything else. But you can get a board game you can play the rest of your life for $50.”

Donahue says one thing that makes new games different from the traditional variety is that they’re often crafted by a singular designer with a personal flair. That person’s name usually appears prominently on the box, much like an author’s on a book. Enthusiasts follow their favorite designers, eager to play their next creation.

Dominic Crapuchettes is one of those designers. The founder of North Star Games in Kensington, he has created several award-winning party and strategy games. “One of the big problems with Monopoly or Risk is that you don’t know how long the game is going to last,” Crapuchettes says. “Is the game gonna be an hour-and-a-half or a six-hour game?” Designer games usually have a built-in time limit that makes a game night among friends easier to manage. They also rarely eliminate players: “You could get knocked out of Monopoly in 40 minutes and then just have to sit there.”

With thousands of designer games out there—many with sequels or multiple versions—where should you start? Here are Gardner’s, Crapuchettes’s, and Donahue’s favorites.

Best for Beginners

The new games aren’t as simple as what you’re probably used to, so it helps to start with a more straightforward one. By unanimous vote, Donahue, Gardner, and Crapuchettes all pick Ticket to Ride, in which two to five players compete to build railroads across a map of North America. It’s easy to learn and fast to play—one round shouldn’t last longer than an hour. “It’s really simple, but there’s still a depth of strategy there, and that’s what makes it a designer game,” says Donahue.

Best for a Dinner Party

For a big social gathering, you’ll want an uncomplicated game that can accommodate a lot of players. Donahue recommends Concept, a new game nominated for the 2014 Spiel des Jahres (German for Game of the Year), what she calls the “Oscars of board games.” It’s a charades-like pastime in which players try to guess a word or phrase based on icons and pictures. An unlimited number of players can join—Donahue has hosted standing-room-only rounds at her store.

Gardner’s dinner-party pick is Wits & Wagers, a raucous trivia game in which you bet on other players’ guesses. Crapuchettes, who designed it as a student in College Park, says it rewards good judgment instead of fact memorization. He has emceed sessions for companies that believe the game fosters team-building skills.

Best for Family Game Night

For kids obsessed with video games, Donahue says a good transition to board games is Forbidden Island.

It’s a tactile, role-oriented game in which participants work together to salvage treasures from a sinking island. That cooperative element—you compete with the game instead of one another—means parents can play alongside their kids rather than against them.

Crapuchettes thinks the mark of a great family game is that it’s something parents can lose at, so he recommends Spot It!, a pattern-recognition game in which players search for symbols on a deck of cards—which Crapuchettes says kids are often better at than parents. Yet it keeps adults engaged in a way that some classic kids’ games can’t.

“In Candy Land, there’s no such thing as trying your hardest. You just flip over a card and that’s it—it’s kind of boring,” he says. “But in Spot It!, a parent can try as hard as they can and still not win.”

Best for Washingtonians

For wonks who can’t get enough politics, Donahue suggests Founding Fathers, in which players assume the roles of those American legends to essentially redraft the Constitution, grappling between federalists and anti-federalists, big states and small. “It’s absolutely the best DC game ever created,” she says.

Gardner’s all-time favorite is also his pick for locals: Twilight Struggle. Made by Ananda Gupta and Washington designer Jason Matthews, the game has two players face off as either the United States or the Soviet Union to replay the major events of the Cold War and change history. “A lot of people in this city love feeling like the President, and that’s the role you play in this game,” says Gardner.

Twilight Struggle is complex. For a lighter Washington game, Gardner suggests Campaign Manager 2008. Created by Matthews with Christian Leonhard, this game has Obama and McCain teams compete for electoral votes—proving, says Gardner, “that you can make a board game out of anything.”

Best for Expert Gamers

Some designers pride themselves on a game’s complexity. If you’re looking for an expert-level board game, Donahue points to Dominant Species, in which players guide their species from 90,000 bc to the Ice Age, struggling for supremacy and literally building Earth in the process. The game, which can last more than four hours, comes with a 20-page rule book and 500-plus pieces. “It’s incredibly complicated, but awesome,” says Donahue.

Photograph courtesy of Gateplay.

Gardner’s expert-level pick is another hefty game: Agricola, which has players managing a farm and all the decisions that come with it. Hundreds of cards present participants with a vast number of options on each turn. “It’s a brain-burner because you’re sitting there trying to manage five different dynamics of your farm,” says Gardner. “It’s just infinite, the way this game replays from one round to the next.”

This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Washingtonian. Find Michael Gaynor on Twitter at @michael_gaynor.

Posted at 10:50 AM/ET, 12/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()