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While it may not seem like it, spring is around the corner. Relax now with these exclusive weekend deals. By Alice Shapin
Abaco Beach Resort in the Bahamas is offering readers exclusive savings through May. Photos courtesy of the resort.

You Go, Girl

Where: Hotel Rouge; 1315 16th St., NW; 202-232-8000.

What’s special: Looking for an in-town escape? This boutique hotel features a bold decor—red velvet curtains, white leather chairs—plus complimentary perks including a daily wine hour from 5 to 6, morning coffee and tea, and cold pizza and Bloody Marys in the living room on weekends from 11 to noon. Sign up ahead of time for the free Kimpton Karma Rewards program to get complimentary wi-fi.

The deal: The Monumental Girls’ Getaway Package includes a bunk-bed room (some can accommodate up to six guests at no extra charge) or upgraded guest room, a bottle of wine or bubbly ($15 value), a selection of fashion and gossip magazines ($15 value), and a fruit-and-cheese platter ($15 value). Washingtonian readers also receive free parking for one vehicle per night ($43 value) when they mention the magazine at check-in. Prices start at $159. To book, use the rate code GIRLS here or call 202-232-8000.

When: Valid through March 31, 2015.

Embassy Row Redo

Where: The Embassy Row Hotel; 2015 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-265-1600.

What’s special: Overlooking Embassy Row and Dupont Circle, this hotel just underwent a $15-million renovation. The complete revamp included guest rooms, the fitness center, the lobby, the coffee shop with 24-hour grab ’n’ go, and the on-site restaurant, Station Kitchen & Cocktails.

The deal: The exclusive Weekender package includes accommodations, valet parking for one night ($45 value), a $30 food-and-beverage credit for Station Kitchen & Cocktails, and late checkout at 2. Prices start at $179. To get this deal, use the promo code WASHDC.

When: Valid through March 31, 2015.

Happy Birthday in New York

Where: The Jade Hotel, 52 W. 13th St., New York, N.Y.; 212-375-1300.

What’s special: The two-year-old boutique hotel with an Art Deco look offers a fitness center, free wi-fi, and complimentary cake truffles at turndown from the local bakery Bee’s Knees. In the heart of Greenwich Village, the Jade is close to shops, restaurants, and the subway.

The deal: To celebrate the hotel’s second birthday, guests receive 20 percent off the best available rate. Washingtonian readers also get a free bottle of Prosecco. Prices start at $220. Book here; to get this deal, note “Washingtonian” under the “company” section in addition to using the promo code TWOTWENTY. Or call 212-375-1300 and mention Washingtonian.

When: Valid through March 31, 2015.

Island Play

Where: Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, 2 Grasslawn Ave., Hilton Head, S.C.; 843-681-4000.

What’s special: This beachfront resort has just undergone a $30-million renovation. Guests can enjoy sandy beaches, biking, three outdoor pools, tennis, a fitness center, and three 18-hole golf courses at the adjacent Port Royal Golf club. In addition, there are six restaurants and the Heavenly Spa by Westin.

The deal: The Spring Stay-and-Play package includes a round of golf at any of the island’s seven Heritage Golf Collection courses, located at Port Royal Golf Club, Shipyard Golf Club, Palmetto Hall Plantation Club, and Oyster Reef Golf Club. The deal also includes complimentary range balls prior to rounds and discounts on clubhouse dining and golf-shop purchases, with savings of up to 50 percent. Readers also get logo golf towels for each person, a $40 value. Prices start at $150 per person per night based on double occupancy. To book this package, call Vanessa Castaneda at 843-681-1706. Use the promo code Washingtonian.

When: Valid through March 31, 2015.

Windy City Weekend

Where: MileNorth Chicago; 166 E. Superior St., Chicago, Ill.; 312-787-6000.

What’s special: Steps from the Magnificent Mile, this sophisticated hotel is in the heart of Chicago, an easy walk to Millennium Park and the Art Institute Chicago. Pop into the hotel’s Barista Bar to sample local beer and head to the 29th floor’s rooftop lounge, 52Eighty, to enjoy skyline views and sunsets, craft cocktails, and small plates. Two blocks from the hotel is Water Tower Place, an upscale shopping mall with such retailers as Henri Bendel and Neiman Marcus’s Cusp.

The deal: The Magnificent Mile Shopping package includes accommodations, a $25 Water Tower Place gift card for each night, and a Water Tower Place Premier Passport, a coupon book with more than $500 in shopping savings. Readers also get two complimentary cocktails from Barista Bar, valued at $14 each. To book online, click here.

When: Valid through April 30, 2015; you must book by April 23.

Oceans of Relaxation

Where: One Ocean Resort & Spa, 1 Ocean Blvd., Atlantic Beach, Fla.; 904-249-7402.

What’s special: Situated on the white sands of the Atlantic Ocean, this resort features 193 beachfront and beach-view rooms and suites. All have “docents,” who act as private concierges for packing and unpacking luggage, steaming clothing, stocking amenity cabinets, and bringing hot beverages each morning. You can also enjoy marine-inspired treatments at the Spa and savor seasonal menus at the signature restaurant, Azurea, where every seat has a view of the ocean.

The deal: Washingtonian readers get 10 percent off the best available rate plus a fresh fruit plate upon arrival. Prices start at $180. To book, click here.

When: Valid through December 31, 2015.

Bahamas-Bound

Where: Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina Bahamas, Marsh Harbour, Bahamas; 877-533-4799.

What’s special: Located on Great Abaco, 165 miles off the coast of Florida, this property is surrounded by 40 acres of white-sand beaches and lush tropical gardens. A variety of land and water activities range from island-hopping and snorkeling to shopping and dining on the water’s edge at Angler’s Restaurant. Among the perks are free wi-fi and a kids’ camp.

The deal: The Ultimate Spring Getaway package includes four nights of oceanfront accommodations; two days of round-trip water-taxi excursions to Elbow Cay and Guana Cay; breakfast daily; dinner for three nights at Angler’s Restaurant; yoga classes; and complimentary use of non-motorized watersport equipment, the fitness center, and tennis courts. The package starts at $873 a person, a 30-percent savings on double occupancy. Readers also receive a bottle of the Signature House Wine, a $60 value. When booking by phone, mention Washingtonian; online, use the code AbacoDC .

When: Valid through May 31, 2015.

Costa Rica Retreat

Where: Villa Buena Onda, Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica; 800-414-0159.

What’s special: This luxury boutique hotel is in Guanacaste Province, 25 minutes from Liberia airport. It sits on a hill with sweeping ocean vistas and has just seven guest rooms for adults and children over age 16. A stay includes three à la carte meals a day with a menu of fresh, locally grown ingredients. Guests can relax in the two-tier, ocean-view saltwater swimming pool or enjoy cooking classes, yoga classes, or a spa treatment. The area has sailing, sport fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and zipline excursions, and it offers a varied landscape with beaches, green mountain ranges, and national parks.

The deal: The 4x3 Winter Special (stay four nights and pay for three) applies to all room categories. Rates start at $408 a night. Mention Washingtonian when booking to also receive a free bottle of wine valued at $30.

When: Valid through March 31, 2015; reserve by March 15.

Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 02/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Sick of winter? Take a day trip to Philly to cure those blues. By Sherri Dalphonse
The Philadelphia Flower Show blooms with lush displays, like this one from 2014. Photo courtesy of PHS.

Everything's coming up roses—and lilies and ferns and geraniums—at the Philadelphia Flower Show, opening this Saturday, February 28, and running through March 8.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest and oldest flower show in the country, dating back to 1829. Each winter, it fills the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in downtown Philly, with masses of blossoms and greenery, all in artful and amazing arrangements. Visitors can not only stop to smell the flowers; they can get gardening tips and buy all manner of plants, pots, tools, and botanical-related gifts.

This year’s theme is “Celebrate the Movies,” and the show will kick off with a show-stopping entrance: an art deco theater facade with 200 neon lights and a 29-foot-tall marquee of flowers. A red carpet will lead past towering palm trees, chandeliers draped in moss and jewels, a rose garden with blossoms named for legendary movie including Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe, plus more than 800 hostas, 1,500 calla lillies, and other blooms.

Inside, assorted floral presentations will take their inspiration from Disney and Pixar films, including Frozen, Maleficent, Cars, and Cinderella. There will be displays created by designers from around the world—including from Australia, South Africa, and Malaysia. A Butterfly Experience will allow visitors to get up close to the winged creatures.

Individual tickets cost $30 per adult, $20 per student, and $15 per child if purchased online ($32, $22, and $17 if bought at the box office). For tickets, and more information, click here.

Posted at 01:15 PM/ET, 02/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
With dining specials, two-for-one museum admissions, and a big craft show in Charm City, it’s a good time to head north for the day. By Sherri Dalphonse
Bryan Voltaggio's Italian restaurant Aggio is a tasty choice for Baltimore Restaurant Week. Photo courtesy of Aggio.

While Washington has its own Restaurant Week, Baltimore takes it up a notch and combines its Restaurant Week (it started Sunday, February 15, and runs through the 28th) with Hotel Week and Museum Week. Which adds up to some good deals.

The “Absolutely Febulous” promotion offers $20 and $30 three-course dinners at more than 75 restaurants, with many also offering $15 two-course lunches or brunches. Of the participating restaurants, we’d recommend the Italian menu at Cinghiale or at Bryan Voltaggio’s Aggio (where the three-course dinner is $35; four courses are $50), the bistro fare at b, and the Southern cuisine at Bluegrass Tavern.

While you’re in Charm City, you can pop into one or more of the museums offering Buy One, Get One Free (or, BOGO) admission through the 28th, including the American Visionary Art Museum, B&O Railroad Museum, and the Sports Legends Museum. Live in Maryland? Also during the two-week promotion, you can take advantage of “Maryland Mornings” at the National Aquarium, Sunday through Friday, to get $10 off admission ($5 for seniors and children) if you arrive before noon.

Also this weekend--from Friday the 20th through Sunday the 22nd--is the 39th annual American Craft Council show at the Baltimore Convention Center. More than 650 makers of contemporary jewelry, clothing, furniture, ceramics, and other crafts made in metal, wood, glass, and more will display and sell their creations. Tickets are $14 in advance, $16 at the door. Arrive after 5 p.m. on Friday and admission is $5 (the show is open until 8 p.m. that evening).

Want to stay the night? As part of the Absolutely Febulous promotion, there are hotel deals too.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 02/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The DC neighborhood was once a lone cosmopolitan outpost. Today it has competition—but there are still plenty of good reasons to visit. By Anna Spiegel
Dupont Circle proper, the traffic circle/park that defines the neighborhood, is a good people-watching spot. Photograph by Philip Scalia/Alamy.

Washington neighborhoods tend to have a singular feel—either residential or commercial, tourist-centric or governmental. In contrast, Dupont Circle is a vibrant blend of local haunts and traveler attractions, historic homes and thriving nightlife. While much remains unchanged in recent years—including the area’s status as a center of gay life and host of the Pride Parade in June—there are also enticing new restaurants and shops that keep even longtime Washingtonians coming back.

A day of exploring can start at virtually any hour thanks to one of Dupont’s landmarks, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe (1517 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-387-1400). The funky bookstore and cafe/bar is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays—early and late on other days—and serves a classic American brunch all weekend.

In warm weather, another good spot to sip coffee and people-watch is on the benches ringing the marble fountain in Dupont Circle proper, the traffic circle/park that defines the neighborhood and is home to chess matches, political rallies, and, in winter, snowball fights.

There’s much to admire—including Renoirs and Rothkos—at the Phillips Collection. Photograph by Hong Le.

After you’ve fueled up, head to the Phillips Collection (1600 21st St., NW; 202-387-2151), America’s first museum of modern art. The Phillips boasts some 3,000 works by the greats—including Renoir, Monet, and Rothko—plus exhibits ranging from Georgia O’Keeffe to local collector Anita Reiner. If emerging talents are of interest, don’t miss Hillyer Art Space (9 Hillyer Ct., NW; 202-338-0325), steps away. The contemporary commercial gallery features international artists and is a must-stop during First Fridays (firstfridaydupont.org), when Dupont’s galleries stay open late and offer the chance to chat with curators.

More into shopping than admiring? Well-dressed women like Emporium DNA (1666 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-232-1770) for contemporary designer labels, while those on a budget love Secondi (1702 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-667-1122), a bright consignment shop where Chanel and Kate Spade can be found in top condition at discount prices. Offbeat items fill Proper Topper (1350 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-842-3055), including statement hats and funky jewelry. Nearby, Tabletop (1608 20th St., NW; 202-387-7117) is a haven for homebodies, with an array of decorative pillows and coasters, bar- and kitchenware, and cookbooks.

(Left) Top off the day at Proper Topper, a gift shop whose selection goes far beyond hats; (Right) another is the Sunday farmers market, a favorite among local chefs. Photographs by Hong Le.

Dupont is a good bet for anyone looking to stock a kitchen, especially on Sundays, when the Dupont FreshFarm Market is held from 10 am to 1 pm (April through December, 9 to 2). Other shopping opportunities span the globe: from Pansaari (1603 17th St., NW; no phone), which specializes in Indian spices and prepared foods, to Glen’s Garden Market (2001 S St., NW; 202-588-5698), a source for items from the Chesapeake watershed. The latter also offers a tasty quick lunch, including sandwiches with house-roasted meats, thin-crust pizzas, and local beers. Duke’s Grocery (1513 17th St., NW; 202-733-5623)—not a store, despite the name—offers another relaxed lunch option, with cold pints and a British-inspired menu of bacon “sarnies,” or sandwiches, as well as burgers and pub plates.

After lunch, you might visit the neighborhood’s baronial gem: Anderson House (2118 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-785-2040), a magnificent Beaux Arts mansion that’s home to the Society of the Cincinnati, Washington’s oldest historical organization, founded by American Revolution officers in 1783. Visitors can take hourlong guided tours of the home or browse through the museum, which features weapons, portraits, and artifacts from the Revolutionary War. History buffs can also explore the more recent past at the Woodrow Wilson House (2340 S St., NW; 202-387-4062), a Georgian Revival mansion where the 28th president spent his final years. An hourlong tour reveals quirky personal items, including an early slow cooker and Wilson’s surprisingly large shoes.

Not-so-hidden gem: Anderson House, one of the area’s grandest mansions, is open for tours. Photograph by Mark Finkenstaedt.

Iron Gate restaurant—a recently revived version of one of Washington’s oldest, the Iron Gate Inn—makes for an atmospheric evening stop (1734 N St., NW; 202-524-5202). Guests can savor expertly crafted cocktails on the patio under century-old wisteria vines, warmed by fire pits and heat lamps in winter, or linger over Mediterranean tasting menus in the firelit dining room. Not in the mood for multiple courses? Drop by a neighborhood favorite, Hank’s Oyster Bar (1624 Q St., NW; 202-462-4265) for New England-style seafood and one of the best lobster rolls in town.

(Left) Hank’s Oyster Bar makes one of the best lobster rolls in town; (Right) have fun playing games at the Board Room. Photograph of Board Room courtesy of Elizabeth Lindsay; lobster roll by Daniel Swartz.

Come nighttime, the neighborhood offers watering holes as varied as their clientele. Fans of authentic dives can play tunes on the jukebox at the Fox & Hounds (1537 17th St., NW; 202-232-6307), which pours straight glasses of booze with a mixer alongside (go for a gin and tonic). A youthful crowd rents board games like Jenga to play at the Board Room (1737 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-518-7666), while Alex Ovechkin and fans of infused vodka flock to Mari Vanna (1141 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-783-7777), a Russian bar and restaurant modeled after a babushka’s home—it’s known for Friday-night diskoteka dance parties. The 17th Street strip, a draw for gay nightlife, is home to the spirited club Cobalt and the adjoining Level One restaurant (1639 R St., NW; 202-745-0025) plus Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse (1609 17th St., NW; 202-232-0395), which welcomes all and is open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday.

Regardless of the evening’s flavor, a nightcap at cozy McClellan’s Retreat (2031 Florida Ave., NW; 202-265-6270), modeled after a Civil War-era officers club, is a fitting farewell to the neighborhood. Union Army general George McClellan’s statue stands nearby.

Posted at 10:33 AM/ET, 02/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Saturday is going to be a great day to be outside. Head to this charming town’s Fire in Ice festival for wine tastings, ice carvings, and more cool fun. By Sherri Dalphonse
Fire-dance troupe Pyrophoric will make it a hot time to be in Frederick Saturday.

If you missed the ice-carving competition last weekend in Leesburg, you’ll find more fun with ice this Saturday, February 7, in Frederick, Maryland.

Frederick’s Fire in Ice festival, from 3 to 9 p.m., will display more than 70 ice sculptures in the historic downtown. An ice playground (complete with ice throne) will feature a few games carved out of ice, like shuffleboard or bean bag toss. Visitors can warm up with a cup of free hot chocolate and at fire stations—although the forecast is for a relatively balmy 46 degrees at 4 p.m.—or by ducking into the many shops, art galleries, and restaurants hosting special goings-on such as wine tastings, gift drawings, free cocktails, and live music. And four spots will be offering free make-your-own s’mores, including the courtyard of Bryan Voltaggio’s Volt restaurant, where you can also sample Bulleit Bourbon from an “ice luge.”

Still chilled? From 6:30 to 8 p.m., you can watch a fire-dancing performance by the local troupe Pyrophoric, outside Ananda Shala (34 S. Market Street).

Posted at 03:02 PM/ET, 02/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Neptune, T-Rex, and a giant fish battled it out. By Andrew Beaujon
Todd Dawson's "Majestic." Photograph by Bob Merhaut.

Todd Dawson of Raleigh, North Carolina, won the ice-sculpture competition at the Village at Leesburg shopping center this past weekend with "Majestic." That's Dawson's winner up top. Here are some other ice-block sculptures from Saturday. All photos are by Bob Merhaut.

Posted at 04:01 PM/ET, 02/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Whether you want a romantic, warm-weather, ski, or spa getaway, here are great exclusive discounts. By Alice Shapin
Get away to a warm-weather destination with these great travel deals. Photograph of Casa Marina courtesy of the resort.

Close-by Romance

Where: The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, 1250 S. Hayes St., Arlington; 703-415-5000

What’s special: This luxury hotel is ideal for a close-by romantic getaway. Guest rooms feature feather beds and Frette linens, and the hotel provides evening turndown service. At the fitness center, you can work out, swim, and relax in the sauna and steam facilities. The hotel is connected to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and the Metro.

The deal: The Romance Package includes accommodations, an American breakfast in bed for two or a breakfast buffet in the on-site restaurant, a bottle of Champagne upon arrival, rose-petal turndown, overnight valet parking, free wi-fi, and late checkout (based on availability). The price starts at $319, a savings of nearly $200. Mention Washingtonian when booking to also receive heart-shaped macarons filled with dark-chocolate-and-passionfruit ganache, a $16 value.

When: Valid through December 31, 2015.

Relax and Renew

Where: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor; 301-965-4000

What’s special: With a spa, fitness center, and pool, the Gaylord offers a place to escape the winter chill. Relache, the hotel’s striking black-and-white spa, offers a variety of treatments for men and women as well as a couples retreat with views of the Potomac River.

The deal: The Relache Escape Package, starting at $349, includes a room for one night, the resort fee, a $150 spa credit, one complimentary glass of Champagne per guest receiving a service at the spa (maximum of two guests), and full use of the spa facilities including steam, sauna, whirlpool, and Riverview Relaxation Lounge, for a total savings of about $90. When booking spa appointments by phone, mention the Relache Escape Package; or use the online booking code 4W8.

When: Valid through April 30, 2015, with possible blackout dates.

Pampering Along the James

Where: Kingsmill Resort, 1010 Kingsmill Rd., Williamsburg; 757-253-1703

What’s special: Guests can enjoy a variety of activities including a fitness center, indoor pool, tennis, golf, and a new spa overlooking the James River. Besides offering more than 50 treatments, the spa features wine service, a stunning deck, Swarovski-crystal-embellished wallpaper, and a healthy in-spa food menu. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day or a girlfriend getaway.

The deal: The Spa Getaway package includes accommodations in a deluxe one-bedroom suite complete with a wood-burning fireplace (which the resort will light and tend for you) and two 50-minute spa services per package—choose from Swedish Massage, Sampler Massage, Reflexology, and European Facial. The price starts at $299 per room, a savings of $120. Washingtonian readers also get two free glasses of wine during a spa treatment, a $14 value. For this deal, use the booking code WASH.

When: Valid through May 27, 2015.

Where the Rich Played

Where: The Chanler at Cliff Walk, 117 Memorial Blvd., Newport, R.I.; 401-847-1300

What’s special: Housed in a 19th-century mansion, the Chanler is the only hotel along Newport’s famous Cliff Walk, a 3½-mile walkway along the shoreline that offers beautiful views of nature and Newport’s grand old mansions. Each guest room is furnished according to a historical period (Colonial Williamsburg, Renaissance, Victorian). The rooms have such modern features as gas fireplaces, high-speed wi-fi, and bathrooms with soaking tubs and heated floor tiles. Guests are welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine at check-in. The complimentary car service will take you to see the homes Newport is famous for as well as other attractions and restaurants.

The deal: Mention Washingtonian to get 10 percent off rack rates plus a $100 food-and-beverage credit that can be used at the oceanview restaurant and bar, Spiced Pear. The discounted prices begin at $260 for a midweek stay, $305 on weekends.

When: Valid through April 30, 2015.

Hit the Mountains

Where: Stowe Mountain Lodge, 7412 Mountain Rd., Stowe, Vt.; 802-253-3560

What’s special: Stowe Mountain Lodge, built using Vermont wood and stone, is decorated in vibrant reds, deep oranges, warm yellows, and soothing greens. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby and some of the guest rooms bring the beauty of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak indoors. A huge lobby fireplace and fireplaces in some guest rooms add to a cozy atmosphere. Guests can get twice-daily housekeeping plus goose-down feather beds, pillows, and duvets. There’s a state-of-the-art fitness center, a luxe spa, and skiing. The mountain is right outside, and the ski valet keeps your boots warm and has your skis ready whenever you are.

The deal: The Stowe Winter Ski Escape includes room, breakfast, and valet parking. Prices start at $349 per room. To get this deal, mention Washingtonian when booking, or use the online booking code WASHIN.

When: Valid Sunday through Thursday through April 1, 2015.

Bask in the Sunshine State

Where: Casa Marina, 1500 Reynolds St., Key West, Fla.; 305-296-3535

What’s special: Opened in 1920, Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, is on the National Register for Historic Places and combines the ambience of old Key West with modern luxury. Located along the southern edge of the island, the property features 1,200 square feet of private beach, the largest in Key West. Guests can swim in one of two oceanfront pools, scuba-dive, snorkel, sail, kayak, take a sunset cruise, jet-ski, bike, or ride a scooter to explore the area. The resort is three miles from the airport, a short drive to both the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum and the Harry S. Truman Little White House, and minutes from historic Old Town and nightlife.

The deal: The Suite With a Veuve promotion includes suite accommodations with an ocean view and a complimentary in-suite bottle of Veuve Clicquot (valued at $115). Washingtonian readers also receive free chocolate-covered strawberries, a $30 value. Suite rates start at $449 a night, based on a two-night minimum stay, a savings of $145. To get this deal, click here.

When: Valid February 16 through March 6, 2015.

Posted at 02:56 PM/ET, 02/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Enjoy free refreshments and music as the ice shavings fly. By Sherri Dalphonse
A goalie sculpture from last year's event.

There are some advantages to it being frigid outside. Just ask an ice sculptor—there will be eight world-class ones at the Village at Leesburg shopping center this Saturday, January 31, shaping tons of ice into cool carvings.

The competitive carvers—who knew there were so many ice-carving contests?—include Angelito Baban, a chef and ice sculptor at the J.W. Marriott in DC who won the 2011 International Ice Festival in Poland; Ohio’s Greg Butauski, captain of the Team USA ice-carving squad at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City; and North Carolina’s Todd Dawson, part of the four-person team that earned second-place at the 2014 World Ice Art Championships in Alaska.

The ice-carving competition is part of the second annual Winter Ice Fest, which is free and open to the public. The carvers will start at 9 am, and the eventual sculptures will be lit up in colored lights, and a winner announced, at 5 pm. From 1 to 5, visitors can enjoy free s’mores, hot chocolate, and cider; a deejay cueing up music; and good cheer—literally—from the Red Rockers, the cheerleaders for the Washington Capitals hockey team.

There will be warming stations outside for those milling about. And you can always duck into the shops, which include Wegmans, Orvis, and Cobb Village 12 Cinemas. (If you’re trying to catch up on your movies before the Oscars, the flicks playing there include American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Selma, and Into the Woods. Have children in tow? There’s also Paddington and Strange Magic.)

Posted at 01:44 PM/ET, 01/30/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Longwood Gardens’ orchid extravaganza is back, and it’s worth a drive. By Sherri Dalphonse
Orchids in the conservatory complex at Longwood Gardens. Photograph by Larry Albee, courtesy Longwood Gardens.

You don’t have to have a green thumb to dig Longwood Gardens, one of the premiere botanical gardens in the country. This former DuPont estate in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania—a two-and-a-half-hour drive from DC—features more than 1,000 acres carpeted year-round with spectacular plantings.

Starting this Saturday, January 24, and running through Sunday, March 29, is Longwood’s annual Orchid Extravaganza, where nearly 5,000 orchids will bloom throughout the indoor, four-acre conservatory. The displays will include an oncidium “waterfall,” an “orchid meadow,” and all manner of floral arrangements to take the chill out of winter.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors ages 62 and up, and $10 for children ages 5 through 18 and for students of any age with a valid ID. Tickets are timed, and should be bought online before your visit.

If you want to make a weekend out of it, consider staying at the nearby Inn at Montchanin Village or Sweetwater Farm.

Posted at 12:39 PM/ET, 01/23/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Thanks to new upscale bars and restaurants, AdMo’s frat-party reputation is waning. Here's how we'd make a day out of this eccentric DC neighborhood. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph of Madam’s Organ by Wiskerke/Alamy.

To many locals, Adams Morgan is where college kids go to get hammered at dumpy, swill-serving bars and soak up their inebriation with a greasy jumbo slice. The reputation isn’t entirely undeserved—most Fridays and Saturdays, the sidewalks are filled with young revelers, some less upright and coherent than others.

But the arrival of new restaurants and worthwhile taverns—along with renewed interest in the shops that dot 18th Street—has given the “devil’s playground” a fresh coat of respectability. Not that it’s lost its sense of fun—the mural advertising the mainstay blues bar Madam’s Organ (2461 18th St., NW; 202-667-5370) looms as buxomly as ever.

At the same time, the neighborhood is slowly losing its character as the hub of the District’s Latino community, with rising real-estate prices and high-end condos pushing working-class residents north and shuttering hole-in-the-wall taco and pupusa joints. Former dives are being rechristened with craft cocktails, and a recent decision by DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board to lift a moratorium on liquor licenses means more drinking and dining options could arrive quickly.

Yet even so, the area isn’t as chichi as the rebuilt 14th Street, Northwest. The biggest change in Adams Morgan is that you can actually make a day of visiting while the sun’s still up or stay out late without channeling your frat-party days.

Start in the afternoon at the bottom of the hill where 18th Street connects with Florida Avenue and seek out coffee and something sweet at either Pleasant Pops (1781 Florida Ave., NW; 202-558-5224), featuring house-made popsicles in flavors like peach hibiscus and Mexican sweet cream, or the CakeRoom (2006 18th St., NW; 202-450-4462), full of indulgent baked goods.

Smash has many punk and hardcore fans. Photograph courtesy of Daisy Lacy.

Once you’re sated with sugar and caffeine, hike up 18th Street and drop into one of AdMo’s reliable record shops. Crooked Beat (2116 18th St., NW; 202-483-2328) stayed ahead of cratering music sales by going vinyl-only in 2010. The encyclopedic selection spans every genre from classic-rock rarities to new major- and minor-label releases to exotic world music, with plenty of LPs from local labels such as Dischord. A few blocks up, you’ll find Smash (2314 18th St., NW; 202-387-6274) and its library of punk and hardcore treasures.

If you’re thirsty for something visual, seek out the latest exhibit at Hierarchy (1847 Columbia Rd., NW; no phone), a former basement bar turned sleek gallery filled with contemporary installations. Or get tickets for a show at DC Arts Center (2438 18th St., NW; 202-462-7833), a black-box theater that hosts some of the city’s most daring stage productions as well as a gallery showcasing local artists.

Whiskey fans drink in the atmosphere at Bourbon, and those looking for comfort food head to the Black Squirrel for the five-cheese mac and cheese. Photograph of Bourbon by Brett Ziegler; mac and cheese by Heather Victoria.

When it’s drinking time, pick your poison and head to one of several spirit-specific bars: Scotch aficionados flock to Jack Rose Dining Saloon (2007 18th St., NW; 202-588-7388) and its floor-to-ceiling shelves of rare bottles. Bourbon (2321 18th St., NW; 202-332-0800) presents its biblical selection of American whiskeys in a heavy, copper-bound menu. Libertine (2435 18th St., NW; 202-450-3106) caters to more bohemian tastes with its perfumy lineup of absinthes and draft cocktails. The Black Squirrel (2427 18th St., NW; 202-232-1011) pairs lardy bar snacks like macaroni and cheese (made with five kinds of cheese) and poutine with a deeply sourced and frequently changing roster of bottled and draft beers.

You can pop into Pop’s SeaBar for shore-inspired fare such as peel-and-eat shrimp, and then head over to Mintwood Place, one of DC’s best restaurants, for apple pie and ice cream. Photographs by Scott Suchman.

Nineteen years after opening, Cashion’s Eat Place (1819 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-797-1819) still impresses. Cashion’s seasonal American menu makes for lively dinners and lusty weekend brunches. (We wish it would revive the late-night cheesesteak, though.) A few doors down, Mintwood Place (1813 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-234-6732) is always packed for its Francophile twists on comfort fare. Or if you’re going more casual, wade into Pop’s SeaBar (1817 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-534-3933) a Jersey Shore-inspired seafood shack—thankfully, without the tanning oil and hair spray (but you can take home your beer Koozie for a buck—or get one free by exchanging it for a Koozie you bring in).

Some of Adams Morgan’s good restaurants aren’t always easy to spot. You’d probably walk right by the subterranean Sakuramen (2441 18th St., NW; 202-656-5285) if not for the line that snakes down the sidewalk every night, full of people anticipating steaming bowls of ramen soup garnished with pork belly chashu, rib-eye bulgogi, and fresh vegetables. Across the street and tucked into the doorway of the DC Arts Center, the 14-seat counter at Donburi (2438 18th St., NW; 202-629-1047) serves terrific Japanese rice bowls topped with raw fish, braised meats, and pickled vegetables.

The menu at Roofers Union features such things as crispy pig-ear salad and house-made sausages. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Where regrettable dives once reigned, established chefs are moving in. Marjorie Meek-Bradley of Cleveland Park’s Ripple turned the former Reef into Roofers Union (2446 18th St., NW; 202-232-7663), where you can nibble on house-made veal-heart sausages or pig-ear salad while sipping a cask-fermented ale.

Not too long ago, Adams Morgan’s nighttime economy depended almost entirely on Jell-O shots and other rotgut. While the party crowd still rules weekend nights, the neighborhood is no longer a forbidden zone for anyone over age 23.

And, hey, if you do want a jumbo slice, the best one’s at Duccini’s (1778 U St., NW; 202-483-0007).

This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 12:14 PM/ET, 01/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()