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Loudoun County artists are throwing open their studio doors this weekend, making a pretty drive even more interesting By Sherri Dalphonse
Jeff Hall, whose studio is on this weekend's Artists Studio Tour, works on a statue for the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Denver. Photo courtesy of Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour.

Drive around Loudoun County, Virginia, and you'll encounter gorgeous vistas—bucolic byways past fields and farms, and history-drenched communities such as Waterford and Leesburg. More proof that these surroundings are inspiring: The county is home to dozens of artists working away in ceramic, paint, metal, and other mediums.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21, more than 60 artists in Western Loudoun County are opening their studio doors to the public. On a self-guided tour, visitors can pop into any of the studios, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., to chat with the artists, and to see and possibly buy their works.

This is the 10th anniversary of the studio tour, which is free. For more information, click here; for a brochure with a description of each artist and a map of the studios, click on "View the full 2015 WLAST booklet online."

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 06/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Baltimore festival offers hair-raising fun this weekend By Sherri Dalphonse
There are summer festivals, and then there's Baltimore's Honfest. Photo courtesy of Visit Baltimore.

Baltimore's 36th Street this weekend will be a beehive of activity--literally--during Honfest 2015.

The unorthodox street fair, which started in 1994 as a beauty pageant of sorts behind Café Hon ("hon," short for honey, is a term of endearment), has grown to fill four blocks of the quirky Hampden neighborhood and to celebrate the working women of Bawlmer. It's a charming parade of cat-eye glasses, blue eye shadow, spandex, leopard print, and bouffants—most adorned with bows or flowers.

Visitors can get their very own beehive styled in the Glamour Lounge, listen to live music on multiple stages, watch contests like the Best Hon talent show or Best Mustache Contest, and check out work by local artists.

The festival runs Saturday, June 13, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (with hundreds of beehived hons gathering at 4 pm for a photo at Roland Avenue and 36th Street), and Sunday from noon to 6.

Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 06/12/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Three vacation-home locales for the not-so-super-rich. By Michelle Thomas
Beach-blanket bargain: Chesapeake Beach has marinas, a boardwalk, a water park, and—compared with other seaside towns—affordable property. Photograph by Angel Beil.

If you have a spare million or two to spend on a second home, you have your pick of destinations. But what if your budget is a bit more modest? Here are three up-and-coming vacation spots where you can buy a weekend retreat for less than $500,000.

Chesapeake Beach, Maryland

Travel time from DC: About 45 minutes.

Good for: Young families.

What your money buys: A one-bedroom waterfront condo for $309,995; a recently updated two-bedroom cottage along the water for $449,900; a townhouse with views and a private community beach for $369,900.

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Posted at 08:00 AM/ET, 06/11/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Whether you’re looking for a great staycation or want to get out of town, we’ve got exclusive deals By Alice Shapin
The Embassy Row Hotel's new rooftop pool deck feels like a getaway--but it's just in Dupont Circle. And now you can stay for less. Photo courtesy Destination Hotels & Resorts.

Staycation by the Pool

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

What’s special: This funky hotel recently underwent a $15-million renovation: The magnificent rooftop now features a cool saltwater pool and refreshing cocktails to go with the panoramic city views. If you can pull yourself away from the roof, you’ll see that the hotel’s location puts you near good eateries such as Glen’s Garden Market, Bub and Pop’s, and DGS Delicatessen, as well as the Phillips Collection, the National Geographic Museum, the Heurich House Museum (one of the most intact Victorian structures in the country), and Metro’s Red Line.

The deal: The Weekender all-inclusive package includes two nights’ accommodations, valet parking, a $50 food credit for Station Kitchen & Cocktails or the Rooftop, the hotel service fee, all taxes, and a late checkout based upon availability—all in all, a 20-percent savings. Washingtonian readers receive a room upgrade valued at up to $60; use the booking code STAYLOCAL. Rates start at $220.

When: Valid for stays through June 2015.

Staycation in Baltimore

Where: Kimpton Monaco Baltimore, 2 N. Charles St., Baltimore; 443-692-6170.

What’s special: Housed in the former B&O Railroad headquarters, the hotel marries contemporary style and design with historic architecture. Enjoy 300-thread-count Frette linens, a complimentary nightly wine hour from 5 to 6, the use of Kimpton bikes and selfie sticks, and free coffee and tea service every morning. The pet-friendly hotel is walking distance to the Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the Walters Art Museum, and the Hippodrome Theatre.

The deal: The National Aquarium Blacktip Reef Package includes accommodations, two adult tickets to the aquarium so guests can skip the long lines, 20-percent savings on additional tickets (discounted to $30 for adults, $20 for children), free continental breakfast for up to four guests, and a 10-percent discount at on-site B&O American Brasserie for lunch or dinner. The package price is just $50 more than the hotel’s best available rate. Mention Washingtonian at check-in to also get two free drinks at B&O American Brasserie, a $25 value. Rates start at $219. To book, click here and enter the rate code AQUA, or call 888-752-2363 and request the Blacktip Reef package.

When: Valid for stays in June 2015.

Theater Perfect

Where: Distrikt Hotel, 342 W. 40th St., New York, N.Y.; 212-706-6100.

What’s special: Every day during the hotel’s Social Hour, guests can enjoy free “aperitivo” snacks and great prices on drinks. Just steps from Broadway, this is a good base from which to see a weekend of shows. It’s also walking distance to the Empire State Building, restaurants, shops, and the subway.

The deal: The summer promotion offers Washingtonian guests 15 percent off the best available rate and a free bottle of Prosecco. Rates start at $199. The promotion can be accessed by clicking here.

When: Valid for stays through August 2015.

North Carolina Calling

Where: Sanderling Resort, 1461 Duck Rd., Duck, N.C.; 866-860-3979.

What’s special: The resort just unveiled 24 new waterview rooms and suites—some facing the Atlantic Ocean, others overlooking Currituck Sound—and new activities such as moonlight kayak tours, Cape Hatteras horseback riding, and cruises from Duck to Sanctuary Vineyards. You can relax at the spa or beach, do standup paddleboarding, take surfing and kiteboarding lessons, play tennis, swim at the three pools, or rent bikes ($35 for a half day).

The deal: The Buy 3, Get 1 Free package awards one free night for three paid. Washingtonian readers also get two free appetizers (one per person) at Kimball’s Kitchen or Lifesaving Station with a meal purchase (excluding the seafood tower), a $30 value. Rates start at $299 a night. To get this deal, mention Washingtonian when calling.

When: Valid for stays through June 30, 2015.

The Maine Event

Where: Meadowmere Resort, 74 Main St., Ogunquit, Maine; 800-633-8718.

What’s special: The Meadowmere Resort, on Maine’s southern coast, has been family-owned since 1983 and offers a relaxing atmosphere. Guests enjoy an indoor Roman bath, indoor and outdoor pools, an outdoor hot tub, and a health club and spa. The resort is in the heart of Ogunquit Village, a picturesque seaside spot with galleries, boutiques, and restaurants serving Maine lobster. Walk the Marginal Way, a scenic cliff walk that meanders along the ocean for more than a mile, learn how to trap lobsters, go to a summer-stock playhouse for a theater performance, or enjoy golf at one of five courses within a 15-minute drive.

The deal: The Tee & Sea Package includes two nights’ accommodations, 18 holes of golf at the Links at Outlook (one round per person), a dinner for two at Jonathan’s Ogunquit, parking for one vehicle, resort amenity access, and extended checkout at 1 PM, all for a 20-percent savings off regular rates. Washingtonian readers also receive free Maine-made chocolates in the room, two glasses of wine, and a cheese platter. Prices for the package start at $698 for two people. Mention Washingtonian at check-in to get this deal.

When: Valid for stays through June 30, 2015.

Posted at 01:00 AM/ET, 06/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Just say no to the extra pair of whatever. By Ali Follman
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

So you’re going away for the weekend and are forced to pack lightly to follow today’s airline rules. Unless you want to check your luggage, which usually requires a fee, you're limited to one carry-on and one personal item.

And with strict dimensions set for your carry-on—22 x 14 x 9 inches on American, United and Delta Airlines—you don’t have a lot to work with: You have to fold, stuff, and squeeze everything you need into a bag the size of a briefcase. You must be prepared to leave certain items behind.

Obviously you want to take only essentials—it's always a bummer to come back from a trip and realize you didn’t wear half of the clothes you packed, brought too many reading options for the flight, or packed a bulky hair dryer that you didn’t need.

Everyone has different things that they can’t live without on a trip. For some, toiletries take up the most space in a suitcase. For others, it is shoes. Yes, you think you want options, but they will weigh you down. It could force you to check your bag if it’s unable to fit or is too heavy to lift into the overhead bin.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here are some tips on how to efficiently pack what’s the most important to you in one carry-on suitcase:

  1. Put shoes on the bottom.

  2. Lay clothing flat to guarantee less wrinkles.

  3. Bring fewer cosmetics and toiletries than you need and in small sizes. You can always buy things at a drugstore, too.

  4. If you have a makeup routine, downsize it to the essentials (foundation, mascara, done). Or bring multi-functional makeup (BB cream, cream blush).

  5. Plan your outfits. If you don’t like planning ahead, limit yourself to three outfit choices for the two days. Pack neutral-colored clothing so you can mix and layer pieces.

  6. Wear your travel clothes on the way there and back. Make it comfy.

  7. Use your other plane-approved item (purse or backpack) as a last-resort place to put extra things.

Posted at 05:11 PM/ET, 05/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock

Cunningham Falls State Park

~65 miles from Washington, D.C.

Cunningham Falls offers two unique areas for campers: the William Houck Area centers around a 43-acre lake, with access to boat rentals and swimming. The Manor Area sits three miles out from an aviary and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace in Frederick County. This state park has tent, RV, and cabin sites available for Sunday and Monday night. Pets are allowed with proof of vaccinations, but alcohol isn't without a permit obtained in advance. Electricity and showers are available. 14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont, MD 21788; call (301)271-7574 or book reservations online.

Greenbelt Campground

~12 miles from Washington, D.C.

This Maryland campground doesn't offer water or electric hookups, but if you're seeking an escape from modern conveniences, that may be ideal. It does offer 10 miles of trails, as well as easy access to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens and the Goddard Space Flight Center. This campground has availability for RVs and tents from Thursday through Monday night, at $16 per night. Pets are allowed on a short leash. Showers are available. 6565 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770; call (301)344-3948 or book reservations online.

Little Bennett Campground

~29 miles from Washington, D.C.

This Maryland campground offers over 25 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, and is located nearby the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project and Splash Playground & Mini-Golf. About a dozen tent sites are still open for Friday night, although no electricity is available. Showers and water spigots are available. 23701 Frederick Road, Clarksburg, MD 20871; call (301) 528-3430 to book reservations.

Duncan's Family Campground

~23 miles from Washington, D.C.

This family campground is full of fun, offering everything from hayrides and pools to the basics like showers and laundry facilities. It's located only 12 miles from Six Flags America and 13 miles from Chesapeake Beach Water Park, which opens for the season this Saturday. Only tent sites are available for the weekend, but they have water access and pets are allowed. 5381 Sands Road, Lothian, Md. 20711; call (410) 741-9558 or book reservations online.

Pocomoke River State Park

~142 miles from Washington, D.C.

This Maryland campground offers two camping areas: Shad Landing and Milburn Landing. Shad Landing offers more amenities to campers, such as electric hookups and a centrally-located washhouse. Although the Milburn area has limited amenities, pets are allowed. Rowboats, electric boats, canoes and kayaks are available to rent, and fishing, hiking, and hunting are common outdoor activities here. Local attractions include the NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and the Delmarva Discovery Center. Both RV and tent sites are still available. Shad: 3461 Worcester Highway, Snow Hill, MD 21863; Milburn: 3036 Nassawango Road, Pocomoke City MD, 21851. Call (888) 432-2267 or book reservations online.

Oak Ridge Campground

~37 miles from Washington, D.C.

As part of the Prince William Forest Park, this campground offers access to 37 miles of foot trails, 21 miles of paved road (great for cyclists), and 18 miles of streams for fishing. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and the Manassas National Battlefield Park are nearby. Tent sites are available through the weekend. 6975 Oak Ridge Road, Triangle, VA 22172; call (703) 221-7181 or book reservations online.

Shenandoah National Park

~75 miles

This national park offers four campgrounds with walk-in availability for the holiday weekend, along with backcountry camping. Try an earthcache or view the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Skyline Drive. Pets are allowed on most nearby trails with a leash. Call (877) 444-6777 or book reservations online.

Posted at 10:25 AM/ET, 05/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Hillwood Estate not only sells picnic fare—it loans out blankets. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

You Want to Picnic Like an Heiress . . .

Hillwood Estate

Shortly after Marjorie Merriweather Post, the cereal heiress, bought her Northwest DC mansion, she decided that someday the property would be open to the public. And open it is: Hillwood, with 25 acres of spectacular gardens and woodlands, not only welcomes picnickers, but the visitor center will lend you a blanket and a picnic map. You can bring in outside food (though not alcohol); beer, wine, and other beverages and food are for sale at the Hillwood Café.

Insider tidbit: The suggested admission fee also gets you into the mansion—gleaming with Fabergé eggs and thousands of other treasures Post collected—where, starting June 6, the exhibit “Ingenue to Icon” is displaying many of her gowns and other couture.

4155 Linnean Ave., NW; 202-686-5807. Suggested donation: $15; seniors, $12; college students, $10; ages 6 through 18, $5; under age 6, free.

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Posted at 01:12 PM/ET, 05/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Meet a New York Times bestselling author, pick up fresh strawberries, admire fine art, and sway to great blues. By Sherri Dalphonse
The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in Reston this weekend will feature more than 200 juried artists. Photo courtesy of Greater Reston Arts Center.

The official kickoff to summer may be Memorial Day weekend, but nothing says summer like a festival—and there are plenty going on this weekend. Here are four good ones, for example:

In Reston Town Center, more than 200 artists from across the country will display and sell their art and crafts—including paintings, jewelry, sculpture, and photography—at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, now in its 24th year and one of the largest independent outdoor art shows on the East Coast. The festival runs on Saturday, May 16, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 17, from 10 to 5. Our advice: Get there early to get a parking spot, because the festival tends to draw more than 30,000 visitors. New this year are hands-on art activities for children at the Reston Town Center Pavilion. There will also be live dance performances at Town Square Park. A festival entry donation of $5 is requested for everyone over age 18; the money supports the Greater Reston Arts Center. Or you can buy tickets ahead of time online for $4.

The written word more your thing? Head to the Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday, 10 to 6, at the Gaithersburg City Hall grounds. This year, more than 90 local, national, and international authors will present and sign their works, including David Axelrod, Susan Coll, Jeffery Deaver, James Grady, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Michelle Knudsen, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Clarence Page, and local chefs Bryan Voltaggio, Cathal Armstrong, and Nora Pouillon.

If music is what soothes your soul, check out the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Saturday from 11 to 9 and Sunday 11 to 8. A premiere blues showcase (the festival is more than 17 years old), this year's lineup features headliners Gregg Allman and Buddy Guy. Advance-purchase tickets are $65 for one day, $115 for both (if bought by May 15); tickets at the gate are $80 or $140; children under 12 are free. Proceeds go to local charities. You can bring low-back lawn or beach chairs, and blankets; there will be food and drink for sale.

Have a taste for strawberries? The 25th annual Potomac United Methodist Church Strawberry Festival is Saturday from 10 to 4. Along with quarts of berries and all manner of strawberry desserts, there will be children's games, a silent auction, and more than 25 vendors selling everything from jewelry to chocolate.

Posted at 09:50 AM/ET, 05/15/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Take a day to explore this historic part of DC. By Angie Hilsman
The footbridge crossed this pool, where kids splashed around above, behind, and in front of the waterfall. Photography by Angie Hilsman

Although the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is a work-in-progress, 15 of the planned 28 miles are complete, so I took the Green Line south to check out the waterfront. I started on the south side of the river, worked my way through Anacostia, went across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, and around Yards Park. The views were both breathtaking and surprising. Take a Sunday to explore Southeast DC, have lunch at Osteria Morini, or just snag a lounge chair to nap by the river.

Snag a lounge chair in the park and relax a while.

From the south side of the Anacostia River, I could see Nationals Park, the futuristic-looking footbridge heading the Navy Yard side of the trail, and a smoky-colored battle ship that blended into the water.

This footbridge had an intriguing design and opened into an airy courtyard. On the spring day I visited, brilliant red flora contrasted against greenery, and the blue-sky backdrop cast the structure into even sharper relief.

Crossing the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge by foot was a bit nerve-racking. The narrow walkway (shared by speedy bikers and acrophobic pedestrians like myself) is wedged between a busy road that trembles as cars pass and an open-faced railing with shadowy currents beckoning below.

Photographing this wooden structure was a must, even though it meant hanging my camera over the railing for an angle that captured its majestic size.

Nationals Park is within walking distance of the trail, but on this particular day, the stadium was eerily silent. All the action was further down the trail at a kids' carnival outside of Osteria Morini.

Although I'd heard numerous jokes about the filth that flooded the Anacostia, I didn't expect to see trash floating in plain sight along the otherwise beautiful river. You can also see litter bordering the ropes around the ship in the photo below.

The USS Barry sits on the north side of the Anacostia River, in front of Washington Navy Yard. The ship is set to be towed and scrapped this year before construction on the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge shuts down the drawbridge and landlocks this Forrest Sherman-class destroyer.

Faded-neon kayaks and lightly dressed athletes overtook this floating dock, home of Ballpark Boathouse. The company rents out kayaks, paddleboats, and canoes, and it also offers lessons.

Posted at 09:30 AM/ET, 05/15/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Does it really matter where we walk? Can a stroll past honking cars and suburban shopping centers still be a journey of discovery? To find out, the author walked 14 miles home from Washington, DC. By Logan Ward
On a route made more for cars, the author had to navigate a few detours. Photographs by Eli Meir Kaplan

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Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 05/13/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()