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There's nowhere better to be on the Fourth of July.
Washingtonians are as wide-eyed as tourists watching fireworks light up the monuments on July 4. The difference is we have the home advantage when it comes to picking viewing spots. Some of the best: If you're willing to battle the crowds, you can make a full day of it on the Mall, catching the annual Capitol Fourth concert in the evening before the fireworks—the grandest pyrotechnics in town—start at 9:10. If the forecast calls for rain, consider watching from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. You'll avoid sitting in the mud, and there's no better company than the 19-foot-tall likeness of Abe. On the other side of the Potomac River in Arlington, Gravelly Point Park and the US Marine Corps War Memorial (a.k.a. the Iwo Jima memorial) both offer stunning views. For a low-key celebration, bring a picnic to Northwest DC's Meridian Hill Park on 16th Street. For a ritzier time, head to Boom With a View at the W Hotel's rooftop P.O.V. Lounge (wwashingtondc.com
). Tickets are $60 in advance, $80 at the door.
Some of the best shows on TV are set here.
Whatever your stance on ABC's naughty Scandal, there's no denying that Washington has become the star setting for a lot of great television. On FX's tense Cold War drama, The Americans, '80s-era Falls Church is the backdrop for a pair of married Russians portrayed exquisitely by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. HBO's hilarious Veep—with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a clownish second in command—takes place mostly in faux Capitol Hill offices (the series is filmed in a studio in Columbia), though a season-two episode did feature the Georgetown power spot Cafe Milano. But our city looks best through the icy lens of the highly stylized Netflix series House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Some of it was shot in Baltimore, but from the opening music, the show captures the real Washington, with images of the monuments, our signature rowhouses, and some very forboding underpasses.
We have citizens like Jeff Brown.
The US army lieutenant and lifelong swimmer is braving the polluted Potomac River this month to raise awareness about swimming education and fitness among African-Americans. His eight-mile adventure—from the DC Marina to National Harbor in Oxon Hill—takes place July 20. Proceeds from the fundraiser bolster Wolf Pack Leadership (wolfpackleadership.org
), a youth-mentoring organization.
Los Angeles still has worse traffic than we do.
At least according to a recent report from Inrix, a travel-app company that rated the top cities in the country for car congestion. Yes, we're on the list (number nine), but it could be worse—and is, apparently, in Honolulu; San Francisco; Austin; New York City; Bridgeport, Connecticut; San Jose; Seattle; and LA, still number one for overcrowded roads.
We're big givers.
The software company Blackbaud recently released scores for 265 cities based on their online donations in 2012. While Seattle scored the top slot, Alexandria, the District, and Arlington came in at number two, three, and four on the list, respectively—the second year in a row we earned those rankings.
High-end chefs are upping the burger ante in a big way.
- Lamb burger, slathered with tzatziki and crowned with tomato confit, at Bourbon Steak , where John Critchley is head chef.
- The Daffy, a lavish duck patty that chef Bertrand Chemel adorns with foie gras and sweet-onion agrodolce, at 2941 (2941.com).
- Cedric Maupillier's haute-fast-food burger at Mintwood Place.
- Cheddar-topped classic, made with Maryland's Roseda beef, at Spike Gjerde's Artifact Coffee in Baltimore.
- Haidar Karoum's lunchtime shrimp patty with bánh mì accompaniments (cilantro, carrot, daikon) at Proof.
Chinatown isn't really Chinatown—but Rockville is.
The handful of dining rooms that remain from the glory years of DC's Chinatown are dingy and faded, the cooking a wan approximation of Cantonese, Szechuan, and Hunan.
The real Chinatown is in and around Rockville. Want a place to set your mouth afire? Szechuan is here in profusion, from a fabulous fish blitzed with chilies and pickled cabbage at Sichuan Jin River to textbook dan-dan noodles at Joe's Noodle House. Dim sum? Try the bun-centric, cart-based Southern style from New Fortune or the starchy, á la carte Northern style at A&J. Cantonese? The hanging, glazed carcasses of roast pork, chicken, and duck at East Pearl are a powerful inducement to acquaint yourself with the directness and immediacy of Hong Kong-style street food.
You'll find more dumpling houses in Rockville than anywhere else in the region, from China Bistro, a.k.a. Mama's Dumplings (755 Hungerford Dr., Rockville; 301-294-0808), a fixture in the immigrant community, to East Dumpling House (12 N. Washington St., Suite 14-G, Rockville; 301-762-6200), a promising newcomer.
The jaw-dropping experience of seeing the space shuttle Discovery, the SR-71 Blackbird, and Enola Gay can be had far from the Mall crowd.
Metro's a mess, but we can vent on Twitter.
The packed cars with broken air conditioning. The endless delays. The escalators on the fritz. According to the Washington Metropolitan Area Tran-sit Authority, Metrorail serves 700,000 travelers a day on its underground trains—and it seems they're all unhappy. Two citizen-operated Twitter sites, @fixWMATA
, have served a double function over the past few years. They share up-to-the-minute Metro mini-nightmares contributed by commuters and provide an ongoing virtual venting session.
The Wizards may return to the playoffs yet.
We only just endured the heartbreak of a fifth straight season without a team in the NBA playoffs, but hopes soared anew when the Wizards scored an against-all-odds, number-three pick in May's draft lottery. With two of the top prospects from local universities—Alex Len at Maryland and Otto Porter from Georgetown—the hot new star may not have far to go.
We reward a commitment to beauty.
It's a first-world problem for sure, but fishing tip money out of your wallet with nails still wet from a manicure can be tricky. Primed
, a posh new members-only spa service in Georgetown, solves the issue by charging subscribers a monthly fee that covers the cost and gratuity of massage, waxing, and other grooming appointments. Expedience is prioritized—the spa specializes in 30-minute treatments.
There's beer at the movies.
This year, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
launched its first Washington outpost in Ashburn, featuring eight theaters, reserved seating, local craft brews, and a full kitchen serving pizzas with spinach, kale, and pesto and fried pickles with buttermilk ranch dressing.
We're a hotbed of accessory boutiques.
Finding a great costume bauble used to mean hitting a department store or the chains lining M Street. Not anymore. In Georgetown, the emporiums Charm
, Alex and Ani
, and Dalton Pratt
make gift-giving easy with colorful jewelry and other goodies; those hunting for the perfect accessory should swing by Adams Morgan's Turquoise (2118 18th St., NW; 202-621-9049).
We swim together.
For an elite aquatic experience, you can always throw down $40 for a day pass to the rooftop pool at the Liaison Capitol Hill
—with a massage cabana and its own bar—but if it's basic family fun you're after, our public pools will serve nicely. Some examples: In DC, city pools (dpr.dc.gov) are free for residents. In Montgomery County, admission to outdoor pools in Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Wheaton
tops out at $8. It's equally affordable in Virginia, where $12 buys full-day access to Arlington's Ocean Dunes Waterpark
. Three dollars gets Alexandria residents into the Old Town Outdoor Pool
—ages four and under are free; access to Alexandria's Memorial Pool is just $1.
When it comes to crab, Cantler's still rules.
Is there a better place to spend a summer afternoon than Cantler's Riverside Inn in Annapolis
, your table mounded high with crabs and Mill Creek flowing by? This is the king of area crabhouses. You can count on your haul to be well steamed, never soggy inside and never too dry, generously dusted with Old Bay-style seasoning, and full of sweet, juicy meat (juicier in the summer, when the crabs come from the Chesapeake, as opposed to more far-flung places). Add in a can-do staff and you have the ideal place to introduce a newbie to the art of cracking and picking.
Ice has become cool.
"Ice programs" are now de rigueur at our finest cocktail bars. Some categories:
A super-sharp Japanese handsaw hews slow-melting blocks at José Andrés's Barmini, while over at the Columbia Room, Derek Brown's team resorts to a good old-fashioned chainsaw and an udon-noodle knife.
While circular molds create ice balls elsewhere, "chef-tender" Bryan Tetorakis of Rogue 24 hones his own for an eye-catching accent.
Order a mojito at the Rye Bar in Georgetown's Capella Hotel and the bartender will carve a chunk of ice from the translucent block on the bar, feed it into a moisture-absorbing Lewis bag, and crush it with a wooden mallet.
Barkeep Owen Thomson of Range fashions "beef ice" from veal stock for his Vegan Sacrifice—with Scotch, ginger-and-cayenne-pepper syrup, and Peychaud's bitters.
Halfway through a half marathon, we stop to scarf a half-smoke.
Last year, more than 50 strong-stomached runners plodded through the inaugural DC Half and Half Marathon
, a 13.1-mile race that requires scarfing down a Ben's Chili Bowl half-smoke at the midway point. The event proved so popular that brothers Chris and Pete Magnuson have opened the November 2 event to 100 more participants. Getting the dog down might seem like the tough part, but as Chris puts it, "It's a lot easier to eat a half-smoke than it is to run 13.1 miles."
More of us are trading in car commutes for two wheels.
At the height of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a record-breaking 11,368 people used Capital Bikeshare, pedaling along 56 miles of bike lanes for $7 a day (less with a yearly membership). The bright-red bikes can be rented from corners throughout DC, Arlington, and Alexandria; Montgomery County climbs aboard in September with 50 stations in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Bethesda, and more.
The Racing Presidents may be the best mascots in baseball.
Sorry, other cities with baseball teams. Your "Phanatics" and "Rootin' Tootin' Rangers" can't compete with five bulbous-domed ex-Presidents chasing one another in the middle of the fourth inning. What other mascot has inspired as many fans as Teddy Roosevelt, the longtime loser, whose first victory during the 2012 season is considered a historic event by anyone with even an inkling of Natitude? This season, William Howard Taft joined Teddy and his cohort, George, Abe, and Tom—giving us a new underdog to root for.
The Reef still hosts the best kid-friendly happy hour in town.
Fridays from 5 to 8, this Adams Morgan bar
provides parents with a relaxed place to drink a beer while the wee ones fixate on two large screens projecting fish and giddily orbit the circular bar.
We eradicated the frump with sleek, sharp menswear.
We can ride horses down a sylvan trail in the middle of the city.
Newbies and seasoned equestrians alike saddle up at the Rock Creek Park Horse Center
for a trail tour (both tranquil and exhilarating), lessons, and a series of weeklong summer camps including options for adults, teenagers, and children as young as four.
We have a gorgeous reflecting pool that tourists don't know about.
Yes, it's a little smaller than the 6.75-million-gallon one in front of the Lincoln Memorial, but the new reflecting pool at the private Kreeger Museum
on Northwest DC's Foxhall Road is a more serene place to sit and contemplate art than the crowded Mall. Intended to complement the Kreeger's modernist design, the installation is crafted from travertine and incorporates trees and water fountains as well as an exhibit of sculpture by local artist John L. Dreyfuss. It's well worth the $10 admission—just be sure to make a reservation if you go Tuesday through Thursday (not necessary Friday and Saturday; the museum is closed Sunday and Monday).
We turned unwanted animals into much-needed nourishment.
As Rock Creek Park's white-tailed-deer population ballooned out of control—with four times more deer than the park's plants could sustain—the National Park Service deployed sharpshooters to reduce the number this March. What became of all that meat? The NPS dropped it off at DC Central Kitchen, which will use the ground venison to feed the needy. More cullings are coming this fall, with the meat supplies also going to local charity.
A great grandpa activity awaits in Frederick.
Nothing inspires intergeneration bonding like a tricked-out model-train setup. The O-scale universe at Frederick's family-owned Roads and Rails Museum
—featuring everything from an erupting volcano to an amusement park with a working roller coaster—will transfix wide-eyed toddlers, seen-it-all octogenarians, and everyone in between.
The adult-milkshake surge shows no signs of slowing.
Ted's Bulletin (tedsbulletin.com), Ray's to the Third (raystothethird.com), and Bobby's Burger Palace
all serve excellent alcohol-enhanced shakes. The latest spot to get on the boozy-frappe bandwagon? The Satellite Room
behind the 9:30 Club—try the Bulleit-bourbon-and-vanilla treat known as the Vincent Vega.
We have FLOTUS-approved music venues.
When the historic Howard Theatre
reopened in 2012 after a 32-year hiatus and a $29-million renovation, music fans were thrilled by the restoration—none more so than Michelle Obama, who has stopped by twice this year already. The First Lady caught a show by R&B performer Musiq Soulchild in February (where she was spotted dancing in her seat) before returning in March to see the longtime Washington a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock. If anything can burnish the reputation of a venue that once hosted Sarah Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown, it's First Lady cred.
Jay-Z called in to the Georgetown University class about Jay-Z.
Students of Michael Eric Dyson's controversial "Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z" course got a surprise during their last class of the spring semester when Shawn Carter himself—a friend of Dyson's—called in to discuss hip-hop and the artistic process with about 150 undergrads.
We're great at sports you didn't even know existed.
Such as the cutthroat collegiate chess world, where the University of Maryland Baltimore County has consistently dominated, finishing first in the Final Four of College Chess six times since 2003. The team's director, Alan Sherman, is a cryptology expert and computer-science professor who built the team into a powerhouse over two decades. But these days, new competitors like Webster University in St. Louis are spending top dollar to lure the best coaches and players. Despite fielding a team with two grandmasters, UMBC finished third in this year's Final Four, held in Rockville. Now an underdog, Sherman is focusing on reclaiming victory. Watch his team, and even sign up to play against them, at the UMBC Chess Championship
, an open tournament held at the campus each September.
We've discovered our trademark workout.
CrossFit has become the ideal workout for a city filled with type-A personalities. The high-intensity, fast-paced approach has spread to 50-plus locations in Washington, attracting former athletes, lobbyists, parents, even kids. While the speedy workouts are a draw for those who work hard and play hard, devotees say it's the community feel CrossFit fosters that keeps them coming. Before forking over $200 for a monthlong membership, you can get a taste for the extreme with a free intro class at most local affiliates (see map.crossfit.com
We're still a welcoming spot for new college grads.
Young adults face a gruesome job market these days—but at least ours have a fighting chance. Rent.com
recently ranked Washington among the top ten cities for the newly graduated—thanks to a mean salary of $62,900 and just 5.2-percent unemployment.
Arlington kids stay cool at the sprayground.
In addition to a water park and three public pools, Arlington County
is home to no fewer than four "spraygrounds"—playgrounds with water-squirting apparatuses for cooling off on hot days. Those are at Virginia Highlands, Hayes, Lyon Village, and Drew parks and operate from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends.
There's always free live music somewhere in Washington.
Whether it's bluegrass at Hill Country
, jazz in the National Gallery sculpture garden (nga.gov), or Peter Robinson on the piano at Quill in the Jefferson
hotel, there's hardly a night when someone isn't, to quote Joni Mitchell, playing real good for free. At Hill Country's Boot Bar, see artists such as roots singer Guy Forsyth and the Appalachian-folk troupe If Birds Could Fly this month without a cover; or head to the Hamilton (thehamiltondc.com/live) for its Free Loft Late Night Music. Don't forget the summer shows at Rock Creek Park's Carter Barron Amphitheatre
as well as nightly offerings at the KenCen's Millennium Stage (kennedy-center.org). Fridays and Saturdays in the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse's Green Room
, it's free to see singers such as Jerry Irwin, Heather Renee, and Tony Bernardo. In North Bethesda, Strathmore's Free Outdoor Summer Concerts
feature Daryl Davis, Trouble Funk, and more on Wednesdays this month.
We don't have to risk Type 2 diabetes every time we eat fast food.
Tasty, healthy lunch stops are all over—we like Greek-inspired Cava Grill (cavagrill.com) in DC, Maryland, and Virginia; the fast-casual Indian spots Spice 6
in Hyattsville and Merzi
in Penn Quarter; and the Sriracha-happy Asian place ShopHouse
in Dupont and soon Penn Quarter and Chinatown. Then there's Sweetgreen
, the salad-and-juice shops multiplying faster than rabbits.
PoPville's "Your Afternoon Animal Fix" blog series continues.
DC counts on the website formerly known as Prince of Petworth for obsessively updated neighborhood crime and real-estate news along with the latest on liquor-license applications for bars and restaurants. But most addictive are the images of readers' pets posted each weekday afternoon. "This is Paco on the flight to his new home at 13th and T St. NW" is the caption below a yawning dog in an airplane. "Gilbert, sitting pretty in Columbia Heights," reads a line under the image of an elegant cat with crossed paws. Shameless ploy for Web traffic? We love it anyway.
Our kids have fun hobbies.
Washington kids can take classes in almost anything. And if a passion for French cooking or Brazilian jujitsu sets their college applications apart, too—hey, all the better.
- Cartooning. Budding Garry Trudeaus ages five and up can hone their skills in classes at the Art League in Alexandria, which also hosts children's classes in ceramics, drawing and painting, and more.
- Video-game programming. Instead of just playing video games, kids in grades three to five learn to write them at Silver Spring's Video-game programming. Instead of just playing video games, kids in grades three to five learn to write them at Silver Spring's Great Adventure Lab, which also teaches robotics, science, and engineering.
- Bollywood dance. Kids as young as three learn to dance to Indian tunes at Born 2 Dance in Vienna, which also has kids' break dancing, hip-hop, jazz, and Zumba.
- Theater criticism. Along with children's acting classes, the Shakespeare Theatre Company offers a program in which teens with a critical eye attend press nights for a season's worth of performances.
- Arabic. Or Russian. Or Vietnamese. Schools such as Language Stars and CommuniKids cover Spanish, French, even Mandarin. But with single-language academies dotting the area—and tutors available for obscure ones—children can learn almost any language.
- Meditation. If those activities leave them frazzled, kids five and up can get centered at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, with classes in Arlington and Bethesda.
We can watch movies outdoors all summer.
When sweltering days give way to cooler evenings, there's nothing better than an al fresco film. A few of our favorite options:
- Crystal Screen in Crystal City
This year's "blockbusters" theme means movies like American Beauty, Jaws, The Blind Side, and The King's Speech. Films begin just after sunset on Mondays from June 3 through August 26 (crystalcity.org).
- Family Film Night at Sursum Corda
Every other Tuesday from June 18 through August 6, DC's NoMa neighborhood plays host to free food and children's activities in advance of kid-friendly screenings. The movies fall into the same category—"outlaw heroes"—as the group's all-ages Summer Screen series, which runs Wednesdays from May 22 through August 14. All films begin at sundown (nomabid.org).
- Movies on the Square
Stop by Rockville Town Square Wednesdays from June 12 through August 21 to see 2012 hits such as Skyfall, Life of Pi, and Wreck-It Ralph as well as classics including Big. Shows start at 8:45 (rockvilletownsquare.com).
- Outdoor Movies at the Capitol Riverfront
Thursdays, head to Southeast DC's Canal Park from May 30 through August 8. This year's focus, DC Versus Marvel Comics, means sundown showings include Captain America, Batman and Robin, and The Avengers (capitolriverfront.org).
- Outdoor Film Festival in Rosslyn
The series runs Fridays from May 17 through August 30. A "summer school" theme means a lot of throwbacks, from Grease and Risky Business to Clueless and Can't Hardly Wait (rosslynva.org).
Anti-malls are the new malls.
With sophisticated shopping centers such as the Mosaic district in Merrifield (mosaicdistrict.com
) and Bethesda Row (bethesdarow.com
), suburbs are taking a cue from their urban brethren by shifting to walkable, tree-lined town centers—combining community, thoughtful design, and carefully curated boutiques (Ginger, Bellacara) with specialty eateries. A far cry from the '80s supermall, these feel completely fresh—thanks in no small part to the open air.
We now order our cocktails by the bottle.
At Range in Friendship Heights (voltrange.com), The Name Says It All, a vodka-soda twist, arrives in a flask bearing the house logo. At the Coupe (thecoupedc.com
) in Columbia Heights, Grandma's Pink Lemonade (vodka, strawberry-lemon shrub, Madeira) comes in a soda bottle. The South American steakhouse Del Campo in Penn Quarter (delcampodc.com
) serves two drinks embotellado—we're partial to the Fernet-Branca and Coke with Madagascar vanilla.
We can fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
Acrobats of every level swing from the rafters at the Capitol Riverfront location of the Trapeze School New York
, a sought-after spot for Sweet 16 parties and office retreats—though the only thing more terrifying than hurtling through space 23 feet above the ground may be having your boss watch you do it.
The cigar bar is back.
We don't want to revert to the age of ashtrays in bathroom stalls, but once in a while a stogie—puffed slowly alongside a snifter of something aged and smoky—hits the spot. At the tony new Civil Cigar Lounge
in DC's Friendship Heights, guests snack on small plates by celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio and can lease humidified lockers to store their smokes. At Sterling's Bungalow Lakehouse, the indoor/outdoor cigar bar comes with a waterfront view.
Frozen cocktails are no longer one-note sugar bombs.
Witness the spicy-sweet swirl of lime and strawberry-habanero margaritas at El Chucho in Columbia Heights (3313 11th St., NW; 202-290-3313) and the much-loved Slushitos at Logan Circle's Estadio
, in flavor combinations like grapefruit, sherry, and chamomile.
Oprah's old chef will be making us healthy snacks—at the airport.
Art Smith, former private toque to the most famous eater on the planet, is developing health-driven concepts for both Dulles and Reagan National. He expects the restaurants to debut next year.
The nation's best races are in our back yard.
With a major triathlon, multiple marathons, and hundreds of 5Ks, Washington's growing road-race scene lures thousands of runners. It's not unlikely that everyday athletes compete in the Nation's Triathlon next to former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner or in the Marine Corps Marathon alongside comic Drew Carey. We recently polled readers to find out their favorite, and almost 40 percent preferred the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run (cherryblossom.org), which takes 15,000 runners on a tour through DC's monuments during peak cherry-blossom season.
We have good coffee.
Given how great our restaurant scene is getting, it's a wonder Washington doesn't boast a stellar java joint in every neighborhood. Forthcoming roasteries from Wydown Coffee Bar, which debuted this spring as a pop-up on DC's U Street, and Michigan's Madcap Coffee Company bode well. And a number of places already serve consistently excellent espresso drinks and pour-overs: Northside Social (Clarendon), Peregrine Espresso (Eastern Market, 14th Street, and Union Market), Filter (downtown DC and Dupont Circle), Chinatown Coffee Company, Buzz Bakery (Alexandria and Ballston), Baked & Wired (Georgetown), and—for diehards willing to travel to Baltimore to try the best coffee within 50 miles—Artifact Coffee.
It's easy to escape Washington for a night on the farm.
The trusted Maryland outfit Calleva
has been running summer camps and whitewater rafting, ropes courses, and kayaking trips for 21 years. For lower-key outdoor types, there's Dirty Dinners, hosted at the company farm in Dickerson, in Montgomery County. Candlelit communal tables, live music, lots of wine, and feasts featuring ingredients mostly sourced on the premises create one of those enchanting summer evenings you'll look back at longingly come fall. It's $125 per person, or $110 if you gather a group of four or more; advance registration required.
Cupcakes no longer rule.
Lines still stretch out the door at Georgetown Cupcake and Baked & Wired, but the days of once-a-month cupcakery openings seem to be behind us. Our current favorite ways to get a sugar high? New-wave doughnut makers—go for the crackly crème brûlée doughnut at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
and the vanilla-glazed brioche and Gala-apple fritter at GBD
. And there's always the French way, in the form of madeleines and macarons at the Sweet Lobby
on Capitol Hill.
No one in the country has better slumber parties.
Forget popcorn and movies in the rec room—when Washington kids have sleepovers, they do it in style.
- Smithsonian Sleepovers at the
National Museum of Natural History
Inspired by the Ben Stiller blockbuster Night at the Museum and aimed at ages 8 to 12, this overnight involves games that explore the museum and an Imax movie. $135 per person (smithsoniansleepovers.org).
- Dolphin Sleepover at the
National Aquarium in Baltimore
Swimming with dolphins? Old news. Snoring alongside dolphins is the main event at this adventure at the Inner Harbor. Children must be eight or older; $109.95 per person (aqua.org).
- National Zoo Snore & Roar
June through September, the zoo offers evenings of camping and a two-hour guided tour by one of the keepers. For a great date, opt for one of the adults-only events. $100 to $162.50 per person depending on tour (nationalzoo.si.edu).
We can take a boat to the baseball game.
Rides on the Potomac include a night cruise showcasing the monuments and a trip to Mount Vernon—a great option for out-of-town guests. A more practical use: transportation to and from Nats Park. Potomac Riverboat Company
goes from Alexandria or National Harbor to the stadium; American River Taxi
picks up fans at Georgetown's waterfront.
We can still do yoga for less than $12 a class.
Washington is stocked with excellent yoga studios, but they can put a dent in your wallet. Mercifully, the excellent chain Yoga District
offers an $11 drop-in rate, or ten classes for $97 (use them within three months). Approachable instructors balance the athletic and meditational aspects of the flow yoga style.
Brood II is back.
With their carcasses and bleating, cicadas make intense summer guests. But their 17-year cycle is a sort of marker: Last time this crew was here, Clinton was President and cell phones had antennas. Just don't expect an onslaught like 2004's Brood X. Your best bet to see them this time is in parts of Fairfax County.
One of the world's top sake experts works less than an hour away.
And she's more than happy to school you in the alluring beverage. Sign up for Sake 101 at Pabu
in Baltimore. Taught by master sommelier Tiffany Soto, it covers all the basics and is just $25.
Our zoo teems with cute creatures.
We lost the giant panda born at the National Zoo last year, but new animals have moved in, including an elephant, two Andean bear cubs, a Malagasy giant jumping rat, a baby howler monkey, and five seals.
We just can't be offline—and our favorite hangouts totally get it.
Here's a sampling of places where you can get free wi-fi. (Asterisks indicate places where you have to request a password.)
- Washingtonian Very
Best Restaurants: Blue Duck Tavern,* CityZen, Fiola,* the Inn at Little Washington,* Marcel's (bar area).*
- Great beer bars:
Biergarten Haus,* Westover Beer Garden & Haus* (password posted in the bar).
- Music venues and theaters:
The Hamilton,* 9:30 Club, Rock & Roll Hotel, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Music Center at Strathmore.
- Museum cafes:
Tryst at the Phillips Collection, Todd Gray's Muse at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.*
- Public buildings:
H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse corridors, Library of Congress, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.*
- And one strip club:
Camelot in downtown DC.
We bring our screaming babies to the movies—and don't get judged for it.
The new Angelika Film Center
in Fairfax's Mosaic development serves a globally influenced menu—kimchee deviled eggs, anyone?—designed by former Top Chef contestant Lee Anne Wong. Wine, beer, and sake are also on offer. Expect independent films mixed with mainstream titles. Mondays at 11 or 11:30 am, a theater is designated for the "crybaby matinee" so parents can bring tots without disrupting other patrons. The volume is kept low for young eardrums, the lights dim but don't fully darken, and a changing table is close at hand. Throw in a glass of Chardonnay and it all adds up to a mini-vacay for Mom or Dad. (Bonus: You can reserve seats in advance online.)
Anacostia is exploding with new arts ventures.
Now that galleries are being priced out of Northwest DC's 14th Street and theaters can't afford their black-box spaces on H Street, Northeast, there's a good chance Anacostia might be the next big thing. The first phase of projects—the Honfleur Gallery (honfleurgallery.com), the Gallery at Vivid Solutions
, and the Hive
—is well established. The Anacostia Playhouse
, a reincarnation of the former H Street Playhouse, started hosting performances in June, and the Anacostia Arts Center
, a 10,000-square-foot space with a theater, galleries, and studio space, has just opened.
New meat shops mean we might actually want to watch the sausage get made.
Eating a hot dog, the poster child for overprocessed Frankenfoods, isn't scary when made with sustainably raised beef by Red Apron Butcher
, which has opened its second spot in Fairfax's Mosaic district. The vendor—also at DC's Union Market and coming to Penn Quarter—stocks charcuterie, choice cuts, and salads, too. Next up: Meats & Foods, a retail space and counter to debut soon at 247 Florida Avenue, Northwest, from the owners of 13th Street Meats, which supplies excellent links (chorizo, spicy Italian) to local restaurants.
We rock at sandwiches.
Five of our favorites:
- Texas brisket sandwich
It's worth a drive to Leesburg's friendly Q Company for tender slabs of hickory-smoked brisket heaped on a kaiser roll.
To make its tasty New Orleans-style sandwich, Arlington's Bayou Bakery loads the traditional circular sesame roll with thin salami, smoked ham, mortadella, and aged provolone and gives it a bright kick with chopped olive salad.
- Southern chicken biscuit
At Woodward Takeout Food in downtown DC, hearty-breakfast fans can start the day with a buttermilk biscuit drizzled with smoked honey and stacked with crispy fried chicken, a slab of bacon, and cheddar.
- Soft-shell-crab sandwich
Maryland's unofficial state sandwich is a seasonal specialty at Spike Gjerde's rustic Baltimore restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen, where staff swipe fennel mayo onto grilled slices of sandwich bread, then add a pile of seasonal vegetables. The pièce de résistance: a perfectly pan-fried local crab.
- The Biggie cheesesteak
Gooey American and provolone cheeses and grilled onions top the rib-eye cheesesteak at Ray's to the Third in Arlington.
We build technology that changes the course of history.
Consider these potentially life-altering technologies being developed out of an Arlington office building: a first-of-its-kind gamma-ray laser that could allow new cancer treatments, a machine that will "clean" infected blood and return it to the body, a camera with resolution higher than what the eye can see, and a global navigation device that fits on a chip half the size of a penny. All that has been under development at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon research-and-development hub. Today the agency that invented the internet is also working on projects in cyberwarfare, robotics, and prosthetics for wounded servicemembers. Meanwhile, at Walter Reed in Bethesda, researchers have developed artificial legs that let soldiers not only walk again but run.
There's a charming beer garden in a grocery store.
Pass through the aisles of Arlington's Westover Market
to a sprawling fence-lined patio shaded by trees that erupt in white blossoms each spring. Shoppers find a welcome detour from their milk runs at Westover Beer Garden & Haus, an indoor/outdoor brew hall. Sip on one of 16 rotating craft brews, or take advantage of free wi-fi while lunching on a hearty roast-beef sandwich from the butchery. On Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, musical acts—from rockabilly to singer/songwriters—perform.
Our tour guides know their stuff.
They have to. DC requires guides to pass an exam showing proficiency in areas such as local architecture, statues, and Presidents. The owners of Segs in the City—a Segway-tour company—sued the District over the licensing requirement, arguing that it violated their freedom of speech. The judge dismissed the case earlier this year. Think you'd pass? Here's a sampling from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs' 100-question quiz.
Where is John Philip Sousa buried?
What is the height of the Washington Monument? 555 feet, or 169 meters.
What is the name of the first substantial public-school building in DC, and where was it located? The Wallach S chool at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast.
For whom is Sumner School, at 17th and M streets, Northwest, named? Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, who fought to ban segregation in DC schools and public facilities.
Our graduation speakers are modest—and funny.
"I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking: We're celebrating our academic and intellectual achievement with that lady who's having an affair with the President on that TV show?"
—Kerry Washington speaking to the class of 2013 at her alma mater, George Washington University, on May 19