Things to Do

Plan It: Guys’ Weekend in Washington, DC

No cleaning the gutters or mowing the lawn this weekend—you’re off to DC for a few days with the guys. We’ve got your what-to-do more than covered with some great spots for beer, billiards, music, and sports.

Don’t waste a second of guys’-weekend goodness—drop your bags at the hotel and head out for a guys-only night done right.

5 PM: Blow Smoke at Ozio
Your first stop is Ozio (1813 M St., NW; 202-822-6000), a cigar bar and lounge near DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood and one of the last places in the area where it’s still legal to smoke indoors. Bring your own cigar or choose from one of the 50 on the menu. During happy hour, drink specials include $5 and $6 martinis, $3 wine and beer, and $4 rail drinks. What’s better, the kitchen also sends out complimentary mini-pizzas to share. Sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself—the fun’s just getting started!

7 PM: Dinner
Hit the Dupont Circle branch of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (1801 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-797-0033). Sure, it’s cliché, and it can be a bit pricey, but what better way to kick off a boys’ weekend than with huge hunks of meat and family-style sides in this clubby, mahogany-paneled space? On a nice night, dig into steaks on the enclosed patio.

For a more wallet-friendly option, you might try Bistrot du Coin (1738 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-234-6969), a bustling neighborhood restaurant and bar. Here, you can still get your steak fix with a cut of rib eye or filet or be a little more adventurous with a steaming bowl of rabbit stew. Want to go even more French? Order a plate of escargot—it won’t break the bank at just $7.95. Entrées range from $14.95 to $23.95.
8:30 PM: Shoot Some Pool
Grab a pool table or belly up to the bar at Bedrock Billiards (1841 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-667-7665), a basement lounge and billiard parlor in DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. It’s just a short walk from the Dupont Circle neighborhood; head north on Connecticut Avenue and turn right on Columbia Road.

At Bedrock, beers on tap include Stella Artois, Boddington’s, Yuengling, Smithwicks, and more. The hourly rate for a pool table is $10 for a single player, $14 for two, $18 for three, $20 for four. Shuffleboard more your style? No worries—they’ve got that, too! Hourly rates for shuffleboard are the same.

10:30 PM: Bar Hop in Adams Morgan
Adams Morgan—18th Street between U Street and Columbia Road, Northwest—is DC’s nightlife mecca, with plenty of spots to sip a drink, grab a snack, listen to music, or dance the night away.

For an unpretentious dive bar with a decent beer selection, check out Toledo Lounge (2435 18th St., NW; 202-986-5416). Knock back a few at one of the two dozen or so tables inside, and if it’s warm, try to get one of the coveted patio seats out front. You can people-watch to your heart’s content.

Down the street is Club Heaven and Hell (2327 18th St., NW; 202-332-8899), a two-level joint where the upstairs bar (Heaven) caters to high-energy danceaholics and the downstairs bar (Hell) to a brooding billiard crowd. The highlight of Heaven is the Thursday-night ’80s dance party, which packs in a tight crowd. In Hell, the appeal is the dim lighting and relative quiet, which means it’s easier to have a conversation. Hell’s pool table is a bonus.

Across the street is the Reef (2446 18th St., NW; 202-518-3800), an aquatic-themed restaurant with cozy booths, a large bar with ample seating, and high tables overlooking 18th Street. The biggest draw is the aquariums throughout the place, which hold hundreds of colorful fish that give the room a glow at night. If it’s warm—and not too crowded—check out the upstairs roof deck for great nighttime views of the city.

Bars on 18th Street stay open late, so if you’re taking the subway back to your hotel, remember that it stops running at 3 AM on Friday nights. The closest Metro stop to Adams Morgan is Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan on the Red Line.

Though you’ll take a spin around some tourist attractions on a bike this afternoon, you’ll spend most of the day exploring DC’s Penn Quarter and U Street neighborhoods.

9 AM: Breakfast

Pry yourself out of bed after a long night of partying and head to Poste Moderne Brasserie (555 Eighth St., NW; 202-783-6060) for a hearty breakfast to fuel up for the day. There’s a stick-to-your-ribs croque madame, a morning sandwich loaded with grilled ham and Gruyère and topped with a fried egg; a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and all the fixin’s; fluffy omelets sided with potatoes; and more. While most places in Penn Quarter only serve weekend brunch, Poste opens for breakfast on weekends at 8, so you can reward yourselves for rising early with a top-notch meal before walking to the International Spy Museum, just up the block. Breakfast entrées at Poste run between $8 and $14.50.

10 AM: Spy Museum
Head to the International Spy Museum (800 F St., NW; 202-393-7798) for a taste of espionage—real and Hollywood style. The museum requires a good amount of reading—a lengthy placard accompanies almost every exhibit and item on display—but you’ll get to see some real-life spy gadgetry, such as a pistol disguised as a tube of lipstick, alongside some of Hollywood’s renditions, like the 1964 Aston Martin outfitted for James Bond. The best part: You can spy on museumgoers from above while crawling through the ductwork in the ceiling. Tickets range from $15 to $18 depending on age.Noon: Lunch
For a fun, delicious lunch just a short walk from the museum, visit one of superchef José Andrés’s lively small-plates spots in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. His flagship, Jaleo (480 Seventh St., NW; 202-628-7949), features traditional and updated tastes of Spain; Oyamel (401 Seventh St., NW; 202-628-1005) is regional Mexican; and Zaytinya (701 Ninth St., NW; 202-638-0800) offers Mediterranean fare. All have tasty cocktails and a hip vibe. Even better, they’ve all been recognized as among the area’s best restaurants on The Washingtonian’s most recent 100 Best Restaurants list.

1 PM: Be Your Own Tour Guide

Work off your lunch with a do-it-yourself bike tour of the National Mall area. The Bike and Roll kiosk behind the Old Post Office Pavilion (1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-289-4224) rents a variety of bikes—from cruisers to performance bicycles—at fees ranging from $15 for two hours to $70 for more than 4 hours. Rentals include a helmet, bike tube, pump, lock, city map, and handlebar bag.

A good loop to ride, setting off west from the Old Post Office Pavilion, is here. Be sure to stop and relax at each site—you have plenty of time to finish, so don’t feel like you need to rush. Along this route, you’ll see (in order):

• Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
• White House
• Vietnam Veterans Memorial
• Lincoln Memorial
• Reflecting Pool
• Korean War Memorial
• Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
• Jefferson Memorial
• Washington Monument
• National Mall and Smithsonian museums
• J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building3:30 PM: Build Something
After returning your bikes, head to the National Building Museum (401 F St., NW; 202-272-2448) for an inside look at all things architectural. A brainchild of Congress in the 1980s, the museum is housed in an 1887 building designed by an army general and boasts several notable architectural achievements—most significantly, the Corinthian columns, standing 75-feet high and among the tallest in the world. In addition to its permanent collection, which documents the evolution of architectural styles and construction techniques through photographs, blueprints, and material samples, the museum houses temporary exhibits, such as an Amish barn raising, in its large open spaces. The museum is free, but a donation of $5 is suggested.

5 PM: Taste Beer From Around the World

At Regional Food and Drink (810 Seventh St., NW; 202-289-2030)—known as R.F.D. to locals—you can sample from more than 300 of bottles from across the country and around the world. Want to try a Bulgarian beer? Order a Zagorka Special Lager. How about a taste of the Czech Republic? Try the Crystal Diplomat Dark, one of two Czech beers on the menu. The bar also features the city’s largest tap list; draft selection changes weekly.

6:30 PM: Dinner
Hop in a cab or board a Metro train and head to the U Street Corridor—U Street between 9th and 18th streets, Northwest. For dinner, try Marvin (2007 14th St., NW; 202-797-7171), a new hot spot just off of U Street that offers an unconventional mix of soul food and Belgian fare. Don’t miss the chicken and waffles. If the weather’s nice, linger over a postdinner drink on the upstairs terrace before moving on to your next destination. Even when it’s a little chilly, the heaters up there keep it cozy. The closest Metro station is the U Street stop on the Green and Yellow lines.

8 PM: Music Fix
While you’re in the U Street neighborhood, check out some of DC’s best spots for live music. The 9:30 Club (815 V St., NW; 202-265-0930), just a block north of U near Ninth Street, features many national rock, punk, hip-hop, and country acts as well as some local bands. A block away at the Velvet Lounge (915 U St., NW; 202-462-3213), you’ll find mostly local and lesser-known acts of similar genres. Or stop in at Bohemian Caverns (2001 11th St., NW; 202-299-0800) for a night of jazz at a legendary local spot where Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and others used to perform.

Along 14th Street, just a few blocks south of Marvin, more live music abounds. Stop by the Black Cat (1811 14th St., NW; 202-667-7960), a nightclub, bar, and live-music venue popular with local hipsters, or HR-57 (1610 14th St., NW; 202-667-3700), a nonprofit jazz and blues club heavy on local talent. Check the Web sites for each venue for showtimes and ticket or cover prices; advance ticket purchase is not required but encouraged at the Black Cat and 9:30 Club, especially for popular bands.

12 AM: Midnight Snack
Before calling it a night, there’s one more place nearby to check out. Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St., NW; 202-667-0909) has been a favorite of Washingtonians since 1958, when legends such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, and Martin Luther King Jr. frequented the spot. The most famous dish at this diner-style comfort-food joint is the chili half smoke, DC’s signature sausage swimming in Ben’s warm chili. It’s reportedly Bill Cosby’s guilty pleasure.

This busy late-night spot is open until 2 AM Monday through Thursday and 4 AM Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, it closes at 8 PM.

Wake up early for a hearty breakfast and a round of golf. Then, it’s off to Georgetown for shopping, canoes, and a cold beer before heading home.

9 AM: Breakfast
Head to the Adams Morgan neighborhood and settle in to a red vinyl booth at the Diner (2453 18th St., NW; 202-232-8800), an updated version of the 24/7 classic. The menu runs the gamut from big breakfast platters to seven variations on the grilled-cheese sandwich. If you’re craving one at this hour, go for the Yorkshire, with cheddar, roast beef, and horseradish.

10 AM: Tee Time
Head out for a round of golf to East Potomac Park, located between the Washington Channel and the Potomac River just south of the Jefferson Memorial. The best way to get there is to drive—there’s free parking—or catch a cab. With an 18-hole course, two 9-hole courses, a driving range, and a miniature-golf course, golfers of all strokes and skill levels can find something to do. Greens fees range from $12 to $30, and carts and clubs are available for rent. Miniature golf, which opens at 11 AM, costs $6 a person. The courses get packed when the weather’s nice, so plan ahead and reserve a tee time; the course takes reservations up to seven days in advance. Make reservations online here or call 202-863-4444.

For more ideas of where to golf in the DC area, click here.

1 PM: Lunch
The last stop of your weekend is DC’s Georgetown neighborhood. Grab lunch at a Martin’s Tavern (1264 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-7370), a Georgetown institution where many big-name politicos have fueled up over the years. Much of the menu is the same as it was when JFK proposed to Jackie in booth number three. Focus on the classics: oysters (raw, Rockefeller, fried, or in a creamy stew), burgers, and juicy steaks and chops. Try to save room for English-style bread pudding studded with raisins and drowned in warm bourbon/butterscotch sauce.

2:30 PM: Shopping or Canoeing?
Georgetown is a great place to do a little shopping—yes, your wife or girlfriend will be expecting a gift when you get home—or take a spin in a canoe. For shopping, you’ll find plenty of stores and boutiques along M Street, Northwest, west of 31st Street, and along Wisconsin Avenue, heading north from M Street. Retail chains such as H&M, Urban Outfitters, and J. Crew have found homes here alongside smaller boutiques such as A Mano (for leather goods), and Wink (known for carrying designer jeans).

If shopping isn’t your thing, challenge the guys to a canoe or kayak race on the Potomac or paddle across the river to Theodore Roosevelt Island for a hike around the 88-acre park. Rentals are available at boathouses along the Georgetown waterfront, including Thompson Boat Center and Jack’s Boathouse, rent canoes by the hour and day. Thompson charges $8 an hour or $22 for the day; canoes must be returned by 6 PM. Jack’s charges $10 for each of the first and second hours or $35 for a full day; canoes must be back by sunset.

5 PM: Last Call
Before you hit the road, head to the Tombs (1226 36th St., NW; 202-337-6668), a sports-themed pub popular with Georgetown University students. End your DC visit with a plate of Buffalo wings or a pile of nachos and order up a round of beers for one last toast to manhood.

Looking for more great things to do? Check out our other itineraries in our Plan a Visit section.

This article is part of Washingtonian's Visitors' Guide. For more articles like it, click here.