Venture Below Ground
The Franciscan Monastery (1400 Quincy St., NE; 202-526-6800; www.myfranciscan.org) sits on a wooded hillside in Northeast DC. Although the ornate 1899 church and its beautifully landscaped grounds are also worth a visit, the maze-like catacombs are appealing on sticky summer days. Open only to guided tours, the underground crypt features replicas of ancient holy sights, including the Grotto of the Nativity, the cave in Bethlehem where Jesus is said to have been born.
Silver Plaza Fountain, in the center of downtown Silver Spring (923 Ellsworth Dr.), is a kids’ paradise. Open daily 10 to 10, the mosaic-tile fountain sprays cool water at random heights and intervals. Water shoots up to 20 feet high in the center, while shallow areas along the periphery draw splashing toddlers. Nearby tables with umbrellas are a great spot for adults to observe in the shade.
See a Good Movie
The darkness and icy air-conditioning of a movie theater feel heavenly on a humid day. For an even cooler retreat, check out one of Washington’s Imax theaters: at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly and DC’s National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of Natural History.
On screens 50 feet tall, the movies have soaring cinematography and fast-paced 3-D effects. Among the offerings this summer are classics including To Fly and Deep Sea 3D as well as new releases such as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Tickets are $6.50 to $12.50. Call 202-633-4629 or visit www.si.edu/imax.Hit the Ice
Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington; 571-224-0555; kettlercapitalsiceplex.com) at Ballston Common Mall offers two NHL-size rinks plus summer camps and classes. The rink is the practice site for Washington’s new favorite team, the Capitals. You may bump into a pro hockey player—captain Chris Clark was a regular last summer.
Stay Cool in the Shade
If you’re museum hopping, try to stop by the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, which takes over the six-acre block next to the museum’s West Building, at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue. You can dip your toes in the large, circular fountain or find a shady patch of grass beneath the trees.
Friday evenings through September 11, there are live jazz concerts from 5 to 8:30. And don’t forget the espresso bar on the concourse level of the East Building, which has 19 flavors of gelato.
Sip a Frosty Cocktail
The trendy new nightspot the Gibson is a speakeasy-style bar with dark-wood walls and flickering candlelight. Although you’ll probably need a reservation to get a table in the intimate indoor space, the back patio has a first-come, first-served policy.
Large and tree-shaded, the space feels like a friend’s back yard. On hot summer nights, there’s no better place to enjoy the bartender’s tasty frozen cocktails, which come in frosty metal tumblers.