1. In only the 12th time since 1980 that Richard Nixon’s presidential tapes have been opened to the public, visitors can hear him negotiate a peace treaty with the Vietnamese government, arrange for American POWs to be returned home, and listen to statements made during the Watergate trial. Listening stations are free but available on a first-come, first-served basis. The tapes are available weekdays from 9 to 5, and you’ll need a photo ID to get them. National Archives at College Park.
2. For a new take on an old story, head to the AFI Silver Theatre Thursday at 7:30 for a free screening of Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags. This roller-coaster tale of labor and greed is an official selection at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival and chronicles the once-robust United States manufacturing industry and its relationship with unions and governments. Tickets are available at the box office starting Thursday at noon, limit two per person.
3. Find your grungiest flannel shirt, most inflatable Reebok pumps, and cutest denim overalls, because Dahlak Restaurant (1770 U St., NW) is bringing back the best of the ’90s at a free Peach Pit Dance Party on Thursday. Doors open at 10. For more information, whip out your oversize Zack Morris cell phone and call 202-332-2110.
4. Grab your kids, a date, or a complete stranger and zip through otherworldly wormholes, watch tornadoes rip through valleys, and strap yourself into an F-15 fighter plane at the National Air and Space Museum’s IMAX theater and planetarium this weekend. Admission to the museum is free, and seven of the nine films cost $8.75 for adults, $7.75 for seniors, and $7.25 for children, and the other two films are free. For details and showtimes, click here.
5. The 42nd annual St. Mary’s County Oyster Festival marks the official beginning of oyster season and celebrates the harvest of one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most prized commodities. Where else will $5 admission get you live music and access to oyster shucking and oyster-cookoff competitions plus a variety of seafood vendors? The weekend festivities, held at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds (42455 Fairgrounds Rd., Leonardtown), kick off Saturday at 10 and Sunday at 11. Click here for more info.
6. Which dead congressman haunts the Capitol dome? What representative’s ghost is famous for levitating grand pianos? And who was allegedly invited to dinner—as the main course? Learn the scandalous, sinful, and supernatural side of the Congressional Cemetery on a free tour Saturday at 11, 11:30, noon, and 12:30.
7. Want to see Russia from your house? You could hop aboard your spouse’s snowmobile and peer through a high-powered telescope or just head to the free annual St. Nicholas Festival (3500 Massachusetts Ave., NW). Real mavericks can nibble on borscht, listen to gusli players, and tour an Orthodox cathedral while celebrating Washington’s Russian, Serbian, and Georgian culture. Those fancying something closer to home can try the festival’s lamb spit served on pita bread and drizzled with a “Redskins marinade.” Saturday 11 to 8, Sunday 11 to 5.
8. Help blow out the 234 candles at the Navy’s birthday party with a free concert at DAR Constitution Hall on Saturday at 8. Hosted by chief of naval operations Admiral Gary Roughead, the US Navy Band and a country/bluegrass group will perform this year with the theme “Total Force . . . Total Performance.” To reserve tickets, e-mail email@example.com.
9. Save your money on a Conestoga-wagon ticket and head to the Corcoran’s “Nature as Nation” exhibit Sunday for your last chance to marvel at the country’s best collection of 19th-century American landscape painting. The exhibit features work by George Inness, Frederic Edwin Church, and Albert Bierstadt, among others. The museum is open from 10 to 5. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for students with a valid ID, and free for children 12 and under.
10. Throw up that Boy Scout salute at Notaviva Vineyards Sunday during its all-you-can-eat s’mores day from 11 to 7. For $8, you can have as many marshmallows, chocolate, and cookies as you want—all you have to do is find a stick on the vineyard’s estate. Wines will also be on hand and cost $20 to $24 a bottle.