Things to Do

A Film About DC’s BLM Protests, Birdwatching, and Salvadoran History: Things to Do in Washington, September 14-16

Plus: Some Smithsonian museums reopen and we have apple picking recs.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Happy Monday y’all,

We’ve got birdwatching, a film about DC protests, and apple picking recs.

Learn about birdwatching from an ornithology professor who just did a cross-country bike ride.

Here’s what you should check out this weekend:

It’s a bird!: A Harvard professor did a 76-day cycling trip across the country during the pandemic, birdwatching all along the way. Biologist/ornithologist Scott Edwards will talk about his adventures with National Museum of Natural History head Kirk Johnson in a virtual chat. Monday 9/14 at 5 PM; Free, register here.

Practice your Spanish: NPR’s all-Spanish weekly podcast Radio Ambulante is kicking off its 10th anniversary season this week. Join host Daniel Alarcón on the quirky, smart, and adventurous stories about Latin American and Latinx people. (See the crafty trailer here.) I had the chance to talk to Alarcón in 2016 when Radio Ambulante became NPR’s first Spanish-language podcast; read our interview here. You can hear the first new episode on Tuesday 9/15.

Learn about DC’s Salvadoran history: Historian Patrick Scallen will discuss the history of Salvadorans—DC’s largest immigrant community—in a virtual lecture hosted by Catholic University’s history department’s “Colloquium Series.” In “The Bombs that Drop in El Salvador Explode in Mount Pleasant.” Scallen will talk about Salvadoran activism, perseverance, and impact on the District’s history. Wednesday 9/16 at 12:30 PM; Free, RSVP to receive the Zoom info by emailing Dr. Julia Young at

DC drama: Arena Stage is releasing its third film called The 51st State. The docudrama captures local actors reciting monologues by DC-area playwrights that were created from interviews with Washingtonians about Black Lives Matter protests in June and the movement for DC statehood. The theater is organizing a “Supper Club” premiere night on Wednesday in partnership with some local restaurants, so you can still have that dinner and a show feeling delivered. (Though if you’d rather just watch the film, it will be available to stream for free on their website starting Thursday 9/17.) Learn more about the supper club event here.

Reopening news: Smithsonian is reopening four museums this week with Covid-19 precautions and timed-entry passes. The National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Renwick Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum will open with reduced hours starting Friday 9/18. Learn more here.

Design envy: Take a peek inside the most innovative homes from Washingtonian’s Residential Design Awards. The photos are NUTS.

Lost and found: My coworker Andrew Beaujon wrote a heartwarming story about a DC musician whose prized bass vanished 27 years ago–and how he was able to get it back. Read the full story here.

Autumnal alert: Apple picking is NOT canceled due to Covid-19. (Mostly.) We have a quick guide to where you can go apple picking for some fall fun.

Discovering our city: 

Me, when I hear about another movie or show that’s supposedly “filmed in DC.”
What are some of your favorite DC-based movies or shows? I know it’s a loaded question, but the Arena Stage film made me think about how limited we are on shows that are less about Washington the Capital and more about Washington the District. I mean, I love Veep, but it’s not really about DC per se. It’s often a challenge for filmmakers to capture anything beyond B-roll monument shots due to the city’s strict permit requirements, so even shows that are supposed to illustrate DC, like House of Cards, for example, are mostly filmed in Baltimore or elsewhere.

I’ve written before about how local artists like crime novelist/TV writer George Pelecanos have really pushed for more shows and films to be actually shot in DC. We talked about it in 2018, when he was working on his anthology film DC Noir. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t like fake DCs onscreen. “That bothers me,” he said at the time. “[The FX drama] The Americans is set in Washington, but it’s shot in New York. We should be getting that revenue, and also employing Washingtonians to shoot films here that are supposed to be set here.”

One DC show I’m excited about comes to Netflix in October: Deaf U is a docuseries/reality TV show about students at Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts college for deaf and hard of hearing communities. I’ll have more to share on the show soon (coming in Washingtonian’s October print issue!) but it’s an honest and—to me, at least—accurate portrayal of what it’s like to actually hang out in DC. It comes from Gallaudet alum and deaf celebrity activist Nyle DiMarco. Are there any shows or films that you think represent DC well? I’m always open to recommendations!

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.