Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Jun 27, 2013

Every Thursday, the Going Out Guide staff discusses concerts, happy hours, cheap date ideas, weekend getaways, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.

Hi everyone. Big weekend (and week!) on the horizon, with July 4 and the Folklife Festival, plus the Going Out Guide Happy Hour at Suburbia tomorrow. 

Big news on our blog this morning: The Evens are playing Fort Reno on July 8. (That is the only date so far.) Let's get to the questions.

I'll be on Barracks Row in the middle of the afternoon this Saturday with a large group of friends (10-15). What's the best bar for us to while away an hour or two? Don't need a table necessarily, just some space at the bar without running into a real brunch crowd. Thanks.

Molly Malone's is good for this, since there are two floors and plenty of tables. An upper floor at Lola's might work, especially on the earlier side -- the second-floor patio would be ideal.

I remember a feature on the to 40 restaurant dishes, but cannot find it through WashPo search (not the best search engine). Thinking this would be a fun way to explore new places. Can you help?

Ah, one of my favorite subjects (particularly now that I've lost most of the weight I gained reporting it.) You can find the 2013 Essential Eats list here. May I suggest starting with the summery corn at El Chucho, which has got to be great since they're coming into season. Plus you can wash it down with a nice cold margarita.

Do you have a list of DC hotels that sell memberships to their pools? Thanks so much.

Wardman Park Marriott sells individual and family seasonal memberships, as does the Capitol Skyline. Other hotels have day-long pool passes. The Liason Hotel sells a $40 weekend pool pass that includes Saturday morning yoga on the roofdeck, brunch at Art and Soul, and use of the rooftop pool and bar all day. The L'Enfant Plaza Hotel has a $20 day pass for Saturdays.

I know they only take reservations two weeks in advance. Do you know if they become available at midnight or later on in the day? I'm trying for a Saturday reservation and imagine they are snapped up quickly when the two week window opens.

I think it's midnight, since they're sold online, not by calling the restaurant. But Seasonal Pantry is usually pretty good about announcing ticket sales on its twitter feed -- especially useful if you're looking for notices about spares or last-minute seats.

Hi GoGs... please help! Two of my friends are into pole fitness and are celebrating a special occasion this weekend. We are in our mid thirties and want to go somewhere we can dance and my friends can show off their skills. We have been to Josephines but not MIA Lounge. Would you recommend MIA Lounge for our age group and do you know anywhere else we might be able to go that has poles and is not a strip club? Are there any other clubs you would recommend for our group? Thank you!

None of us have spent much time at MIA Lounge, but it seems like a place where you could get away with this (and be aware that the mention of MIA elicited a staff-wide cringe). There's also Midtown, which is across the street from MIA and has a pole. In general, though, it seems like most bars that have poles leave the dancing to the pros, so your options are pretty limited here.

Hi Gurus, I'm looking for your top 3 picks for me in DC for good drinking - or drinking that will make me happy. I don't know what it says about me but this is what I like. Clean and simple drinks or dry and complex but not complicated. I'd love to have your top 3 suggestions for me to try out. Thanks

Room 11, Estadio and Fiola all do beautiful drinks with 3, maybe 4 ingredients, and if you don't go at a Friday happy hour, they all have bartenders who can talk you through what you like or don't like. The Columbia Room is actually perfect for something like this -- and trust me, it makes me happy -- but you're going in to a $69 tab up front.

I've been enticed to go to this year's Festival thanks to the focus on Hungarian culture. Is there a better day/time that won't be so crowded? Obviously we'll avoid the weekends, but I'm sure this a big event for tourists. Also, I'll have to bring along a 3 year old and 7 month old. I assume strollers are okay? Or is it too crowded for that and I should plan on carrying the younger one?

You'll be in good company with your stroller at the Folklife Festival, as long as you don't mind rolling it over the gravelly terrain at the Mall. And if you want to avoid crowds, picking a weekday is the right idea. Here's a full schedule so you can plan your day.

Excited to try out the bbq at the building museum tomorrow--but the weather looks awful. Worth braving the heat? Or will they cancel it if it rains? If it does rain, what should we do instead? (Other than the obvious of going straight to the restaurant itself.)

They tend to put it on hold if it rains really hard, but I've been there during a quick shower, during which some people left, some people huddled under the barbecue tent, and others just kept playing cornhole and sitting at picnic tables.

If it rains hard, there's always Hill Country itself for happy hour drinks and (later) live country music. But you're close to all the Penn Quarter bars -- Iron Horse, Proof, etc. (Depending on what time you were going, you could always go inside and play mini-golf.)

I am going on Sunday with some friends. I read on the website that the doors open at 12:30 PM. How far in advance do you suggest we arrive before then in order to get a good table? Is it a large venue?

It's not a huge venue, and the long communal tables can go quickly. (All seats are on a first-come, first-served basis.) With a group of four or less, I'd say you should get there 15 minutes before doors if you want to guarantee the best seats, but with more, I might arrive closer to noon.

Submitting early because I am going to a conference this afternoon. I have friends coming in to town for 4th of July weekend and I want to show them a great time. The BYT part looks interesting...anything else going on? Any rooftop/firework parties? Thanks!

We have a growing list of July 4 parties online and (later today) on the blog. (Here's a link to just the bar events.) The Brixton and H Street Country Club both have views of the Monument, and both are opening their roofs for free. (Brixton has a hot dog eating contest, while the Country Club has $5 margaritas all day.) 

I'm also intrigued by the 1905/3 Stars party on the roof at 1905. The $15 ticket includes a fresh-of-the-grill main course and a couple of sides, and 3 Stars beers are $5 all night. Great view of the monument from there, too.

And while it doesn't have a fireworks view, the pig roast at Hill Country's Backyard BBQ is free, and there's live music all day long.

More details on all those events are in the first link in this response.

Hey! Looking for something awesome, not weather dependent, to do with the our 5 kids ages 7-17. It will be our last sundayl all together as my eldest is preparing to study abroad and some of the other kids are going to overnight camp. We had talked of amusement parks, but that is so typical and its supposed to rain. Any suggestions, the kids are willing to try anything ONCE. willing to drive within 2 hours of Silver Spring.

Here's some advice from Weekend Deputy Editor Amy Joyce:

How about Adventure Park in Sandy Spring? Not sure how the weather would affect it, but there’s probably nothing like climbing many feet above the ground with your family. 

If you’re looking to get away, maybe Hershey Park? Lots of indoor stuff to do (the spa!). And if the weather holds off, there’s the amusement park. 

That all said, we put together a list of things to do with kids this summer, which is a great starting point.

And our general bucket list of things to do this summer. There are 20 ideas, though not specific to kids. Maybe something will jump out at you.

My younger sister and our good friend are coming down from NJ this weekend to visit me for my birthday. I was hoping you might have some suggestions for places for dinner followed by drinks elsewhere to take them on Saturday, preferably in Alexandria but I'm open to Arlington suggestions as well. We range from early to mid-20s and our friend is a pescatarian so there needs to be several options for her as well.

In Alexandria, Vermilion and the Majestic are two of our top last-minute choices. Vermilion has a way with fresh fish; the Majestic does fun takes on classic diner and comfort food. Both would work for your friend. If you decide to go to Arlington, we like Liberty Tavern and Green Pig Bistro; the chef at the latter was just named "Rising Culinary Star" at the RAMMY Awards on Sunday.

For drinks afterwards, I'd say PX in Old Town is the obvious "fancy" place for birthday cocktails, though it isn't cheap. The Light Horse has more of a party vibe, with live music and DJs. It's frequently packed, and has a great late-night vibe. There are also plenty of Irish pubs; Murphy's is the best for late-night drinks and sing-alongs.

Hi- I tend to try to get out of the city for fourth of July and avoid the crowds but this year I sadly have been bogged down with work and unable to make plans to leave. I am still hoping to plan a fun (short drive) daytime activity for the 4th though, to take advantage of a vacation day. A few questions about that.... I was first thinking of going somewhere I could be in the water- tubing, swimming hole, nearby lake, etc. Is there anywhere you can think of that wouldn't be totally slammed on the 4th? (under 2 hour drive from the city). If not, any other creative ideas for an activity I could drive to outside the city? (some I have thought of- day trip to annapolis, winery tours, long hike, etc). Thanks!

What a great idea. Check our list of the best small beaches near Washington -- I bet Chesapeake Beach and Colonial Beach would be great on the 4th, thanks to their small-town vibes.

I can also imagine cooling down in the water at Cunningham Falls and then stopping by downtown Frederick for dinner and fireworks on the way back to D.C.

I know this topic is going to be asked a million times so here's to a million and one!! Generally we watch the fireworks from Gravely Point and you can see the washington monument. Are the cranes for the scalfolding going to get in the way of some good pictures?

I didn't notice cranes (or anything other than the scaffolding) from the water line at the Southwest Waterfront, so I don't know if they'll get in the way from Gravelly Point.

"I can also imagine cooling down in the water at Cunningham Falls and then stopping by downtown Frederick for dinner and fireworks on the way back to D.C." Oh oh, may I please join you? I am joking. The itinerary, however, does sound great. I'll have to make a note of this for next year.

Sorry, all -- Working on deadline and on some breaking news over here, so we're going to have to wrap the chat up. But we do hope you can join us at happy hour tomorrow at Suburbia, assuming tornados and thunderstorms don't descend on the city. 

And today's Post Points Code:  GG6428.

Thanks for reading.

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The Going Out Guide
The Going Out Guide staff are the experts behind The Washington Post's Going Out Guide. They write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene.
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