Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Feb 13, 2014

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. There's no such thing as a snowday for a journalist, so we're here to take your questions.

First things first: Pretty much everything from the Kennedy Center down to the Black Cat is cancelled today. Don't miss our big list of closings, cancellations and, most importantly, snow-day happy hour specials.


Also, if you need a last-minute Valentine's Day snowdate, the Signed, Sealed Delivered party is still on at the Postal Museum tonight, even though the museum is closed. Who doesn't love making valentines?

Between John Wall in the slam dunk contest and Bradley Beal in the 3pt contest -- as a Wizards fan, I've never been more excited about All-Star Saturday. Any bars that will be showing it on a big screen?

Hmmm. It is going up against the Olympics on Saturday night (ski jumping and alpine skiing!) but I bet Penn Quarter Sports Tavern will have All-Star Saturday Night on a few of its 15-foot screens. Public Bar, too.

Any recommendations of something to do during the day Saturday in DC proper? Have a guest to entertain, and I'm out of ideas. She's already seen Union Market, Eastern Market, and the standing collections of Smithsonians / Corcoran / etc. Any daytime arts events? Wintry outdoor activities?

I'm guessing you and your friend might be foodies, since you've already checked out the markets. So here's a little itinerary for you: Go to the former Spanish Ambassador's residence on 16th street to see their exellent exhibit on the art and design of tapas. Then take a wintry walk through Meridian Hill Park, which should be looking beautiful in this snow. Make your way down to Estadio, for wine and tapas -- you'll definitely be in the mood for it after seeing the exhibition. Another option: This naughty scavenger hunt at the National Gallery. Even if you've seen the gallery before, I'm guessing this would help you see it in a whole new way.

Looking for a place with fairly decent atmosphere and a GREAT selection of beers on tap in the Tysons corner area. Any ideas?

I don't think there are any great selections of beer in Tysons Corner. Your best bet is to head southeast on Route 7 until you get to Falls Church. There youll find the friendly, neighborhood-ish Spacebar (one of my favorite area beer bars, period). They have 20 taps including, as of last night, Hopslam.

Across the street is the awesome Mad Fox brewpub, which is also worth a visit.

Neither has the atmosphere you'd find at, say, Bluejacket or ChurchKey, but they're both worth a visit.

(Are you poor souls working today? Sorry...) I'm doing Valentines Day dinner at 1789 (lived here for 9 years and never been!) on Saturday. What should we do after? Jazz or another live show would be great, but Blues Alley show is sold out... maybe the Rye Bar? No bowling alley, we'll be dressed up and hate crowds.

For concerts in Georgetown on Saturday, you've got the Lloyd Dobler Effect at Gypsy Sally's. Interesting story: Used to be big on the Dewey/Clarendon cover band circuit, now making their own original (if vaguely 2000s-ish) modern rock. Probably not the most romantic.

I'd give the cozy upstairs bar at the new Ri-Ra a shot. Fun whiskey pairings, lots of dark wood. Feels less Epcot-y to me than the downstairs. They have live Irish music from 10:30 on, too.

Rye Bar is stylish and classy (and expensive), though it can leave me a little cold. Maybe I liked it better in the summer, when you could look out on a pretty little slice of the canal from the patio?

Hi Gurus, Please help me find this bar/restaurant/club: low lighting, warm, good cocktails, a spot to sit down and chat with my date, and live, jazz-y-type music on the quiet side. You know, like a vintage '40s/50s club. Surely this place exists in D.C., and not just in my fantasies?!? Thanks!

Quill, at the Jefferson Hotel. Nice jazzy music courtesy of a man tinkling a baby grand, a really nice cocktail list, soft lighting, barstools so comfortable you want to sink into them and not move.

Actually, I wish I was there right now.

Starting to feel claustrophobic here in VA. Have you heard of anything that's open on this side of the Potomac?

Clarendon has the Open For Business sign out. I like the sound of a wine tasting at the lovely (and warm) Screwtop wine bar - it's running until 5. They also have the most ridiculously good and gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Not far from there, Fuego is open for margaritas and tacos, and they're hosting an all-day happy hour.

Hi Gurus, can you believe DC has a snow day with actually snow?! My parents have decided to come visit early next week and I'm realizing in all my years in DC I've never entertained them in winter months. Any ideas for Sun-Wed activities? We've done all the museums, they do like shows and interactive stuff, but that basically only takes care of the evenings. Any advice would be much appreciated!

A few thoughts: There's Union Market for lunch and shopping. Or, you could treat yourselves to a special lunch, taking advantage of the midday deals. And there are lesser-known museums, like the Kreeger or the Katzen Art Center, which have high-quality exhibitions. You could also just pick a neighborhood to explore -- 14th Street is vibrant during the day, and you can look at art, shop for housewares, and stop for a beer or coffee along the way. And if they don't mind the cold, they might appreciate a chance to see all of the typical Washington sights covered in this beautiful blanket of snow! You could take them to the roof of the Kennedy Center, for example, for the views and the cafe, which earned high marks from Tom.

Planning a weekend trip to DC for Saturday-Sunday with a friend. Given the current snowpocalypse, any suggestions to still have a fun weekend?

You're still going to have fun this weekend. The snow emergency's ending in roughly 20 minutes, and we expect everything to be back to normal by Saturday -- which means you'll be able to view "Portrait of America" through Google Glass at the National Portrait Gallery, or tour the brand-new American Cool Exhibit. Personally, I'm stoked for the open rehearsal of the All Points West classical ensemble at the Atlas Brew Works brewery on Saturday afternoon, trying a Sazerac made with the new Catoctin Creek rye whiskey at the Passenger's Saturday night bash, and the reunion of the turnt-up-to-11 Nouveau Riche dance party at DC9. And all of that is just Saturday ...

Any other loungey, stylish bars you'd recommend over Rye Bar in Georgetown?

Loungey? There's the "secret" little basement bar at the Graham Hotel, which has some nice classic cocktails.

I love the drinks and the stylish vibe at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons, but it's almosy always too buzzy and crowded to be loungey.

You could always head east to Foggy Bottom and the classy bar at the Blue Duck Tavern.

Planning to watch the MD/Duke game Saturday before a late dinner reservation at Central. Where would be a good place to catch the game not far from there?

Penn Quarter Sports Tavern is only a couple of blocks away. You might try Penn Social, too, but I don't know how the crowd is for Maryland games.

Just a quick plug for a fun activity on Valentine's Day - GottaSwing is holding their annual "Have A Heart Hop" swing dance + silent auction tomorrow. Event starts at 8:30pm with a beginner swing dance lesson, and includes 3 hours of dancing to a band, delicious desserts, and special performances - all for only $25. All proceeds will go to support Honor Flight and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. The event will be held at the Dulles Hilton, and more information can be found at

Somehow left this out of last week's Valentine's Day roundup. I like it because you can go if you're in a couple, and if you're not, you take the free beginner swing dance lesson, and then you meet new people all night long.

Hi Gurus! I'm a 35 year old single female and when I go out in DC and the surrounding area I realize it is really hard to find places that people in my age range frequent. The crowd tends to be either too young or too old. Any recommendations for where a thirtysomething woman can go to meet other thirtysomethings? Especially single straight men? I'm open to DC, NOVA, MOCO, etc... Thanks!

Corcoran happy hours, like Artini, tend to draw in an older-but-not-too-old crowd. If you go to events hosted by arts organizations, embassies, etc., you might find more of what you're looking for. And since trying to meet people in bars can be tough for anyone, you could also add a class or club to your weekly routine. Hope that helps!

Okay, that's going to do it for us this week. Keep an eye on the Going Out Guide blog for more snow updates, Anti-Valentine's Day parties and other fun ideas.

Hey guys, I am looking to have a low-key gathering of 10-15 women (let's call it a hen party) on March 15. We're planning to meet at a friend's house near U Street on the early side and then we're hoping to find a spot to go dancing. The Black Cat is about the right speed, but it looks like they've scheduled a burlesque/comedy night rather than a DJ. Any other suggestions for relatively low-key dancing opportunities near U Street, particularly if we're planning to get started fairly early? (And is it even possibly to have a low-key experience on U Street on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day?) We range from early 20's to early 30's. Cover charges are okay.

Dodge City would be high on my list for a Black Cat-ish night of dancing, depending on the DJ. It can get a little rowdy later, but is great before midnight. I feel the same way about Saint-Ex on weekends: I'll love it at 10, can't move by 11:30.

Oh, and Tropicalia is almost always a good time on the early side. The music is fun, the drinks are strong --  though it can feel a little dead, but with 15 ladies, it won't be that way for long.

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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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