The Washington Post

Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Jun 19, 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. We've got a busy weekend ahead: the last days of AFI Docs, live music at the French Embassy, an unveiling of a Katy Perry portrait at the Portrait Gallery, the closure of the Zoo's Invertebrate House and the little matter of the US playing Portugal on Sunday.

Did you hear Hogo is closing? Have you tried the sandwiches at Beer and Welding? Let's go to the questions.

If I visit the folklife festival, willI be able to see the festival plus one or two of the museums in one day?

Definitely. You won't want to spend the entire day outdoors in this heat, anyway! I'd recommend starting at the folklife festival in the morning, when it's a little cooler, and taking in some of the performances and getting lunch there (the food tents for the lesser known-cuisines are usually the better ones -- I'd opt for Kenyan food over the inevitably Americanized Chinese food). Or if you'd rather eat indoors, you should check out the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian. Then proceed to the blissfully air-conditioned museums of your choice in the hottest part of the afternoon. You can swing back to the folklife festival later in the evening for more musical performances, too.

Any interesting Summer Solstice activities this weekend?

I'm intrigued by the oysters-and-beer happy hour on Poste's patio, with discounted 3 Stars beer from 4:30 p.m. until sunset, and $2 oysters from War Shore. (You can read about that here.)

On Saturday, the National Museum of the American Indian marks Inti Raymi, an Andean celebration of the solstice, with music, dancing and special tours, while kids can make their own crafts.

I don't know if the Fete de la Musique is really a solstice event, though it always happens on the solstice, but there's a movie and concert on the lawn of the French Embassy to celebrate. (Reservations are free, but required.)

What are they going to do with the building?

Well, the invertebrate exhibit is in the basement of the same building that houses the reptiles, and those aren't going anywhere, so the building will continue to be used -- just not that part of it. Though, there will still be invertebrates in it while they continue to care for all of the animals during the process of finding them new homes at other zoos.

Good afternoon! I struck out with both Todd and Tom, so I'm trying the GOGs. What are some restaurant options for my parents' friends to try blue crabs when they visit next week? They will be staying near IAD, but anywhere in northern VA will do. Right now, I'm thinking Captain Pell's. Any other recommendations? Thank you!

Captain Pell's is fine, though I have to admit I haven't been there in a long time. I like Quarterdeck in Arlington for a classic beer-and-newspaper experience.

The DC Jazz Festival is next weekend but the website has very little information about the Yards Park concerts. Can you help please? -Can we bring chairs? -Can we bring water/food? -Can we bring pets? -Where in the park is it? -What are the set times? It says gates at 2pm. Does that mean performances at 3? -Until what time are the performances? Early evening to accommodate for the baseball noise? -Can you buy tickets at the gate to avoid the ticketwanker fees that come with advance purchase? You'd think there would be some sort of FAQ section on their website but there is nothing.

1. No idea, but you usually can bring them. Just be considerate.
2. Yes.
3. The park is pet-friendly, but it's going to be busy.
4. I'm assuming it's going to be where all the concerts are, on a stage along the waterfront near the Trapeze School.
5. Yes, performances start at 3 p.m. each day.
6. Music goes until 10 p.m. on Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday.
7. No. But the Nats play at 1:35 Sunday, 90 minutes before the first musician starts.
8. Yes. Box office opens at 10 a.m. both days.

Hi Gurus, Thanks for the French Embassy live music info. I attend the free Sunday evening classical music concerts at the National Gallery of Art and the free Steinway series of concerts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They're usually excellent (and did I mention free?) I'm looking for other places that hold free concerts. (The KenCen Millenium stage is a mix, not just classical, and the location is difficult for me.) By the way, SAAM's concerts are terrific --- usually no line or wait and the acoustics are excellent, unlike the NGA concerts where you have to line up in advance, may not get in, and where there's an echo and poor sight lines.

It's not strictly classic, but have you ever been to the pipe organ concerts at the Church of St. John, the historic church across Lafayette Square from the White House? They're at noon on the first Wednesday of the month, and the sound of that organ is extraordinary.

Readers, other favorite classical concerts?

Hi GOGs, I've been living in DC for 4 years and now have the opportunity to play tourist/staycation in my beloved city. I have June 30-July 3rd off and am staying in the district. How would you spend those precious days in the city? Where would you lunch? What activities would you suggest for those weekdays? I'd love to stay in the district. Look forward to your suggestions!

Ooh, this will be fun. Food-wise, I'd use one of your days to show up early enough to get in line for one of the city's two best no-reservations restaurants -- Little Serow and Rose's Luxury. There are a lot of lunch deals to be had at fancy restaurants: here's a list to get you started. Fiola's lunch would be at the top of my list. But if you want to keep it cheap, you should grab sandwiches at the aforementioned Beer & Welding, or G on U Street, or get one of the rice bowls at Daikaya's upstairs izakaya. Other than that - think about the touristy thing you always wanted to do but never felt like braving the weekend crowds for. Is it going to the top of the newly-reopened Washington Monument? Lounging in the gardens at the Hillyer Hillwood Estate? Heading out to the Arboretum with a picnic? I took a Capitol tour for the first time three years ago after living in the District for eight years, and it exceeded my expectations. A few other, lesser-known suggestions: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Kreeger Museum (for someone who likes art but has been to all of the major museums), watch the planes land at Gravelly Point Park, learn how to stand-up paddleboard at the Georgetown waterfront, see a matinee show at the Kennedy Center (cheaper tickets!). Chatters, what would you do if you were taking a staycation?

Going to the zoo early tomorrow morning. Planning on getting downtown around 8ish. Can you guys suggest a good breakfast spot within a few metro stops of the zoo. Thanks.

When I lived in the neighborhood, I'd usually go to Open City, around the corner from the Woodley Park-Zoo station, or grab coffee and a breakfast sandwich and coffee at Firehook in Cleveland Park and sit on its back patio.

The reptile and invert exhibits are always delightfully cool, a great respite from the heat outside at the Zoo. It's really too bad that the Zoo didn't market the building better by advertising how cool it was, they would have gotten loads more visitors, and perhaps been able to keep the exhibit open.

Like you, I am sad to see the invertebrate house go -- and not just because of the powerful air conditioning. It was also the best place to get away from the crowds!

Hi GOGs! The popular wisdom for the new crop of no reservation restaurants is to get there early. What about going late? I am thinking of trying to stop by Roses Luxury after 9:30 pm for a late dinner after a show. Is it worth it? Or is the list already overrun?

Hmm. If it weren't a Friday, I'd say go for it, but there are people who are willing to wait a long time to eat there on weekends. They might be able to squeeze you in at the bar, though. Maybe you should call ahead as soon as you get out of your show, and ask them what your chances are? That way, it could save you a trip and the disappointment.

Homestead Farm in Poolesville already has blueberries for the picking, Butler's will next week. Go out for that during the week, and you should have the fields mostly to yourself. Go home, bake some blueberry cobbler, buy some quality vanilla ice cream, and you'll have the BEST summer dessert. Also, in DC itself - check out Hillwood. If the weather is nice, bring a book, and after touring the house, grab an iced tea or lemonade from the cafe, then choose a bench or picnic blanket, and hang out and read (and pretend you're a multi-millionaire who can spend his/her days this way).

Passing this suggestion along from another reader, and correcting myself on my previous answer - I said Hillyer (which is a local gallery, and also worth checking out!) when I meant Hillwood.

What's some of the most fun things to do this weekend with small kids (ages 3-4)?

We have a couple of toddler/small-kid questions in the queue, so I was just chatting with On Parenting editor Amy Joyce about this. With the heat, she was suggesting anything wet and splashy: Think the fountains at the Georgetown Waterfront and in Canal Park near Yards Park or the amazing splash park in the Palisades -- and the first two are great open spaces that lend them well to picnics and running around. There's also the Carousel and toddler-friendly playground at National Harbor. And, if your kids are fascinated by creepy-crawly things -- and I know I was -- there's always the Invertebrate House at the National Zoo.

My birtday is mid-July. Where would you go for dinner? No Va or DC?

How much do you want to spend? If you're going all out: Rogue 24, Fiola Mare, L'Auberge Chez Francois, Iron Gate, Barmini, Rasika. A little less, but still fancy: Rose's Luxury, Little Serow (if you like spicy food!), Casa Luca, Vermilion, Del Campo, Doi Moi, Kapnos, Le Diplomate. Cheaper but still celebratory: Daikaya Izakaya, Roofers Union, Hank's Oyster Bar, Etto.

The military bands give free concerts all the time at various parks and other venues. Very fine musicians.

Right. You've got the Army Band's sunset concerts on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol every Friday night at 8. That's a great one.

I'm a suburbanite that's thinking about making a DC day of it on the 4th. Could start with the Nats-Cubs game at 11:05, hit some of the museums and galleries off the Mall (avoiding tourists, as lovely as they are) then grabbing a pre-fireworks dinner. I'd like to stay off the Mall for the Big Show though, so what are some Metro accessible spots around town or in VA with good views? Gravelly Point? SW Waterfront?

You're trying to fit a lot in one day. Gravelly Point isn't the most Metro-accessible location. I prefer the Waterfront, the Tidal Basin, Hains Point in D.C., and in VA, getting off at Arlington Cemetery and wandering south down the bike trail along the Potomac until you find an open spot.

Another wet and splashy toddler/small kid suggestion: those scrims in the Reynolds Center courtyard. The kiddies just love 'em, plus it's indoors, so out of the heat, humidity and sun.

This is a good idea. Not as shriek-inducing as, say, the Canal Park fountains, but much easier on everyone's health.

Monuments tour by moonlight. A beautiful way to see DC. I'd also go shopping on U Street at the consignment stores.

Also slightly outside of DC, but definitely off the beaten path, and given that they are only open Wednesday - Saturday, what about Glenstone in Potomac? I've not been yet, but I just made a reservation for later this summer! (So, thanks to the Staycationer for reminding me that I need to see and experience new things, as well!)

Hi Gurus - please help a bunch of 30-somethings with no backyard to bbq in find a way to celebrate our Independence Day. Looking for daytime activities - festivals, shows, music, trails, food, etc - that are pedestrian/metro accessible. We are open to anything!

I'm working on this story now, actually (and have to get back to it soon). Last summer, I had a lot of fun at Hill Country's Backyard BBQ: Live music, fresh-off-the-grill 'Cue, canned Texas beers and corn hole.

This year, Cafe du Parc at the Willard is also hosting a day-long outdoor party with music, grilling and drinks.

Arlington's big July 4 party is held at Long Bridge Park (walkable/Bikeshareable from the Pentagon metro), and has food trucks, live music (including the all-'90s cover band White Ford Bronco), local craft and jewelry vendors and kid-friendly activities in a huge, grassy park.

Where can I find information on the safety of my local Rock Creek tributary? My little boys would LOVE to splash around in it, and I'd love to feel good about it. Thanks!

You know, I actually talked to the Rock Creek Conservancy about this when Amy Joyce and I wrote a guide to What We Love About Rock Creek Park

The basic rule was that the further north you go in the park, the safer/cleaner the water's going be. The Conservancy has a guide to water quality on its website, with maps.

Okay, have to run. Thanks for all the questions and comments. We'll see you hear next week. 


Post Points code is GG 2088.

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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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