Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Aug 14, 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. Can't believe how gorgeous the weather has been. (Perfect time to plug our new story about taking the Silver Line to go mountain biking, hiking and fishing, no?)

Did you see that Hank's on the Hill is hosting a "Top Gun"-themed cocktail party tomorrow night? Hear that West End Cinema is hosting a Robin Williams tribute this weekend, or that Saturday is National Rum Day?

Don't miss our nine essential picks for the weekend, and we're ready to take your questions, starting now.

I'm sure this has been posted before, but what do YOU think is the best bus to take round-trip between DC and NYC?

Still a fan of Megabus as long as you (a) book in advance and (b) reserve seats. Just did that for my trip a few weeks back. Hate the lines and the mad scramble for two seats together otherwise.

Was a fan of DC2NY, but haven't taken that in a while. Chatters?

My mom is in town this weekend and we are planning on doing some hiking in Shenandoah on Saturday. I would love to stop by a vineyard or two for a tasting after the hike, but am not sure which ones to choose. Any vineyards we shouldn't miss? We're looking for good wine and a nice place to relax and have some wine post-hike. We are headed to the park via 211, though we can return through Front Royal (or go back the same way). Any thoughts on nearby vineyards?

Right off 211, you've got Little Washington Vineyards, which are known for their meritage blend, George, and their scenic, picnic-friendly grounds. You're also not far from Grey Ghost, where I've really enjoyed the white wines -- Vidal Blanc, in particular.

It used to all be about the same, but not anymore. If you are travelling light, you can take any of them. But if you have a lot of luggage or have mobility issues, you need to check the location of the NYC pick up/drop off. Some of them are a substantial walk from Penn Station. From Besthsda, I like Vamoose, especially if you are going to leave early Saturday and get back late Sunday. If you have a car, you can park in the MoCo parking garage for free over the weekend.

Good tips for Montgomery-based riders.

Good afternoon, guys! I'm participating in a conference next month that is based at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Ave. I've been asked to help coordinate a Friday night dinner for 20-25 attendees that is "within walking distance" of the hotel (maybe 0.5 mile?). Can you help? We don't necessarily need to reserve a room, but that may prove necessary. To the extent possible, I would like to achieve a balance of a good local spot, a moderate price range, and a semi-professional atmosphere. Thanks as always!

Close to the Hilton, I'd steer you to the great Greek restaurant Mourayo, which can do semi- private dining for groups under 30 people. For something more fun, ask about taking over the balcony at Bistrot du Coin, a lively, fun and LOUD French bistro that's basically catty-corner from the hotel.

My fiance's cousins are in town for a Virginia wedding and they would like to meet up with us for happy hour this evening. They are both in their mid-20's (a little younger than us) and this is their first time in DC. Location isn't a big issue, though we would like to stay in DC. They haven't given us much information about preferences, instead asking us to just show them some "fun" spots. Any thoughts on some good options for out of towners?

Given the weather, I'd tell them to meet you at Dacha for a stein or two of German beer. Afterwards, if they want to see more or need a bite to eat, you're a short walk from some of the hottest bars in D.C., including Eat the Rich, Southern Efficiency and the Right Proper Brewpub. (I did a guide to a recommended four-stop Shaw bar crawl a few months back. It didn't include Dacha, but it's still useful.) 

Hitting 14th/U for probably last time this summer so want to make sure it's fun. Have a reservation at Tico for dinner- should we keep it? If not, any other recommendations? Probably eat around 8- what would you suggest we hit after? Open to any kind of vibe as long as it's not too hot and sweaty ( like patty boom boom). We're somewhat older than normal u street crowd but it doesn't bother us!

Tom reviewed Tico back in June and came away with a good impression. I've only been once but can second the praise for the fried-fish tacos. 

Around U Street lately, if you don't feel like dancing til you sweat at Tropicalia, I've been gravitating towards the $10 cocktail menu at 2 Birds 1 Stone, the brand-new frozen cocktail menu at Bar Pilar,  and the no-pressure DJ-driven vibe at Den of Thieves, where there's a Samba Social tonight with DJ Neville C, which means you can expect killer Brazilian tunes. (My cohort Rhome Anderson is all over it in this week's Nightlife Agenda.)

If you're willing to leave from Rosslyn or Bethesda, I've always liked tripper. Bolt is also good. I've had too many problems with Megabus to recommend them.

More options. I, too, like Bolt, but last few times I've tried to use them they haven't worked out schedule-wise.

Hi! I wanted to go to the free concert tomorrow at Carter Barron but last time we went, we struggled to find a bite to eat with a knife and fork~10p. Any suggestions? BTW, DC restaurants need to stay open later. I'm from the Midwest and even they do it!!

That's the problem with upper NW: Mostly residential, not much in the way of restaurants or bars. 

You're about a 15-minute drive from downtown Silver Spring, where you'll find Scion; the new Denizen's brewpub, which has barbecue courtesy of the BBQ Bus; Quarry House Tavern for great grilled cheese, tater tots and other bar food; and the Classics, for steaks, scallops, etc.

I work in the area and have been hoping something would open in that space for awhile. Any word on how it is for drinks? Or is it more of a sit down restaurant vibe?

Food is obviously paramount (check Tom's review) but there is a substantial marble-topped bar with a good bourbon and whiskey selection. Happy hour is daily from 4 to 7, but, unfortunately, I didn't jot down what the specials were. That neighborhood is really lacking in happy hour spots, though.

Hi gang. While my husband and older son venture downtown, my three-year-old and I are on our own. Any special things happening in Montgomery County on Saturday? Thanks!

Have you checked out the Montgomery County Fair? There's a barn full of farm animals, rides, and a KidsZone with puppet shows, interactive performances and games. Also, we've heard good things about the rapping Three Little Pigs/Big Bad Wolf fairy tale (no, really) for kids at the Puppet Company at Glen Echo.

Is it possible to drive and park nearby? Or are metro and the bus the only possibilities?

There's a lot, but getting there early is advised. You can also easily park on most of the neighborhood streets. (Just not 16th Street during rush hour.)

What about Domku? It's not too far.

True. I was thinking that Domju closes at 11, which can be tight for a concert that ends at 10:30, but that's during the week. They're open until midnight on Fridays. The neighboring Petworth Citizen is another option.

My daughter and her best friend share a birthday! On September 6, the two will turn 20. They both have the weekend off, and are looking for something fun to do for the weekend. Both have cars. Budget is limited, since they are college students. If noteworthy, parents might be convinced to pitch in to help defray costs! Thanks!

I emailed this around to the GOG staff, and consensus seems to be that, due to the end of summer, it's the perfect time for a road trip, maybe tubing down the Shenandoah from Harpers Ferry, hopping in the car and driving down to Kings Dominion or Busch Gardens -- something fun and outdoors. 

Good afternoon! My fiance is coming to town this weekend so I'm planning a "staycation" in DC this weekend. We'll be staying in Dupont Circle. Looking for fun activities to do Saturday and Sunday. We're open to all sorts of activities and might like to take advantage of the good weather by spending time outdoors. We've been to many of the museums so are looking for other ideas. Sunday we'd like some activities where our pooch can be involved. Also looking for restaurant/bar ideas although I understand it's Restaurant Week so some places might be a little crazy. Thanks for the suggestions!

Outdoors and off the beaten track? I always recommend a walk through the gorgeous blooming plants Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens or the ranger-guided tours of the National Arboretum. The bonsais there are so peaceful. (I should add that I was also perfectly happy to spend an afternoon sitting in the sun in the Enid A. Haupt garden at the Smithsonian Castle last weekend, the only peaceful place on the Mall, or so it seemed.)

Also, if you're in Dupont, you're close to the gateway of Rock Creek Park, which is one of the most fascinating places in D.C. My colleague Amy Joyce and I wrote this guide to exploring the park, including dog-friendly walks, hikes and other activities.

For restaurant/bar ideas around Dupont, without knowing where you usually go, I'd suggest the rooftop deck at Rebellion, happy hour at Bar Charley, and late-night tartines and beer (or a glass of wine) at Bistrot du Coin.

I have to go to Harrisburg, PA this weekend. Anyone know anything to do there?

Beyond the Harrisburg Senators? (Washington's AA teams is in town this weekend, btw.)

My only trip to Harrisburg was for a wedding, so my experience is short. There are two breweries (Troegs and Appalachian) to visit, the National Civil War Museum, the expansive Fort Hunter Park along the river ... and that's about all I remember. 

Across from Gray Ghost on 211 is Narmada, which is also very nice. They have a deck off their tasting room, a picnic area next to a pond, and great wine. The tannat, petit verdot, and merlot-based Bordeaux blend are particularly good.

i just wanted to say thanks to fritz for still doing these chats lately. it definitely seems you've been shouldering most of the load in recent weeks, and you do a great job of handling a wide variety of question types, not just the bar scene. this is always such a great resource, and just thanks for doing it!

Aw, thanks. I try my best.

Okay, I have to run because I have some bar-related work to do. But before I do, today's Post Points code is GG5196.

In This Chat
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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: