Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Oct 10, 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.

Hey all. The gloomy weather outside seems appropriate for yet another Shutdown Thursday. If you're furloughed, what are you doing to stay busy? If you're not, what are you looking forward to this rainy weekend?

The big news today is that Tom Sietsema's 2013 Dining Guide was published this morning. Only 15 of the 40 restaurants insider were also included last time around, making for some interesting reading. (After this chat, of course.)

Let's get started.

Relatives (all adult) are traveling from California to visit DC. They had planned on being tourists and seeing the usual sightseeing things but so much is now closed. What alternatives do you suggest for a good Washington experience? Thanks so much.

We've got you covered: Here's a guide to re-planning your shutdown vacation to D.C., and a substitute for every Smithsonian museum. Don't forget that while monuments are "closed," you'll still be able to walk around in those areas and see the sights -- you just won't be able to get very close.

Hi gurus - we're looking for fall event recommendations that we can use public transport to get to. We'd love to get out to a pumpkin patch if possible, but are open to other Fall type of events. We're adventurous with public transport.

This is an interesting one. Most of the pumpkin patches I know of are pretty far outside the usual Metro system, even with transfers and long bus rides. (We have a story about pumpkin patches in tomorrow's Weekend section.) Mount Vernon's hosting its annual fall festival next weekend, with a straw maze, wagon rides and all that good stuff. They have information about public transportation on their website.

Hi gurus! This is probably a better question for Tom, but I missed his chat. Last minute trip to celebrate a birthday this weekend in Charlottesville — any place to have a special dinner for 2 that won't break the bank? Vegetarian at home though like to eat fish while out and open to all kinds of drinks. Thanks!!

As the producer for Tom's chat, I'm pretty sure he'd answer this question with a nod to Glass Haus Kitchen - it's his Charlottesville go-to and he gave it 2.5 stars. Hand-crafted cocktails, plenty of fish and veggie options on the menu.

Anything fun that I can take a quasi date to? We've had a few dinners together and she's looking to shake things up a little bit. I know the Bentzen Ball is in town, but was wondering if there was anything else.

I like the sound of the Night of 1,000 Andys at Artisphere. It's a tie-in with the Andy Warhol "Silver Clouds" exhibition, and includes live music -- ranging from soul/'60s DJs to electropop to a marching band -- plus a live game show, comedy and a chance to make your own pop art.

Is she the kind of date who gets excited about obscure topics? Nerd Night at DC9 is talking about feminism in Hayao Miyazaki's anime and the ecology of coral reefs, among other topics. And you can stick around for an all-'90s dance party after.

There's also a beer tasting at Politics and Prose, if you want to sample pumpkin beers in a setting more intellectual than your usual bar.

(More info on those last two events in this week's Nightlife Agenda.)

My parents will be in town this weekend (great timing, I know). I've got the restaurant reservations covered, but I'm looking for suggestions on what to do during the day (Friday-Sunday). They've been to DC before and loved the Hirshhorn and the Portrait Gallery, but the shutdown has obviously ruled those out. Thinking of taking them to DC Flea on Saturday and maybe the Heurich House Museum on Friday? Any other thoughts? We will not have a car, so anything not metro accessible is out. Thank you!

Great ideas, but I would definitely call Heurich House before heading over there. Got a rather nice e-mail from them saying that they've had to add extra tours due to the government shutdown, but even those are filling up in advance. I'd stick with DC Flea, and also add in a visit to Union Market. Culturally, the new Van Gogh exhibit at the Phillips, which opens Saturday, sounds awesome. I'd also throw in the Textile Museum -- this is the last weekend to visit its current location before it closes and moves to Foggy Bottom. (It's expected to reopen next Fall.)

Hi GOGs. My 19-year-old niece will be with me for a week over fall break. Any ideas? She like basic American food, and is of course too young to go to most clubs. Thoughts? Anything at an all ages club this weekend? I'm thinking Taste of DC but what else? She likes sports, movies and of course shopping. Anything unique this weekend or next for the teens set?

For shopping, you could take her to the see-and-be-seen FAD Georgetown, which launches this weekend. It's a fashion event that will give her the chance to be photographed on a red carpet, or snapped by a street style photographer. There's also District Flea, if she likes vintage style. Maybe one of the acts in the Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival would appeal to her, too.

I'm planning to drive to see foliage this weekend. With Skyline Drive closed and the stops on the Blue Ridge Parkway as well, any routes I should consider? I was planning to pack lunch (as I have a child with food allergies) and snacks.

Lavanya just had a great story about enjoying fall colors at Virginia wineries, so I'd start there for some route ideas. 

Have you been to the Shenandoah River State Park? You'll get great views, since it's situated between Massanutten and the Shenandoah National Park, and since it's run by Virginia, not the federal government, its visitors center and trails remain open.

I know this is getting absurd, but are any of the cultural deals for exiled/you can't even volunteer to get your work done feds still going on? I can pay for my food and drink. What I can't stand is missing out on all the Smithsonian, National Gallery, Botanic Gardens, Library of Congress, National Archives, etc. stuff that hits in the fall. Concerts and lectures and all the rest are leaving a hole in my life.

Most of the food and drink deals are still running. And there are museums trying to fill the gap: The Museum of Women in the Arts, National Geographic and the Heurich House are among the museums offering free admission to government workers during the shutdown. Hillwood still has fall concerts and festivals on, as does Nat Geo. 

Meeting a friend from out of town either tonight or tomorrow night that I haven't seen in years. I'm thinking of heading to 14th street. Any place you recommend for drinks and maybe dinner where we can catch up? (Open to anything.) Thanks!

So many good choices on 14th Street right now. There's the brand new and buzzy Barcelona, which has a heated patio. There's 2 Birds 1 Stone, the cocktail bar beneath Doi Moi, which also has an attractive bar of its own. Ghibellina and Etto would both be great for a glass of wine and some charcuterie (though the latter restaurant is smaller, so you may have to wait for a seat). You could also snag a seat at Kapnos.

The Navy Memorial is hosting the Capital Maritime Music Festival (brand new this year) on Saturday. And it is inside (down the stairs). Not the usual thing, but downtown and very Metro accessible.

For anyone with visitors looking to escape the weather and hear some music this weekend, here's a suggestion that isn't shut down.

What's a parent to do with an active 1yr old toddler on a rainy weekend when most museums are closed? Would rather not be apartment-bound so any ideas would be terrific!

I put your question to Weekend editor/Parenting writer/Mom of 2 Amy Joyce, and she says:

This is really tough right now. The museums are a go-to for me, as well, particularly in this kind of weather – it’s just such a shame they are shuttered. How about the National Children’s Museum at National Harbor? It’s good particularly for the young ones. The National Building Museum is still open, but it will be mobbed, as it is even on a weekend when everything else is open. The Aquarium in Baltimore will surely get you out and about for a good amount of time. It amazes even the littlest of children. (Check out the new shark exhibit.) A trip to the kids section of your neighborhood library isn’t so bad, even for the most active as most libraries here have activities/toys/games as well as books.

Anne Kenderdine says she always took her girls when they were very little to Ikea. You can play in the kids area, get dinner, get some walking in. Or National Airport (really) to watch planes land and take off, have a bite to eat, walk through the big hall.

Good luck.

Greetings GOGs! A small group of friends intend to go to dinner and then Markoff's haunted forest tomorrow night, BUT the weather report is looking less than great. We are thinking of having a back up in the case that it's too rainy or cold for wandering around a forest getting the bejeesus scared out of us. Any ideas? Halloween or haunt-y themed activities preferred (and indoors, for obvious reasons). Thanks so much!!

We're still a week or two away from Halloween events at bars and restaurants -- well, if you don't count this weekend's big pumpkin beer festival at Scion and Crios. Though most of the scary events right now are of the haunted forest/hayride variety, there are a couple of indoor haunted houses, such as the large Bennett's Curse complex up in Jessup.

My in laws are going to be in town on Monday only, and want to explore Annapolis. I need a great place for dinner, plus ideas during the day. The restaurant needs to be...well, good, but NOT AT ALL adventurous. My husband and his father have the palates of 5 year olds.

I was going to point you to the Vin 909 Winecafe, which would have been perfect, but argh, they're not open on Mondays. Maybe Level? Some things on the menu might ick your husband and his dad out, but I'm also seeing sliders, mac and cheese and flatbreads on there.

My sister will be in town this weekend, and it's been a while since I've been out dancing (I mean last time I was out was probably Adams Morgan days!). What are the top 40, old school (Madonna, MJ) places these days where women in the 35s wouldn't feel out of place?

The all-'90s Peach Pit party at DC9 on Saturday night is probably right up your alley. (It draws a large gay audience, but it's fairly mixed.) 

They Might Be Giants are DJing at the Bentzen Ball afterparty on Saturday, along with Animal Collective. That will be interesting to say the least. Not sure what kind of music you'll hear but I don't expect TMBG to get wildly experimental all of a sudden.

Madhatter can be interns or it can be 30s. That place can baffle me, though the DJs are what you're looking for.

Lost Society and Marvin get a range of ages -- early 20s to late 30s -- that won't leave you feeling too old, unless you hate crowds, but that's par for the course these days. (I saw DJ Dredd spinning Prince, Madonna and '80s hits at Dodge City a few weeks ago and while the music was awesome, you could barely move.)

For the real hands-in-the-air kind of dancing to top 40, your best bet is still Clarendon: DJ 2Nutz is at Clarendon Grill on Saturday, while the Ballroom is closed.

Also check out Factor's Row. Right down by the Annapolis Harbor and the food and drinks are VERY good. Some more adventurous stuff (lobster mac and cheese), but also some very basic food that's still very good (beef, bbq pork, etc.).

Here's one more suggestion for our Annapolis chatter!

My dad will be here between Christmas & New Years, and while he's here we will celebrate his 70th birthday. He's not that into restaurants, but loves history and the outdoors. Any ideas for something special we can do with a group of about 10? Behind the scenes tour at the Smithsonian or a battlefield? Do those even exist? Help!

Behind-the-scenes tours at Civil War battlefields do exist. At Antietam, for example, the Antietam Battlefield Guides -- a partner of the Park Service -- will do a two-and-a-half hour tour, tailored to your interests, for $75 for a group of up to 10 people.  I've never taken the behind-the-scenes tour at Mount Vernon, which includes access to the secret passages from "National Treasure," but I'm kind of dying to.

The Naval Academy has public tours, though you need 16 to get the special topic tours. (Maybe you could invite some friends along?)

" I don't expect TMBG to get wildly experimental all of a sudden." That strikes me as hysterically funny. It also makes me feel really old, because I remember when they were regarded as a bit out there.

Yeah, but I meant more that I'd expect them to play songs you might recognize, as opposed to Animal Collective. (I've seen Animal Collective DJ and they were rad, but it wasn't really a top 40 dance party.)

Level might be perfect!! Any suggestions for during the day?

I like the War of 1812 Walking Tour, which starts at the Naval Academy and goes through downtown on its way to the State House. There are historic houses -- the gardens at the William Paca House are my favorite, but some attractions, such as the Annapolis Maritime Museum, are closed on Mondays.

Fritz, Your furloughed fans might be interested in Architecture Week starting next week! Architecture Week is a series of public events that celebrates architecture in the nation's capital. With this 15th celebration we shine a spotlight on Washington's foreign embassies and institutions, but with an added focus on DC's neighborhoods, landmarks and AIA|DC's home at the District Architecture Center. Here is the agenda for the event.

Ah, more non-shutdown events and tours for all the feds who are looking for something to do.

We have to run -- sorry about the technical hitch at the beginning -- but will be posting our weekend planner on the GOG Blog later this afternoon, with our guide to all the key festivals and events. Thanks again, and we'll see you next week.

My friends and I are planning to play pub golf on H st this Saturday and I wanted to get your thoughts on the best 5 or so bars to hit. We usually stick to Smith Commons and H St Country club so I'm hoping to get some new ideas for chill bars and any specialty drinks we should pick for our game. Thanks!

Okay, last one: I might include a cocktail with a house-infused ingredient at Church and State, a beer from a specific state [pick from DC/MD/VA] at the Pug, a liter of Oktoberfest beer or a shot of Apfelkorn at Biergarten Haus (depending on the weather), a Belgian beer over X% ABV at Granville Moore, an English cider at the Queen Vic, a glass of prosecco on tap (while playing bocce) at Vendetta ... and a PBR at sticky rice, with a bonus for consuming a bucket of tots while doing so.

Don't forget the code!

Post Points Code: GG2556

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: