Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus

Dec 06, 2012

Every Thursday, the Going Out Gurus discuss concerts, happy hours, weekend getaways and other ideas for fall fun.

Welcome, chatters, to this week's holiday-centric chat, in which we answer all your pressing light-and-tinsel questions. We have an hefty number of holiday questions this week, but we're also looking for your best holiday date ideas. Send a mistletoe-decked D.C. dream date our way, and you might score two tickets to this weekend's Chopteeth show, plus a very nice White House Christmas ornament. Let's get started!

This Sunday, I'm taking some friends who are new to DC and their kids (ages 8-11) around DC for some holiday fun. I don't have kids, so advice would be welcome! I'm thinking of starting off at the Willard (no music that day though), seeing the national tree and state trees, possibly ice skating at the national gallery... Any other kid-friendly ideas? Thoughts on a place to get hot chocolate for the kids and something a bit stronger for the adults? Thank you!

Your answer is courtesy of parenting Guru Amy Joyce:

Hi there. Those are good ages for so many different things in this city (old enough to appreciate it, old enough to enjoy sitting for a little while with a hot cocoa, etc.).
You have a good agenda already. The National Christmas tree is really perfect because you get good views of the White House, and there are great train displays as well. Seasons Greenings at the Botanic Gardens is a good stop, but there's usually a wait to get in. The Sculpture Garden rink is a lovely site, but also crowded. You might consider going to the new Georgetown rink and then head up to the neighborhood for cupcakes or hot chocolate.
Here's our list of best hot chocolate places:

There's another very cool rink that opened this year called Canal Park. Less a rink, more a meandering stream. 

If they're interested in light displays, the National Zoo is pretty happening. Or check out Brookside Gardens, where you can walk through the park for a real Christmas escape.

I'm thinking about getting a group of old friends (about 10 people) together to go skating at the sculpture garden when we're all back in town for the holidays. Do you think it'll be ridiculously crowded the weekend right before Christmas (Dec. 22-23)? How early would you suggest arriving if we want to skate at, say, 5 p.m.? Or should we choose a different activity altogether?

I have no doubt that the rink will be crowded the weekend before Christmas especially around 5 p.m. If you can go on a weekday, I suggest going after work (it closes at 9). If you can't go on a weekday, the rink is open until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays so maybe you could head out after the kids have headed to bed?


Ice skating in the city sounds like a good outing, so why not try out the new rink at Washington Harbour in Georgetown?

Hello there, I am organizing New years eve night for a party of 4 to 6 people in their late 30's early 40's. We would like to have a nice dinner followed by some either entertainment, lounge music or may be a club to cross 2013 in beauty. We would like to avoid crowd, lines and other annoying things that happen when a lot of people drink without restrain. Any recommendation?

First, if you don't like crowds or lines or people drinking way more than is good for them, then New Year's Eve is generally not a good night to leave the house. It's just a fact of life, and why it's my least favorite holiday for restaurants and bars, just edging out St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's Day.

There are some places that do it right, though. Blues Alley has a great annual party. This year, it's Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander, who's played with Frank Sinatra and Dizzy Gillespie. The $150 ticket includes dinner, champagne and the show. 701 is offering a five-course menu with live piano music for $100 per person. And Eatonville's "Southern Soiree" ($59) includes a four-course dinner, a glass of bubbly and a performance by R&B vocalist Tamara Wellons, who's one of the best on the local scene.

Hi, I'm looking for date ideas for tonight. Its a second date so I want to be able to have a conversation. He's artsy and quirky. I was thinking about taking him to the Phillips Collection monthly evening event, but have never been to one of them. Your thoughts on that? Or is there some other gallery/museum that is open at night that would be good for a date? Thanks.

I think the Phillips Collection's After 5 event is a great idea, particularly since it has a Danish holiday theme this week; you can grab a drink, watch performances, look at art and more. If you wanted to continue the date afterward, there are some great ideas within walking distance, too: Board Room, the new board-game bar in Dupont, could be fun, and is two blocks away. (They have Hungry Hungry Hippos!) For something a little more charming and more suited to conversation, I'd head to Tabard Inn, and have a drink by the fire (just know it will be you and a million other daters, all having the same awkward conversation about where you went to college). And if you wanted to eat, you could definitely hit Pizzeria Paradiso and grab a seat at the bar.

Always check out what is on in the Freer/Sackler ImaginAsia classroom on weekends. I think this weekend you can carve your own incense burner and take home some frankincense and myrrh. Also, Christmas Revels at Lisner Auditorium starts this weekend.

More good ideas. Thanks.

If so, lots of families made the same date that my wife, our kids and I did. Last weekend we drove out to a cut your own tree farm in Carol county. The day was clear and cold. The air was tinged with the smell of pine and wood smoke. The farm had a barn where they served hot apple cider and a roaring fire in the fire place. Outside on the playground lots of children were running around laughing and some were singing Christmas carols. My wife I walked along the path holding hands as my eldest daughter ran ahead telling us which tree she liked and which she did not.

Very, very sweet story. Bonus points if you can tell us which Christmas tree farm you visited.

Where is a good place to cheer Navy to victory during the Army Navy game this Saturday?? I would prefer not to go to Annapolis, but I can't think of any "Navy" bars in the city.

I can't think of any in D.C., honestly. Chatters?

(And I know the pep rally was at Army-Navy Country Club yesterday, but it's not open to non-members on Saturday.)

We actually had our ideal holiday date on December 1st! We headed over to the Columbia Heights holiday tree lighting in the early evening on Saturday to sing carols and drink hot chocolate with our neighbors in a much less crowded venue than the national tree lighting. Since we were near the beginning of the Columbia Heights History Trail signs, we decided to follow the trail on an ambling tour of the neighborhood to learn more about the history of segregation in DC (and admire the row houses all decked out in lights for the holidays). Following our very chilly hike, we headed over to Tonic to meet up with friends and warm up with appetizers, a hot toddy (and a couple of Natty Bohs honestly), some college football, and a debate about the BCS. What a fantastic evening.

It definitely sounds like a fantastic evening. Thanks for sharing!

As this Saturday is our one year anniversary, this is an actual date that we have planned. Ice skating at the National Gallery (we realize it may be crowded but wanted to give it a go anyway), warming up in the Botanical Gardens for the Season's Greetings display, then grabbing some European style hot chocolate at Pitango in Penn Quarter and wandering around the Downtown Holiday Market. Not holiday-themed, but my boyfriend also scored us reservations at Komi for dinner. It's going to be an epically festive day!

Wow. Komi is usually a treat enough, but all that, too?

To the Botanical Gardens to see the holiday model train exhibit. Ice skating at the sculpture garden with hot chocolate breaks. Head over to Churchkey for DC's branded version of poutine. Finally, to the Hay Adams for views of White House and hot winter drinks. Cheers.

Ice skating and the botantic gardens are really hot, apparently ...

Going to an event at the 6th and I Synagogue, but my wife is on crutches. What's the closest good restaurant/bar?

Oof, I have been there, and I can honestly say she can thank her stars there's no snow or ice on the ground (for now).  On Sixth, about two blocks down, I would  totally do Graffiato, and you should be able to grab two stools at the bar without too much problem (particularly because wifey will look very pathetic on crutches, and someone will take pity, ahem). The brussel sprouts come recommended from none other than Neil Patrick Harris (though I'm partial to the cauliflower). If she's worried about those two blocks, try Pho DC -- it's quite decent, and just around the corner.

just want to remind folks that you can pair skating at Canal park with Eastern Market/Barracks Row, adults & kids. And the Union Station-Navy Yard Circulator makes travel between the two super easy. Another option: a new Thai restaurant has opened in the historic and very cool Foundry Building at Yards Park, a quick walk from Canal Park. Along the way, you can check out the DOT's transportation walk. We're not quite as off the beaten path as people seem to think!

Thanks for the rec! If anyone missed our piece on the Canal Park skating path, it's not a rink, and looks like a blast.

For those looking for NYE ideas, I'd recommend trying to find a "First Night" celebration. I've gone to them in Illinois and Pennsylvania and had loads of fun. For those who don't know, these are community-based NYE celebrations with concerts held in local venues, street vendors with food, and other outdoor, winter activities. Indoor activities, too, such as ballroom dancing. They are such fun and a really good option for NYE. Kids have a blast.

Last year I went to First Night Talbot, home of the great crab drop and everything was exactly how you describe it -- great community-based fun for all ages.


We have heard of three first nights and will be adding many more as we get them.

Season's Greenings at the Botanic Gardens followed by a walk to the Capitol Christmas Tree, followed by dinner and drinks at someplace on Barracks Row.

Someplace on Barracks Row? Come on, this reminds me of one of our ideas from last week. We suggested capping off the night at Acqua Al 2.

Gurus, is your guide to New Year's events out yet? If so, where can I find it? If not, when do you anticipate its release?

I just filed the story last night, so it should be showing up on the web site in the next few days. I swear I'm not being lazy. I had some big-time bars and restaurants e-mailing yesterday afternoon -- and as late as during this very chat! -- to tell me that they'd just finalized their plans. My takeaway: More bars saying "we're just going to be open as usual" than last year.

Sounds like the OP is about to get a ring on Saturday!

Fritz just said the same thing...

I have tickets to the 7:30 show of A Christmas Carol at Ford's theater, and want some place to get cheap (but good!) drinks and maybe some appetizers before hand. Any suggestions?

My pre-Ford's destination is a seat at the bar at Bistro D'Oc, just across the street. Great Southern French wines (bottles $20-$35) and snacks, especially if you like pate and organ meats.

Start off with a cozy and romantic brunch at Bistro Cacao in Capitol Hill. After brunch, sip on warm drinks while browsing the vendors at Eastern Market. Then, walk down to the Botanic Garden, where you can enjoy their wonderful holiday display of festive plants, model trains, and amazing replica models of famous DC buildings. Cap off the date with a cocktail at Proof in Chinatown. Happy Holidays!

I've been wanting someone to suggest Eastern Market, because it is a great place to do a little holiday shopping! If you're headed to Proof, though, wear your walking shoes. Closer to Eastern Market is Ted's, where you can share a boozy milkshake, retro-style.

GoGs - any really good restaurant options in walking distance to Filmore in Silver Spring (Jackie's would be too far). thanks!

Kao Thai is great if you like spice; Ray's the Classics is good for meat-and-veg.

I've been dating someone for a month and her birthday is coming up on a Wednesday. She is having a party the following weekend, but I'll be out of town. I need to step up and taker out on her actual birthday - any ideas? I want to do something nice but not over-the-top

More information, please! What does she like? Is she artsy? Athletic? Nerdy? Is she all about the holidays or would prefer something non-holiday related?

Any events (preferably laid back, nothing where I have to dress up) involving the consumption of wine? Preferably in NoVA but will go to DC

I love chat matchmaking. Someone (presumably from Lost Creek Winery) just wrote the following right below your question: "We've got some great live music on tap at Lost Creek Winery in Loudon County this weekend! Tom and Dave from The 7th Son of West Virginia will be playing from 1 - 5 on Saturday and David Davol will be playing on Sunday from 2 - 5! Get out to the outlet malls in Leesburg and finish your Christmas shopping early, then stop by our beautiful vineyard and tasting room to relax with some wine and music!"

You may also want to check out the Winery at Bull Run for cozy holiday tastings.

I volunteer with a group of great students here to study for a year. For most of them, there is no real drinking age back home and they like to dance and listen to live music on weekends (without alcohol is fine) - but it's so hard to find that here! Keeping my search engine out for all-ages shows is a full time job, and most of them are geared for elementary school kids when they do happen. Any recommendations for teens? Thanks!

Under 18 is a killer, I know. Most nightclubs that say they welcome the under-21 crowd really mean the 18-to-20 crowd. Shows at the 9:30 Club, the Fillmore and Black Cat are all ages, though the latter prefers if there's adult supervision for teenagers. For dancing, U Street Music Hall is also all-ages, though by advance tickets only on weekends.

My husband and I have a standing December date at the Williard. We get cocktails from the Round Robin bar and then relax in the beautifully decorated lobby, listening to the wonderful carolers that perform nightly. And that's our whole evening. (I know you often pick answers with many parts that involve hopping from one place to the other, but honestly, during the holidays, sometimes we just need a relaxing night in a single, lovely location.)

I did this same date last week before a concert at the Hamilton. Hot spiked cider from Round Robin, music, and spent lots of time checking out the 30 years of White House holiday ornaments on the giant tree in the lobby. Completely wonderful.

Any recommendations for neighborhoods that have several houses with amazing light displays? My family loves enjoying the displays, but it's hard finding neighborhoods that do it up. In Nashville they publish the top light displays so people can check them out. I would love for the Post to do something similar!

Chatters, consider this a call out. Please holler if you and all of your neighbors compete Griswold-style for the best light displays and we'll see how many we get. Of course there are always some pretty cool non-neighborhood light displays in the area worth visiting.

My friends and I are gathering next week for "vegan eggnog" happy hour, which really means we'll be drinking straight bourbon. But in case there are people in our group who want to pollute their bourbon with dairy products and nutmeg (smile), are there any bars with a really tasty eggnog drink this holiday season? Thanks!

Um, wow, I've never been a huge eggnog fan, but now that I know about "vegan eggnog," i'm so down. If you must sully it with dairy, you could try Firefly, where the Black Fleece is a pretty awesome eggy, beery take on egg nog (without being egg nog); and Bibiana has a version with Benedictine, which, honestly, makes my heart sing. (Bibiana also just unveiled a menu of 25 (!) holiday drinks, should you want to start at bourbon and move on from there.)

I had a fantastic eggnog last night the opening of A&D, the new bar from the owners of Sundevich and Seasonal Pantry. The Coquito is creamy eggnog sweetened and made silkier by a shot of coconut milk. There's also vanilla-infused rum and a bunch of brandy. 

Oh, and if you're lucky, the Rompope (a sort of Mexican eggnog) will be on next time you're at El Chucho . Spicy and creamy.

US Botanic Garden. Go see the trains exhibit. You can now both progress in your relationship convinced that neither of you ever wants kids.

Why do the holidays turn our readers into grinches? 

Where are the Botanical Gardens so that I can watch the model trains? Another rink to add is the one at Pentagon Row behind the mall at Pentagon City in Arlington. I don't know the hours, but it's very close to the restaurants that encircle the rink. Lastly, there's lots of ideas for Xmas and NYE, but none for Hanukkah. Any ideas will be great. Thanks

-The Botanic Gardens is at 100 Maryland Ave. SW.

-Yes, we have the Pentagon Row Outdoor Ice Skating Rink right here!

-As for Hanukkah, here are a few ideas, including celebrations at Bethesda Row and Travilah Square Shopping Center.

Hopefully it's a good one as I've planned it for next week: Dinner at Co Co Sala before seeing the Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre and a nightcap at the Willard to see the decorations.

That sounds positively lovely. Am I the only one here who misses the Nutcracker? Haven't seen it in years. Guess I should get on that.

My husbands 51st birthday is a Saturday in January and. I'd like to take him out downtown to hear music, maybe dance, etc. Where should we go that's not stodgy, fun and yet where we won't feel ridiculously old? :)

I'm assuming you mean live music, so I think the Hamilton would be a great option for you, or perhaps the Howard Theatre, where the shows are eclectic, and the spaces are sophisticated. You should definitely find something that catches your eye.

You could do a triple skate date: Georgetown, Sculpture Garden, then Yards Park! Stop at Teaism after part II for lunch and/or hot drinks. Then, after the last skate, you will have earned dinner at Market Lunch or Amsterdam Falafel.

That's some pretty dedicated skating action.

Especially with the warm weather this weekend, bike ride down to the Mall: see the Ai Wei Wei exhibit at the Hirshorn. When it turns dark, ride over to the White House Xmas Tree. Head on up to the Passenger for a holiday inspired cocktail, or two.

This is one my boyfriend and I would definitely do! Love the addition of bikes, but be wary of that uphill climb from Pennsylvania Ave. to the Passenger, haha. If you're planning a date for next weekend, you could do this date with not Ai Wei Wei, but Nam June Paik at the American Art Museum, which happens to be a little closer to the Passenger, and right next to the Downtown Holiday Market. Excited for that show.

what time will the metro be open until on New Years since its a Monday? I already saw one bar post that they will have to close at 1am because of their liquor license - is that the case with most places? or can they stay open normal weekend hours?

A bar's closing time depends on where it's located and the "voluntary" agreement it has worked out with its neighbors. If they promise to close at 1 to get their liquor license, they have to close at 1. 

In D.C., bars with no such restrictions can sell alcohol until 4 a.m. Virginia is 2 a.m. Maryland varies by county.

Metro doesn't have the hours posted on its official page (seriously -- it goes from straight from Xmas to New Year's Day) but I'd expect it to open to 2 or 3 a.m. as usual. 

This would have been FAR better last week with the Scottish Walk as the date's opener, but as the parade has passed literally and figuratively, then...... start with lunch in Old Town, then shopping up and down King Street and the side streets (St Asaph, Cameron, Pitt, etc. Be sure to stop in the Sugar Cube for supplies for the movie part of the date,below. An afternoon snack at Alexandria Cupcake on King, and then a hot beverage at Misha's. Then to Meadowlark Gardens to see the light show. Then dinner and a movie at Shirlington.

While the Scottish walk was a great event last week (could the weather have been any better?) I think you have made a great argument to visit the any time.  I particularly love Sugar Cube and Meadowlark Gardens. The only thing I'd add is a stop at BW Art, Antiques and Jewelry on North Fayette Street. I could spend an entire after noon search through their draws of jewelry!

I think the perfect dream date would be going to JoJos on U street for dinner/drinks to listen to one of the bands play, followed by heading to Bourbon in Adams Morgan for a hot toddy.

Nice one. We love  a little jazz around the holidays. JoJo details here.

As a newly single DC woman, I am embracing the holidays and not dreading them. My plan for Saturday for my date with myself? I will start early in the morning with a long walk from my place in SW over past the Capitol Tree and Botanical Gardens and down the mall where I will meander thru the Smithsonian Castle gardens and admire the greenery. I'll walk back by the Tidal Basin and appreciate the sun sparking off the water. After chilling at home for a bit and finishing up decorating my home, I'll then venture up to the Holiday Market and support some local craftsmen. At this point it will be dusk, and cocktail hour, so me and my fabulous self will have a holiday libation and snack over at the Wiliard. After that, I will stroll over to DAR and meet my super supportive friends for the Air Force Christmas concert. When the concert is over, we'll head over to the National Tree for our annual pictures and where I tell them all by the yule log, how much my life is enriched by them. Because really, the season is all about being appreciative for what you have and celebrating life's little things each and every day!

You just took my breath away. Thank you for this!  Can I add that my life is super-enriched by our readers? Love you guys.

You sometimes get people wanting to car to Annapolis without a car. Well now there is a shuttle van from New Carlton Metro to Annapolis. It runs 7 days a week. Not a great schedule but it is there.

Yes, the 921 service recently added weekend hours (you can see the schedule here.) I wish its last departure from Annapolis was later than 7 p.m. -- I'm still gonna have to drive to the Parade of Lighted Boats on Saturday -- but $5 each way is pretty darn cheap.

OK, I admit, I should have suggested something specific. But I like the Salvadoran place best, and I couldn't remember its name! Also, Belga would be good. They always have nice winter beers.

Thanks!  Love the divey Las Placitas myself -- pupusas should be an integral part of any  D.C. date.

Hi - I'd like to take my boys (ages 6&8) to a play or other theatrical event in December, but they vetoed A Christmas Carol as "too scary." So - do you have any other suggestions? Thanks!!

Celia Wren gave a pretty good review to Adventure Theatre's "A Little House Christmas." The Nutcracker might be a bit scary with the rats and all, but there are a number of versions just for kids that might work.

Is there a place in Arlington, Alexandria or DC that is Metroable and does flights of beer or small pours? I already know about Rustico. Thanks!

Most of the better beer places all do 4-ounce small pours now. That's why I rarely order a full-sized brew at ChurchKey anymore. (Just too much to choose from, otherwise.) My picks for mini-flights would be ChurchKey, Meridian Pint and Smoke and Barrel. Lavanya tells me that Galaxy Hut does them, too, which I hadn't realized.

I would love to drop off toys at Children's Hospital and then get drinks at the Willard. Bonus points if the weather cooperates with a little light snow.

A little holiday charity can go a long way. Also, for early risers, I just had a great morning serving breakfast last Saturday at Charlie's Place in Dupont.

Do you know of any places that have an open mic and ALSO have a piano?

Unfortunately, not really. I mean, there are jam sessions at HR-57, but those are straight jazz. I'll keep my ears open though.

Thanks Fritz for putting "Voluntary" in quotes. As we all know it's really and Involuntary Agreement forced upon local bars!

We'll see what happens with this latest round of licensing reform...

C'mon Lavanya, I just laughed out loud at my desk! I love the Botanic Gardens exhibit, and I go every year. And you should SEE how many lights are on my house. But yes, that exhibit is reassurance that I was right when I decided that I am NOT parent material!

Okayyyy, I believe you!

Hi there, I'm meeting a friend I haven't seen for years who is new to DC. We're both in our late 30s. I'd like to show him a place in the District that is fun on a Friday night, but where we can hear each other talk. We will be biking or metroing so we're not so limited geographically--but close to other places for live music preferred. Thanks!

Room 11, Boundary Road, Smoke and Barrel, Smith Commons -- all good on a Friday night. Also, Biergarten Haus has a new wood-burning fireplace on its patio. (It's running again this weekend, for people who saw me tweeting about how smoke was blowing into Rock and Roll Hotel next door.)

Because I'm the same person who warned your readers that the National Building Museum's mini-golf exhibit had been overrun by kids using golf clubs like samurai swords.

Ha. Too bad they never did an adults-only night there. Totally would have paid another $6 or whatever to play it without kids climbing all over the holes.

Hi Gurus. I hope you can answer this. Is Park Tavern actually open? I know there was an opening "event," but is the place open and serving now? I want to check out the ice skating at the park this weekend and thought it would be great to be able to have a drink there afterwards. Thanks!

Park Tavern is supposed to open by New Year's Eve, but it's still a bit away from being ready.

Where do you suggest going for a low key New Years Eve dinner?

I actually had a lot of fun with family last New Year's Eve at a Chinese restaurant (though you could easily do this at an Indian restaurant, too) -- it's weirdly festive, without anyone in a cocktail dress. Can I recommend Great Wall? Or even Thai Tanic, though it's not Chinese?

Are there any that you know of indoors? Thanks!

None that I am aware of, and my favorite -- Monster Mini Golf in Columbia -- is closed for renovations. Chatters?

Awesome GOGs! I have a couple of friends' birthdays coming up and I want to enrich their lives with some special liquor. What stores would you recommend that have a large selection of spirits? And is there a particular vodka you'd recommend (mostly to be mixed with tonic, or in a martini) that is high quality and fun to give, but not super expensive? Thank you!

Vodka is best drunk straight. At Russia House. 

Ace Beverage and Schneider's of Capitol Hill are my go-tos for Spirits, and Pearson's (Glover Park) and Potomac Wine and Spirits (Georgetown) are also great.

If you're buying vodka, I really like Putinka and Russian Standard Platinum, which are amazing compared to Smirnoff or Ciroc or Grey Goose, for example.  

Also really like the new Penn 1681 Rye Vodka, from the Philadelphia distillers behind Bluecoat Gin and Vieux Carre absinthe. Could be fun to mix.

Hello. Could you recommend a place in or near Leesburg that is nice enough to treat my friend's mother (she will be our DD on our winery trip)? I'd like something a little more adventurous than Clyde's or Tuscorara. Thank you!

I would try the Wine Kitchen!

My husband and I have not been out to a lounge in AGES and have a night away from the kids tomorrow evening. We are in our mid 30s and looking for a lounge/club in Georgetown with a great ambiance for after dinner cocktails and dare I say...maybe dancing?!? Any suggestions? Thanks in advance. :)

I'd say Bandalero is your best bet for cocktails in Georgetown, though it's REALLY LOUD on weekends. You could also try Mate, which has a chic lounge look and decent cocktails. (They have DJs, too.) And for something that's completely different, grab a drink at the bar at the Ritz Carlton, and then go sip it on a comfy couch near the lobby's roaring fireplace. Wonderfully romantic.

Dancing in Georgetown -- not unless you're a college student or you're on the guest list at Smith Point.

We have a friend from Jordan coming to DC for a week. He is 35 years old, has not been to the US before. What do you think a foreign visitor would most appreciate seeing in DC? We don't want to overdo the US history, but assume he will want to see The White House, US Capitol, and maybe the National Gallery of Art. What else would you suggest?

So, maybe it's just the out of town visitors I've entertained, but I'm with you that they often don't really have a deep interest in, say, visiting Congress, or hearing about the Founding Fathers. So I'd do a mix of the beautiful landmarks that people know, like the Lincoln Memorial, which is stunning in person, even if you don't care to read the Gettysburg Address (be sure to stop and see the spot where MLK delivered his "I Have a Dream Speech.") From there, I'd hit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, because it's so iconic, then the new MLK Jr. Memorial. In addition to the National Gallery, I'd add the American History Museum, because it's so fun, and you can take what you want from it, whether you're interested in first ladies' gowns and Julia Child and  American pop culture, or the more serious aspects of history. But I'd also be prepared for him simply wanting to drink American beer and eat cool exotic (to him) foods, and even go to the mall  -- all of my family's Indian guests always really just want to go to the Apple store, drink milkshakes and drink beer. It's kind of awesome.

I have a group of ten going to the tree lighting and then for drinks after. We'll probably just go somewhere low key like Elephant & Castle. For dinner, after, I was thinking of either Satellite Bar or trying for the new Matchbox, or maybe even Lauriol. Any advice? Our group at that point may shrink to 5 or it may grow to 13-14 when SOs get off work, so I couldn't make any reservations.

Satellite is better for late-night, I think, than regular dinner, especially because that's when the idea of a huge burger AND a boozy milkshake sounds like a great idea. Also, the booths can't hold more than 4-6 if you bring a crowd. (Lavanya also says that her experiences at Satellite have shown that the kitchen's problems are magnified with a large group.)

Haven't been to the new Matchbox, but have heard horror stories about lines there. At the same time, though, they're designed for big groups.

I'm the chatter who asked about eyebrow powder a few months back; I'd lost my eyebrows because of chemo. I haven't had to use any powder for a few weeks now because they're finally growing back, as are my eyelashes. My hair is taking much longer, but it's coming in, too. I'm now about halfway through my radiation treatments and all is going well (well, except for my Annual Christmas Chest Cold). Thanks again for the advice and encouragement.

So glad to hear back from you, and that you're doing well.  And anytime you have beauty questions, I'm here for ya. Have a wonderful holiday (despite the Annual Christmas Chest Cold)!

Hi Gurus, I've seen this question sort of answered many times but I don't feel like I have a satisfactory answer (which might make me a holiday scrooge): Where are the best, most decorated bars to get into the holiday spirit? I went to Hotel Monaco thinking they'd be good but there was nothing. I don't just mean a tree or a winter vide but serious decorations. I was at the Bar Dupont and was pretty impressed with their decorations. Which other ones are there? Even the W roof bar has little holiday cheer. Please help a sister out! I try every year and end up just wishing DC got more into the holidays like NYC!

We've talked about the Willard and the Tabard a bunch of times, but there's a reason: They're so, so festive, especially with a hot drink in hand.

Also, for me, Martin's Tavern is a tradition: Bows and greenery everywhere, plus a delicious hot toddy.

Does Filomena still decorate? They used to go over the top like Rolf's in NYC. And I think Tom said Acqua al 2 is decorated in his chat yesterday?

Haven't been to either lately, but I'll check them out. Thanks for the suggestions.

Help please! I'm going to the hockey game tonight and apparently there's a toy drive. Do you know if there are any toy stores nearby? Thanks!!

I bet you could find a soccer ball at nearby City Sports. (GO BEARS!)

We have to wrap things up. New Year's Eve listings beckon.

After a quick Guru vote, we're giving the prize to the Singleton Date, for exemplifying the spirit of the holidays as well as being a great itinerary. Please send your contact info (including a shipping address) to and she'll get you your William Howard Taft ornament.

The USNA Alumni Association does a thing at Crystal City Sports Bar every year...

Ah, just saw this, for the person who wants to root for Navy without going to Annapolis ...

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The Going Out Gurus
The Going Out Gurus 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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