Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus

Sep 20, 2012

The Going Out Gurus discussed concerts, rooftop happy hours, weekend getaways and other ideas for summer fun.

Hi everyone. Tomorrow is the last day of summer. We knew this would come, but it doesn't make it any easier. This weekend's weather is supposed to be awesome -- 80s on Saturday, says the Capital Weather Gang -- so we'd like to know how you'd (ideally) say goodbye to summer. The two best answers each receive a pair of tickets to see "Fly" at Ford's Theatre on Friday. Good luck, and be creative.

But we're also ready to take your questions about bars, restaurants, museums and anything else.

Ready? Your time starts now.

Worth checking out? I hope it's not just walking around, staring at booths, overcrowded...

It's a large number of tents set up on the Mall, filled with author readings, books for sale and activities for kids. There's not a lot of staring, unless you're in a long line for a signing. My strategy is usually to pick a few authors I'm really into -- you can see the list of authors and reading/discussion times on the LOC site -- and try to get there early to wander around and see if anything else piques my interest. (It's a big site. There's lots of walking.)

Call in sick to work. Watch the sun rise from my balcony. Put on shorts and Teva sandals one last time. Bike to Barracks Row. Eat at Ted's Bulletin. Splurge on a milkshake. Bike down Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol. Turn onto Independence Avenue. Marvel at the museums. Bike to Tidal Basin. Rent a paddleboat. Paddle around Tidal Basin now that the tourists are back in school. Miss the cherry blossoms (just a little bit). Kick myself for not putting on sunscreen. Return paddleboat and grab a hotdog from a street vendor. Bike home, this time along the Mall. Marvel at the museums again, from the other side. Shower. Venture out the door again. Grab a beer from the outdoor bar at The Argonaut. Chat with patrons. Pet neighborhood dogs. Walk home. Greet my boyfriend, who's just getting home from his Hill internship. Tease him for not calling in sick, too. Watch sunset. Feel happy.

This is an excellent itinerary, and definitely in the running for "Fly" tickets.

Halloween is on a Wednesday this year so do you have any idea what weekends bars will be celebrating??

Everything I've seen, from the Nightmare on M Street Bar Crawl to the usual big nightclub parties, is on Oct. 26 or 27. I've seen very little on Halloween itself.

My idea way of saying Goodbye to Summer will be to wake up Saturday morning, and enjoy an Egg sandwich at Northside Social and iced tea, sit on their umbrella patio and watch pedestrians and their dogs walk by before it will be too cold outside. Than I plan to go to the waterfront, and take a short riverboat cruise in Georgetown, since I grabbed a travelzoo deal that I would like to use while it is nice outside. In the evening, I am going to H Street, to enjoy the eclectic bar scene and drinks. On Sunday morning, I will take a nice walk/hike in Rock Creek Pkwy. I'll head off to Eastern market to grab brunch and than go home and welcome Fall!

Oooh, this one gets a welcome to fall in there, too.

I have friends coming for the Book Festival but just saw that Metro is closing multiple Red Line stations between Shady Grove and downtown. I have never driven and parked downtown, but with 3 of us, this seems like a the time to do it (even though it’s Car Free Day). Are there any all-day/one-price garages not too far from the Mall? Near Metro Center or Gallery Place would be ideal. How do I find them?

So, for all those who don't know, the poster is referring to the closures this weekend of the Grovenor and Friendship Heights stations on the Red Line.  There are really two ways you could drive into the city and attend the National Book Festival: If you go on Saturday, you could park at a garage or on the street and pay. There are garages that charge by the day; on 11th Street near E, the garage that serves the Landmark's E Street is a good one, and will put you pretty close to the action. Another one is right near the Warner Theater, at 12th St. between E and F Streets NW.   I say this often, but you really will save yourself traffic delays and the possibility of full garages (and all the other things that make a lot of people never want to drive in D.C.) if you get into Washington early, like before noon. Show up at 2 and you'll put yourself in a bad position.

The other option for attending the book festival is to go on Sunday, when on-street parking in the District is free. (Free!!!) Personally, I'd do that, and try to look for parking away from Gallery Place and Metro Center, maybe down 6th Street near D, or even around the museums on Independence (a fave place for me when I'm parking), or Hains Point, if you wanted to check out the sights afterward. The festival starts at noon, so getting into the city by 11:30 should give you lots of options for street parking.

Hey Gurus, My mom is visiting this weekend and she surprised me, her son, with one mandatory activity: dancing! My mom in her late 50s still likes to go out drinking and dancing, but I'm not sure if my usual places play well with the mom crowd. She will also be bringing her husband who will not be doing any dancing. My usual places to dance are Local 16, Fatback, and occasionally the Clarendon Ballroom or U Hall. We can dance to top 40, 70's, 80's, maybe some salsa/swing. No intense house music or dirty club stuff. I'll be in a meeting at 1 so had to submit early.

If you like swing/40s, I'd definitely suggest Doc Scanlin this Friday at the Carlyle Club, the gorgeous art deco-style club in Alexandria. The man really puts on a show, which is great for people who'd rather watch than groove.

Okay, now I'm trying to think of Mom-and-Dad-appropriate clubs for dancing. (Sadly, the Legwarmers show at the State Theatre is next weekend.) If she's into '80s, there's the big Depeche Mode dance party at the Black Cat on Saturday night. Swing at the Glen Echo Ballroom is always awesome to watch, and I've enjoyed the salsa dancing at the Salsa Room in Arlington.

Chatters? Where would you take your mom dancing?

They are the boys of summer after all! We've watched their meteoric rise all summer long and now they are on the cusp of earning their first post season birth since moving to DC. How better to celebrate the end of summer by celebrating the boys of summer AND a winning DC sports team? I'll get to the ballpark early, have a beer or two at the bullpen. I'll watch the Nats win over a beer and a half smoke from Ben's and then bask in the glow of said win as I take the water taxi back to Old Town Alexandria where I will toast the Nats, the end of Summer and the Going Out Gurus with a pint of plain at O'Connells!

I like this one, too.

Sorry, GOGs. I missed Tom on Wednesday. I checked out the list of recommended restaurants near GMU but haven't been able to narrow it down to one yet. It's a birthday dinner so it should be on the nicer side (doesn't need to be fancy), no Asian or Indian food and.....although it's not a must, it would be a plus if there was outside seating so we could take our little, well-behaved dog with us. Thanks!

Hi, I think we suggested Curry Mantra to you last time, but if that doesn't work, Justin Rude suggests  Villa Mozart  (call about whether they have a patio and, more important, whether it's dog-friendly); or Dolce Vita, which has a patio, but again, it's worth a call about whether that means they welcome pets.

I want to take my 11 year old cousin to a trivia night whe she's here visiting. Are there any pub trivia events that would allow a kid?

The only one we can think of is the Pop Quiz at the National Portrait Gallery, which is next Wednesday. (You didn't say when she's visiting.) Most quizzes we know of are adults-only, since they generally start around 8 and don't end until late, which aren't really kid-friendly hours.

20 of us who worked on a project were awarded $2500 to spend on an outing. Any ideas for what we could do? Other winner have gone to a Nats game, but we're too late in the season for that? Any suggestions?

Take advantage of the season. I'd rent a party bus (say, the Boomerang Bus or something classier) and head out for a tour of Virginia wineries. That $2500 should cover transportation and tasting fees at the wineries, plus a box lunch, and you get a tour of the pretty fall foliage to boot.

We're planning to say goodbye to one season (summer) with a "hello" to Capital Bikeshare's expansion to Old Town Alexandria. We'll start with a CaBi tour across the 14th Street Bridge and down the Mt. Vernon Trail, ending up in Old Town. After brunch on the patio at Columbia Firehouse, we'll do a little strolling and shopping, then bike back up to Crystal City to sip some beer and admire other people's pooches at the Pups and Pilsners festival. (Sadly, we live under a "no pets allowed" rule). Finally, we'll head over to the Crystal City Sports Pub to catch the late slate of NFL action -- the only real reason to love fall as much as we love summer!

The only change I'd make to this itinerary is to trade the 14th St. Bridge to Memorial Bridge. Not sure you could pay me to ride a Bikeshare Bike across the 14th St. Bridge, even on a weekend.

First, I would drive around looking for a scientist to kidnap, most likely from a shadowy government agency. I would make that scientist to build a weather machine so summer continues forever. Then, since I'll already be well on my way to becoming a comic book supervillain, I'll become disfigured in some contrived way, get some henchmen, and build an elaborate hideout for my final confrontation with the hero, Autumn Man.

We laughed out loud at this one.

(PS: I'd start with people who work for DARPA.)

Hey Gurus. Headed to the Grizzly Bear show tomorrow tonight. What would you suggest for dinner in the area. The catch - my date is a vegetarian and I'm gluten and dairy free (but eat meat). Thanks!

I feel like we're being punk'd here! The first thing that strikes me is maybe Eatonville, since they offer quite a bit that's vegan and gluten-free; Asian places such as  Masa 14 (since you can find a lot that's gluten-free, plus dairy-free, and vegetarian options are frequently available) or the Brixton, which has veggie options, and lots of meaty dishes that could suit your needs (plus cider, which is gluten-free).   Second thought: It's not fancy, and your food comes on Stryofoam, but Tacos El Chilango should be actually be perfect for you. The meat tacos have no dairy or gluten, and there are really great vegetarian tacos (i'm partial to the aguacate).

Two different questions today... 1. Going to Baltimore tomorrow night to check out my cousins new place and go out in the city for the first time....He lives in Canton...any great restaurants or bars in the area we should check out? Specifically, anywhere we could get crabs? 2. Next weekend a few friends and I were talking about apple picking in Virginia, and I have also been hoping to check out a vineyard or two (from your list of great vineyards to visit!) for a while. Anyway you think we could make a day of doing both? Any specific orchards/vineyards you would recommend that are close to each other where we could do both in one saturday? Thanks!!

1. It's easy to find crabhouses in Canton -- Captain James' is probably the best, and right on the water. I'm not a huge Canton fan, but you're close to two of my favorite bars in Baltimore: Johnny Rad's, an awesome old-school skateboarding-themed pizza joint with skee-ball and arcade games, and the stunning Of Love And Regret, a taphouse run by the man behind Stillwater Ales.

2. It's easier than you'd think to pair apple picking and wine sipping. Bluemont Winery is right down the road from the Great Country Orchard (which, sadly, is having their apple cider festival this weekend). You could also do the Naked Mountain Winery in Markham, which is right by the Hartland Orchard. Both offer great country views, too.

If you're curious about apple picking this weekend, here are a few of our favorite destinations.

I'd gather my office-mates and take a 4PM stroll to Frozen Yo... fill up my cup with that delicious watermelon flavor that tastes like the Friendly's Watermelon Roll.

You could do anything and you choose fro-yo? In this fro-yo-obsessed town, that doesn't surprise me!

What is the Saturday scene at El Centro like?

Crowded. Lavanya says she's seen lines to get in that stretch all the way down to Saint-Ex. But it's fairly diverse, the music is fun (if you're into Top 40) and the margaritas are good. Might be a good weekend to hit the roof deck.

Another option would be to drive to Glenmont or Wheaton Metro (since I assume the poster is north of Grosvenor) and park there. Both have lots of parking, though then you'll have to (gasp) take the other side of the red line.

If the chatter really doesn't want to deal with downtown parking, this might be the answer.


Fantastic idea. Does this mean the GOGs will be my henchmen? I will provide cool uniforms, plus dental.

Actually, we may just steal your idea.

Though Lavanya would be revealed to be Captain Autumn in the third act.

A couple of thoughts or those thinking about using Bikeshare to cross the Potomac so they're not scared away by Fritz's comment on the 14th Street Bridge: 14th Street has a wall and fence separating the bike path from the traffic lanes (and it's a wider bike path than the I-66 / TR bridge, so there's lots of room to pass). 14th Street also has a direct connection to the MVT, with no roads to cross, unlike on Memorial Bridge where you're dodging traffic. And there's a Bikeshare station right in front of the Jefferson Memorial, so you can bike over there, visit Mr. Jefferson (or the George Mason Memorial), hang out by the Tidal Basin, then jump on a bike for the quick trip across the bridge.

That's true -- thanks.  I've run along the 14th Street Bridge and back over the Memorial Bridge, so I can say both actually are doable, though the latter is the more awe-inspiring passageway. I think for a simple commute, 14th Street makes sense. For a more interesting view, Memorial Bridge all the way.

Nope, not punking you. She's a vegetarian and I have gluten and dairy sensitivities. will try Masa 14. Thanks!

Great - they just got some new menu items (and I noticed a lot of veggie fare) and new cocktails, so it's definitely worth a visit.

I said goodbye to summer on the Tuesday after Labor Day, when I started a new job after an extended period of unemployment. All the outdoor pools are closed, except for Hains Point. The nights are getting cooler and cooler. Really, all that remains of summer is baseball, but even that is heading into fall. At least we have Halloween to look forward to! But I am not really ready for summer to be over, so I'm going to see how much baseball and how many trips to Hains Point I can fit it until it is well and truly fall.

Baseball is a great idea - this coming Monday, FYI, is $1 Monday, when you can get $1 hot dogs, $1 peanuts and $1 popcorn. Could be a fun, cheap date night.

What's the best time to get there, say if I have a bunch of people meeting me? I've only ever been there late night or for happy hour.

On a Saturday? I would get there at/before 10 p.m. You want to be after dinner rush but before the big clubbing crowd shows up and packs the rooftop and the basement dance floor. Your friends will also have a better chance of getting in together, rather than waiting inside while you're inside having fun.

Bring friends up to our roof deck to drink our last six pack of Belgian wheat ale (preferably Leffe Blonde), followed by our first six pack of German Octoberfest (Spaten).

This sounds amazing. Also, so does your roof deck.

For some reason, I am now thinking of the scene from Anne of Green Gables when Anne Shirly floats in a canoe reciting lines from various Tennyson poems. So I suggest floating in a kayak while reciting lines from Langston Hughes and enjoying a sunset over the monuments. But I think I'll just go apple picking with my friends and see about mastering pie crust.

Awesome idea. See above for apple-picking ideas.

Hi Gurus, I'm looking for a space (ideally near Metro Center or Gallery Place) to hold an alumni networking event for a university. It wouldn't even have to necessarily be a private room, if we could rope off a semi-private area. Catch is we would need free space. (we have $250 to spend on appetizers, and drinks will be buy your own.) It will be on a Tuesday night in early January. Any ideas? In the past we have done Whitlow's on Wilson and Paolo's in Georgetown, but I'm hoping (maybe against hope?) to find something a bit more centrally located. Thanks!

You don't say how many people you have, but if it's a big-enough group, bars will work with you. I'd try Penn Social (shuffleboard! skee-ball! games!) or the Laughing Man Tavern, to start.

Hoping to check out the Board Room this weekend, but if it doesn't open as scheduled by Saturday night, do you all have any backup ideas? It doesn't need to be THAT similar--no need to be right in Dupont or have games--but something centrally located and low-key is good, and great beer is always a plus. Kinda broad, but I'm feeling kind of blah about my usual places and would welcome a suggestion or two!

Yeah, I wish the Board Room would hurry up and open so I could get my Clue on.

If you're looking for fun and games on a Saturday night, I'm going to mention Penn Social again -- I've been there with friends to play with the 3-foot Connect Four board, the Jenga set made with two-by-fours, skee-ball ... and they have board games, too.

Hi Gurus - I need your help! I want to take a friend out for his birthday next Wednesday, and was looking for something like a scotch, whiskey, etc tasting. Is there anything going on that evening or someplace you'd recommend? We are DC metro-bound. Thanks!

I don't have any whiskey tastings on my calendar for next Wednesday, but there's no reason you can't make your own. I'd call Smoke and Barrel, Bourbon or Jack Rose, tell them it's your friend's birthday and you'd like to do a taste of flights of whiskey. (Important: Tell them what you'd like to spend per person.) If you go to Smoke and Barrel, for example, their general manager is a bourbon fiend. I bet he'd be willing to help.

Good riddance. But "summer" won't be over for me until daytime temps are regularly in the '60s. (How is the first guy, who plans to call in sick, going to explain his sunburn if he forgets sunscreen?)

It's supposed to be 80 on Saturday, so they could have gotten a sunburn then?

Highs in the 70s next week. Boo.

Decided the kids (and parents) need more excercise and Sunday afternoons are a great time to do some fun things as a family. So far, we've spent the afternoon biking, one weekend we went kayaking, and we've been letterboxing at various parks (the kids HATE to hike but love to go letterboxing...guess it's all in the presentation!). Trying to come up with some more ideas for the fall and also some indoor ideas for when the weather gets bad. Kids are 9 and 14 and are both fairly active but get sucked into the TV and computer way too easily.

Resident outdoorswoman Amy Orndorff had some great suggestions:  For fall, how about finding a fall festival with a corn maze somewhere -- they won't even know you're making them exercise! Try the Corn Maze at the Plains. As the weather gets cooler, she suggests looking at some of the museums (particularly American Art and the Portrait Gallery) for scavenger hunts they host. You can check out a zip-line/ropes course, which are actually a lot more tolerable in cool weather; check out the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring. Ice-skating could be a family outing (and is such a hard workout); you can do that at the National Gallery of Art, or indoors, at Kettler Ice Plex or Fort Dupont.  And finally, if you just want to get them out of the house and maybe pursuing a hobby, arts organization Albus Cavus just kicked off their fall class schedule; big-name artists teach the workshops, and they're definitely family-friendly. I'd absolutely check out "aerosol art" (aka grafitti) or the tape-sculpture class, taught by Mark Jenkins, who really should be as big as Banksy.

I always take my (60 year old) mom dancing at the Quarry House in downtown Silver Spring. She and I love it, and my Dad will get up for a number or two and then go back to enjoying his burger and drink while watching the action!

Cute. Thanks!

Gurus - Tom didn't take my question yesterday, so here goes: Next week, my grandma is coming to visit DC for the first time. She is an adventurous eater and gets around well, but is very hard of hearing. I've made reservations at some nicer places that I know are quiet, but I don't want every meal to be a big expensive production, but still want her to eat well and have some fun dining experiences while here. Where can my wife and I take her and my parents for more casual, moderately priced meals in Arlington or DC? Thanks!

This is a great question, and it's leading to lots of discussion here at Guru Central. In Arlington, Liberty Tavern is a given, but so many new places, whether Green Pig or Eamonn's, are just so loud. Same with D.C. I love Hank's on the Hill -- especially for the late-night happy hour -- but when I took the parents of a friend there, the noise was deafening.

I just wrote in suggesting the Quarry House, and I meant to mention that on Saturday nights, including this one, they have rockabilly nights, so the band plays mostly 50s and 60s music, which is fun for everyone to dance to, in my opinion!

This is true. And the beer is on sale.

any decent late-night eats that I can grab with my wife after taking the ferry back to alexandria after tomorrow night's Nats game?

My go-to for late-night in Alexandria is a cod and chips (and sometimes a Guinness) at Eamonn's. They serve until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Looking for a venue to have ladies birthday party -big 70- either luncheon or tea - for around 50 ladies-not super expensive but nice and lots of fun!!!!! I am open for suggestions for either renting a space and then getting a caterer or a party room in a restaurant. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

We thought about this, and a party room at a restaurant would likely not even be large enough for a group of your size, so it would probably be best to look into hotels or rental spaces. Some of the options include the Willard Hotel in Washington; The Catering Company of Washington, which has both a lovely formal space and catering; and places such as Kentlands Mansion in Gaithersburg or the Mansion at Strathmore. You might also try Hillwood Estate.

Thanks for a great chat, everyone. Lots of great ideas in there. After a quick Conference of Gurus, we're going to give the two pairs of "Fly" tickets to the reader who suggested skipping work and getting sunburned, and the reader who's going to cheer on the Nats and then lift a pint at O'Connell's. Shoot your contact info to and I'll make sure your name is on the will-call list.

We hope to see you here next Thursday, when it will officially be Fall, and we'll talk more about wineries, scarecrows and Oktoberfests.

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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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