Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our Favorite Summer Activities in the District

As we inch towards the official start of summer (although it's kind of felt like summer in D.C. since February), the Gamma Girls thought it would be fun to tell you about our favorite summer activities in the District.  Read on for some fun ideas!

 Appealing Kate: Screen on the Green

Screen on the Green (SOTG) on the National Mall has long been one of my absolute FAVORITE things to do in our great city.

I'll set the scene for you. 

You go home from work, throw on a sun dress (or shorts and a t-shirt if you're a dude), pack up a bag with cheese, crackers, hummus, and fresh veggies.  And, of course, wine.  Then you drive down to the mall to meet your friends for a picnic. 

As you lay out your blanket and food, you look behind you to see the Washington Monument.  High in the sky with shades of light blue, pink and purple as the sun starts to set behind it.  In front of you is a giant movie screen.  Beyond that is the Capitol Building. The fading sun reflects off its marble.  You settle down on the blanket, pour a glass of wine and nibble on some cheese as the air cools down and your friends chat around you.  You sigh, content to be surrounded by good company and beautiful views.  The screen turns on and plays a Looney Tunes video.  The adults in the crowd giggle as the familiar song reminds them of simpler times.  The children stare at the screen, completely engaged in Bugs Bunny.

Source: http://www.asinglegirldc.com/
Then the screen gets dark and the featured event starts.  Maybe it's an old black and white film.  Maybe it's an 80s movie.  Maybe your significant other is there and you cuddle up.  Maybe it's just your friends and you all whisper back and forth throughout the film. 

Either way, you look around, smile and think "I don't know a better way to spend a Monday night in D.C." and settle in for the the next couple of hours.  

Have I got you interested yet?  I hope so.

Want more details?  SOTG is hosted each year by HBO in July and August.  Basically, HBO sets up a huge screen on the national mall between 4th and 7th Streets, NW.  People come with blankets and wine and picnics.  Lots of people come with friends.  Others come as a whole family.  And everyone hangs around and chats until dusk (roughly 8:30pm), and then the movie is shown.  This year's movies and dates were just announced yesterday:

Monday, July 16th- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Wednesday, July 25th- It Happened One Night (please note weekday change)
Monday, July 30th- From Here to Eternity
Monday, August 6th- Psycho

So, mark your calendars, tell your friends, and get ready for four very relaxing summer nights in the nation's capital.


Capital Katie: Boat Rides on the Potomac

This might come as a surprise submission from me since I grew up in a landlocked state, but when summertime comes to D.C., I live for boat rides on the Potomac.

Something about the cool breeze coming off the water, the rhythmic bouncing of the tide and that particular view of the capital city just strikes me as altogether magical for some reason.

Of course, I accomplish my summertime love of water-borne vessels in several ways:

Paddle boats in the Tidal Basin: This is generally the way I kick off summer. Boat rentals are $12 for two people for an hour, and trust me, that’s plenty of time to circle around the entire thing twice. It’s a great late-May, early-June activity because the weather is beautiful and it’s not quite tourist season yet (it becomes harder to secure a rental when the droves descend on the city).

Sightseeing cruises from Capitol River Cruises: I’ve used this company a bunch of times when I’ve had a visitor in town who wanted a tour of D.C. while the wind was blowing in her hair and we were in summer dresses and sipping cocktails. You can cover a lot of ground this way, as the cruises leave from the Georgetown Waterfront and continue past the tip of East Potomac Park, pointing out all of the monuments and statues of note along the way.

And speaking of the Georgetown Waterfront…

Convincing rich men to let me on their boats in the Georgetown Waterfront: The highest gamble on the list, but potentially also the highest reward. On humid summer nights in the District, wander down from Georgetown to Tony and Joe’s, Nick’s Riverside Grille or Sequoia while wearing a tiny dress and see what happens. If you chat with enough people or walk along the boardwalk, eventually someone will invite you to get a beer on his boat. Now, I cannot guarantee you that the man issuing the boat invitation will be young and attractive. More likely, he’ll be the complete opposite of that. But hey, you’ll be on a boat and getting free drinks, so what do you care? See how the other half lives for a change!


Jules: Jazz in the Sculpture Garden

For me, nothing says summer in D.C. more than jazz in the sculpture garden, the free concert series offered at the National Gallery of Art every Friday night through the end of August.

Rain or shine, crowds converge on the garden each week to hear all types of jazz, from Dixieland to Afro-Cuban to Louisiana funk. Yes, it's crowded, and it's usually hot, and the lines for the bathroom are painfully long.  But every time I'm there, I'm reminded of just how lucky I feel to live in such an interesting and vibrant city. 

Source: http://district365.com/
Source: http://www.examiner.com/
 The setting is beautiful and unique- and quintessentially D.C.- and all around me are groups of friends and coworkers ushering in the start of the weekend together, the sense of joy and celebration palpable. 

Add in some sangria, a sunset, and a few of your best friends, and you have all the makings of a perfect summer night in the District. 


Red White and Bourbon: Jack's Boathouse

When I think about summer my mind immediately goes to the water. Whether I’m on my way home to Maryland to hop on my uncle’s boat, catch some rays poolside, or headed to my favorite North Carolina beaches, in my mind a perfect summer day is not complete without being near the water.

Fortunately for D.C.’ers there is no shortage of water-themed activities here since the Potomac is in our backyard! In fact, one of my favorite spots to get on the water is by renting a canoe at Jack’s Boathouse. But don’t worry, if kayaking or paddle boarding are more your style, Jack’s has you covered.

Source: http://www.jacksboathouse.com/
When you venture out on the Potomac in a canoe or kayak not only are you spending quality time in the sun, and getting some exercise, but the views are amazing. Whether you paddle up river to the Memorial Bridge or down to Chain Bridge you are bound to see D.C. from a new and beautiful perspective.

And one of the best parts is that after you’ve spent a day on the water, Jack’s has a selection of gas grills for patrons to use to wind down after a fun-filled day. In my opinion, there’s no better way to relax after a day on the river than a good old fashioned cookout.

So grab your sunscreen and sunglasses and head down to Jack’s for a fun Summer Saturday in the sun. Jack’s Boathouse is conveniently located at 3500 K St NW (by the Key Bridge in Georgetown) and there is parking available at the facility and on nearby streets. Individual reservations and large groups are all welcomed, but I recommend booking early, as boats rent out quickly.


Samantha Says: Pool Parties at the Capitol Skyline Hotel

To me, summer in the district means that it's finally acceptable to show a little skin ... okay, A LOT of skin.

Since bare anything still isn't part of the "Summer Friday" dress code on the Hill, you can find my bikini-clad self partying it up with other beautiful people at the best pool party to ever hit D.C., hosted by the BYT crew at the Capital Skyline Hotel.

Tickets are cheap (usually around $15), DJs are spinning some great tunes, people are hospitable and happy (and hipster), the drinks are strong, and the water itself is refreshingly cool.

Let's face it, this is the closest we're ever going to get to livin' it up Vegas-style in the district!

Source: http://www.capitolskyline.com/
I am one of the lucky few to have a pool in my apartment complex (and there's a public one down the block -- find one near you here), but what good is a sexy new halter-top suit if no one other than the old dudes in my building can see it? By the way, you're welcome grandpas! 


 Thirsty Ivy: Summer Cinema at The National Theatre

Summers in the district are all about temperature control for this Florida girl, so most of my favorite events involve being indoors with A/C to prevent my body from bursting into flames.

The National Theatre takes pity on folks like me and hosts a FREE Summer Cinema program.

Each year, there is a theme or a particular actor/actress tying the series together, and this year they're featuring none other than Humphrey Bogart.

They'll kick it off on July 2nd with Casablanca, duh, and show a different flick each Monday night at 6:30pm for 8 weeks!  I'm particularly excited about Sabrina, a personal favorite, on August 13.
Here's the kicker: Tickets are distributed to those in line at 6pm, but you can't grab extra for friends. So if your friends don't sprint out of the office before 5pm (like yours truly) or work nearby, this might be a little tricky for you to pull off with a bigger group.

Movies aren't in the big playhouse space, but it's still a classy, historic location - thus, no food/drink is allowed. I recommend visiting The Round Robin Bar inside the Willard for a post-movie Mint Julep - but just one, because it's Monday and we aren't interns.


  1. Another cool thing to do would be to go down to your local fire station and eat some chili with some rugged firefighters.

  2. This is a great list, ladies! I just forwarded this to my friend - I'm definitely trying to fit at least half of these into my summer.

  3. Katie- thanks so much! Glad you are going to try out some of our ideas :)

  4. Ohio is landlocked? Orrrrrrr the entire northeast side is Lake Erie......?

  5. I knew someone was going to call me on that -- for the record, I'm from the suburbs on the southern end. Boating is just not a thing that we do. (And half the time, you can't go in Lake Erie anyway because the fecal matter count is too high. And this is also the state that sets rivers on fire due to pollution.)