Friday, August 31, 2012

What to Do in the District This Weekend!

Well, friends, the time has come to bid farewell to summer: Labor Day weekend is upon us.  Some of you are likely welcoming the fall and gleefully waving goodbye to the hot and sticky weather, while others are probably clutching beach towels in hand and wiping away margarita-induced tears at the  thought of pumpkin spice lattes making their return to coffee shops.    

But regardless of your feelings about the season, there is lots to celebrate this holiday weekend!  For those of you looking for last minute get-out-of-town ideas, check out the Gamma Girls' Favorite Weekend Destinations.  Staying in D.C.?  There's lots of fun stuff happening, so read on.   

Friday

Last call for jazz
It's your last chance to go to Jazz in the Sculpture Garden!  I've already blathered on about my love for this event, so I'll spare you this time and just show you this nice picture instead.

Blue Moon and...gelato?
If jazz isn't your thing, might I suggest hitting up On Tap's Blue Moon On The Blue Moon event at Local 16 in the U Street Corridor?  You guys, it's free beer, free Blue Moon Gear, and you raise money for charity in the process.  And if you're not already sold, let me just add this: Blue Moon gelato.  Oh yes, they went there.

DJ Dredd's MJ birthday celebration
Celebrate both the holiday and the birth of Michael Jackson with this third annual tribute at the Howard Theatre in Shaw.  Tickets are $15, but dancing to all of MJ's greatest hits while judging the moonwalk impressions of your friends is priceless. 

Saturday

College football tailgate
It's football season, and Penn Social in Penn Quarter is giving us even more reason to celebrate:  Why NOT give away a ton of free beer to our loyal patrons through a contests and raffles every week? It was a question we had for ourselves, and gosh darnit, we don't have a good answer. Plus, it's FOOTBALL SEASON! This week, we will have a cornhole toss tournament. Sign up will begin at the downstairs bar, at 10 a.m. By 11:30, there will be a winner. 10 pitchers will be the prize. Bring your friends!

A D.C. date night?
Take advantage of the fact that many of your neighbors have fled town for the weekend and check out one of the new offerings on the D.C. dining scene.  Luke's Lobster recently opened a Georgetown location, and up the street in Glover Park is the newly opened Slate Wine Bar and Bistro.  The recently renovated Hitching Post in Petworth is also a good one to try, and The Diner in Adams Morgan just rolled out a new menu that makes my Eggs Florentine-loving heart go aflutter.  Also open?  The Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, after a long two years of renovation.  Take a late night stroll that will remind you just how lovely D.C. can be and help burn some calories in the process. 


Sunday

Last call for Adult Swim 
Get your swimsuit-clad butt on over to the final Adult Swim party of the season.  As Gamma Girl Samantha put its: 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 Capitol Skyline Hotel.

Tickets are cheap (usually around $15), deejays 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!

Baltimore pie fest
The B’Eat More Pie Fest (as in, Baltimore Eats More Pie) is an annual festival that celebrates the culinary masterpiece that is pie.  A day-long affair full of more pie than you can imagine?  Sounds good to me.  The first annual pie festival took place in September 2011 with great success, so don't miss this year's event.  At 2640 Saint Paul St., from 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!  How are you celebrating?



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Where to Take a Teenager in D.C.

I took a trek back to the official Capital Katie homestead in Ohio this weekend, and while I was there I had the distinct pleasure of celebrating my cousin's 13th birthday.

Let me just assure you all of this: Hollister and Aeropostale are in. Neon and zebra print are in. One Direction is waaaaayyyyyy in.

My cousin always wants to hang out with her "cool older cousins," so my sister and I indulged her in some girl talk. As we lazed about in her pink, purple, blue and yellow bedroom on her fuzzy neon pink area rug, I found myself missing adolescence a bit. My cousin is experiencing her first school dances and she's discovering boys. Ohhh, how I remember the days before I knew to fear a broken heart. Sigh.

In any case, my wistful state inspired me to invite this plucky young woman to come visit me in D.C. sometime. Her eyes widened and she seemed so excited by the prospect of spending a weekend with me.

And then I wondered: What the hell could I do with a teenager for an entire weekend? I can't take her to bars, fine dining ain't her thing and I don't think she'll appreciate the many D.C. museums (too much like school, after all).

Hence, blog post. If there's a teenage visitor on your immediate horizon, here's a handy itinerary!



FOR AN EDUCATIONAL TOUR SHE/HE WILL APPRECIATE: City Segway Tours, 502 23rd St. NW

The teenager in your life might initially pooh-pooh the idea of riding around on a Segway listening to historical facts about the District, but then you immediately shut that down by going, "Oh, a SEGWAY isn't COOL enough for you??? Your wardrobe was inspired by these guys!!!"


Once you have quelled any hesitations, hop on one of these bad boys. Trust me, you can't frown on a Segway. It's just too fun.

There are several companies that offer the tours through D.C., but City Segway Tours is the least expensive at $65 a person (I know, I know -- still pricey, but better than other places). I took my brother on one of their tours several summers ago, and we had a phenomenal time!

City Segway Tours
Unfortunately, a caveat: This is one thing I actually won't be able to take my cousin to because D.C. law requires that all Segway operators be at least 16. However, it's still a good suggestion for your older teenage visitors.



FOR MORE STUFF ON THE MALL: Flight simulators at the National Air and Space Museum, Independence Ave. SW & 6th St. SW

The National Air and Space Museum is the most visited museum on the Mall, but did you know that in between viewing space memorabilia and learning about the hole in the ozone layer, you can play around in a flight simulator!

The museum has two different ones: ride simulators, which, basically, you sit in and they shake you around a little bit, and interactive flight simulators, which have you and a partner at the controls of a simulated F-4 Phantom II jet fighter performing barrel rolls and shooting down enemies.



Clearly, the latter is the one you want, and it is INTENSE. It's $8 per person.



TO WALK IN THE STEPS OF REALITY TV: Georgetown

There's perpetually an 8-million-mile-long line out in front of Georgetown Cupcake for a reason: DC Cupcakes is filmed there.

I will never stand in this. 
Swing by and see if you can catch a glimpse of the ladies who made this shop famous, then walk across the street to Kafe Leopold, which frequently appeared on the ill-fated Real Housewives of D.C. (The daughter of one of the housewives worked there. Fun fact: I dated the pastry chef there for a while.)

If your guest is a movie buff, you could even take him/her over to the Exorcist Stairs (36th St. NW & M St. NW), the staircase that appeared in the movie The Exorcist (technically not reality TV, but hey, it's right there so you might as well visit it).





FOR CHILDLIKE CUISINE WITH AN ADULT TWIST: DC-3 for hot dogs and The Dairy Godmother for frozen custard

DC-3 is a little hole in the wall on Barracks Row, easily accessible from the Eastern Market Metro. It serves all kinds of fancy hot dogs, from your standard New York City street vendor hot dogs to Cincinnati chili dogs (my personal favorite) to even crazier selections. The teenager you're with won't turn up his or her nose to hot dogs, and considering the variety of flavors offered, you'll be able to satisfy your desire for higher-level cuisine.

Dairy Godmother, unfortunately, is located at 2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA -- AKA way the eff out in the Del Ray neighborhood. It's not Metro-accessible (not unless you want to walk a mile to and from the Braddock Road Metro station, anyway), but if you've got access to wheels in some fashion (borrow a car, use ZipCar, take a taxi, etc.), it's totally worth the trip.

The Dairy Godmother

Dairy Godmother specializes in frozen custard, and frequently rotates flavors. It is creamy, delicious, and unlike any other frozen treat place in D.C. What's more, Obama ate there with his daughters on Father's Day a couple years ago, so there's that little added touristy point.


So with that, take your teenage guest out on the town. Hopefully, they won't be too cool for school.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Where to Buy Hostess Gifts in the District

"Never show up empty-handed" -- a Southern sentiment and a primary rule in the Thirsty family!

Whether you're going to your best friend's house for dinner, to your neighbor's for a "meet the baby" soiree, or to your soon-to-be parents-in-law for the weekend ... it's never a bad idea to take a small token of your appreciation.

If this is new to you, let me assure you that such a polite and thoughtful gesture doesn't require a lot of money or even a lot of pre-planning.

Sure, you could swing by any big box store (Target and the like) or even Pottery Barn to pick up something, but wouldn't you rather support the district's small businesses and present your friends with something unique?

I thought so.

Here are just a few of my recommendations for great D.C.-area shops to find edible, drinkable, and/or food-related goodies to wow your hosts!

If you're a guest at a dinner party, wine is totally appropriate. Even if it isn't served, it's a relevant gift for the occasion - assuming that the hosts drink (not a question amongst my friends).

Bacchus
Yes, you could theoretically buy a bottle at CVS ... OR you could visit some of the great wine shops in the area to get specialized suggestions. Pick a place like d'vines in Columbia Heights, Bacchus Wine Cellar in Georgetown, Cork Market on 14th in Logan Circle, or Schneider's of Capitol Hill, tell them your price range, what you're having for dinner, and/or your personal preferences, and they'll help you select a quality bottle.

For an added treat, pick up some fun wine accessories at Home Rule on 14th Street -- think funky bottle stoppers, unique glassware, or wine charms.


If, for some reason, your friends are sober (or pregnant), how about some hand-made chocolates from Chocolate Chocolate ("So good we had to say it twice") just south of Dupont Circle, macarons from Macaron Bee in Georgetown, or truffles from Locolat Cafe near the U Street Corridor? Make sure to buy a treat for yourself too -- that way, there won't be an empty slot in the gift box when temptation hits you (and it will).


Or, if you're MY guest, skip the sweets and go straight for the cheese! Penn Quarter's Cowgirl Creamery is the only one of its kind outside of California and offers dozens of artisan cheeses. Like the wine experts know wine, these ladies know cheese! Tell them what you like and what you think your hosts might like, and they'll help you make your decision.

Yum!
If you're a weekend house-guest, think a bit bigger. For example, go ahead and pick up some cheese but then head over to Wake Up Little Suzie in Cleveland Park to buy a funky cheese slate and knives too.

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If you prefer to make your own gifts, how about some homemade cookies with a D.C. twist? Hill's Kitchen near Eastern Market sells this awesome cookie cutter for less than $2. Add in the cost of flour and sugar, and you've assembled a pretty inexpensive yet unique and heartfelt present!

@HillsKitchenDC
If you're looking to spend a little more, those cookies would be right at home inside one of these adorable owl cookie jars, no?
@HillsKitchenDC
Any of these host/hostess gifts will definitely get you invited back!

Now, if you're a good guest, you really should send a thank you note too! (Same goes for recipients.) Stay tuned for a future post about stationary stores in the district.

Mind your manners, y'all!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Where Politicos Should Go On A Date

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As anyone who read my post on Memorial Day can tell, I really love America. The Revolutionary War mesmerizes me. Seriously, I’m not even joking right now. In fact, I love the Revolutionary War so much that I wrote a speech about it in middle school. Yes, in the eighth grade, I created an identity for myself as the daughter of a colonist and brought the tea party to life from the eyes of a teenager. Still to this day, Boston is my favorite city in the United States and at some point I will call it my home. Maybe next year, maybe ten years from now. And, if I’m being completely honest, I’m sure my support of the Red Sox has something to do with my Revolutionary War obsession (side bar: I am not discussing the most recent Red Sox trades right now, as Josh Beckett was my boyfriend).

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It won’t surprise you to find out that my love for America extends to the political system. Now, calm down, people. I’m not saying I adore the abomination that our government has become where we hold ideas hostage purely to make a stand, or destroy our own credit rating, I’m talking about the idea that we can seamlessly transition power without revolution, and that people are able to shout their feelings about President Obama and Governor Romney from the rooftops without fear of persecution. Yes, I was a political science major in undergrad, so my obsession with all things political only deepened during those four years.

Now you may be asking yourself (as most of my readers usually do), “RWB, what in the world does your nerd obsession have to do with your review?” Well, dear readers, I will tell you, if you are politically versed, or are looking for a place to take a politico on a date, Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins at Arena Stage in the Waterfront district is for you.

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Now, I need to make a disclaimer before starting this review. I am a conservative. As anyone familiar with political commentators and journalists knows, Molly Ivins was anything but. In fact, she was quite the opposite of a conservative and made her career on being the liberal voice of deep Texas. However, despite my being a conservative, I am open-minded (it’s okay you can bring your jaw back up now, yes open-minded conservatives exist) and appreciate seeing things from another point of view. And, as anyone who is familiar with politics knows, Texas politics are a whole different breed. So regardless of your Party affiliation, you’ll be entertained with some of the stories alone (guns, God, and freedom, y’all!)

Molly Ivins
I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in to Arena Stage. As I said before, I knew Molly Ivins was a reporter, and I knew she was a spitfire liberal. Now, as a spitfire myself, I was prepared for witty banter and coarse language. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the raw emotion or call to action.

For starters, Kathleen Turner makes a wonderful Molly Ivins. She is tall and proud; her red cowgirl boots only further authenticate her as “Molly.” My only complaint is that her accent is forced and inconsistent. Now, I am also a southern accent snob and the sound of a faked accent sticks out like a sore thumb. So to most of you, the accent will sound just fine. But, I have to be honest, while her accent is unnatural, her vernacular is spot on.  

 

"You can't ignore politics no matter how
much you'd like to."
-Molly Ivins


You will notice that the stage is simply decorated to look like a newsroom, and only Molly’s desk is moved forward. And the event is more of a dialogue or a presentation and not “theater” per say. Molly speaks to the audience about herself in a colloquial way, as if she is having a conversation with you. There is no communication with other characters, or set changes. Instead, it’s Molly telling the audience about her life. The show is essentially a highlight reel through Molly’s years.

Red Hot Patriot starts with a description of Molly’s adolescent upbringing in a conservative Texas family, complete with proper pre-dinner family cocktails, debutante balls, and Smith College. The audience then follows along with Molly after leaving Smith College, when she begins her life as a liberal journalist with stints in the Midwest, Northeast, and other Texan publications before ending up at the Texas Observer. While she famously penned Elvis Presley’s obituary for the New York Times, her notorious colorful writing was not appreciated in the northeast and she moved on, eventually landing at the Observer.

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Now fellow conservatives, beware, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush are called out at several points during the presentation. But, despite my conservative roots, I found myself giggling along, and if you are open to criticism of “our kind” you will laugh, too. For instance, how can you not laugh out loud (yes, I almost snorted) when the lead character suggests that the United States change our symbol from an Eagle to a red white and blue condom because it covers inflation and protects us from pricks? Plus when someone comments, “Fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed,” smiling is a natural reaction.

The audience also gets a look into Molly’s personal life, from learning about the death of the two loves of her life, and her complicated relationship with her father, to her dog, and eventually her dealing with terminal breast cancer. But, out of all the information presented, the biggest surprise to me was the call to action that comes at the very end.

As the show draws to a close (a very quick 75 minutes later) the audience is challenged. Regardless of party, audience members are encouraged to have a voice and take action. As a political science major that has canvassed, campaigned, and conducted more voter registration drives than most people can imagine, I can’t tell you how much I agree.

This show is perfect for those living in D.C. during an election year. Even as a conservative, I was able to appreciate the homage to Ivins, a journalistic icon. If you’re looking for a perfect date night, and you (or your date) are passionate for politics, Red Hot Patriot at Arena Stage is for you.

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For those unfamiliar, Arena Stage is near the SW Waterfront, easily accessible by the Green/Yellow lines or by car. I was able to find street parking right by the theater. And, if you’re looking for a nice complete dinner and show date, why not check out Cantina Marina for cocktails (I highly recommend their Silver Hurricane) or Phillips Seafood House for dinner (shocking, the Maryland girl sends you to a place with delicious crab cakes).

The show is running through October 28 in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. Tickets and up-to-date information are available by visiting http://arenastage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/red-hot-patriot/

Yours in All Things Patriotic,



Friday, August 24, 2012

What to Do in the District This Weekend!

Last weekend was a big, fat FAIL for me, as I was stuck in bed with the plague (or maybe just a common cold - hard to tell) and bored out of my mind. Plus, I missed out on all of the fun things happening in D.C.

NOT THIS WEEKEND! This weekend, I plan on recharging my whole self with the greatness this city has to offer.

Here's your guide to a full-body weekend.

Friday
For your ears

Picture this, if you will ... you're in a bar (or your living room, location isn't all that important) and then you hear notes on a piano, followed closely by these words:

"Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world..."

What do you do? You immediately hit your feet and belt it out, AM I RIGHT?! Of course I am.

Press play! You're welcome.

Good news for you, my fellow Journey fans: Almost Journey, a tribute band, will be rocking out the hits in Herndon, Va., tonight at Friday Night Live!

If your musical tastes tend toward the more modern, Jason Mraz and Christina Perri will be performing at Merriweather in Columbia, Md., tonight as well.

For your eyes 

The Wilderness Society is hosting Wine, Wilderness, and Ansel Adams, a FREE event that allows you to get up close with their collection of his photographs. 5-7:30 p.m. 1615 M St. NW Downtown.

For your whole body

L2 Lounge (Cady's Alley in Georgetown) is throwing their 3rd-annual "Endless Summer Beach Party."

I, for one, am beyond thrilled that this dreadful season is nearing its close, but I won't turn down another opportunity to throw on my "St. Tropez
chic" and drink something with an umbrella in it.

Saturday

For your whole body

After winning the limbo contest on Friday night, your back might need a good stretch so head back to Georgetown for FREE yoga. It's offered every Saturday morning, rain or shine, at the Georgetown Waterfront. 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

For your belly, your liver, and your ears

The D.C. Funky Fresh Foodie Fest (aka DCF4, because that's a tongue-twister) brings some of the area's best food trucks, alcohol, and live music to the D.C. Fairgrounds (by the Nats' stadium). Buy your tickets now! Admission-only tickets are $15, or you can buy an all-inclusive one to make things easier.




If this doesn't sound dainty enough for you, then Urban Chic in Georgetown has just the event for you! From 3 p.m.-5 p.m., they're hosting Rock Your Red Heels - a champagne and dessert reception to celebrate National Women's Equality Day and Anne Browning Walker's new release The Booby Trap.

Sunday

For your mind, your feet, and your sweet tooth

How would you feel if I told you there was an opportunity for you to get some knowledge, some exercise, and some cake all at once? Like you've hit the lottery, right?!

$20 buys you a ticket to the Georgetown Walking Tour with Cupcakes. For two hours, you'll wander around the neighborhood, learning its history, and pigging out on treats from Georgetown Cupcake, Baked & Wired, and Sprinkles. Jackpot!


The tour starts at Dumbarton House, which just happens to be part of Dumbarton Oaks near Woodley Park. The Gardens and the museum are favorites of Jules', even when the cherry blossoms aren't in bloom. Countless photo ops!

For your spirit


Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the D.C. earthquake that had us literally quaking in our boots (never forget).  For most of us, the memory of that day is of brief pandemonium followed by early dismissal and super-sized happy hours, but let's not forget that there was actual destruction caused by the quake, the brunt of which occurred at the Washington National Cathedral.  Some repairs are still underway, but the building remains awe-inspiring in its grandeur, regardless of your beliefs.  Stop by from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. for a 30-minute tour or at 4 p.m. for the Choral Evensong.    

For your funny bone

Comedy on the Corner, Penn Social's weekly open-mic night, kicks off at 8 p.m. Admission is FREE, and Happy Hour lasts all night. Trust me, it's funnier that way.



Here's to a fantastic weekend for all of me and all of you!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Where to Find Fun Museum Events: Music, Trivia, After Hours Parties and More

As a kid, I found museums to be deathly boring.  I mean, who wants to go around looking at pictures of old stuff and learning things?  Gross.  

Then, in fifth grade, my disdain for museums turned into full blown terror when I got wind of an upcoming field trip to a local museum containing actual Egyptian mummies.  This was because, against my mother's advice, I had recently viewed  a low budget TV movie about mummies that used their petrified fingernails to extract human brains from the nostrils of unsuspecting victims.    

But I digress.  The point is, a museum can be a very enjoyable place to spend an afternoon provided that you're not terrified its artifacts are going to suddenly spring to life and try to violently murder you.  And that's a very fortunate thing for residents of a city that happens to be overflowing with all varieties of galleries and exhibits.  

Pensive gazing, Bueller style
But even those who happily spend days on end feeding their inner art/history/science nerd can get a little fatigued of the traditional offerings after a while.  Which is why I've put together this list of museum activities that don't really have anything to do with pensive gazing.
   
MINI GOLF 
You've probably heard by now that the National Building Museum is offering indoor mini-golf for only $5 per person.  But don't delay, since you'll only have until Labor Day to "play holes inspired by the world that people design and build, created by area architects, construction firms, and others who influence the built environment. Challenge your friends and family to a round of mini-golf in air-conditioned comfort, packed with enough fun to make Augusta National Golf Club green with envy!"

MUSIC 
Every third Thursday of the month, the Smithsonian American Art Museum's "Take Five!" performance series features free, live jazz in the Kogod Courtyard from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. The museum's cafĂ© stays open so guests can enjoy beer, wine and light snacks during the performance, and a large selection of classic board games (Candyland, anyone?) are also available for those who enjoy a little competition alongside their jazz. 

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Every Friday this summer, the National Gallery of Art features the popular "Jazz in the Sculpture Garden" series. Rain or shine, crowds converge on the garden each week to hear all types of jazz, from Dixieland to Afro-Cuban to Louisiana funk. Read more about it in the Gamma Girls' Favorite Summer Activities post

Also at the National Gallery of Art is free, live music on Sundays at 6:30 p.m.  Concerts held in the West Building take place from February-July and feature choral, Afghan, opera music and more.  Check back in the winter for a complete listing of the next series!   

GARDENS
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The beautiful gardens of Dumbarton Oaks, a research library and museum located in Georgetown, feature stunning views of fragrant flowers, sweeping lawns, intricate fountains and more. Brief introductory tours are offered , but the gardens are easy to navigate on your own.  Open daily from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. except on Mondays, general admission to the gardens is $5 for children, seniors, and students and $8 for everyone else except Harvard students, faculty and staff, for whom it’s free. Good for you, nerds!  

Capital Katie wrote about the Hillwood Museum in her Where to Take Your Mother When She Visits post, and with good reason- the thirteen acres of formal gardens are beautiful and not to be missed. From the traditional rose garden to the whimsical Japanese garden, you'll want to leave yourself plenty of time to explore. Hillwood is open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and on select Sundays from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

TRIVIA
Another fun event in the Portrait Gallery's Kogod Courtyard is the free monthly "Pop Quiz" trivia series.  Each month features a different theme- the most recent being the Olympics- in which players can come try their hand at trivia while enjoying a beverage or two from the museum cafe.  Check back at the upcoming events page on the museum's website to find the next trivia night.     

BUTTERFLIES & IMAX
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Way back when Doing the District was a wee baby, I wrote about an impromptu lady date I went on at the Natural History Museum; first we stopped at the Butterfly Pavilion, where for the price of $6, one can enter a room with gorgeous butterflies fluttering all about (general entry into the museum is free), then we visited one of the Smithsonian's three IMAX theaters, which have the largest screens in the D.C. region and measure up to six stories tall.  In addition to the artfully captured nature and wildlife films, you can check out the occasional mainstream flick offered at select theaters in the evening.  Currently playing: The Dark Knight Rises.  

HIKING BY THE FULL MOON
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Among the most popular activities on this list are the "Full Moon" hikes put on by the National Arboretum.  Take a four-mile-long, mildly strenuous hike through moonlit gardens, meadows and woods as your guide shares points of special interest and seasonal highlights.  As the website notes, the two-hour walk over hilly and uneven terrain is a brisk hike, not a tour, so wear good walking shoes and dress for the weather.  The upcoming sessions are full, but you can register for a November walk- err, I mean hike- here

AFTER HOURS FUN
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There are lots of great options for after hours fun at a number of area museums.  Anderson House offers behind the scenes museum tours at night, featuring stops at a secret staircase and wine tasting in the garden, not normally open to the public (ooh, mysterious).   

On the first Thursday of the month, the Phillips Collection holds its "Phillips After 5" event, an evening gathering for art lovers to mix and mingle while enjoying live music, food, a cash bar, gallery talks and more.  Reservations are strongly encouraged to ensure you get a ticket before they sell out.

A few times a year, the Hirshhorn throws a huge "After Hours" bash, in which guests can check out exhibits accompanied by lasers, smoke machines, cash only bars, and local DJs.  Tickets sell out quickly for this sought after event, so be sure to keep an eye out for the next After Hours here.
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Every first Friday of the month, Dupont area galleries stay open late and offer free wine and snacks to visitors who wander from gallery to gallery to view the artwork and talk with artists, art aficionados, and young professionals looking for a change from the typical bar scene.    

Any other museum events you'd recommend?  Let us know!


Friday, August 17, 2012

What to Do in the District This Weekend

It's FRIIIIIIIIIDAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!*

Yes, folks, you made it through another rough week, and now it's time to kick back, cut loose, let your hair down and any other cliche you can think of to signify an acceptable celebration of a break from work.

But what if you don't have any cut-loose plans? Not to worry -- the Gamma Girls are here to guide you in the direction of fun.

FRIDAY

D.C. Beer Week ends tomorrow, so if you haven't thrown back a pint or two yet, don't miss your chance! Tonight, head to Smith Commons on H Street for Northeast Brewery Night with craft offerings from breweries on the Northeastern side of the U.S. Or check out ChurchKey in Logan Circle, where DC Brau and Bluejacket breweries will be unveiling their collaboration ale. If you're a Sam Adams lover, there are no less than three bars that will be tapping their brews: Thunder Burger and Bar in Georgetown, Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Adams Morgan and Bourbon in Glover Park.


Always a good decision!


There's also still time to catch the summer concert series at Yards Park in the Waterfront district! Tonight, it's Jimi Smooth and Hit Time, which apparently means it's a concert of the Motown/soul variety.




And remember when I told you all to get excited about H Street Northeast? The time has arrived!

Cusbah features a henna-tattoo-like paint detail.
This weekend marks the opening of Le Grenier, a French restaurant whose name means "the attic." Add that to the other recent additions of H & Pizza, which is pretty self-evident what they serve, and Cusbah, which advertises "South-Asian spice cuisine," and you've got yourself a pig-out party!



SATURDAY

Also ending this weekend is the 64th Annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, where you'll be able to satisfy all your cravings for fried food and farm animals:


Hoo-boy, look at the udders on her!

In addition to that, there will be pig, duck and goat races; Demolition Derby and Monster Trucks; magic shows; poodle shows (Side note: WTF is a poodle show?); and much, much more.

To get there, plug 596 N. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg, MD, into your GPS and head on out the door.



If farming is not your thing, perhaps jewelry and cute clothes are? Check out the launch party for the website Carnelian Boutique, an online clothing retailer of adorable women's clothes and accessories. The store is named after a reddish, semi-precious gemstone that appears in much of their jewelry (on a personal note: I checked out their site, and I LOVE everything about it).

www.carnelianboutique.com
Carnelian ring from
Carnelian Boutique
Since the store isn't a brick-and-mortar location, the site is throwing the party at Tabula Rasa, an event space on Barracks Row. Click this link to sign up for either the pop-up shop, where they'll be hawking their wares from 12-5 p.m., or the launch party, from 5-8 p.m.

Tabula Rasa: 731 8th St. SE, Eastern Market Metro









SUNDAY

After all the eating, boozing and bad decisions you've made on the previous two nights, Sunday should be spent catching up on sleep, eating breakfast proteins and detoxing.

Trek up to Rockville, Md., to get a beautiful mani/pedi at Cindy Nails.

Or for $60, binge on delicious pig products at the Third Annual Porc Out, a pig lover's festival held at Bourbon Steak. It's all you can eat and drink!!!


And with that, since everyone else is peacing out for the weekend, I suppose I will too.

Now go have a blast!!!


*This is how my boyfriend chooses to wake me up on Friday mornings. If I didn't love him, I would stab him.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where to Get Away: The Gamma Girls' Favorite Weekend Destinations

 Appealing Kate: Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I love hiking and wine. And earlier this spring I found a place where I could enjoy both of those things: Sugarloaf Mountain. Sugarloaf Mountain is a little over an hour from the District, making it the perfect distance for a day trip or an overnight adventure.

There are many reasons why I love hiking, including: getting away from the hustle and bustle, going off-trail and exploring, soaking in beautiful, natural surroundings, and of course, pushing myself physically. Sugarloaf Mountain proved to be perfect for all four of those things. It wasn't crowded at all, the trails were somewhat difficult to follow, the views gorgeous, and at times it was definitely challenging with its steep inclines and rocky areas. The hiking trail we explored took us about three hours (we also stopped for a picnic lunch), and took us deep into the woods while also offering sweeping views at the top.

Views from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
And what's a great way to relax after a tough morning of hiking? Well, enjoying a local winery, of course. The Sugarloaf Mountain Winery is literally half a mile away. Patrons can order glasses of wine, sangria, or do flight wine tastings. We went for the sangria and then sat in the sun listening to the live musical performance.

Sadly, our adventure ended there.

But, this trip can easily be turned into an overnight getaway. The Pleasant Spring Farms Bed and Breakfast is about a 15 minute drive from the mountain. It looks absolutely adorable. Once you check-in and relax with a bubble bath, dress up and head to the historic Comus Inn for dinner where you'll eat fresh, local food and enjoy sweeping views of the mountain you hiked earlier in the day. Then head back to the B&B where the inn keeper will prepare a fire for you in your room, and have a home-cooked breakfast ready for you in the morning. 

And, boom, just like that you have a perfect weekend getaway. Either with your significant other, or with a small group of friends.

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 Thirsty Ivy: Cape May, New Jersey

I've been planning an off-season getaway to Cape May for at least a year now ... and then my parents went and stole my idea (without inviting me, I might add). So, even though I haven't been and can't vouch for it personally, it has the Thirsty Parents' seal of approval!

Here's what I've been planning: pack up the car with the essentials (good friends, casual duds, and several bottles of wine) and drive to Lewes, Delaware (about 3 hours without traffic). Then we'll board the ferry (car and all) and cruise 17 more miles (another 90 minutes or so) across the bay.

After we disembark, we'll either check into Congress Hall or The Virginia Hotel (based on recommendations from friends in-the-know). Then we'll stroll through the town, admiring the colorful, Victorian homes and browsing our way through the little shops -- all the while chewing on some fresh salt-water taffy.

We'll dine at The Magnolia Room, George's Place, and Peter Shields and then walk off all of the calories on the beach. Then, we'll turn around on Sunday afternoon and do the trip in reverse -- more than likely with tears in our eyes. If you've been, share your tips! If you want to go, claim your spot in the car now -- I'm determined to turn these plans into reality this fall!

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Capital Katie: Virginia wine country


To me, there is nothing more relaxing and romantic than driving out to Virginia's wine country with someone I love to spend an afternoon drinking in the lush scenery and, of course, the wine.

There are more than 200 wineries across the state, making it one of the top wine-producing states in the country (Virginia apparently ranks eighth in the nation for bearing acreage and grape production, but I couldn't find stats on how many wineries other states have).

The barrel room at Shenandoah Vineyards
Now, Virginia has wineries all across the state, but for the best wine experience, fill up your gas tank and head out on Interstate 66 toward Interstate 81 South to the Shenandoah Valley wine trail. My personal favorites are Cave Ridge Vineyard and North Mountain Vineyard, for when I just want to drink a glass of wine and enjoy the view, and Shenandoah Vineyards for when I want to actually learn about what I'm drinking, as the winery gives guided tours of their production and barrel rooms every hour.

And more than that, most of these places offer food of some variety, most notably DELICIOUS cheeses that pair perfectly with whatever vintage you've chosen to imbibe. I can't think of a better way to spend a summer afternoon!
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Red White and Bourbon: Blacksburg, Virginia 

So as you can tell from my post earlier this week, I am a big Virginia Tech fan. While I am not an alum, my sister graduated from VT in 2010 and is currently in her third year of vet school there. Needless to say, since she has spent 7 years of her life in Blacksburg, I have made plenty of visits down 81 to visit her at Tech. Blacksburg is one of my favorite places on Earth and for those of you that haven’t had a chance to experience it, this fall I highly recommend taking a road trip to the ‘Burg.

GAME DAY WEEKENDS: If you love everything about college football, checking out a Hokie game at some point during the season is a must. Be prepared for a maroon and orange explosion, amazing tailgaters, cornhole, and a plethora of drinking games because VT knows how to tailgate right. And believe me, there is no experience like jumping in Lane Stadium during “Enter Sandman.” Heck, even ESPN regularly comments that VT is one of the loudest and most energetic crowds in all of college football.


HIKING & BIKING: The Cascades are some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. As the leaves begin to change it is absolutely stunning; it is the perfect getaway location if you’re looking to get some fresh air. This scenery will literally take your breath away. Plus, for those of you that enjoy biking, there are plenty of mountain bike trails in the area surrounding Virginia Tech, as well. I can assure you once you’ve visited Blacksburg and see what it has to offer, you will be back sooner, rather than later.

FOR THE INNER-ROMANTIC: Dirty Dancing was filmed about 20 minutes west of Blacksburg at Mountain Lake Resort. For those of you that love this movie (and if you don’t then I assume you have no heart) make sure you visit this adorable resort. Mountain Lake Resort is open for business May-October for day trips or overnights. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you just missed the Dirty Dancing fan weekend (bummer, I know).

EAT DRINK & BE MERRY: And because it is a college town, there are plenty of places to eat and drink. Some of my favorites are El Rods (standard Tex-Mex but their Jumbo Texas Margaritas will knock you on your face for next to nothing), Macados (seriously these sandwiches are life changing), Sal’s (amazing Italian, sister and I are big fans of the calzone), or Bull & Bones (a girl needs her meat and potatoes).

The best part of all, while Virginia Tech is 4 hours away, it is literally two highways, and that’s it, you’re there. So pack a cooler, put some clothes in a bag, and jump on 66 W and drive until it ends, then hop on 81 S and drive until you see signs for Virginia Tech.  Yep, that simple!
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Jules: Shenandoah National Park

Even though back-to-school ads would have you believe that summer is over and gone, the fact is, we still have a good month or so left of the best season of the year.  For those that need a break from the heat and tourists that seem especially ubiquitous in the summer, Shenandoah National Park is just 75 miles from D.C., but feels worlds away.

One hot weekend not too long ago, some friends and I loaded a car with our hiking gear- and about a week's worth of snacks -- and headed to Skyline Drive, the scenic roadway that leads you to the Park.  After pulling over a few times to ooh and ahh at the beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we put down the Monster Mix and got down to business: the hiking. 

With over 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, there's no shortage of options.  Trails range from short, easy walks to long, rugged rock scrambles; my friends and I chose a hike firmly in the middle (to see maps and more information, click here).  

Despite the fact that it was 95 degrees and humid when we left D.C., it was delightfully mild in Shenandoah, which I pointed out approximately every 30 minutes to my friends ("Isn't it just so delightful here?") which I'm sure was not annoying at all.  On our hike we passed a waterfall, lots of wildlife -- including a bear! -- and took in some stunning views, each more impressive than the last.

Like the true city dwellers that we are, we opted to stay at the Skyland Resort Lodge rather than rough it in the wild.  After having dinner at the surprisingly tasty lodge restaurant, we put on our jackets (I just need to say that one more time...jackets...in AUGUST) and sat on the back porch of our cabin to drink wine and watch the sunset.

And if you don't make it to Shenandoah before the summer ends, don't fret- Skyline Drive is an equally appealing destination in the fall, when the colorful leaves change the scenery into something else entirely.  But if you do go during the summer, make sure you post lots of updates on Facebook about how you're wearing a jacket and enjoying nature to remind your friends stuck back in swampy D.C. of all they're missing out on.  
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Samantha: Dewey Beach, Delaware 

Nothing says summer to me quite like the beach. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the smell of suntan lotion and salt air, the feel of the sand beneath my feet and the taste of fruity orange crushes that lead to increasingly bad decisions. 

Dewey Beach is about a three hour drive from D.C. and a guaranteed good time. The beach there is clean and a bit more serene than neighboring beaches like Ocean City, MD and Virginia Beach, but the nightlife is loud and rowdy, unlike the more family friendly Rehoboth Beach right down the road. It short, it’s the best of both worlds.

After you’ve had your fill of sunshine -- which I recommend you get by working on your tan, splashing in the waves and playing beach volleyball in the smallest bikini you can get away with- shower off the sand and head to one of the bayside bars, where you’ll find big crowds and good quality live music. The cover band Kristen and the Noise is a Dewey Beach staple, and they never fail to rouse up lively crowds with radio hits and 90s favorites. And you’re in luck, because they’re playing tomorrow night at the Rusty Rudder.

And of course, no trip to Dewey is complete without a stop at The Starboard, voted one of the top 25 bars in the U.S. by Men’s Journal. Sure, Men’s Journal is largely full of crap, but they know what they’re talking about with this one- close the night there with a few hundred of your closest friends, and rest assured, you’ll have lots of good stories for the car ride home the next day.


What are your favorite weekend destinations?