Tour Like a Local, Live Like a Tourist
By May 3, 2012 0 830•
Tour Like A Local
Are you tired of looking at the same sandstone buildings during your vacation? Bored by innumerable, serious looking statues? This is the nation’s capital, but not everybody works on the hill, or talks about polls or the next election nonstop. We like to do other things, too. Like free concerts? Local dives? Skee ball? If you’re in Washington this summer, look beyond the federal district. Abe will still be here for your next visit.
Fort Reno Summer Concert Series
Mondays during the summer, Fort Reno puts on a series of free concerts featuring local rock groups. All the concerts begin promptly at 7:15 p.m. and end at 9:30 p.m. The atmosphere is very casual. Concertgoers sit on the grass or dance along. Babies are welcome, alcohol, however, is not.
The National Opera may be great for some, but it’s not for everybody. The Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center puts on free concerts every day at 6 p.m. This is a great way to experience KenCen without tying on a tie. Performers come from around the world, so check out the Kennedy Center’s website for the full schedule.
Price: FREE – every day at 6 p.m.
Jazz in the Garden
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden hosts weekly jazz concerts every Friday during the summer. A wide range of jazz styles is featured, so there is something new every week. Performances start at 5 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. Visit NGA.gov to find this summer’s schedule.
Fridays 5-8:30 p.m.
H Street Country Club
Tour the monuments in a way you never expected. H Street Country Club is the only bar in Washington with an indoor miniature golf course, billiards, shuffleboard, and skee ball. It’s whimsical astro-turf décor will be sure amuse any tourist in a city that can sometimes take itself a little too seriously.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
Can we write a tourism guide without including this D.C. landmark? I don’t think so. Ben’s is the only place in the world you can find the original chili half smoke. Since 1958, the Ali family has served their signature chili dogs to everyone from President Obama to Nicolas Sarkozy. Ben’s is the perfect launch pad to a night out on U Street.
Granville Moore’s is a Gastropub with big Belgian Flavor in the Heart of the H St. Corridor, named after the doctor who used the building as his practice. It is best known for its selection of mussels, frites, and vast beer selection. As impressive as the food is the pub’s cozy, cavernous atmosphere. Great for anybody looking to skip another burger place!
1238 H St. NE
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 5 p.m.-12 a.m.; Fri-Sat 5 p.m.-3 a.m.
Jumbo Slice Pizza
Walk down 18th Street in Adams Morgan, and you will likely find a place advertising the “Original” Jumbo Slice. Pick any of them, and prepare yourself. Generally speaking, a jumbo slice will take up 2 paper plates. Brooklyn we’re not, but the novelty of being able to purchase a month’s worth of pizza at once is pretty enticing if you ask me.
Live Like a Tourist
Living in Washington affords one unlimited time to take advantage of the major sites in the city. “Wow, everything is the national this, and the national that,” one friend told me while driving on Pennsylvania Avenue. If you live here, you’ve probably visited all the major monuments on the mall, and maybe a few of the galleries. It can be easy to take so many great resources for granted, though. Cruise through the National Mall on Duck Boat or Segway, or get up close and personal with hundreds of butterflies and other insects at the National Museum of American History. See the Marine Corps Band on the steps of the Capitol Building. See where money’s made! Best of all, most of these things are free. Don’t be the jaded local – if you don’t take time to tour your own city, you’re missing out.
You’ve seen them on the street. You’ve seen them in the water. Now hurry up and ride one! Originally developed for the military, Duck boats are able to carry passengers around the National Mall and the Potomac River.
Segs in the City
Seeing all the sites in Washington can be hell on your feet. Segs in the City offers many different tours to choose from, like monument tours after dark, and Embassy Row. These tours are a real blast, and are great ways to test ride a Segway scooter.
$31.50 adult, $22.50 child
United States Marine Band
See “The President’s Own” live in Washington! Founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. If you’re into pomp and circumstance, this is right up your alley. The band gives free concerts on Wednesday on the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol, and Thursday at the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument.
The Smithsonian Castle
The Smithsonian Castle predates the Civil War to 1855. One of the original landmarks of the National Mall, the castle served as the original Smithsonian museum. Today, it holds the permanent exhibit, America’s Treasure Chest, as well as the final resting place of James Smithson, founder of the Smithsonian Institution.
Butterfly Pavilion at the Museum of Natural History
Have kids who love bugs? The Butterfly Pavilion at the Museum of Natural History has dozens of foreign species of butterflies on live display and demonstrates the evolutionary relationship shared by butterflies and plants. The exhibit closes on September 4, so don’t miss this unique opportunity.
Admission, $6, FREE on Tuesdays
The Textile Museum
The Textile Museum has probably one of the most unique collections of any museum in Washington. Through September 11, the museum’s main exhibit, “Green: The Color And The Cause,” charts the history of the hue’s use, as well as its modern association with environmentalism. People swear by the museum’s gift shop, which carries garments and jewelry as interesting as anything else in the museum.
The Smithsonian’s museum for contemporary art. The Museum is featuring four exhibitions this summer. Friday, July 15 and July 22, the gallery is hosting free talks about its exhibit “Fragments in Time and Space.” The Hirshhorn also has its own sculpture garden. Most importantly, The Hirshhorn is the building on the National Mall that most resembles a doughnut.
Right on Pennsylvania Avenue, the museum of news has an amazing collection of photography and artifacts covering world events. A visit to the museum is always enlightening. After your visit, you can stop next door at Wolfgang Puck’s The Source for a very classy, very gourmet meal.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Ever seen a million dollars? The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the place to go to see where the Benjamins come from. Learn all about the new 100 dollar bill, and the process by which greenbacks are made.