Friday Question of the Day – What is Your Recommendation for Must Do Activity in the DC Area?

by Prince Of Petworth July 9, 2009 at 11:34 pm 71 Comments

Wolf Trap: No Photography, originally uploaded by billadler.

Well I am a bit embarrassed to admit but I went to Wolf Trap for the first time Wed. evening (for the Wilco concert). The place was absolutely amazing. The bring your own food and beverages is fantastic (especially when you have a designated driver). Granted Wilco was amazing but I’m definitely going to make an effort to hit Wolf Trap more often. But it got me thinking – how was it possible that I’ve lived in DC for 12 years and not visited Wolf Trap yet? So I think this could be a cool FQoTD for future reference for absolute must dos in the DC area (not just in Summer).

What is your absolute favorite event/activity/spot that should not be missed? It can be a hidden gem or something that you think is obvious (like Wolf Trap).

  • Anonymous

    1. ride a bike from friendship heights to georgetown. all downhill.
    2. 100 loop tapes in rock creek park
    3. blagden alley barnparty
    4. anacostia riverwalk
    5. flea market in shaw
    6. hirshorn after dark
    7. meridian hill drum circle
    8. critical mass
    9. hip hop chess in dupont

    all free, all fun.

  • Anonymous

    Mount Vernon. Botanical Gardens. Library of Congress. GREAT FALLS (both sides). Brookside Gardens/Wheaton Regional Park in spring. Rock Creek Park, biking north on Beach Drive when it’s closed on weekends. Canoe to and explore Roosevelt Island (Huck Finn style). Bike as far as you can up the C&O canal. Dance at Glen Echo ballroom. Screen on the Green. and last but not least… Potomac Mills Mall on Xmas Eve!

    (just kidding bout that last one)

  • Anonymous

    Mt Vernon (by bike or boat). GREAT FALLS (both sides). Rock Creek Park biking up Beach Drive when it’s closed on weekends. Botanical Gardens. Dan’s Cafe for a pint of liquor. Makeout on Spanish Steps. Drum Circle at Meridian Hill. Brookside Gardens in Wheaton in the spring. Ballroom dancing at Glen Echo. Tour of the Cathedral and/or Basilica… last but not least, Potomac Mills Mall on xmas eve!

    (jk bout that last one)

  • RD

    If this is the first time you’ve been to Wolftrap, perhaps you haven’t been to the Birchmere. A different kind of experience that you need to try as well.

  • Kalorini

    Hands down, the National Zoo!

    While brunch at Open City, funtimes at Meridian Hill Park, walking through Eastern Market (and popping into open houses!) are all fun, you can’t beat seeing endangered Giant Pandas (for free)!

  • How was it possible that I’ve lived in DC for 12 years and not visited Wolf Trap yet?

    I dunno. Maybe because Wolf Trap is in the middle of f**king nowhere?

    I kid! I kid! I still have great memories of seeing Mojo Nixon and The Pogues try to perform in spite of Shane Macgowan being completely $h!tfaced.

    My faves are the Billy Goat Trail near Great Falls (better view and less smelly than a Stairmaster) and The Zoo when the gates open and it’s just you, the animals, and the fresh air fiends.

  • lovelulu

    The Kenilworth aquatic gardens !!!! This is a National Park with stunning colorful water lillies, and lotus. Rumor says that Budda sits in the center of a Lotus flower, and he may.This is the place to see hundreds of them in bloom, and the smell is awesome. The park opens very early and is good for bird watching too. It is off of the beaten path, but it is accessible by Metro. Take a Picnic.

    ps: There is usually a water festival on the third weekend in July.

  • Anonymous


  • quigley

    I biked to the U.S. Botanical Gardens for the first time yesterday. You have to see the bonsai trees! I also recommend biking the Mt. Vernon trail…all the way! Also stop along the way at National Airport and watch the jets land over your head.

  • quigley

    I meant the at the U.S. National Arboretum…

  • quigley

    I need coffee….

  • Anonymous

    Great Falls
    MD/VA Wineries

  • Drinker

    Cocktails on the roof deck of the Miss Ann down at the gangplank.

  • Anonymous

    “Bumfest” on 14th Street NW.

  • Anonymous

    The “Ghost Clock” at the Renwick.

  • eric in ledroit

    seconding the arboretum bonsai collection. it’s amazing.

  • Dog walker

    Dog walking in Rock Creek Park Cemetery when lotus’s are in bloom, when leaves are turning, or when (rare occurence) it’s snowing.

  • Dog walker

    Being a dog walker and a biker, the drive to Wolf Trap during evening traffic scares the sh#t out of me. I would hate to be in traffic as the show is scheduled to start, banging on the dash, sceaming at commuters and sucking back my last road pop. Maybe I should ease my way into it with a weekend show.

  • Binklesworth

    Some great suggestions above. Diggin’ Anonymous 11:58PM’s. and Anonymous 8:23 for the local wineries.

    Palace of Wonders! Hell, the whole H Street corridor
    Perry’s World Famous Sunday Drag Brunch
    Meridian Hill Park (worth repeating)

    And if you don’t know ’bout Nixon, then you could use some fixin’.

  • Dog walker

    Being a dog walker and a biker, the drive to Wolf Trap during evening traffic scares the sh#t out of me. I would hate to be stuck in traffic as the show is scheduled to start, banging on the dash, screaming at commuters and sucking back my last road pop. Maybe I should ease my way into it with a weekend show.

  • Anonymous

    Wolf Trap is by far the nicest outdoor venue in the area. I believe there are plans for an eventual fill-in Metro station there on the Silver Line, and there is an express shuttle bus from the West Falls Church station. It probably wouldn’t be much fun lugging a cooler out there on the Metro, though.

  • Binklesworth

    Oh, and for skateboarders (which sadly I am not), there is this amazing hidden gem called Green Skate Lab located Langdon Park near 20th St and Hamlin, NE
    Fantastic skateboard bowl built w/ old tires – wonder if other green construction techniques were used.


  • Cliff

    I do a yearly climb of Old Rag, and I also think Lincolns Cottage, Rock Creek Cemetary, and Great Falls are must sees.

  • Melanie

    I second the Bill Goat Trail! Do the whole thing – don’t chicken out at the rock/cliff scramble! It’s my favorite.

    In the not-free-but-still-cheap category, camping at Assateague! Do the walk-in tent sites – roomy, quiet and right off the beach. The ponies will ravage your campsite all night long, but it’s worth it.

  • PetworthRes

    Dumbarton Oaks in the spring – best peaceful & quiet place to see cherry blossoms, and beautiful the whole growing season.

    I second Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens – very off the beaten path, but if you time your visit to when the irises or lotus are blooming, you can’t beat it. Also kids love it – there are turtles and frogs everywhere.

    Canoeing on the Potomac from Fletcher’s Boat House – in to Georgetown.

    Biking around the perimeter of the Marine Corps Marathon – usually a beautiful day and you can take in all the excitement without having to run it yourself!

    And finally, I have underscore Petworth Fireworks – we watched them from our roof with friends, and then afterwards – more fireworks, my boyfriend popped the question!!

  • Angry Parakeet

    Washington Ballet performance at the Kennedy Center in warm weather – drink your wine on the huge Terrace right over the Potomac before the dancing and during amply long intermissions. Take the very accommodating shuttle, since parking is up to $20! And the dancing is great.

  • Naomi

    National Zoo, Eastern Market, and Rock Creek Park

  • Sammy

    PetworthRes – Congratulations!

    I second the vote for Lincoln’s Cottage… it’s a really fascinating DC site. And it’s in Petworth! :)

  • In no particular order…

    – Any Bike Trail
    – Screen on the Green
    – West Potomac Rugby Games
    – Walk DC End-2-End

  • Claire

    Some of my thoughts have already been mentioned, but I’ll add:

    – National Building Museum: downtown with an breathtaking interior and great exhibitions, but tons of people haven’t heard of it! (http://www.nbm.org)

    – Rock Creek Park hiking trails: an escape from the city. On the trail I’ve used, you can’t hear traffic sounds. Be sure to bring bug repellent! (Park map: http://www.nps.gov/rocr/planyourvisit/maps.htm)

    – Kayaking on the river (one option: http://www.thompsonboatcenter.com/)

  • JoeEsq74

    DC Wharf, East Potomac Park / Hains Point (too bad they moved the awakening to National Harbor), Basilica (National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception), Mt Vernon

  • Hiphop-anonymous

    *Screen on the Green
    *Jazz in the Sculpture Garden
    *free shows at the Kennedy Center
    *Drum circle in Malcolm X Park

    …okay, so I’m not very creative.

  • @Dogwalker – there is a shuttle bus between West Falls Church and Wolf Trap when events are held. No need to drive unless you want to bring lots of bulky stuff with you…

  • ontarioroader

    Bike ride and camping out the C&O canal towpath. There are camp sites every few miles once you get past Great Falls. There’s an excellent website here that breaks down campsites/parking/water, etc mile-by-mile:


  • victoriam

    Ditto for BG trail & Drum Circle and I’ll add –

    – Skulling on the potomac river
    – Skating on the C&O canal

    – Sat. afternoon concerts at the Netherlands Carillion (between Iwo Jima & Arlington Cemetary) They used to let you go up the tower, but so far this year it has been closed. Still a great place for a picnic – huge green space for kites & frisbee and unique concert.

    (this is also the spot from which everyone photographs the full moon rising behind the Lincoln Memorial & Wash. Monument)

    – And most favorite – The “Throne of the 3rd Heaven of the Nation’s Millenium General Assembly” At the Smithsonian American Art museum –


  • Sunny Florida Avenue

    Swimming on the VA/WV line in Harper’s Ferry – 45 minutes from DC and incredible river swimming where the Potomac meets the Shenendoah (prior to pollution)

  • Anonymous

    The Friday night party Bound used to be no-miss, but it sadly is no longer quite so interesting.

  • dcdude

    Picnic at the Bishop’s Garden.

  • schweeney

    The Textile Museum on S Street. After viewing their always fascinating exhibits you can rest your feet and hold hands with your honey in the gracious backyard.

  • Neener

    Has anyone here mentioned:

    1. Watching your friend’s band at Fort Reno?
    2. Driving to the Catoctin Mountains?
    3. Going to Butler’s Orchard in late September for apples?
    4. Driving up to an Orioles game in the summer?
    5. Eating on the balcony at Sea Catch in Georgetown
    6. Riding the train at Cabin John (Or wheaton regional)
    7. Taking an art class at Glen Echo (or going ballroom dancing there)
    8. Buying school supplies at Bruce Variety in Bethesda (or Arlington)
    9. Going to one of the Fairfax water parks with your nieces and nephews
    10. Doing research you can’t do online at the Library of Congress

  • victoriam

    And big yes for camping on Assateague! The walk-in sites are nice, but you can also get a group site (12-25 people) for only $30.00 a night.

  • anon

    There are so many above that I second and third, but here’s a few more… go to the top of the Old Post Office tower and look out over the city (its free and there’s usually no line); Visit the Senate Grotto on the grounds of the Capitol building; Sit in the Lincoln Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum with a book and enjoy the sunlight wafting through the rooftop while you read and people-watch; Utilize the ticketplace booth on 7th street for cheap seats to great DC theatre; Go to tea at the Mansion on O Street (its worth the price and the building is so fun to explore!); check out the fun old movies that AFI in Silver Spring plays up on the big screen; get a loaf of bread from Atwater’s at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market, some fresh jam, some great spreadable cheese, and have a picnic in Dupont Circle park.

  • Anonymous

    the NY ave market

    SW waterfront (just walking along it, or going out on a boat)

    sitting in the comfy black leather chairs near the periodicals in the MLK library and catching up on all the gossip magazines

    Jazz in the Sculpture Garden in the summer, skating there in the winter

    the botanic gardens’ rainforest room in the wintertime–it’s warm, and if you climb up you can see the capitol dome

    eating Ethiopian food

    walking along Mt. Vernon Ave in Del Ray on a Saturday–a coffee at St. Elmo’s, a stroll through the farmer’s market and the shops, and finish things off at the Dairy Godmother, which hopefully hasn’t gotten too crowded after Obama visited.

    watching the planes take off at National from that little grassy area along the bike path

  • Logan Girl

    – Jazz in the garden at National Gallery of Art
    – Brunch on patio at Tabbard Inn
    – Georgetown Waterfront

  • Chuck

    Fort Reno

  • anonymous
  • David M.

    1. Wine tasting in Northern VA
    2. Local theatre/musicals (Signature, Arena, Studio, etc)
    3. Kennedy Center Millenium Stage free shows
    4. Screen on the Green (also at Strathmore)
    5. Maine Ave Wharf for seafood on the dock
    6. Annandale for Korean food, Langley Park for Indian
    7. Ft. Reno indie rock concert series
    8. Billy Goat trail hiking (off trail on the water-rock formations)
    9. Canoing off the Georgetown waterfront/drinks on the waterfront
    10. Soul Food! – The Hitching Post/Midatlantic Seafood

  • Kay

    Going to that park right beside National Airport to watch the planes land or take off literally right over your head. Great place for kids or a really cool date, especially at night ;)

  • Kay

    Well shit – I look like an idiot – didn’t see post at 10:49? Sorry guys.

  • Top hardens to visit in DC and nearby:
    – River Farm
    – Old Stone House perennial gardens
    – Hillwood
    – Enid Haupt Garden on the Mall
    – McCrillis Shade Garden
    – Tudor Place
    – Meadlowlark Botanical Gardens
    – Dumbarton Oaks
    – Brookside Gardens
    – US Natl Arboretum
    – Natl Cathedral Bishop’s Close
    – Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
    – Lily Pons
    – Green Spring Gardens
    – Mt Vernon
    – US Botanic Gardens
    and many more!
    Also, don’t forget all the terrific pick-your-own places like Larriland and Tarara Winery!

  • New2CH

    Here is one addition: about 1.5 hour drive, but there is a great llama hike (basically, you hike with a llama chilling at your side for the day) at Twin Creeks LLama Farm in the Shenandoah Valley.

    Artomatic: should drop by at least once each summer.

    I have yet to do it, but the Friday night high school football games at the spectacular new Cardoza High stadium seem like a pretty fun (not to mention free) scene, when I’ve walked by.

    I will second/third/fourth jazz in the sculpture garden, Great Falls, and an afternoon/night in U Street that includes a show at 9:30, dinner at Etete and/or 1905, drinks at Gibson and/or Cork, and late night on Marvin roofdeck.

  • WDC

    I’m sorry, New2CH… did you say “hike with a llama”? How utterly bizarre. And how super cool!

  • fun summertime things to do: def. going to vineyards/winetasting in VA; also, camping is great in VA; basically escaping from DC for the weekend for a break :) Oh and kayaking in Annapolis. Just did 2 weekends ago, very fun.

  • Yo!

    1. Go out to McKee Breshers (left on River Road from Wisconsin Ave northbound, take river road all the way out past darnestown to the T in the road, take a left, and drive a few miles till you enter the reserve). Go in late march or early april. Bring a mycology field guide with you, and get ready to pick and enjoy the best wild grown hallucinogenic mushrooms in America. Seriously, the best. Also, an excellent place to trip.
    2. spit on cars from the capital crescent trail overpass
    3. “edit” bike lane figures by adding various graffiti hats/characters/polo clubs
    4. Julia’s + Tecate
    5. Attend an ANC meeting
    6. spend a night in the capitol skyline hotel
    7. get really involved in a DC vs. NYC comment thread.
    8. hike the seneca greenway trail (or run it)

  • Just Kidding

    I hear kicking someone waiting for a bus in the shins is fun! j/k

  • New2CH

    I gotta vote “nay” on “attend an ANC meeting,” sorry.

    Yes indeed, here is the website for the llama hike. The people who run it are super nice, the property is gorgeous, the lunch they provide is totally homemade and wonderful, and the llamas most definitely rock.


  • Dan Miller

    People watching in Dupont Circle. Just grab a bagel and some juice and sit down on the lip of the fountain. There’s no better way to spend a late-spring/summer morning.

  • Carragher Leg Sweep

    I thought I saw POP at the Wilco show. Now I can shamefully confirm that I am able to identify local bloggers. I am holding out hope of spotting Monkey Erotica holding a symposium on chuds and junkpunkching.

    My quick list:
    Bens followed by a concert at 930 club
    National Archives (still cool every time I go there)
    Sit with Barra Brava at a United game
    Drink Grog at Piratz tavern in Silver Spring, then to Quarry House

  • me

    guided boat tour of DC departing from georgetown waterfront. be sure to do the one with a live tour guide not a recording. great $12. it was educational and fun and i’ve lived here for 20 years.

    cocktails at the former Washington Hotel and now W Hotel with the best views in the City.

    a short walk down the one block in georgetown that runs along the canal. there are actual businesses and homes on the canal…no road! its our own little slice of amsterdam.

    tubing down the rivers of virginia

    lewes deleware

  • Skeletor

    They close parts of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park on the weekends. It’s the perfect place to bike, run, or rollerblade without risking your life. You got the whole road, no cars. With all the trees, it’s always a few degrees cooler than the rest of the city.

    A lot of people don’t realize the museums are open Thanksgiving. It is the best day of the year to visit the Smithsonian.

    If you get to the zoo early (like 8 a.m.) the pandas hang out at spitting distance from the fence. Apparently, they don’t like the crowds any more than I do.

    The National Cathedral. As I am Skeletor, I of course worship the Cosmic Eye. But in spite of this theological difference, I have to admit, it is amazing.

    DCFC – Best fencing club for 200 miles. Accept no substitute.

  • stacy

    water park, batting cages, and mini golf at Cameron Run…http://www.nvrpa.org/parks/cameronrun/index.php
    It’s about 2 miles from either Eisenhower Ave or Van Dorn metro–there are buses, but I put my bike on the metro and rode there for the full kid-in-summertime effect.

    Note: it’s next door to an animal shelter. DO NOT GO IN unless you want to end up with a pet. Because they are pretty much irresistable.

  • Missy

    Trying to think of this in terms of places I’m likely to take out of town visitors…

    *Signature, Synetic or Rorschach Theatre
    *Leesburg Wineries
    *Perils of the Lost Jungle Mini Golf
    *Piratz Tavern
    *Eden Center
    *Ice Skating at Sculpture Garden
    *Little Ethiopia
    *Del Ray day trip (Cheesetique as mandatory stop)
    *Eastern Market, particularly around Xmas time

  • Wolf Trap is great, but I don’t think it’d be a must for out-of-towners.

  • Anonymous

    “1. Go out to McKee Breshers (left on River Road from Wisconsin Ave northbound, take river road all the way out past darnestown to the T in the road, take a left, and drive a few miles till you enter the reserve). Go in late march or early april. Bring a mycology field guide with you, and get ready to pick and enjoy the best wild grown hallucinogenic mushrooms in America. Seriously, the best. Also, an excellent place to trip.”

    Mmm…that sounds like fun! Those shrooms aren’t growing during these nice warm summer months as well?

  • eric in ledroit

    Did this today: Shenandoah National Park is only 1.5 hours from my house in Ledroit and is an absolutely amazing, massive place 100 miles long with over 500 miles of well-maintained hiking trails (waterfalls, scenic vistas above 4,000 feet in altitude, etc), cabins, campgrounds, restaurants, and 100+ scenic overlooks. Definitely an amazing asset that many people either think of as being pretty far away or don’t realize how excellent it actually is. We saw deer, rabbits, bears, chipmunks, etc during a thoroughly enjoyable day of hiking today. Especially on hot summer days the altitude makes it cooler up there. Highly recommend.

  • Seconding (thirding) etc many of the above… esp Kenilworth Aquatic Garden & Sunday drumming at Meridian Hill Park

    And, walking the labyrinth at the Washington National Cathedral (last Tues of the month), also tea tour, gargoyle tour; horseback trail rides in Rock Creek Park, exploring Roosevelt Island

  • Hunter

    The cliffs down on the Potomac near Stratford Hall, shark tooth hunting, nominy bay and shark’s tooth island, the old democratic hunt club on Jefferson Island near Cobb Island, the Blessing of the Fleet at St. Clement’s Island, the Governor’s Cup Race Annapolis to St Mary’s…..


  • m.e.

    without a doubt, the best must-do around here is taking in the FREE Millennium Stage concerts at the Kennedy Center every night at 6 p.m.!! works wonders with visitors–drag em around to museums & monuments all day, then frog march ’em to the Ken Cen for an hour of wonderful free music!!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks to the folks who mentioned Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens! I went there Saturday and it was a beautiful addition to a great summer weekend!

  • eric in ledroit

    and thanks to all who recommended the drums at meridian hill park! I am a drummer myself but never made it up there but finally went today – it is awesome! I will be back next weekend but this time with my bongos.

  • @ eric in ledroit – I’m so glad to hear all the good things about Shenandoah National Park! My boyfriend and I just rented a cabin for 3 nights near the park for our anniversary! If you have any “must-do” or “must-see” recommendations, I welcome them!


Subscribe to our mailing list