DC Metblogs’ Favorites: Places To Take Out-of-Towners

This is the second in a new series of entries here at DC Metroblogging, called Metblogs’ Favorites, where our authors give out some of their favorite sports to visit, enjoy and experience here in DC. Our second category is “Favorite Place to take your out of town friends.” We know there’s a lot to do here in Washington, between the center of government and the museums and monuments, so we asked our authors to each choose one place they take their guests when they come to town.

Jenn says:
The Awakening, Hains Point

My freshman year of college, I brought a suitemate home with me for our fall break. She was from Oregon and, before college, had never been to the East Coast before. Since she was visiting D.C. for the first time, my mom and I decided to take her on a mini tour of the city. That tour rekindled my love for “The Awakening,” the statue in East Potomac Park at Hains Point.

awakecrop.jpgWhen I was younger, “The Awakening” scared me a little. I mean, it looks like a man was buried alive and is clawing his way out of the ground. But as I’ve gotten older, I can appreciate the work that went into it. Consider the detail – you can see veins in the hands, and the fingernails are both textured and designed to look imperfect, like real fingernails. The “giant” even looks like he’s gasping for breath.

“The Awakening” is in a relatively peaceful part of the city, a little removed from the most populated areas. It’s accompanied by a great view of the Potomac. Yes, it’s a big tourist attraction, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It makes for great photo opportunities, and kids love to slide down the giant’s leg. Plus, if they get unruly, you can stuff them in his mouth.

John says:
Willie ‘n Reeds
4901-A Fairmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814

williecrop.jpgThe No. 1 Rated Sports Bar in Maryland is Willie ‘n Reeds, in beautiful Bethesda! It also happens to be one of my favorite places to catch a game, any game, maybe even numerous games at the same time! On any of the 23 televisions in a great setting and atmosphere.

The decor is very open and airy, following a post-modern style. And of course since Montgomery County no longer allows smoking in restaurants and bars, it makes it a very appealing spot for me. The food and beverage selections are pretty good. I don’t recommend their cheesesteaks, but you can’t go wrong with anything else.

Personally I have a lot of good memories here, such as watching the first night of the 2004 ACC basketball tournament where Maryland handed it to Wake. WIth other games and thus their fans present, it made for quite an eventful evening with lots of vigourous trashtalking.

Michael says:

The places I take my out-of-town visitors to have changed over the years. The first few years I lived here it was all about the Monuments and Memorials, a phase I’m sure most to us go through when we first move here. But then I started working on the Mall and over time I became so disgusted with the tourists that I could not bear to be down there on my rare days off.

For a while I got hooked on sneaking my guests into the memorials after hours when the tourists were long gone. I had keys to the roof of the Lincoln Memorial (which has a magnificent although illegal view of the Mall) as well as its stalactite-peppered basement. I had keys to the sealed off stairs in the Washington Monument and it’s impressive commemorative blocks. And I had access to the Lincoln Balcony at Ford’s Theater. The sights of DC were my play-ground and I developed a wonderfully illicit behind-the-scenes tour of them for my visiting friends. That ride came to an end in 1999 when I left that position for greener pastures.

masoncrop.jpgBy that point I had lived in DC for 7 years and most of my friends and family had visited me a hundred times over. So began the present phase of my out-of-towner entertaining. The usual stops now are the Fish Market in Old Town for dinner, the Big Hunt in Dupont for some drinks, El Tamarindo on 18th St. for late night eats and a walk up to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Old Town for the view. Occasional walks along the Old Town Waterfront and stops into the Torpedo Factory are optional depending on the weather.

Julia says:
The Summer House and Mitsitam Café
National Mall, DC

Despite my desire to find things a little off the beaten track, my [current] favorite spot to take out-of-town guests is smack in the middle of the tourist-laden National Mall area: the Mitsitam Café at the Museum of the American Indian.

mitsicrop.jpgI make no bones about the fact that I love food. Good food. And although I love spending time at the museums along the Mall, I often lament the lack of interesting or quality choices for lunch. Well, the Mitsitam Café is the answer to my prayers. Set up like a food court, each station represents the peoples of a different geographic region — South American, Mesoamerican, Northern Woodlands, Northwest Coast and Great Plains — and features foods that are, um, sort-of-kind-of indigenous to those peoples. The buffalo chili is my favorite, packing a surprising kick given that its created for mass consumption, and the lobster rolls are flavorful and not too heavy. The tamales are fresh and tasty and the prickly pear tea is a refreshing tonic after an afternoon of trudging up and down the Mall. Misses for me have been the fry bread – a little tough, doughy and chewy, and the ash roasted chicken sandwich, which is sporting some sort of fruit butter spread that I did not dig at all and you can’t even scrape it off because it has somehow become one with the bread. Prices are about what you’d pay at the other museums, but you won’t mind given the options and the quality of the food. To the credit of the folks who created the menu, there’s a clear emphasis on healthy food choices aimed at fighting diabetes and obesity…but forget all that and pick up one of the chocolate-covered macaroons – freshly made, absolutely perfectly sweet and remarkably dense and moist. Take your chocolate-covered treasure with you and leave the museum for a short stroll to my favorite respite in all of the crowded and tourist-laden Mall: the Summer House on the grounds of the Capitol.

summercrop.jpgThe Summer House is an often-overlooked shady grotto nestled in the hill that leads from Pennsylvania Avenue to the Senate side of the Capitol. The red brick structure houses a few benches, lots of shade, and trickling fountains that mask the sounds of nearby traffic and tourists. The air smells green and wet, and because the Summer House is a relatively well-kept secret, it’s rare to share the space with anyone else… a perfect place to enjoy a chocolate-covered macaroon on a sultry summer day with your out-of-town guest.

Tiffany says:
Jefferson Memorial

I typically don’t get out of town visitors long enough to take them anywhere significant, but one of my favorite spots that I don’t get to enough is the tidal basin.

The basin gets most of its attention in the spring, since that’s where the cherry trees are planted. It gets pounded by tourists for a few weeks, and then goes back to being mostly ignored. But except for when its flooded, it’s a pretty tranquil place to take a walk.

egretcrop.jpgI snapped this photo a couple of years ago- I got up decently close to the bird (what is that, an egret? I share Darpino’s inability to identify birds) to take a couple of shots. He was just hanging out on the bank, watching the ducks navigate around the floating ice.

jeffcrop.jpgThe basin, of course, is also where the Jefferson Memorial is, and it’s one of my favorite monuments. It makes me wonder, though, if Jefferson himself would have thought it an appropriate way to honor him- larger than life, standing alone, surrounded by some of his thoughts on governance, with generations of Americans staring up at him. I wonder whether he would find it more appropriate to honor the Founders as a group, since the Continental Congress required a unanimous vote of the colonies before adopting the Declaration of Independence.

But in any case, I enjoy a nice walk around the tidal basin, including a stop to visit TJ, and I think everyone who comes to Washington should try it.

Tom says:
Air and Space Museum: The Udvar Hazy Center

I love the Udvar Hazy Center. Tiffany and I went out to see it for the first time this Fall with our friends the Wasyliks and it’s become my favorite place to take (or just send…) out of town guests. First of all, it’s well off the beaten path. It’s not out on the Mall, or shoved in a cozy corner of the city, it’s well out the winding highways outside the Beltway in Dulles, VA. While the Smithsonian does charge $10 for parking, the museum itself is free and incredible to behold.

udvarcrop.jpgThe SR-71, the Space Shuttle, the Concorde, MiG-21s, P-45s and a P-38 Lightning. There are all manner of airplanes, spacecraft and awesome exhibits, plus an IMAX theatre if you get a bit bored with the gigantic airplanes. There’s even a few pieces of Russian technology that came via interesting paths, most of which are classified, I’m sure. It’s inexpensive, and just incredible. Go. Take your friends. They’ll love it.

My favorite part to explore, without question, was the space portion of the exhibit. Thought not yet finished when I was there last, they had on display an Apollo capsule, as well as the front half of the Enterprise. Though Enterprise was missing part of the leading edge of her wing, she was still a sight to behold. Very amazing stuff.

1 Comment so far

  1. Derek (unregistered) on April 22nd, 2005 @ 8:21 am

    They do have the full Enterprise at the Udvar-Hazy center now, along with a few satellites and pieces of Skylab. The Enterprise they have there is actually a test vehicle used to test the gliding portion of the shuttle’s return flight, as well as tests to mount it on the top of a 747 for transporting. So, the shuttle there doesn’t have the actual tiles or rocket boosters or anything, but it really conveys just how massive it is.

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