Thirty Great Ways to Enjoy a DC Summer

Photo: Courtesy of NOMA BID

Get in the Swim

Dive into a Summer of Sharks at National Geographic

More than a hundred million sharks are killed each year, primarily for their fins. Award-winning National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry has gone to extraordinary lengths to show us why we should not only protect them, but respect and appreciate them as integral species within our ecosystem. The exhibition will include large-scale images, videos, artifacts, models, and interactive experiences—all highlighting Skerry’s passion, skill, and technique. $15, adults; $10, kids. Through Oct 15. 1145 17th St. NW. nationalgeographic.org.

Do Laps in DC's Outdoor Public Swimming Pools

DC's outdoor pools are one of our great success assets. Dotted all around the city, they are free to DC residents (adults need picture ID). After school closes, summer hours are 11 a.m to 8 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 6 p.m. on weekends. Every pool is closed one day a week for maintenance. Find pools at dpr.dc.gov/page/outdoor-pools. For those of you 18 and older who have put off learning to swim, find a $50 Learn the Basics class at dpr.dc.gov.The DPR instructors are remarkably patient.

Splash Around in the Burbs

Great Waves Waterpark in Cameron Run Regional Park, 4001 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, VA, is a great way to spend the entire day. It has five waterslides, a giant wave pool, batting cages, 18 holes of miniature golf, rental cabanas, a cafe, pizza and ice cream. Great Waves Waterpark is open every day June 23 to Sept. 4, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission fees for people 48" or more, $14.75; less than 48"; $11.75; age 55 and over, $8.25; after 4 p.m., $8.25; under age 2, free. Add one dollar on weekends. There are four other NOVA waterparks with colorful names such as Atlantis, Ocean Dunes, Pirates Cover and Volcano Island and they're all close by. Read more at novaparks.com.

 

Smell the Roses

Attend the Arbor Fair and Tree Climbing Championship

The International Society of Arboriculture has chosen the National Arboretum as the site for its annual tree climbing competition. Come and see arborists from all over the world compete in professional tree climbing activities. There will be tree and plant identification walks, bonsai workshops, children’s activities, local artisans, exhibitors and much more. Bring your own chair and enjoy a full day of activities and events. The International Tree Climbing Championship with Arbor Fair and Expo is on Friday, July 28, noon to 4 p.m.; Saturday, July 29, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, July 30, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the National Arboretum. Free. usna.usda.gov.

Tour the National Garden

A natural complement to the US Botanic Garden, the National Garden highlights the amazing diversity of American plants. The three-acre garden draws inspiration from the environments of the Mid-Atlantic region. Conceived as an outdoor laboratory for gardening in harmony with natural ecosystems, the Garden opened in the fall of 2006. On Mondays in summer, 3 to 4 p.m., learn about its history, plants butterflies like, native plants of the middle Atlantic area and roses that grow well in the Washington environment. Bring sunscreen, protective clothing, and water. The tour is canceled if it rains or during times of extreme heat (heat index of 95 degrees or higher/Code Red weather alert). Independence Avenue and Third St. SW. usbg.gov.

Help Clean-up and Enjoy Kenilworth Park

About once a month there is an opportunity to help clean up, hear music or attend a festival at the famously under-visited Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens at 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is the only national park devoted to cultivated water-loving plants. This summer, volunteer on Saturdays, June 24 and Sept. 10, 9 a.m. to noon; attend the Annual Water Lily & Lotus Festival on Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and hear jazz on Saturday, July 22, 5 to 7 p.m., on Lotus Jazz Night. Editor's note: The late afternoon mosquito situation has been handled. The park has introduced a larva eating fish into the ponds which makes the park much more comfortable at the end of the day. nps.gov/keaq.

 

Get Hold of Yourself

Take in "One Life: Sylvia Plath" at the National Portrait Gallery

“One Life: Sylvia Plath” is the first exploration of the poet and writer’s visual imagination in an art and history museum. The exhibition reveals how Plath shaped her identity as she came of age as a writer in the 1950s and early 1960s. The exhibition will be in the museum’s “One Life” space June 30 through May 20, 2018. Through personal letters, self-portraits, family photographs and relevant objects, the exhibition highlights Plath’s struggle to understand the traumas in her life—the early death of her father, psychiatric breakdown in college and collapse of her marriage—and to navigate the societal pressures placed on women as she made her way in the professional world. The National Portrait Gallery, open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., is at Eighth and F Streets NW. npg.si.edu.

Discover Inner Peace at the International Day of Yoga

Embassy of India along with Friends of Yoga is organizing the International Day of Yoga celebration on June 17, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., at the Sylvan Theater, on the northeast corner of the Washington Monument Grounds. All are welcome. You can arrive anytime. It's free and you can drop by but they prefer you register at dcyogaday.org. They also suggest you bring your own yoga mat or sheet if you plan to participate in the actual yoga asanas. You may also choose to come for the various speakers and performances. They say, "Although we are hoping for sunshine, there’s something magical about practicing yoga in the rain!" which means rain or shine.

Wind Down at the National Shrine Summer Sunday Organ Concerts

One of the great ways to relax and regain your balance during a DC summer is to attend the Summer Organ Recital Series every Sunday in July and August, 6 p.m., at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The concerts feature organists from the US and abroad. There is no charge for admission but a free will offering will be accepted. All are welcome to attend these performances. Here's the lineup: July 2, Nathan Davy, organist & Alex Trygstad, viola from Washington, DC and Rochester, New York; July 9, Marina Omelchenko from Moscow, Russia; July 16, Benjamin LaPrairie from Washington, DC; July 23, Peter van de Velde from Antwerp, Belgium; July 30, Dan Aune from Baltimore, MD; Aug. 6, Michael Emmerich from Houston, TX; Aug. 13, Peter Latona from Washington, DC; Aug. 20, Iris Lan from New York, New York; and Aug. 27, Sergio Orabona from Stuttgart, Germany. The National Shrine is at 400 Michigan Ave. NE. nationalshrine.com.

 

Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

Learn How to Fly Without a Plane

This is what iFLY (indoor sky diving) says. "Each flight within the wind tunnel lasts 60 seconds. However, total flight length depends on the package that you choose. When jumping out of an airplane, the free fall portion lasts about 45 seconds. If you reserve a package that contains two flights, you will have two turns in the wind tunnel with an instructor lasting 60 seconds each. The entire iFLY first-time flyer experience takes approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes from start to finish. You must take a training class. They claim that people between the ages of three and 103 and less than 300 lbs can participate. The Baltimore iFLY is at 8209 Town Center Dr. You see it when on I95 north, just past the Harbor Tunnel exit to your left. iflyworld.com/baltimore.

Take an Open Cockpit Ride

At the weekly Flying Circus Air Show, you'll see wing walkers, barnstormers, biplanes, parachute jumpers carrying the American flag and hot air balloons. You can also get open cockpit rides. The Flying Circus Air Show happens every Sunday through Oct. 29. The gates open at 11 a.m. and the show starts at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults; $13, active military; $7, kids. On Aug. 19 and 20, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., there is a Hot Air Balloon Festival where you can arrange a balloon ride. You deal with the pilot directly. The Flying Circus Aerodrome is 14 miles SE of Warrenton and 22 miles NW of Fredericksburg, just off Route 17, at 5114 Ritchie Road (Route 644) in Bealeton, VA (about an hour away). flyingcircusairshow.com. Bad weather cancels.

Thrill to the Thunderbirds

On Sept. 16 and 17, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., both days, 2017 Joint Base Andrews Airshow guests will experience aerial demonstrations and learn more about the military personnel and equipment JBA uses to carry out missions. The Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform on Saturday at 3 p.m. The airshow is free and welcoming of the public. Security will, of course, be tight. Please have a look at the list of prohibited items on jba.af.mil/About-Us/Air-Show. Parking is at FedEx Field and Branch Avenue Metro Station with shuttles from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There is an airshow for DOD cardholders exclusively on Friday, Sept, 15.

 

Watch a Glorious Sunset

Listen to Military Band Concerts at the Capitol

Go for the music but get knocked over by the sunsets. Listening to an evening military band performance is a truly patriotic experience. Weekdays, all summer long, at 8 p.m., hear the US Navy Band on Mondays, the US Air Force Band on Tuesdays; the US Marine Band on Wednesdays; the US Army Band or the US Marine Band on Thursdays; and the US Army Band on Fridays. It doesn't matter which day you go, the entire experience is glorious. The concerts are on the Capitol steps, west side of the Capitol. There's plenty of parking near the Botanic Garden.

Tour the Monuments at Twilight

During a twilight tour of the principle Washington, DC monuments, it's impossible not to get a great sunset. Highly recommended are the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. At the Lincoln (our favorite), you can walk around it, on the outside, and face Arlington Cemetery and it's grandeur. But the sunset, from that perspective, is breathtaking. Another is the unobstructed view from the middle of Memorial Bridge. Parking isn't as tricky as you would think, even in summer. nps.gov/linc.

Have Drinks on the W Hotel Terrace

The rooftop bar in the W Hotel at 515 15th St. NW, looks at, on and beyond some of Washington, DC's most spectacular sights--including a glorious sunset. povrooftop.com.

 

Find a Fun Fair

Go to Virginia's Largest County Fair

The 68th Annual Prince William County Fair, Aug. 11 to 19, features demolition derbies, rides, games, fair food, monster trucks, MotoCrossed, Rockin A Ranch Petting Zoo, tractor pulls and live music. Competitions are the Demolition Derby, a Baby Contest and a Pet Show. Tickets are $10 for adults; $6 for kids. Gates open at 5 p.m., every day. The Prince William County Fairgrounds is about an hour from DC at 10624 Dumfries Rd. Manassas, VA. pwcfair.com.

Go to the Closest Fair to DC

The Arlington County Fair, Aug. 16 to 20, is one of our favorites--it's close in, free and it has no pretensions of being an agricultural fair. During this 40th year of the fair, there are bee keepers and bakers, but no cattle, goats or pigs. Hours are Wednesday, Aug. 16 and Thursday, Aug. 17, 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 18, 2 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 19, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 19, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission to the fair is free but you pay for rides--$1 a ride and $20 for 24 rides. This is a great fair for little kids. There are competitive exhibits in honey bees, baked goods, needlework, crafts and fine arts, photography, and herbs, fruits, nuts and vegetables. Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 Second St. South. Arlington, VA. arlingtoncountyfair.us.

Eastern Shore Fair at Denton

The Caroline-Dorchester County Fair is held from Aug. 2 to 5 at the Caroline County 4-H Park, 8230 Detour Rd., outside of Denton, MD. This fair is truly a country fair. There will be a greased pig contest, a baby contest and a dress-a-goat contest, rides, food vendors, games, live music and all the usual fair stuff. One of our favorite features is the nightly communal dinner--fried chicken dinner, a beef dinner, a crab cake dinner and BBQ chicken dinner. Admission is $2 for over 13s and free for under 13s, when accompanied by an adult. caroline-dorchestercountyfair.org.

 

Get a Trump Experience

Check out the "Who's Looking Back" Photo Show at Gallery O on H

In "Who's Looking Back", on display at Gallery O on H, 1354 H St. NE, June 20 to July 28, Washington, DC's top street photographers document the tumultuous presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump, an event that met with rioting, peaceful civil disobedience and one of the largest protest marches in US history. Their book, "UnPresidented: The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump and the People's Response," captures the raw emotion that flowed through the nation's capital, both in celebration and protest of Trump's ascendancy to the most powerful and important job in the world. The collective body of all submitted photos will become a visual time tunnel challenging the viewer to reflect on how they have related to, reacted to, resisted, and/or re-committed in the six months since Jan. 20, 2017. galleryoonh.com.

Tour the White House

Anyone can take a tour of the White House but you must go through your member of Congress no less than 21 days and no more than three months in advance of the date you're requesting. These self-guided tours are from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday; and 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. All White House tours are free of charge. Please note that White House tours may be subject to last minute cancellation. Reach Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton at 202-225-8050 or norton.house.gov.

Visit Newseum

The Newseum at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., is a remarkable antidote to alternate facts, fake news, flip-flops, conspiracy theories, challenges to the First Amendment, the Russians, hypocracy and in-your-face conflicts of interest. Go there to refresh your soul. Plan to spend the day. There is a "President and the Press" talk with White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan on Saturday, June 10, 2:30 p.m. Admission to the talk is included in the price of admission. Visit newseum.org and figure out the best time to go.

Elevator up the Old Post Office Tower

The Old Post Office Tower is open for business after a nearly three year hiatus during the Trump Tower conversion of the building. The Tower is still a great view of the city especially since the Washington Monument is closed down for the next few years. If you want to go up to the viewing gallery use the south entrance near Starbucks off 12th St., NW. Free. You can, of course, pop into the hotel hobby. It's your business how you get out of there without buying a $25 cocktail. nps.gov/nama.

 

Develop a Good Habit

Once a Month, Attend a New Theater Company's Production

Just like with any restaurant, bowling alley, department store or church, it's hard to get people in the door for the first time. It's no different for a theater company. When we find them, you can find them in the Hill Rag Calendar THEATER AND FILM section. Here's one we just found.In celebration of National Caribbean Heritage Month, "Jean and Dinah...The Play," orchestrates itself out of the Mighty Sparrow's 1956 internationally renowned calypso When the Yankees Gone as a response to American occupation in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. June 8-18. Undercroft Theatre, Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW. theessentialtheatre.org.

Once a Week, Eat Alfresco

One of the great pleasures of summer is alfresco dining. One of our favorites is Indigo at 245 K St. NE. It's quite informal, reasonably priced, dog friendly, kid okay, good food and a brisk carryout business--especially delightful after dark when they turn on their overhead carnival lights. If you need AC, there is some inside seating.

Once a Day, Workout at a DC Fitness Center

It's also okay if you want to do laps at an aquatics center (indoor pool). The fitness centers and indoor and outdoor pools are free for DC residents. Just have picture ID with you until they get used to seeing you. Anyway, the point here is that you have formed a good, healthy habit--just like brushing your teeth--it's something you do every day. Fitness Centers offer ellipticals, stationary bikes, treadmills, stair climbers, universal weight machines, incline benches, leg press, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls and resistance bands. Find fitness centers with an array of super workout machines and indoor pools at dpr.dc.gov.

 

Put Down a Blanket

Catch a NOMA Summer Screen Movie

NoMa Summer Screen is a free, 13-week outdoor film series in one of DC’s coolest neighborhoods. Every Wednesday from June 7 through August 30 (including one rain date), bring your friends, family and neighbors for music, giveaways, food trucks and picnicking to NoMa Junction @ Storey Park, 1005 First St. NE. Movies start at sunset and are screened with subtitles. They encourage moviegoers to bring chairs, because the site is covered in asphalt. Bring blankets, frisbees, and picnic coolers when the doors open at 7 p.m. Check out the schedule at nomabid.org.

You can also find area outdoor movies, music and ceremony all summer long in the Calendar sections of Hill Rag, Mid-City DC and East of the River newspapers.

Picnic on the River

First, pick a river. We have two. There are places to walk to or drive to along all the riverbanks in the area. We particularly like the park areas along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, north and south. The main thing the Rangers are concerned about is that you clean up after yourself. Another area we like is Anacostia Park. There's some action on the river and in the park but it's basically quiet.

 

Roam the Festivals

Become a Foodie at the National Capital Barbecue Festival

The National Capital Barbecue Festival, June 24, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and June 25, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., is a ticketed, annual event on Pennsylvania Avenue, between Third and Seventh, NW. There will be at least 30 bands playing rock, blues, R&B, Go Go on three stages but the focus here is food, eating food, chefs' competitions, cooking demonstrations, giveaways and tastings. You can save on tickets by buying early online. bbqindc.com.

Help the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Celebrate Fifty Years

This year's Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrates 50 years of Folklife. This is one of our favorite festivals mostly because it can be enjoyed at leisure, over many days. There are no bumper to bumper crowds. There are no huge commercial concerns. There is always an effort to explain the world in which we live--a gentle look at how human beings from different parts of the world live, work, celebrate, worship and create. The festival is on the National Mall, between Third and Fourth, on June 29 to July 4 and July 6 to 9, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with some evening performances. On July 8 and 9 they are presenting a 50th reunion weekend with stories about early days of the Festival and a look to the future, as well as special workshops and performances. Share your favorite Festival memories and photos in person or online. festival.si.edu.

Pig Out at the Chesapeake Beer and Crab Festivals

There are two, each having two sessions 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. The Baltimore Beer and Crab Festival, on June 24, is at Rash Field at the Inner Harbor. The National Harbor festival, on Aug. 19, is at 300 Waterfront St. This is the eighth year for what is becoming a Maryland tradition. The Festivals themselves are an all-you-care-to-taste extravaganza complete with over 65,000 crabs, lots of beer, arts and crafts, live music, family fun and more. There is an array of admission offers that are too complicated to go into here, but there are discounts for prepurchase. Enjoy, because crabs and summer go together. mdcrabfest.com.

Gallery O on H Photo Show and Book Launch

In Who's Looking Back, on display at Gallery O on H, 1354 H St. NE, June 20 to July 28, Washington, DC's top street photographers documented the tumultuous presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump, an event that met with rioting, peaceful civil disobedience and one of the largest protest marches in US history. Their book, "UnPresidented: The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump and the People's Response," captures the raw emotion that flowed through the nation's capital, both in celebration and protest of Trump's ascendancy to the most powerful and important job in the world. The collective body of all submitted photos will become a visual time tunnel challenging the viewer to reflect on how they have related to, reacted to, resisted, and/or re-committed in the six months since Jan. 20, 2017. galleryoonh.com.


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