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There’s a about a dozen trails in DC that are sprinkled throughout the city, highlighting the cultural and historical specialties of the area. Vicky and I have walked a handful of these and it’s always a delight making our way sign to sign. On the way you really get to see the area for what it is and was. The markers include old photographs showing what the area used to be like and note special historic events. Just find a neighborhood you’re interested in exploring, locate the first sign and on there you’ll find a map leading you to the following signs. A great alternative to just walking around with your head stuck in a guidebook.
OK, I said no Smithsonian but I DIDN’T say no museums. I promise you though, this isn’t your typical museum. Opening in 2008, the Laogai museum is a new addition to DC’s phenomenal line-up of museums. It stems from the Laogai Research Foundation (LRF), which was established in 1992 by Laogai survivor, Harry Wu, to gather information on and raise public awareness of the Laogai—China’s extensive system of forced-labor prison camps. It is the first museum in the United States to directly address human rights in China. This museums really gets personal – and takes you through the lives of individuals who were imprisoned by the Chinese government for expressing what we take as a basic right – freedom of speech. The museum is free and I promise you will NOT be disappointed.
Celebrate the middle of the week by having drinks at one of our favorite bars in DC. Formerly known as Brickskeller, Bier Baron is a recently opened bar which showcases a large (LARGE) variety of national and international beers. With a beer menu the size of an employee handbook, just picking your drink is half the fun. If you’re looking to try something you’ve NEVER had before – this is the place. Also, their beer and a burger (for $10) is a steal if you get there before 7pm.
This is really a gem in DC. It’s a free, 2hr comedy show every Thursday at 8pm that showcases local comics from the area. You’re going to get a wide range of skills from people who are just starting out (literally, first timers) to people who have performed on the tonight show. Every week is different (though sometimes comics come back multiple times) and promises to have at least a few guys who are hilarious (and a few that are hilariously…bad). Seats fill up fast so get there early, I’ve seen it be standing room only. No reservations or tickets required. The lounge is in the basement of a hotel so not to worry food and drinks are served as well.
Right outside the National Gallery of Art, in the sculpture garden, every Friday starting in late May there is a free jazz performance. Bring a picnic and take in the smooth sounds of live music from 5-8:30. Performers and styles change every week so check the calendar for your favorite type of jazz music. A perfect low cost date night.
As the busiest performance facility in the US The Kennedy Center produces and presents all types of performances among which there is a daily 6pm free performance on the millennium stage. Yes that’s every single day of the year and the performers and types of shows are always different. Varying from jazz, and classical music to circus performers there’s something for everyone. A perfect way to have a cultural evening.
We’ve written about Meridian Park extensively but it’s worth mentioning a second time here. On Sunday afternoon (around 3pm) this place REALLY picks up. It practically becomes a circus, with slacklining, drum circles, jugglers. It’s the liveliest outdoor area in town for about 5 hours. Bring a bottle of wine and have yourself a picnic. Enjoy the ambiance.