Summer Travel: Test the Waters
These vacation spots are dripping with fun. Start planning now.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
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Challenge a river’s raging current. Bob on the gentle ripples of a lake. Paddle to an island or in the shadow of a world-famous monument. Whether your preference is wild or mild, the water fun is waiting at a variety of driving-distance destinations.
Washington, D.C. — A Different Perspective
If the last time you saw D.C. was on a monument- and museum-focused class trip, you probably missed many of the other historic and recreational adventures available in and beyond the capital’s downtown area. Paddle to a quiet island in the Potomac or in the shadow of the Jefferson Memorial in the Tidal Basin. Rejoice in the restoration of Washington’s “Black Broadway,” a neighborhood that predates Harlem as a center of African-American life, enterprise, and entertainment; was devastated by the civil unrest of the 1960s and has recently regained its position as a multi-cultural destination for fun food, funky fashion and low-key and high-profile music venues.
Where to Stay
Situated in the first neighborhood north of Washington’s downtown area within easy walking distance of most major attractions and only two blocks to the closest Metro subway station, The DC Guesthouse (1337 10th St. N.W., 202-332-2502, dcguesthouse.com; $185 to $300, $25 during high visitation weeks) is a destination unto itself. The seven guestrooms in this historic 1876 mansion-turned-warm and welcoming bed and breakfast are furnished with lush appointments, some with wood-burning fireplaces, separate sitting rooms and eclectic artwork.
In fact, the entire place is filled with so many of the owners’ personal art collection from Ming Dynasty to contemporary pieces that you might just end up skipping the Smithsonian. Join the owners and fellow guests in “The Pit” for a glass of wine, linger over a bountiful, home-cooked breakfast in the dining room. Another big perk is the free off-street parking (a big deal in D.C.).
Where to Eat
Only a couple of short blocks from D.C. Guesthouse is Veranda (1100 P St. N.W., 202-234-6870, verandaonp.com; $10 to $21, Sunday brunch $9 to $11), a Mediterranean-influenced neighborhood eatery operated by brothers Aleks and Lambros Duni. Start with dolmades or saganaki, and then it’s on to the lamb shank with essences of anise, coriander and cinnamon. End with any of the Greek desserts whether baklava or kaddafi.
Sip a Sazerac or mint julep and savor some sassy Louisiana home cooking at Acadiana (901 New York Ave., N.W.; 202-408-8848, acadianarestaurant.com; lunch $12 to $16, dinner $21 to $29). It’s all here from the muffalettas and po’ boys to crispy fried catfish, gumbo and étouffée.
Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St., NW; 202-667-0909, benschilibowl.com; $3.60 to $4.95) has been serving its famous chili-topped half-smokes (half pork, half beef smoked sausage) and shakes. On weekdays, it’s open until 2 a.m., on weekends ’til 4 a.m. to accommodate late-night cravings.
Grab dessert—maybe a cupcake or signature “crunchy feet” or “buzz balls”—at food celeb Warren Brown’s CakeLove bakery (1506 U St., NW; 202-588-7100, cake love.com).
On the first Sunday of each month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Avenue, N.W.; 800-222-7270; nmwa.org) hosts an open-to-the-public brunch ($25), which includes admission to the museum’s exhibits of 16th century to modern artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo and Mary Cassatt.
Bring your own or rent a kayak ($8 to $10 an hour, $24 to $30 for a day) or canoe ($8 an hour, $22 per day) from Thompson Boat Center (2900 Virginia Ave., N.W., Georgetown; 202-333-9543; thompsonboatcenter.com) and take the Potomac for about one mile over to Theodore Roosevelt Island, a peaceful 90-plus acre wilderness preserve with trails and a boardwalk for wildlife watchers. Or take in the “monumental” view in a leg-powered rental from Tidal Basin Paddleboats (1501 Maine Ave., S.W.; 202-479-2426; tidalbasinpeddleboats.com; $8 for two passengers).
Give yourself a whole afternoon (and at least part of an evening) to fully take in the sights, sounds and flavors of the 14th and U Street/Logan Circle/Shaw districts, located east of DuPont Circle and north of downtown. Check out such 14th Street retail favorites as Go Mama Go! (1809, 202-299-0850, gomamago.com) for home accessories and Ruff & Ready Furnishings (1908, 202- 667-7833), which takes a no frills approach to selling antiques and collectibles.
If you’re a jazz aficionado, don’t miss the chance to take in a newcomer or headliner performance at Bohemian Caverns (2001 Eleventh St., 202-299-0800, bohemiancaverns.com; ticket prices vary), which, since 1926, has hosted many of the biggest names in the business, from Duke Ellington to Diana Ross and from Cannonball Adderley to Aretha Franklin.
Decor is not a priority at HR-57 Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues (1610 14th St., NW; 202-667-3700, hr57.org; ticket prices vary). It’s all about the music, whether it’s a local musician on Wednesday or Thursday, or polished pros on weekends.
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