Best of Spring 2015 – Washington, DC

Now that winter is over, and the trees are in bloom, I am excited for Spring and eager to share my 2015 list of The Best of Spring – Washington, DC .

Cherry Blossoms – Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists descend on the Washington, DC region to revel in the beauty of Cherry Blossom trees and the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/.  The current forecast for peak bloom, according to the National Park Service, is April 11-14. Make a plan to see them in person before they are gone!

Cherry Blossoms at the Washington Monument

Cherry Blossoms at the Washington Monument

Washington Nationals baseball – The local team made a huge winter splash by signing 2013 Cy Young Award winning pitcher (American League, 2103) Max Scherzer. With current stars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper also leading the team, big things are expected from the Washington Nationals in 2015. We may never again openly say “World Series or Bust” but the expectations are certainly high for the Nats this year. Opening Day is April 6th. Check out the schedule and get your tickets. Play Ball!  http://atmlb.com/1FFMLHy

Nationals Opening Day 2015
Waterfront Dining – DC has an abundance of great waterfront views. Why not take advantage and enjoy it with your favorite meal or beverage. Find out more here: http://dcmetroplus.com/dining-category/incredible-waterfront-dining-in-dc/

Bicycle and running paths – Washington, DC and the surrounding neighborhoods are adorned with hundreds of miles of beautiful trails. Whether you walk, bike or run, find your favorite path and enjoy. http://bikewashington.org/trails/

National Zoo – Everyone knows that bears hibernate for winter, but come spring there is no place better to see lions, tigers, bears, and of course pandas, than at the National Zoo. Admission is free (parking extra). Metro accessible.  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/

Panda at Washington National Zoo

Great Falls and assorted hiking trails – In city adorned by brilliant man-made monuments, we often forget the wonder that Mother Nature created, with Great Falls being among the very best in the area. If you’ve never hiked the Billy Goat Trail, or have not done so in a very long time, you owe it to yourself to get out there this spring. http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/Billy_Goat_A_8872.asp. For more hiking trails http://dc.about.com/od/hiking/a/BestHiking.htm

Annapolis, Middleburg, Skyline Drive and more – There are many places to visit within an hour or so drive of DC. Whether it’s the quaint towns of Middleburg and Annapolis or the hiking trails and spectacular views of Skyline Drive (http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/waterfalls.htm) there is so much to see and do near Washington. Baltimore and the famed Inner Harbor is only an hour away http://baltimore.org/about-baltimore/inner-harbor (* plan accordingly for weekend and rush-hour traffic).  Photo below was taken in the Virginia countryside – part of the Shenandoah Mountains.

View from a moto ride 8.31.14

Celebrate Planet Earth – Celebrate the earth, music, and life in general, with a huge Earth Day concert. Earth Day on the Mall on April 18th with a mega-sized free concert, featuring No Doubt (w/ Gwen Stefani), Fall Out Boy, Mary J. Blige, Train, Usher, etc. http://bit.ly/1FdAxXQ

This is just a small sample of the wonderful outdoor activities available in and around our Nation’s Capitol.  So get outside and enjoy the Best of Spring – Washington, DC style!

*All photos were taken by Steve from 4Staff.

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Fall in Love with Autumn in Washington, DC

As Bob Dylan once sang, The Leaves They Are a Changin’.  OK, so that’s not right.  Bob D. didn’t really sing that, but fall is in the air, and the leaves really are changing.  Take advantage now, before the trees all shed their leaves for winter.  Here are just a few ideas to enjoy fall’s splendor in and around the Washington, DC area.

I’m sure nobody has forgotten about Skyline Drive, but remember to leave early.  Traffic is sure to be jam-packed this weekend.   For those of you who would rather avoid the schlep and the traffic, here are a few ideas closer to home.

Take a walk, run or bike ride in Rock Creek Park.  See the animals at the National Zoo and visit the bears and other animals before they hibernate for winter.  Check out the grounds and the National Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum (read these wonderful reviews from Trip Advisor – http://bit.ly/12ikfON).  It’s surely one of Washington’s best kept secrets.

U.S. National Arboretum

If sports is more your style, fall is the time when basketball and hockey season begin.  Both the Washington Capitals, and their star, Alex Ovechkin, and the Washington Wizards with John Wall, play at the Verizon Center in downtown, DC.  While the NFL season is half over, there is still plenty of time to go see the Washington Redskins, or venture 40 miles to the north to go see the neighboring Baltimore Ravens.

For those of you who prefer amateur sports, you won’t find a more awe-inspiring event than watching over 30,000 runners compete in the 39th running of the Marine Corps Marathon.   This year’s event is this Sunday, October 26th.  Be sure to take metro, as driving through the district and parts of Northern Virginia may prove very difficult this Sunday.

When looking to entertain the kids, what better place than the Boo at the Zoo.  Find details and tickets – http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ActivitiesAndEvents/Celebrations/Boo/.

boo-logo-square

More kid-friendly ideas include pumpkin patcheshttp://dc.about.com/od/childrensactivities/a/pumpkinpatches.htm and corn mazeshttp://dc.about.com/od/hoildaysseasonalevents/a/CornMazes.htm.

As November turns a bit colder, you might search for the indoors and great photography at DC Photo Week http://www.fotodc.org/ .  This year’s event is being held November 8th-16th.

Last but not least, no list of fall activities would be complete without mentioning Halloween.  As always, there are a cornucopia of events.  If you need a few ideas to help get you going, you can find them here – http://dc.about.com/od/fallfestivalsandevents/a/HalloweenAdults.htm.

So get out and enjoy.  Wishing you and yours a wonderful fall!

Top Summer Suggestions – Washington, DC 2012

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I love Washington, DC, and have chosen to call this area “home” since I graduated college from the University of Maryland.  Between the beauty of the monuments, and all the wonderful year-round events, there is so much to see and do in this Capitol City.

There can always be a debate as to what are the best things to do in the area, but I created my own list of Top 5* Summer Ideas for Washington, DC (*addendum added).  I hope that you find my ideas helpful, and if you already live here, I encourage you to act like a tourist in your own town, this summer.

1.       Screen on the Green – One of my favorite summertime events, and a great way to watch a movie.  Watch a free classic flick, surrounded by spectacular views of both the Capitol and the Washington Monument – as they light up the National Mall on a summer’s night.   Get there early to find a good viewing spot, and perhaps picnic beforehand…and don’t forget your bug spray!  This year’s movies start on Monday, July 16th and include;

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, It Happened One Night, From Here to Eternity and Psycho

If you love the idea of an outdoor movie, but would rather stay closer to home, there are several locales that provide alternative options.  For more details, see: http://dc.about.com/od/filmfestivals/tp/OutdoorMovies.htm

2.        The Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps perform every Tuesday evening in the summer at the Iwo Jima Memorial in nearby Rosslyn, VA.  Adorned by this inspirational monument, the Marines play a medley of military standards and other popular songs, all while marching nobly in dress uniform.

Although I have lived in the DC area for the better part of my adult life, 2012 was the very first time that I attended this remarkable event, and I strongly encourage you to add it to your to-do list this summer.  For a good perspective, see three photos that I posted on “Steve’s pictures” page.

For information on other free area concerts see: http://dc.about.com/od/concerts/a/summerconcerts.htm

3.       Washington Nationals – Since relocating to DC from Montreal in 2005, the Washington Nationals have been perennial “cellar-dwellars”.  However,  as they approach the halfway point of the 2012 baseball season, the Nationals are in First Place in the very competitive National League East.  There’s still plenty of time left to take in a game (or several) this season and join in the excitement.  It’s time to get your Natitiude on!

 4.       Free Smithsonian Events – Ranging from Free Friday Jazz at the Sculpture Garden (pretty much self explanatory), http://dc.about.com/od/concerts/a/JazzinGarden.htm, to the renown Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which continues July 4th through 8th.  The Folklife Festival celebrates cultural traditions from around the world, and includes daily and evening music and dance performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, and more.

For additional details, visit: http://www.festival.si.edu/

5.       Celebrate Independence Day in your Nation’s Capitol –  Saving the best for last, the National Fireworks in Washington DC offers a multitude of spectacular views and eye-popping pyrotechnics.  Celebrate our nation’s birthday by watching the fireworks on The National Mall, adorned by Washington’s magnificent monuments and the U. S. Capitol.  With an incredibly beautiful and patriotic setting, DC provides a perfect way to enjoy America’s Independence Day celebrations.

For more information on Fourth of July Fireworks 2012 in Washington, DC,  Maryland and Virginia, see: http://dc.about.com/od/specialevents/a/4thofJuly.htm.  

A 4th of July parade offers an alternative daytime option.  You can find one to enjoy by visiting: http://dc.about.com/od/4thofjuly/a/4thJulyParades.htm

While your options are limitless, those are my top 5 summer suggestions.  Feel free to comment and share your own ideas.

Happy 4th of July!!

***

Update July 6, 2012

With the Smithsonian Folklife Festival ending on July 8th and the National Fireworks having come and gone, I wanted to add an addendum to my list.   Here are a few additional ideas: 

Outdoor summer concerts at Wolf Trap.  While seating is available, I’ve always preferred to bring a blanket and picnic out on the lawn.  Located in nearby Wolf Trap Park,  there’s a variety of music to fit assorted tastes www.wolftrap.org.  Choices include pop/rock from the 60’s to present times, blues, jazz, country and classical.  If Hip-Hop is more your style, the DC Hip-Hop Theater Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary with free and low cost events centered on hip-hop in the form of theatre, dance, art and music.  From July 11th through July 16th, it is located at venues such as The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and Arena Stage. http://dc.about.com/od/specialevents/a/HipHopFestival.htm

For tennis fans, there is The Citi Open, (formerly the Legg Mason Tennis Tournament) in Washington, DC from July 28th through August 5th www.citiopentennis.com.  The Washington Kastles play July 9th through 28th www.washingtonkastles.com.

If you would rather participate in an activity rather than watch an event, may I also suggest renting a canoe at Fletchers Boat House, www.fletcherscove.com, or go bicycling on the Rock Creek Park trail, the Old Dominion Park trail, the C&O Canal path, or the Mount Vernon trail.  While it is open year-round, the National Zoo, featuring the famous Giant Pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, is always a great visit – summertime or anytime, while beautiful Great Falls is a way to find a nice shaded hike.

So there you have it.  Of course I could go on and on, but it’s time for me to stop typing and go out and do something.  Hmmmm, where should I start?

 Steve/aka theguyfrom4staff