Last-Minute Summer Activities in DC / by Nadia Fallahi

Apologies for being a little MIA since I've been home.  It's been a pretty tough two weeks of getting readjusted to home life (mainly, Soulcycle and Netflix).


If you know anything about me, you know that being home isn’t my favorite thing in the world.  I prefer only being home for a few weeks (at most) at a time when I’m home.  It makes me be a little more productive when it comes to working out, seeing my family and friends, getting “administrative” work done, etc.  

Since I’ve been home from my study abroad trip in Europe, I have been trying to get everything I need to done and head back to school.  While I must admit that there have been days when I stay in bed watching what Frank Underwood might be up to next, I try to still be some bit active and do some touristy things along the way.

Here are my recommendations for top things to see in do in the DMV before heading back to school:


Getting Active

I found that being active and having affective workouts for me is so much better when I’m not working/in school, so I really try to maximize my active time at home (please ignore that I slept till 11 the last two days….).

Soul+Salad

www.soul-cycle.com  ($30/class)

Bet you didn’t see this one coming!  I started riding when I began at USC about two years ago and was automatically hooked.  What I love about Soul (and I’ll probably do a post on it later) is the “me time” I have for 45 minutes as soon as my shoes click into the bike.  Plus, it’s super fun and a great way to get together with your friends!

I was super stoked when Soul finally announced that they were coming to DC last year, and they now have a studio downtown and one in Bethesda (and one coming in Georgetown!).  I usually prefer going to DC because I love taking Natalia’s classes and I hate running into every single person I know.  But since Natalia is out on an injury (Feel well soon!), I have been tapping it back in Bethesda with my friends and trying all different instructors.

My favorite post-Soul meal is Sweetgreen, so obviously I was stoked when they announced the Soul+Salad ride on Thursdays!  I love this deal —a little spin followed with a FREE salad.  I would definitely recommend the one in Bethesda on Thursdays at 12:30 PM with Wayne — and book early cause the class will fill up! 

 

Billy Goat Trail

(Free)

I don’t think you grew up in this area if you haven’t “hiked” the Billy Goat Trail.  Billy Goat day was easily everyone’s favorite “practice” day in high school because that meant one thing — a fun, short afternoon.  This is easily the “betchiest” thing you can do around here/

Friends and I will often venture over here to jog along the canal or hike the trail while we catch up on the weekend shenanigans or plan what we are going to do that night.  The trail will not take you longer than an hour at most (if you are like us and take the emergency exit).  I love going through all-year round, and even though it’s a bit more frigid in the winter, it’s still a great way to get that blood pumping!  Just make sure to bring your phone so you can Snapchat it to everyone!!! (And be cautious of the mud.)

 

Capital Crescent Trail 

(Free)

Stretching from Silver Spring to Georgetown, the Capital Crescent Trail is perfect for any biker, runner or walker.  I actually had never been on the trail before last summer when my cousin came to visit and we wanted to find something to do.  We started in Bethesda (as most people do) and walked/jogged for about five miles out before turning around to come back.  Obviously we knew that we were not going to make it to Georgetown, but it was still a great path to run along.

This is the perfect trail for an easy Sunday morning activity.

 

 

Tourist in Your Own City

I swore that I would never step foot into a Smithsonian after I finished grade school, but now I have decided that I need to check out some spots that I may not have visited or enjoyed before.

United States Botanical Gardens

www.usbg.gov  (Free)

Fronds, fronds and more fronds!  I first visited last year with some friends when we decided to be tourists for a day and simply fell in love.  While it is a little toasty inside, the gardens offer a sense of serenity that is perfect for busy-bodies.  

There is one big room that looks like a jungle of sorts where you can walk all around at different levels to get a better view of your favorite plants.  I wish I had decided to visit here earlier as my concentration in art my senior year was tropical plants and printmaking.  There is also a waterfall fountain to give it a more authentically feel.  The other rooms feature climates mirroring those of tropical or deserted places to, again, showcase different plants in a more authentic feel.

This is a great place to chill and get photos if you’re working on that Instagram aesthetic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Building Museum’s The BEACH

www.nbm.org  ($13 for students)

This has quickly taken over social media for anyone living in the DMV, so I think it’s funny that I found out about it from a friend from school (Hi, Wes!) who was visiting DC for a work trip.  Basically, every summer, the National Building Museum showcases a huge interactive installation in their atrium that visitors of all ages can enjoys, and this year, they worked with Snarkitecture to create an indoor beach.

The BEACH features an all-white shore with chairs and umbrellas and an ocean filled with one million plastic balls ending with mirrored walls to give the illusion of ocean vastness. Essentially, it’s a giant ball pit that makes Cirque look like child’s play.  You can take a dip into the ocean or enjoy a popsicle (would recommend the Strawberry Lemonade) at the snack bar.  There are even lifeguards in case the ocean tries to drag you under…

I went on a Wednesday during the day, but if you are over 18, you should definitely go after 5 PM to enjoy “adult swim.”  If this hasn’t convinced you enough, maybe you should check out this article featuring our photo!

 

National Gallery of Art

www.nga.gov  (Free, some exhibitions may cost money)

This is one of my favorite spots in DC.  Whether you are more into contemporary art or the classics, the Gallery has something for every taste, and you might even learn something new!

Unfortunately, the East Building is closed right now for renovations, but some pieces are hung in the atrium and in some of the gallery spaces on the walkway between the buildings.  However, this shouldn’t discourage people from visiting. The West Building features some amazing works from Degas to Monet to Klimt and so on.  This wing is home to the famous rotunda and provides a maze of rooms to get lost in when looking at the work.

The Gallery has a great cafeteria will all different kinds of foods that are tasty and slightly expensive.  Make sure to grab a gelato before heading back into the heat.

 

 

 

 

Live Spectacles

I love concerts, as I’m sure no one would have guessed!  Many great artists come through the nation’s capital, but as the summer comes to a close, there are still some good shows to catch. (I’m only a little bitter that the week I went back to LA, Flume, Tyler, the Creator, Florence+The Machine, Lana del Rey, Grimes and Mumford and Sons decided to stop by.)

Here are some shows I would recommend:

1. Brandon Flowers — July 29 

(Echostage, $43.45) 

The Killers’ frontman is off on another solo tour. Wish I didn’t find out until today that he was going to be here tonight!

 

 

 

2. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga — July 31 and August 1 

(Kennedy Center, resale at $250)

Obviously just go see this show. Their album was unreal so watching the music come to life with all their little quirks and riffs is so perfect.  I saw the show in LA with my brother and it was amazing.  EXTREMELY upset I will be missing both dates because I am traveling (to see Daddy Diplo) this weekend.

 

 

 

3. Glass Animals — August 5 

(9:30 Club, SOLDOUT) 

If you can get resale, I would recommend going. Brings the best of sweet electo-y, synthy, poppy sounds.  Really regret not seeing them at Coachella.

 

4. Moonrise Festival August 8, 9 

(Pimlico Race Track, $149 for a 2-day pass)

(What So Not at Coachella 2015, Dillon Francis at MDBP MD 2014, Porter Robinson at Coachella 2015)

I am hopefully going to this festival.  Dying to see my faves What So Not and Dillon Francis.  I will probably only go Sunday because the lineup is better then.  Even if you’re not that into EDM, one day will be a good fix. Other people I would recommend to go see: Porter Robinson, Zeds Dead, 3LAU, Yellow Claw, TJR, Thomas Jack, LOUDPVCK, Ty Dolla $ign and Party Favor.

 

5. J. Cole, Big Sean, and Jeremih — August 9 

(Jiffy Lube Live, $45) 

I am only getting a little more into their music but I loooooooove Jeremih (mainly because of his collabs with Shlohmo). Will make for a good night.

 

6. Vic Mensa — August 11

(9:30 Club, $25)

My brother and I are so stoked for this.  Vic is a rapper/(kind of) singer from Chicago that works with Kanye a lot and is literally blowing up everywhere, so this is a good chance to see him while it’s still cheap.

 

7. DJ Snake — August 15

(Echostage, $36.80)

Easily one of my favorite sets at Coachella, DJ Snake knows how to deliver. He will bump some of the best of his work, EDM, rap, his friends, etc. Go.

 

 

I would also recommend Mad Decent Block Party if they didn’t stop having it in Maryland after last year, so if you’re down to travel, then I would recommend.  I’m going to the one in Fort Lauderdale this weekend.

 

 

Get Your Grub On

I spend a lot of time with friends and family over meals, and finding the right spots and perfect things to order is so crucial to the dining experience.  There are so many place I crave when I’m at school, so I always make sure to hit them up when I’m home.

Here are my dining recommendations and what to eat there:

 

1. La Tasca — Spanish tapas

I LOVE this place! Great for going with friends and ordering a bunch of different plates! Try to go during the lunch Happy Hour Special or DC Restaurant Week (coming up in August)

Favorite items: Chicken and ham croquettes, ahi tuna, bacon-wrapped dates, beef empanadas, patatas bravas, flank steak, chicken skewers

2. Raku — Japanese

Perfect for lunch or dinner, but make sure to call ahead, especially on the weekends

Best items: Tokyo Dashi Broth with Chicken and Udon, Napa Cabbage Salad, and obviously the sushi

3. Pizzeria Paradiso — Modern-style pizzeria

My mom claims this to be her favorite restaurant (but what isn’t?).  From a bunch of great appetizers to pre-selected pizza and even make-your-own, there is little that no one would not like.

Best items: Panzanella (1), would recommend making your own pizza cause the options are endless

4. Founding Farmers — Local-grown comfort food

Come here with an empty stomach cause you are sure to try a bunch of things. I love that everything they cook is grown within 90 miles of the restaurant.

Best items: Farmer’s Daughter Burger, Hibiscus Soda, Brie Farm Bread, Fried Chicken Salad

5. Cava Mezze — Greek mezze (tapas, basically)

Okay, so this is not Mezze Grill which is the Chipotle-style place, but it is still just as good (or better, in my opinion).  Little plates, so great to get a couple items!

Best items: Beet salad, Grape Leaves, Falafel Fritters, Grilled Salmon, Lollipop Chicken, Crispy Pork Belly, also ask for the grilled Haloumi cheese (and add a little Harissa), and all of their dips are perfect

 

 

Random Other Things (that I didn't know where to include):

1. Nats Games

2. Ferris Wheel at the National Harbor

3. Georgetown (on a weekday)

4. U Street at night

 

 

Hopefully this can give those of you who dread coming back into the insane heat and humidity and idea of what to do to keep busy.  TYBG that we all can go back to school soon.

 

Matcha Had Me…sticky from humidity and full of salads and tapas galore.