National Geographic Museum: A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

If you are enthralled by images of nature, foreign landscapes, and exotic cultures, a visit to the National Geographic Museum is a must! Here, you can behold exhibits such as explorations of the Etruscans, reproductions of DaVinci inventions, a pictorial display of Machu Picchu, as well as fifty years of photographs of American presidents taken by the official White House photographers.

Similar to the much-loved magazine, the photography on site here is all breathtaking, inspiring, and educational. In addition, you can enjoy wonderful events that include live music, dance, film series, and lectures by Nobel Laureates. Visit the museum's website for dates and descriptions of all upcoming programs.

Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for kids, and the museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

National Geographic Museum
1145 17th Street NW
Farragut North Metro Station
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 223-5074

Public Domain/Public Domain

John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts: Overflowing with Culture

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts truly represents the diversity of performing culture in the United States. Plus, it also draws international talent, as well as events of state. The Kennedy Center is home to the Washington National Opera, Suzanne Ferrell Ballet, in addition to the National Symphony Orchestra. The center also plays host to countless "big names" of American music, dance, and theater — regulars include the American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater, Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, the American College Theater Festival, and the American Film Institute, among many others. Many local vocal, theatrical, dance, and instrumental organizations also perform regularly at the Kennedy Center—for example, the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and the Chorale Arts Society of Washington.

Believe it or not, The Kennedy Center puts on over 3,000 events each year on its many stages. This public/private partnership, originally conceived during the 2nd Eisenhower administration, puts on at least one performance each day, free of charge, on its Millennium Stage at 6 p.m. Many performances are also broadcast to the public, and public tours are offered to the public free of charge.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW
Foggy Bottom Metro Stop
Washington, D.C. 20566
(800) 444-132
www.kennedy-center.org

National Postal Museum: The History of the U.S. Post Office

Don't worry, you do not have to be a stamp collector to relish in a visit to the National Postal Museum. This beautiful marble structure, replete with a 90 foot atrium, across from Union Station chronicles the history of the U.S. Post Office from the days of the Pony Express to old airmail biplanes to the current boxy postal truck. During the tour, you'll get a complete picture of the history of mail delivery in the United States. Also, you'll get the chance to look at stamps from around the world, view important historic correspondence, and find out fascinating facts about the evolution of the postal service. Children will adore learning about Owney the Postal Service Dog, a stray who made the rounds with D.C. postal workers, and eventually became their beloved mascot — plus, kids will get the chance to sit in an 18-wheeler delivery truck! A trip here will convince you that mail delivery is anything but mundane!

Admission is free. The Museum's open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

National Postal Museum
2 Massachusetts Avenue NE
(at N. Capitol Street)
Union Station Metro Station
Washington, DC 20001
Neighborhood: NoMa
(202) 357-1300

The Philips Collection: Masters of Art

At the Philips Collection, you can behold the famous Renoir painting "Luncheon of the Boating Party" — it’s worth the cost of admission just to gaze upon it! If sprawling museums feel a bit overwhelming, you're in luck, the Phillips is a modest size, and houses just under 3,000 works by the likes of Van Gogh, Picasso, Homer, O’Keefe, and Rothko, as well as many others. The museum was started in 1921 by Duncan Phillips, and it was the first modern art museum in the U.S. at the time. For a real treat, visit during one of the Phillips After Five events, held on the first Thursday of the month. These events feature live music, lectures, and a cash bar, and are a wonderful way to experience the museum. For the events, reservations are recommended, as they can get crowded. Museum admission is a steal at $12 for adults and free for kids under 18.

The Philips Collection
1600 21st Street NW
Dupont Circle Metro Station
Washington, DC 20009

Bistro Cacao: Upscale French Comfort Food

Bistro Cacao offers a strong menu of fine French dishes in a romantic setting at neighborhood prices.  Here’s taste, pleasure, and refinement that doesn’t require a second mortgage. Bistro Cacao may also be soothing to diners who don’t want to eat raw ocean life or words they’ve never seen before.  Experimentation may only reach as far as frog legs and foie gras—but that doesn’t translate to dull. Food critics are quick to point out that chef Kemal Deger knows what he’s doing and executes his dishes to perfection.

Diners start to swoon over the pheasant pâté and lobster bisque. Scallops, mussels and salads are lovely; and favorite entrees include rack of lamb and hanger steak—if the French fried potatoes come with your meal, don’t turn them down. Good wines are reasonably priced and pair well with your meal, and desserts are probably worth the calories.  Weekday lunch and weekend brunch make Bistro Cacao a convenient culinary catch.

Bistro Cacao
320 Mass. Ave, NE
Union Station Metro Station
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 546-4737
www.bistrocacao.com

Trapeze School: Acrobatics for All

Did you realize that you don’t have to run off and join the circus to experience the flying trapeze? Well, if flying through the air with the greatest of ease is on your bucket list, a visit to the Trapeze School’s indoor and outdoor instruction arena is a must! Whether you’re a first-timer or well on your way to becoming an expert, there is a program here for you. Rally a some of your friends for a group lesson, or book the entire school for an awesome party or memorable corporate event. Seasoned trapezers can even enroll in intensive workshops that help you to perfect your art – who knows, Cirque de Soleil might be hiring! Standard trapeze classes are $45 a piece, with discounts if you sign up for five or more. And, if you really want to perfect your circus skills, classes in juggling, aerial silks, acrobatics, balancing, and trampoline are also available.

Trapeze School
4th Street SE at N Street SE
Origins Union Station
Washington, DC 20001
(410) 459-6839

The Philips Collection: Artwork by the Masters

If you’ve never been lucky enough to behold the fabulously famous Renoir painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party”, it’s completely worth the cost of admission to the Philips Collection just to gaze upon it. The Phillips is a manageable size, making it friendly, familiar, and easy to navigate, with just under 3,000 works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Homer, O’Keefe, and Rothko, among other notable names. The collection was founded by Duncan Phillips in 1921, and it was the very first modern art museum in the entirety of the United States. Visit during one of the Phillips After Five events on the first Thursday of each month — here you'll find live music, lectures, and a cash bar — needless to say, it's a great way to experience the museum! Reservations for special events are suggested, as they tend to get crowded. Museum admission is a bargain at $12 for adults and free for kids under 18.

The Philips Collection
1600 21st Street NW
(between N. Q Street & N. Hillyer Court) 
Dupont Circle Metro Station
Washington, DC 20009
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

Tulip Library: Check out the Flowers

This isn’t just any old library with dusty old shelves of books. It’s a collection of over 100 varieties of tulips that bloom on the north side of D.C.’s Tidal Basin between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial every year at the beginning of April. A smaller tulip library is maintained at the Netherlands Carillion on just across the Potomac River in Virginia. A total of about 10,000 Holland bulbs in a dazzling array of colors and varieties are planted and cared for by the National Park Service. There’s no charge to stroll amongst this spectacular display of nature’s glory. Did you know that tulips are first known to have graced the palaces of Turkish royalty and were brought to the U.S. via Europe by the early European settlers?  Bet you didn’t!

Tulip Library
Near the North side of the Tidal Basin
Between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial
Smithsonian Metro Station
Washington, DC 20024

The Play’s the Thing at Shakespeare Theatre Company

The Shakespeare Theatre Company is a world-renowned, award-winning center of Shakespearean plays, as well as dramas by other classical literary luminaries. Directed by Michael Kah, the Shakespeare Theatre Company has been the recipient of scores of prestigious Helen Hayes Awards. The company benefits from two different theater venues—the traditional and intimate Lansburgh Theatre building dates from the 1800s, while the nearby Harman Arts Center, open since 2007, includes the Sidney Harman Hall, which gleams modern and is equipped with state-of-the-art works.

Beyond-brilliant productions, education, and appreciation of classical theater are missions of the Shakespeare Theater Company. The organization has many programs to engage learners of all ages to read classical texts critically and bring those dialogues to life. It also has initiatives to prepare new generations for the art of theater.  These programs include subsidized student matinees with supportive materials for teachers and “Text Alive!” that works with teachers to integrate theater into high school curriculums.

Shakespeare Theatre Company
Box Office: (202) 547-1122
www.shakespearetheatre.org

Lansburgh Theatre
450 7th Street NW
Metro City Metro Station
Washington, DC 20004

Sidney Harman Hall
610 F Street NW
Gallery Place Chinatown Metro Station
Washington, DC 20004

Tosca: A Taste of Tuscany

Sleek elegance and sophisticated fare are the keywords at Tosca, one of D.C.’s premier Italian restaurants. House-made pasta is adorned with sumptuous ingredients, like lamb ragu, lobster sauce, fresh truffles, and pistachio mortadella. Diners rave about the unique pairing of carrot pappardelle and rabbit ragu. Non-pasta dishes include pork tenderloin in wild mushroom crust, N.Y. strip with balsamic radicchio, and roasted Mediterranean sea bass. Fuel up before a show from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. with their three course pre-theatre menu, a deal at just $38. Their Tuscan-style tasting menu gives you a chance to sample an array dishes paired with wine. Tosca's open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, dinner only on Saturday.

Tosca
1112 F Street NW
(between N. 11th Street & N. 12th Street)
Metro Center Metro Station
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 367-1990
www.toscadc.com