<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Worth the Trip]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/worth-the-trip http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Sun, 20 Apr 2014 09:58:33 -0400 Sun, 20 Apr 2014 09:58:33 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Visit National Parks for Free This Weekend]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:31:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/198*120/harpers-ferry_80300179aaaa.jpg

Looking for something to do this Easter weekend?

This weekend, the National Park Service will waive admission fees for all national parks. The free admission weekend is a part of National Park Week, which runs through April 27

This year's theme is “Go Wild” and offers visitors a chance to learn about history, nature and culture.

“National Park Week is a great time to discover the diverse wildlife, iconic landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history found in our national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis in a press release.

There are more than 400 national parks, 14 are within a three-hour drive of D.C. Below are the national parks in our area:

Maryland

  • Antietam National Battlefield
  • Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
  • Fort McHenry NM and Historic Shrine National Monument
  • Fort Washington Park
  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Virginia

  • Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
  • Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Colonial National Historical Park
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway's Great Falls Park
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park
  • Petersburg National Battlefield
  • Prince William Forest Park
  • Shenandoah National Park


Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA['Fire on the Water' Festival in AC]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:05:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_142661302.jpg

Atlantic City is kicking off summer with a festival celebrating some real heroes: firefighters and police officers.

The Fire on the Water Festival will be held the weekend of May 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Historic Gardner's Basin Waterfront Park (800 N. New Hampshire Ave., Atlantic City, N.J.).

Besides standard -- but not unimportant -- fare like beer gardens, crafters, food vendors and live music, the festival will feature the Firefighter Combat Challenge World Tour, the seventh annual "Guns versus Hoses" boxing match between police officers and firefighters, and a Kid's Firefighter Challenge. 

Event planners describe the Firefighter Combat Challenge as "the toughest two minutes in sports." It attracts firefighters from all over the U.S. and Canada with the purpose of promoting firefigther fitness and showing the public just how rigorous their job is. 

Participating firefighters will be racing against their opponents and the clock as they try to complete five challenges: climbing, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing life-sized "victims." 

The boxing matches are set for May 17 starting at noon at the Gardner's Basin outdoor amphitheater. If you ever wondered which department had the best brawlers, now is your chance to get a definitive answer. 

The money raised from the boxing match (through donations and the sale of an event ad book) will be donated to the Atlantic City Police Athletic League, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing juvenile delinquency through educational and recreational programs.

Children can get in on the fun with the Kid's Firefighter Challenge, where they will get the opportunity to suit up and go through a mini firefighter training course. 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Eat, Drink, Be Merry at Highlandtown Wine Fest]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:05:18 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_187283594.jpg

Baltimore's Highlandtown Community Association wants to wine and dine you, but for a good cause.

The 11th annual Highlandtown Wine Festival will be held on April 27 from 1 to 6 p.m. at Our Lady of Pompeii Church's Covent Garden (3600 Clement St.).  This year's festival will also be celebrating the 100th anniversary of DiPasquale's Italian Marketplace, which means the wine and Italian food will flow liberally all day. 

Festivalgoers are guaranteed five complimentary homemade wine tastings and all the classic Italian food -- everything from pasta to meatball subs to cannolis -- a food connoisseur could ever want. 

You'll also find a competition among amateur winemakers, to be judged by Baltimore foodies and celebrities. Entry forms are available at Highlandtown's website.

Tickets are available online at Highlandtown's website or in person at DiPasquale's, the Laughing Pint or Mastellone Deli & Wine. 

Tickets are $25 ($20 in advance) for those 21 and older, and include admission, a souvenier wine glass and antipasta from DiPasquale's. Children and teenagers get in for free, but will obviously not be partaking in the wine. 

Proceeds from the festival go toward Highlandtown Community Association projects, including street improvement, its Movies in the Park series and repairs and cleaning at Our Lady of Pompeii Church. 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[The Dome: Ever Wonder What 25 Million Pixels Can Do? ]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:24:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/168*120/The+Dome+screen.jpg

If you think our weather here on earth gets finicky, you'll be thinking there's no place like home once you watch the "Wildest Weather in the Solar System" film on the new Dome screen at the Science Museum of Virginia.

The new digital theater, as you may have guessed, is a 360-degree screen, and the most technically advanced digital dome theater in the world.
 
We visited the Dome this past weekend and watched two films: "The Great White Shark" and "The Wildest Weather in the Solar System."
 
"The Wildest Weather" uses actual NASA photos and intel to mimic a mind-bending astronomy class. Did you know when it rains on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, it rains down liquid methane? Be glad we have water down here. You'll also learn that Titan also has only two seasons, each lasting 40 years. (When they say "Winter is coming," they really mean it.)
 
After the film, Justin Bartel, an immersive experience specialist, turns the screen into live mode and takes any questions you may have about the solar system. He'll point out constellations, moons and stars, and make the planets seem within reach as he zooms in on the 360-degree screen to show the contrast. 
 
The Dome is a 25-million-pixel screen system, so you can assume that you'll be getting the best quality that a 360-degree screen has to offer. The screen is controlled by five digital projectors attached to 40 computer servers for an ultra-vivid experience.
 
The Science Museum of Virginia is located at 2500 West Broad St. in Richmond, Va., about two hours south of downtown D.C.  Museum admission is $11 for adults, $16 for both films and exhibits or $9 per film. Members get discounts for admission and films.

 



Photo Credit: Michael Waine Photography]]>
<![CDATA[A Mountaintop Stay in the Pocono Mountains]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 20:11:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/DSC_8323eee.jpg

Lake Naomi Club may be a five-star, private lakeside community, but if you book a stay at their Mountaintop Lodge bed & breakfast, you'll get all the perks of the membership without having to sign up for a thing. 

Located in the Pocono Mountains about four hours from downtown D.C., the Mountaintop Lodge is your all-access pass to the very beautiful and very private Lake Naomi Club community. When you book a stay at the lodge, you'll get a temporary pass to enjoy the beaches, lake-front dining, indoor/outdoor pools, spa and more at the Lake Naomi Club community.
 
The lodge, which was recently remodeled, still offers up a rustic cabin feel. It was exactly what you'd expect a B&B  in the Poconos to be, lots of country-style charm and an even friendlier staff. The impressive complimentary gourmet breakfast is actually worth waking up early for -- yes, even when you're on vacation. Our pick: Go for the eggs Benedict. If you miss it, though, the coffee shop inside the lodge also sells fresh bread and pastries, as well as an excellent bread pudding. 
 
You'll find ski slopes, state parks and a casino within a few miles of the lodge. Camelback Mountain, about 15 minutes away, is a great choice even for ski fledglings like me because of their beginner programs they offer. I also went tubing and took a ride on the Alpine Mountain Coaster. The mountain coaster is your chance to pretend you own the road, and the tubing hill is massive with 38 total lanes.  

In the summer, Lake Naomi offers sailing, kids' summer camps and teen programs, and has two outdoor pools (if the 277-acre lake isn't enough).

A stay at the Mountaintop Lodge will set you back about $160/per night -- not bad considering what you get. You can choose a standard room or one of four cabin suites that come with a fireplace and hot tubs.



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Happiness Awaits: Maryland Bacon Festival]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 10:44:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bacon16.jpg

America Loves Bacon: Fact, and also the name of the group bringing the Baltimore area its latest ode to cripsy deliciousness. That's right, the first-ever Maryland Bacon Festival is almost here and we couldn't be more excited.

The evenbt, which pegs itself as a cross between a bacon-themed block party and a full-scale festival, will dish food, music, cooking demonstrations, a children's area and even a bacon-eating contest.

Not to mention several full-service bars that feature bacon-themed cocktails? Oh, wait, we did just mention that.

All of the bacon festivities will be going down (our gullets) Saturday, April 26 at Rash Field in downtown Baltimore. If you get lost, just follow your nose to the smell of bacon and your ears to the sound of joyous tears.

For more information including tickets (starting at $25), a list of vendors and musical guests, visit the Maryland Bacon Festival website here.

 


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Restaurant Week Comes to Prince George's County ]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:42:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Gourmet-Food-Generic_0925.jpg

Can't decide what to make for dinner tonight? Well, here's your chance to check out some of the great dining options in Prince George's County.

The county is holding its first county-wide Restaurant Week from March 29 through April 5. More than 30 restaurants will offer discounted prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner.

Participating restaurants include Busboys and Poets and Tara Thai Restaurant in Hyattsville. Click here to see all the participating restaurants.

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<![CDATA[Wine Wednesday: Laurita Winery]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 17:54:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/1ewBeFunky_Chromatic_1.jpg.jpg

For the latest installment of Wine Wednesday, we traveled beyond the DMV to a New Jersey town called New Egypt. This cornfield-surrounded, coast-neighboring town may lack size, but it more than makes up for it with the charming Laurita Winery.

Laurita Winery is located about three and a half hours from downtown D.C., and is one of the most imaginative wineries we've come across.

Before you even step in the door, you can see the creativity that the owners Randy Johnson and Ray Shea invisioned. The north exterior walls are covered in meaningful and artistic murals reminiscent an urban art gallery -- a refreshing change of pace from many other wineries I've visited. Beyond the mural is a park for children and families with grills, picnic tables and huge solar patios that serve as a reminder that even the countryside thinks green.

Inside the doors is an expansive, two-level tasting room and the winery's dance floor, used for their weekly events. Case in point: We decided to try our hands(and feet) at line dancing. Admittedly, we weren't very good, but it was still fun to watch the pros. 

Other events include a '70s/'80s dance party, live music and the weekly Pizza and Wine Fridays event, with special discounts on wine selections.  

If dancing isn't your style, just head to the second level to peer down on the dance floor and imagine yourself letting loose, because you may be like us when all you want to do is drink a little wine and relax. 

After watching the two-steppers wear out the dance floor, it was time to indulge in some of what I had come for: the wine. The winery's 44 acres yield a selection of Merlots, Cabernets, Pinot Grises, Lembergers, Chambourcins, Nortons and Zweigelts. Of the seven wines we tasted, the Merlot was the most memorable, with a taste and aroma of dark spice and a mildly bitter aftertaste. And for the summer months, they use their Tailgate Red as a base for their sangria blend, which I've heard described as "perfect."

New Jersey also has the Wine Passport which is a booklet you are given that gets stamped each time you visit a winery. You can mail in the passport and be entered in a raffle to win vacations at the end of the year. 

Laurita also includes lodging and an equestrian center -- helpful for those of you that would rather make it a weekend trip than a day trip. At the Inn at Laurita Winery we stayed in the very purple, very bright Butterfly Room, because the only thing worse than dreary weather is dreary weather and a dreary room, right? 

The 10-room inn dates back to the 1830s and is chockfull of charm, hospitality and homemade meals. (Ask the innkeeper, Janis, about Taylor pork roll vs. the Jersey pork roll). If you find yourself near New Egypt, N.J., it would be a disservice to yourself not to go. 

Laurita Winery and the Inn at Laurita Winery are located about three half hours from downtown D.C. at 35 Archertown Road in New Egypt, N.J. 



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Pics: Laurita Winery]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 16:00:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/lorita005.jpg We traveled off the beaten path to a small town with a big winery: Laurita Winery in New Egypt, N.J.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Roadside Barbecue at the Pit Stop in Aldie, Va. ]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:16:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/bbqytre.jpg

Gilberts Corner in Aldie, Va., is just your average roundabout located in Loudoun County with one added bonus, a roadside barbecue stop called the Pit Stop.

We're not sure what makes smoked ribs taste so good, but when you get a craving for them, nothing will stand in your way of getting them, not even a drive out to Aldie, Va.... which is what happened a couple weekends ago when I remembered seeing a barbecue stand on the side of the road along Route 50. I later found out the little pit stop stand at the roundabout had an actual name (go figure), the Pit Stop

"We chose this location because no one wanted us. No one would let us set up," said owner Ronnie Thomas. More video of our conversation here.

Thomas started in 2008 making 15 slabs per day; he's now up to more than 100 slabs. His customers attest it's the best 'cue they've ever tasted, and it's hard to disagree.

Will Thomas ever stop making barbecue? "I'll die here; I want to go up like I do every day, up in smoke," he quips.

The Pit Stop is open from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. At Gilberts Corner, you'll also find cookies, lobster rolls, fresh fruit and kettle corn vendors. The Pit Stop is located about an hour from downtown D.C

 

 



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Costumes of 'Downton Abbey' on Display]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 14:33:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/downtonabbyNickBriggs.jpg

Get the most out of your favorite British aristocratic family with a visit to the Costumes of "Downton Abbey" exhibit at Winterthur Museum (5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Del.).

More than 40 costumes from the hit show are on display now through next January.
 
The exhibit shows off the details of these well-designed ensembles, including Edith's wedding dress and Mary's engagement dress. The exhibit also incorporates videos, photos and vignettes for you to experience what it's really like (OK, use your imagination) in the fictional world of "Downton Abbey."
 
Along with the costume exhibit, Winterthur is hosting an accompanying series of brunches and teas (yes, please), lectures, special events and workshops focusing on the British and American country house life in the early 20th century to parallel the Downton Abbey exhibit.
 
Winterthur even has Downton Abbey apparel and accessories for you to purchase on their online store. (Everyone needs more Union Jack art work on their walls, right?)
 
Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day except Monday. Advance purchase of tickets are strongly recommended. Timed tickets are required for the Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibition. Museum admission, which includes entry to the exhibition, is $20.

 



Photo Credit: Photo: Nick Briggs]]>
<![CDATA[Amish Deals at the Lancaster Mud Sales]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:09:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/mud-sales.jpg

The annual Amish Mud Sales of Lancaster County have begun, giving you the opportunity to score authentic handmade wares and also to support a good cause.

Otherwise known as auctions, these "mud sales" happen at the beginning of each year in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and are named after the muddy ground left after winter's final snows melt. (Yes, we seem to still be waiting for that to actually happen.)

The purpose of each auction is to raise funds for one of the county's19 fire companies with handmade quilts, buggies and even livestock.  

Aside from the bidding and browsing, one of the more popular attractions at each auction is the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch food. Staple Amish fare like pot pies, sticky buns, chicken corn soup and smoked chicken BBQ are usually only a few short steps away in a traditional mud sale.

The sales run through April, so you're sure to find a great bargain, despite your busy schedule.

Auctions begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. at their various locations. For exact dates and locations, check out the Pennsylvania Dutch Country Mud Sales page here.

Amish Mud Sale, Lancaster County, PA from Frances Schwabenland on Vimeo.

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<![CDATA[Aerial Tours of the Susquehanna River]]> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 14:29:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/179*120/aerialttt.jpg

Here's a day-cation where you'll get on a plane -- but still sleep in your own bed at night. Take an aerial tours of the Susquehanna River or Pennsylvania Amish country. 

Located about three hours north of D.C., a Smoketown Airport aerial tour is the perfect way to escape the District for a few hours (or days). 
 
If you can swallow your fear of heights, the views of the beautiful Pennsylvania rivers and scenic Amish countryside are absolutely fascinating. The light-aircraft flights go out daily (if sky conditions are decent) and last about 15 minutes to an hour. 
 
The small planes only hold one to three people, so a trip to Smoketown is the perfect getaway for a small party. 
 
To book your aerial tour, visit the Smoketown Airport site here, or give them a call at (717) 394-6476.
 
Flight Options:
 
AMISH COUNTRY TOUR: $66, 15-minute flight, Aerial tour of Amish country including Bird-in-hand, Intercourse, Strasburg and Dutch Wonderland.
 
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER TOUR: $99, 25-minute flight, Aerial tour of the Susquehanna River from Columbia to the Safe Harbor Dam. 
 
COMBO TOUR: $132, 35-minute flight, Amish and River tours combined. 
 
CHESAPEAKE BAY FLIGHT: $198, 60-minute flight, west to the Susquehanna River to south to Chesapeake Bay.  


Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Trampoline Park Opens in Springfield]]> Mon, 03 Mar 2014 16:46:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/flighttrampo.jpg

Remember that youthful glow from hours of flips on your childhood trampoline? Get that back with a trip to the new Flight Trampoline Park, opening this week in Springfield, Va. 

Imagine 26,000 square feet of trampolines, dodgeball courts, foam pits and a ninja warrior obstacle course. The new Flight Trampoline Park may just be your new go-to spot for adventure.

The new adventure park (7200 Fullerton Road, Springfield, Va.) opens its doors this Tuesday with fitness classes, open jumps and Club Flight on Friday nights, where from 9 to 11 p.m. the lights get turned off and lasers turned on for a night of music and fun. 

Flight will also offer a fitness program for adults called Flight Fit, featuring instructor-led fitness routines (drop-in classes are $11). Flight also hosts birthday parties, private parties and corporate team events. 

Wanna save some dough on your tickets? Check in on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using your smart phone and get $1 off for you and everyone in your group whom you tag while at Flight. 

Hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.  Find info on detailed pricing and hours online here




Photo Credit: Flight Trampoline]]>
<![CDATA[Alexandria Gets In on Cherry Blossom Fun]]> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 14:20:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_126202988.jpg

At this point in winter, nothing sounds better than D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms in full bloom on a gorgeous spring day. Of course, D.C. isn’t the only place with cherry blossom-related festivities.

Alexandria, Va., is hosting its own celebrations to coincide with the National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. The festival will give tourists and locals alike a chance to explore Alexandria’s history through food, tours and everyone’s favorite spring blooms.

Check out the events Alexandria has planned for its cherry blossom extravaganza:

New Old Town Alexandria Cherry Blossom Food Tour

This is where to be to get a flavor (literally) of Alexandria. The guided walking tour includes fun facts about the city’s architecture, a lesson on the history of cherry blossoms in D.C. and -- obviously most importantly -- samples of cherry-centric dishes at local restaurants.

The tours will run Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. from March 22 to April 12. You can book a tour for $49 via D.C. Metro Food Tours.

Blossoms by Bike River Ride

If you want to get a little more exercise with your cherry blossoms, this is the activity for you.

Bike and Roll is offering three-hour bicycle tours of the cherry blossoms that span from Old Town Alexandria into D.C. via the Mount Vernon Trail. The tour extends all the way to D.C.'s tidal basin and includes more history lessons on those beautiful buds.

The tours will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from April 4 to April 13, departing from Bike and Roll Alexandria at the Alexandria waterfront at 1 p.m.

Tours can be booked for anyone 13 and older for $40. You can reserve a tour now at Bike and Roll’s website.

Cherry Blossom Boat Tour

Here's a rare opportunity to see the cherry blossoms from a new perspective. The Potomac Riverboat Company is offering cruises along the Potomac River to Georgetown that will showcase fresh views of the cherry blossoms and monuments.

The cruises will run Saturdays and Sundays from March 29 to April 13, departing from the Potomac Riverboat Company (1 Cameron Street) at the Alexandria waterfront at 11:30 a.m., 1:30, 3:30 and 5. p.m.

Tickets are available at the Potomac Riverboat Company’s website for $26 (adults) and $14 (children ages 2-11).

Kimpton's "Blossoms and Bubbles" Package

Tourists, pay attention. Kimpton Hotels is offering a blossom-themed hotel package that includes handcrafted cherry blossom soap, a $25 room credit for meals and parking, and a bubble welcome for the kids to enjoy.

The packages will be available March 20-April 13 at the Hotel Monaco Alexandria, Lorien Hotel and Spa, and Morrison House.

Rooms can be booked at Kimpton’s website.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[DIY Quilts, Canning in Kitchen Kettle Village]]> Sun, 02 Mar 2014 18:09:16 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/shutterstock_26550904.jpg

A land of fresh-baked goods, cozy cottages and horsedrawn wagon rides isn't just a thing of the past. That's what Kitchen Kettle Village is for.

Located in Pennsylvania's Dutch region, Kitchen Kettle Village features 42 shops (most of them outdoors), two restaurants and 17 lodging rooms.

Kitchen Kettle is known for its homemade goods most of all, because most items sold there are made by someone who lives in the village, whether it's food, clothing, quilts or gifts.

When you shop there, you're know you're buying local. The famous Canning Kitchen offers up cookie mixes, salsas and soups, as well as Dutch Gold Honey and peach amaretto honey butter. You can watch the staff canning goods throughout the day as well as learn how to conduct your own canning. 

You can also learn how to make a quilt at the Village Quilt shop or have a go at the scavenger hunt at the Country Life store.
 
Events throughout the year include the Rhubarb Festival (May 16-17) and an Easter Bunny breakfast and egg hunts.
 

As for lodging, the town has a handful of options to choose from. You won't see any large hotel chains -- think small bed and breakfasts and country inns. You can check out all your lodging needsby calling one number for reservations (855-STAY-KKV). All rooms come with complimentary country breakfasts (Monday-Saturday) and a special gift for guests. 

 
Kitchen Kettle Village is located about 130 miles from downtown D.C. at 3529 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse, Pa. One consolation prize for all you daring travelers is the Intercourse sign. Take a picture of it. It's the fourth-most stolen road sign in the nation. We'll let you figure out why. 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Annapolis Restaurant Week Runs Through March 2]]> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 14:05:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_136947212.jpg

If you're still angsting over missing out on D.C. Restaurant Week, you can make it up to yourself with a jaunt to the east. Annapolis Restaurant Week kicked off Monday and runs through March 2 -- and there's an earlybird twist to this one.

Participating restaurants include the Melting Pot, Yellowfin Steak & Fish House, Ram's Head Tavern and Ruth's Chris Steak House.

Unlike most area restaurant weeks, in Annapolis you can score discounts on not just multi-course lunches and dinners, but breakfast, too. Hey, it is the most important meal of the day.

Two-course breakfasts are $12.95; two-course lunches are $15.95, and three-course dinners are $32.95. But be forewarned -- just a handful of participating restaurants are offering the breakfast deal. See all participating spots, and what they have to offer, online here.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Take a Girls' Getaway Via Lansdowne Resort]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2014 16:29:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_86403586.jpg

Who needs romance in February when you have weekend getaways with your besties? Lansdowne Resort in Loudoun County is offering a wine country getaway for the girls through the rest of the month. 

Whether you're a single lady or one with a ring on it, a girls weekend is always welcome. Lansdowne's Girls Getaway in Wine Country package will have you living life like a jetsetter complete with a nights stay at the luxury resort, a 50-minute spa treatment, breakfast for four at the Riverside Hearth, wine tours and tastings, and a limo to bring you wherever you may roam. 
 
During your stay at the resort, you'll get to choose your complimentary spa treatment consisting of either a Swedish massage, European facial, Salt Glo body treatment, or simple manicure and pedicure.
 
For breakfast, choose the buffet style or made-to-order items from the exhibition-style kitchen. During your wine outing, you'll travel to three wineries, Doukenie, Breaux and Sunset Hills. You'll receive private tastings at each winery with  the chance to mingle with the winemakers themselves. 
 
As for events at the resort, Lansdowne may offer a lot for its guests, including the fun "Flick and Float" (indoor) pool parties that happen each week with pizza and a family movie or the winter beer fest series that runs until March, with food specials, giveaways, live music and prizes. All this and sweeping views of the Potomac River.  
 
The Girls Getaway in Wine Country package is $250 per person and includes accommodations, one 50-minute spa treatment, breakfast, limo for four and wine tours/tastings, plus a $25-per-person, per-winery fee. Call for details. 
 
Lansdowne Resort is located at 44050 Woodbridge Parkway in Lansdowne, Va., about 50 minutes from downtown D.C.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Tattoo Festival Inks Hampton Roads This March]]> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 17:58:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/201*120/Hampton+Roads+Tattoo+Arts+Festival+1-+Courtesy+of+Charles+Long+Photograp....jpg More than 250 tattoo artists from all over the country meet will up for a two-day fest in Hampton Roads, Va., March 7-9.

Photo Credit: Charles Long Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Famed Hollywood Costumes Visit Richmond]]> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 13:18:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/hwooood.jpg

Get a glimpse of some of the most iconic costumes of the silver screen at the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. 

Now until Feb. 17, you can see the costumes of old and new Hollywood, including the striped suit Kate Winslet's character wore when she first stepped foot on the Titanic, with her large hat tipped towards the sun. Other famous costumes from films like "The Wizard of Oz," "Gladiator," Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," "Fight Club" and "Superman" are also on display.
 
Some of the costumes are donated from private collections while others are from archival collections. And best of all, some have never been shown to the public before, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (200 N. Blvd., Richmond, Va.) is the only venue in the East Coast that will display them.
 
While you're there, check out another exhibit that would pair well with the Hollywood costume exhibit: Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation. This exhibit features 90 original vintage prints of Hollywood's finest, including Greta Garbo, Alfred Hitchcock, Clark Gable and more. "Made in Hollywood" runs until March 10. 
 
Tickets to all the exhibits at the VMFA are $20/adults and $10/kids. The VMFA is about two hours from downtown D.C. 
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<![CDATA[Triceratops Gets Interactive in Richmond]]> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 14:50:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/IMG_43967676.jpg

Virginia has its very own Jurassic Park (but without all the terrifying attempts by dinosaurs who want to eat you) at a new interactive dinosaur exhibit at the Science Museum of Virginia.

Experience and interact with a nine-foot-tall animatronic triceratops. This beauty of a beast can be seen quietly munching on plants, lifting its head to look at you and using its beastly roar to talk to you. And yes, it's really interactive -- the more you move, the more Triceratops moves.

You'll also be offered the chance to enter a simulator that gives you a bird's eye view of what it's like to be a gigantic dinosaur in a time long gone. In the simulator, you'll mingle with other dinosaurs as you see what dinosaurs had to deal with, as far as the landscape and prey.

The "Be The Dinosaur" exhibit on display at the Science Museum of Virginia (2500 West Broad St.,  Richmond, Va.) through May 11. 

Museum admission is $11. Hours are Tues.-Sat. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The Science Museum of Virginia is located about two and half hours from D.C. 

 



Photo Credit: Science Museum of Virginia]]>
<![CDATA[Anti-Valentine's Day Party at Howl at the Moon ]]> Thu, 06 Feb 2014 12:42:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/ValentinesDay_52175774.jpg

Howl at the Moon realizes that not every romance is taken straight out of a storybook and that sometimes love just plain sux. With Valentine's Day right around the corner, what better way to renounce the evils of romance than to party with like-minded pessimists at the annual Love Sux Party?

If you find yourself bemoaning the nearing of yet another holiday celebrating the miserable existence of mutual love, then there is no better place for you to spend your Valentine's Day than in a super-cool bar with live music and drink specials. Howl at the Moon is just that place. To add compliment to healing, bring in a mutilated picture of your ex for free admission before 10p.m.

The party begins Feb. 14 at 5p.m., so head over right after close of business for drink specials, including the appropriately named Ex-Boyfriends for $9 and F-Bombs for $6. 

As an added bonus, Howl at the Moon is located in Baltimore, leaving a healthy buffer between you and all of those pesky, District-residing exes. So, if you're looking for something cool to do away from the mawkishly saccharine gazes of couples, make the trek to Baltimore. It'll be worth the trip. 

 

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<![CDATA[Howard Co. Restaurant Week Starts Jan. 13]]> Fri, 03 Jan 2014 13:38:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/191*120/foodhowardcty.jpg

Have a savory start to a new year via Howard County's Winter Restaurant Week (actually, two weeks), Jan. 13-27.

Roughly 20 Howard County, Md., restaurants -- from Ellicott City to Columbia -- are partaking in a week of tasty deals, with prix fixe offerings from $10-$41 per meal.
 
Check out participating spots on OpenTable; reservations are recommended. Take note that not all participating restaurants offer the Restaurant Week menu at both lunch and dinner. Price is per person and does not include beverage, tax or gratuity.
 
Howard County Maryland and the restaurants taking part in restaurant week are roughly 50 minutes from downtown D.C. If you head north Jan. 18, you might also want to take a side trip to the Winter Eve Fest  at the Robinson Nature Center (6692 Cedar Lane, Columbia, Md). Enjoy s'mores by the fire, winter craft-making, and a lantern-lit walk with a naturalist ($10 per person).

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Life Illuminated at Meadowlarks Winter Walk of Lights]]> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 18:47:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_166602341.jpg

You don't have to drive far for a great display of Christmas lights. Case in point: Meadowlarks Winter Walk of Lights (9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, Va.), a fantastic (and close-to-home) lights display.

Now through Jan. 6, enjoy a little more than a half-mile of illuminated paved trails with lit trees and holiday displays at Meadowlark's renowned gardens. Step into the Snowflake Shoppe first as you'll want to acquire some glow-in-the-dark snowflake wands, glow necklaces, flashing rings and big hats for the kids. Then, walk through the Gingerbread Village or perhaps run through the meteor shower and snowstorm. 
 
The lakeside lights are also a must-see at the end of your tour, where more than 40,000 lights are set to music while you enjoy light refreshments. In total, you will see more than 500,000 LED lights at the botanical gardens. 
 

Tickets $12 per adult on weekdays and $13 on weekends; $8 per child (age 3-12) weekdays and $7 weekends. Doors open at 5 p.m. each night. Tickets are timed and last about an hour each. (Note that a limited number are available at the door each night.)

 
Vienna is located about 30 minutes from downtown D.C.

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Home for the Holidays at Kingsmill Resort]]> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 23:59:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/treekingsmill.jpg
If  your holiday planning takes a turn for the worse, the folks at Kingsmill have a package filled with gingerbread houses, holiday cheer, five-course meals and good ol' southern hospitality. 
 
A holiday vacation doesnt have to be complicated -- especially when there are places like Kingsmill making the traveling easy. You can choose to arrive via plane, train or automobile to Kingsmill; either way, you'll arrive. We recommend taking the train (via Amtrak) to Kingsmill, a resort located in the historic town of Williamsburg, Va. A train ride is stress-free and gives you time to relax before and after your destination. 
 
Kingsmill, a four-season resort, is located smack dab in the middle of the historic triangle, a series of colonial communities that include the towns of Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown.
 
Kingsmill is a must-see during any season,  but we're partial to winter holidays because of the sparkling lights, the nearby Christmas Town in Busch Gardens (10 minutes from the resort) and the beauty of seeing three (very green) 18-hole championship golf courses, making your winter a little more green even when there's a dusting of snow on the ground. 
 
Upon our arrival, we expected the Kingsmill to be a large hotel-like structure that features all the rooms, restaurants and amenities in one building. However, rooms are actually located in condos completely separate from the main resort center. Some feature a wood-burning fireplace, full kitchen, washer and dryer, and a view of the massive James River.
 
The property itself spreads out over a total of 2,900 acres of land along the river, where you'll find activities and amenities for all ages and every season. You might also notice -- with a peek from your deck -- about a mile upstream, the 10 or so defunct but maintained "Mothball Fleet" of naval ships sitting idle along the rivers edge. It isn't every day you see gigantic ships resting in a sleepy river.
 
You'll also find that the many of the restaurants  and buildings on the property are named after early colonists who owned plantations along the James River, some of whom also served as part of the legislative assembly of the New World. Many of the foundations from these original historic sites can be found at Kingsmill Resort. 
 
The resort consists of several buildings: the guest condos, the resort center which houses the spa, the sports club, the marina and many restaurants. In summer, avail yourself of the three pools, an outdoor lazy river with a waterside, 15 tennis courts and many walking trails. 
 
The spa features Swedish, deep tissue and aromatherapy massages along with facials and body wraps. We opted for a 50-minute deep tissue massage that left us so relaxed that we had to take a nap afterward. You'll also find a sauna, steam room and full-service salon at the spa as well.  
 
As for activities outside the resort, there are two that are a must-see: Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, both of which are a 10-minute drive via the Kingsmill shuttle service -- which also happens take you anywhere around the resort you want.
 
We found the Busch Gardens Christmas Town to be fascinating because you envision it to be for a younger demographic, but we found ourselves in complete merriment with everything it had to offer. We loved the many sparkling trees, a decorated gondola ride and the festively designed train excursion that takes you around the entire park, driven by conductors in Santa hats. You should expect to plan at least two hours for Christmas Town and try to go later in the evening when it gets dark out. 
 
A trip to Colonial Williamsburg sends you back in time to the settler days with the streets filled with colonial interpretors and 18th-century-style buildings. Daily events and demonstrations -- like mock court hearings, tours of the Governor's Palace, and seamstresses using spinning wheels -- will show you how life was back in the day.
 
After our busy day out, we opted for some s'mores by the fire pit near the Kingsmill Resort Center. The holiday movie marathon near the conference room was also a must-do, especially after a long day of sightseeing. 
 
Kingsmill is about 150 miles from downtown D.C. See resort packages here. 


Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Holidays at Kingsmill Resort]]> Wed, 18 Dec 2013 18:09:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*241/ddDSC_148033.jpg Spend some time at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va. for a holiday season filled with gingerbread houses, holiday cheer, five-course meals and good ol' southern hospitality.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Wine Wednesday: Stone Tower Winery]]> Wed, 18 Dec 2013 22:35:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/stone017.jpg

Proximity to wine is one of those vital life needs, right? While many Virginia wineries are 2-3 hours away from the city (the horror), Stone Tower Winery in Leesburg is just about an hour away.

We hadn't heard of Stone Tower Winery before the day we met the owners Mike and Kristi Huber (also owners of Belfort Furniture) at an event where they were debuting a new furniture collection. They seemed just as passionate about wine as the furniture, which is probably a good thing.

So we had to go check out the winery. Once we made our way down to the winery on the very long (but worth it) country road -- we couldn't help but notice the view. It's the Hogback Mountain view that some wineries are fortunate to have, including the likes of Cana and Leaves of Grass.

You'll also notice the new tasting room being built, which -- if it looks anything like the blueprint -- will likely end up a very popular destination. Opening in November 2014, the new tasting room will have the views, multiple levels and an almost must-visit enticement about it.

It will feature a lower-level barrel room the entire length of the building (with the tasting room above), and a green landscape that leads directly to the patio from the pond in the valley below.

It will be quite vast, and when something is big, you tend to think big crowds -- which is when we asked about group tastings. Kristi Huber said that they discourage large groups (except for private weddings) only because of the lack of intimacy they bring. So luckily, we won't see masses of cargo vans pulling up anytime soon. 

As for the Huber family, we are sort of watching their life play out before us. They just had their first wedding at the winery last June where they gave away their older daughter, Lauren. Their younger daughter, Lacy, works in the tasting room where you'll find her most weekends. New weddings, new views, new endeavors and new wine.

And as for that wine, they offer two types of Chardonnay, a Viognier and a Sanglier blend with tastings at $10/person -- wine glass included.

Kristi Huber said they want "to be making some of the best wines in the nation, running a fantastic vineyard and winery operation in Loudoun County and sharing our great wines, views, and property with others." 

And as their corks say, you'll find 'Joy in Every Bottle'."

Stone Tower Winery is located at 19857 Hogback Mountain Road, Leesburg, VA, about 60 minutes from downtown D.C. 



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Pics: Stone Tower Winery]]> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 18:48:57 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/stone015.jpg Welcome to Stone Tower Winery, and the soon-to-be newest tasting room in Loudoun County.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Ugly Sweater Run Brings Out the Worst (in Clothes)]]> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:23:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ugly+sweater+fun+run+1130.jpg

Most ugly Christmas sweaters spend their days gathering dust at the bottom of the closet, only to be taken out to show off to relatives during the winter holidays.

But here’s a chance to use your sweater other than for family bonding. The Ugly Sweater Run at Maryland's National Harbor allows thousands of runners to break out their most embarrassing sweaters and run approximately 3.1 miles through the streets.

The 5k will feature huge inflatables, photo stations and of course, some cheesy holiday music. Drink stations will be serving up hot chocolate and a choice of Sam Adam’s winter Lager, Boston Lager or Angry Orchard Hard Cider.

After the race, awards will be handed out for the worst sweater and best sweater (depending, of course, on your definition), best real mustache, best fake mustache and best beard.

See the website for ticket pricing and details.



Photo Credit: The Ugly Sweater Run Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Bash, Lights Spectacular at Power Plant Live]]> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 15:47:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_107439497.jpg
Baltimore's Power Plant Live is lighting the Inner Harbor with its lights spectacular after a family-friendly concert this Saturday.

The Rock the Dock Family Holiday Bash (Sat., Dec. 14, 3-6 p.m.) will feature live music, a holidy market, cookie decorating, train rides and more. Power Plant restaurants will dish up soup samples and drink specials throughout.

Once it gets dark, the Holiday Light Show Spectacular (6 p.m.) will get underway with lights, lasers and music.

Both events are free and open to the public.

But if you're looking for some not-so-family-friendly fun, stay late and bring an affront to fashion during Santa’s Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl (8 p.m.-closing) to benefit Toys for Tots. A $15 donation will grant you a souvenir cup, a night's worth of drink specials and access to all of Power Plant's bars and nightclubs.

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[1st Tree Lighting at Downtown One Loudoun]]> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 17:28:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tree-lighting.jpg Ashburn, Va.'s new One Loudoun just celebrated its first holiday tree lighting this week -- and first winter chill too, brr.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[B&B Cookie Trail in Cape Charles, Va. ]]> Mon, 02 Dec 2013 18:18:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/coastal54.jpg

If there ever was something to follow in life, a cookie trail would be our top choice. Luckily, the seaside town of Cape Charles, Va.. is giving you a sweet treat with their B&B Holiday Cookie Trail on Sunday, Dec. 15. 

The Cape Charles Bed and Breakfast Cookie Trail is sort of like a scene from the Wizard of Oz, except there's no yellow brick road, only sweet treats awaiting your arrival. This tasty adventure starts at the local library where you pick up your cookie trail map that will lead you to the five local B&B's, each offering a special treat for your travels. Before, during and after your cookie trail adventure, you'll have the opportunity to make stops throughout the historic town as it's decorated in its holiday attire. 
 
A stop at the Cape Charles Confectionery is rumored to be giving out free bakery samples as well. Other events happening during the cookie trail weekend include the Holly Jolly Christmas Party at the Palace Theatre (3 p.m.) and the Chowder Cookoff at Aqua Kings Creek Marina (5-9 p.m.)
 
The five bed and breakfasts taking part in the holiday events are:
 
Chesapeake Bay View, 212 Bay Ave.
 
 
 
Cape Charles House, 645 Tazewell Ave.
 
Fig Street Inn, 711 Tazewell Ave.
 
The Holiday B&B Cookie Trail is Sunday, Dec. 15 from 1-4 p.m., about four hours from downtown D.C.

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Give the Gift of Community With a Co-Op Stop]]> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 17:27:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/commonee.jpg
If you missed small business Saturday, you may want to try something fresh (and local) next time you head out for groceries.
 
OK, when you think about holiday shopping, a grocery store usually isn't the first thing at the top of your list. But shopping at the Common Market in Frederick, Md., a community-owned natural market, benefits local farms as well is its roughly 4,000 individual owners. 
 
Whether you plan to be an owner or a shopper, the market is open to anyone. As a shopper, you'll help support local farmers, schools and charities by buying the fresh, local food from the environmentally friendly market. The Cafe Hot Bar located inside the market also features a rotating menu of tasty, all-natural menu items.
 
As an owner, after a $200 sign-up fee, you'll reap the benefits of being a business owner. Get exclusive coupons, discounts, rebates and full access to participate in exclusive events.
 
The Common Market is open daily from 8 a.m to 9 p.m. located at 5728 Buckeystown Pike, Frederick, Md., about 60 minutes from downtown D.C. 


Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Build Your Own Robot in Hampton, Va.]]> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 17:21:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/177*120/robohgjt.jpg

There are future NASA engineers all over the United States, we're sure of it, but finding them is the tricky part. A trip to the Virginia Air and Space Museum's Robotics Saturdays may be your best bet at finding these future innovators as they show off their engineering masterpieces. 

Every Saturday (except Dec. 28) throughout December, the Virginia Air and Space Museum (600 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton, Va.) is bringing together some of the most creative and innovative teams of high schoolers to showcase the robotics they engineered. The students will perform interactive demonstrations with their newly made inventions while you get to experience the thrill along with other live science demos, including a robot workshop ($10) where you can build your own robot. 
 
The student demos vary each week as different teams perform on any given Saturday. Hours for robotic Saturdays are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday through Dec. 21.
 
Also inside the Virginia Air and Space Museum, you'll find some of most compelling and innovative pieces of engineering of their time. Included are air and space crafts like the Apollo 12 command module and the Mercury 14 Spacecraft. The museum also has an IMAX theater and space camps available throughout the year. 
 
The Virginia Air and Space Museum is about three hours south of downtown D.C.
 

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[A Colonial Christmas in Delaware]]> Tue, 26 Nov 2013 18:31:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*156/xmasshutter.jpg

New Castle, Del., puts the historic charm of its preserved colonial streets to good use during their Spirit of Christmas celebration Dec. 14.

The village is located along the banks of the Delaware river and just minutes from Wilmington and the Brandywine Wine Trail.

During the celebration, you'll get a peek inside the fully occupied historic buildings that make New Castle so special, including tours of private homes, museums and businesses all decked out in true colonial trimmings.

Carriage rides, carolers, live music and a tree lighting will fill the streets, and homemade foods like soups and breads, as well as gifts and crafts will be for sale throughout the brick-lined streets of this Christmas town. 
 
Kids will have the chance to meet Santa Claus as he strolls through the streets, and later in  the evening, the Read House, Amstel House and Old Dutch House will offer candlelight tours. 
 
The event takes place Dec. 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in New Castle, about two hours from downtown D.C.  Call 302-328-3279 for more info. 

 



Photo Credit: Shuttershock ]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Window Competition in Gordonsville, Va. ]]> Tue, 26 Nov 2013 18:30:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*240/oldtownnn.jpg

Figure out the true meaning of window shopping with a visit to Gordonsville, Va., for the Windows on Main Street event over Thanksgiving weekend.

Gordonsville, Va. may be a tiny Virginian town with a population less than 2,000, but it's certainly not lacking in charm. It's home to four spots listed on the National Register of Historic Places -- Black Meadow, Exchange Hotel, Rocklands and the Gordonsville Historic District - and has a lot of chutzpah to be stealing the show when it comes to making the holidays a community-wide affair.  
 
The town celebrates the holidays with a city-wide festive window competition on Saturday, Nov. 30, that pits business against business for that coveted spot on the winners' list. Pick up a ballot at the visitors' center to vote for your favorite holiday window designs.
 
While the voting frenzy carries on, caroling, raffle prizes, shopping and contests will be taking place throughout the entire day. The event kicks off at 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
 
Gordonsville is also close to Montpelier and Charlottesville, Va.; we figured a small town would be good stop along your travels to the Shenandoah Mountain region for the holidays. 
 
Gordonsville is about two hours from downtown D.C. 


Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Find Hanukkah Fests Around the DMV]]> Wed, 27 Nov 2013 09:58:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_87125194.jpg

Hanukkah's coinciding with Thanksgiving for the last time for, well, about 79,000 years. So you might not want to put off this special celebration.

Find events around the DMV:

THE DISTRICT:

Sunday, Nov. 24:

  • The D.C. Dreidel Championship at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (600 I St. NW) features an open bar, live music and a latke bar with a master chef. 8 p.m.; free with RSVP.

Wednesday, Nov. 27:

  • Move over, National Christmas Tree. The National Ellipse (17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW) makes room for the festival of lights with the world's largest menorah, at the National Menorah Lighting Ceremony. Catch musical performances by the U.S. Air Force Band, the Three Cantors and Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari. Tickets are free, but arrive early to score photo ops and snack on latkes and donuts. 3:15 p.m. gates; 4 p.m. event begins; free with ticket request.

 

Monday, Dec. 2:

Saturday, Dec. 24:

  • Are all your Christian friends too busy to hang out Christmas Eve? Mix and mingle at the Society of Young Jewish Professionals' 25th Annual MatzoBall for a night of networking and matchmaking at Midtown D.C. (1219 Connecticut Ave. NW). 8 p.m.-3 a.m.; $30; tickets available online. 


VIRGINIA:

Sunday, Nov. 24:

Tuesday, Nov. 26:

  • Sharpen your skates and head to Chanukah on Ice at Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington) for an evening of skating and the lighting of the rink's giant Ice Menorah. Kosher hot dogs, hot latkes and other goodies are available. $10 in advance, $12 at the door (includes skate rental); event 6-8:30 p.m.; ceremony 7:30 p.m. (Pictured above; photo credit: Duy Tran.)

Wednesday, Dec. 21:

  • Join the Jewish Women's Entertainment and Lecture Series for their Chanukah Party and Candle Making event (4301 Seminary Road, Alexandria). Mingle with other women while nibbling on delicious Hanukkah refreshments as you listen to lessons from the ancient story of Hanukkah. Participate in a candle-making workshop, and don't forget to bring a gift for the women's gift exchange. 7:30p.m.; $12.

Sunday, Dec. 1:

  • The Chanukah Festival at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (901 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria) features the lighting of a six-foot-tall menorah, a free raffle for a Nook HD tablet, live performances, a free glowstick for every child, chocolate, dreidels, and of course, latkes. 5 p.m.; free.

 


MARYLAND:


Sunday, Nov. 24:

  • Let the pets join in on the Hanukkah fun with Latkes & Leashes at Petsmart (218 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg). Learn how to best care for your bests during cold weather. And (we should just be copy-and-pasting this phrase by this point), of course, latkes. 2:30-4:30 p.m.


Sunday, Nov. 24-Wed., Dec. 3:

 

  • Chanukah Wonderland will overtake the Kentlands Shopping Center (206 Market St., Gaithersburg) will seven nights (or day) of fun, including cooking demos, story hour, puppet making and finally the arrival of the Menorah Fire Truck Parade (see below). Times vary; see website.


Tuesday, Dec. 3:

  • Sirens will be blaring through the streets during the Chabad of Upper Montgomery County's Menorah Fire Truck Parade (leaving from Rockville Fire Station 3, 380 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Md.). Making pit stops in Fallsgrove and Washingtonian Woods among other locations (see website), kids will score free Hanukkah gift bags. Live music and fire jugglers will also be making their way through the streets. The night caps off with a menorah lighting and Hanukkah party (at Chabad, 11520 Darnestown Road, Rockville, Md.). 6-8 p.m.; free.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Christmas Walk, Parade of Lights]]> Fri, 22 Nov 2013 22:44:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Alexandria+Boat+Parade+of+Lights+MUST+CREDIT+Chester+Simpson.jpg

Alexandria's annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights is coming up Saturday, Dec. 7, when dozens of boats will float down the Potomac River, brightly lit and decked out for the holidays.

Of course, the Boat Parade is just the capstone to weekend of events in Old Town Alexandria.

The 43rd annual Scottish Christmas Walk starts the day at 11 a.m., with bagpipers, pipe-and-drum bands, Scottish clans and dancers, Scottie dog groups and more march from Wilkes and S. Saint Asaph streets, ending up at Market Square with a massed band concert.

You can also tour houses lavishing decorated for the holidays during the Campagna Center's Holiday Designer Tour of Homes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Tickets are $35.)

Free festivities at the marina begin at 3 p.m. as Santa arrives by fireboat before stopping to snap free pictures with kids and dogs. Holiday tunes will come from the Braddock Brass Band.

The boat parade will kick off at 5 p.m. at the Alexandria Marina, behind the Torpedo Factory (105 N Union St, Alexandria, Va.)

Say planners: "The boats are dressed to impress a panel of judges who will award prizes in a dozen categories including 'Best in Show,' 'Thinking Outside the Christmas Box' and 'Hardiest Souls.'



Photo Credit: Chester Simpson]]>
<![CDATA[Annapolis Tree Lighting Ceremony Is Sat.]]> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 17:58:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_119847892.jpg

Are you having a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit, considering Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet? Fret not. Visit Annapolis for their town tree-lighting ceremony and jingle yourself right out of Grinch-ness.

Tree lightings are just as much holiday tradition as gross fruitcake and an aunt who leaves way too much lipstick when she kisses your cheek. The difference between those trads and this one? The tree-lighting won't send you running to the bathroom clawing at the side of your face. 

There will be cookies, hot chocolate, music and, of course, the true beacon of the generic, non-denominational, festivus holiday: open shops. 

So, if on Saturday, Nov. 23 around 6 p.m., you find yourself looking for something to do, join the folks of Annapolis at the Towne Centre to light their holiday tree. If all else fails, you can always mosey on down to a shop and buy yourself some holiday cheer and a decent meal. 

Happy Almost-Holidays!



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Thanksgivingukkah Sweet & Savory Pie Competition]]> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 18:13:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_144655901.jpg

Come bakers, come tasters! Come stuffers, come basters! All are welcome to the Thanksgivingukkah Sweet and Savory Pie Competition!

The Collaborative, a group of Philly young professionals, is hosting a pie bake-off at Kitchenette (117 S. 12th St., Philadelphia) on Thursday, Nov. 21, and you're totally invited! If you're a baker, enter your pie into the competition. If you're a taster, enter your tastebuds into the judges circle because, honestly, either way, everybody wins.

The best part about this competition? Aside from the fact that it is hosted in Philly -- giving you the perfect excuse to drive a little out of your way -- it's free to enter in any capacity and you'll get to rub elbows with some of Philly's coolest millenials. Pretty sweet, right? Or savory... Yeah, pretty savory, if that's more your thing. 

To get tickets to this "competition" (read: an excuse to stuff your face and swap holiday recipes) just visit their event page at Eventbrite. This is the only Thanksgivingukkah that'll happen in our lifetimes (and maybe ever), so take full advantage! Have fun, holiday feasters!

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Black Friday Was Made for Partying]]> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 18:05:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_143253457.jpg

Black Friday is traditionally reserved for the early morning shoppers (and MMA fighters) among us, but now you can kick all that 4 a.m. shopping junk to the curb and sleep until the Black Friday Party. 

The bash kicks off Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. at Howl at the Moon (22 Market Place, Baltimore), the self-proclaimed "world's greatest rock'n'roll dueling piano bar." The bar is offering Baltimore residents (and B-more travelers) a unique excuse to drown post-holiday party blues in yet another party. 

The thrill of bargain shopping will be just as strong with drink specials, including $3 Bud Lights, $5 Skyy & American Honey shots and $15 Awesome Sauce Buckets. For the uninitiated, that is 86 liquid ounces of assorted fruity-mystery booze. (Plus, this is the only time we will condone drinking mystery juice from a bucket. OK, it's decidedly less mysterious if you read their descriptions, but mystery just sounds cooler.)

Those dueling pianos we mentioned earlier will be jamming out to the tune of classic holiday jingles to officially ring in the holidays and create a relaxing recovery zone for the regretful Thanksgivinger. If this sounds like your scene, visit the Howl at the Moon website. 

Until next time, moon howlers. 

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Candlelight Tours + Chocolate in Old Town]]> Tue, 19 Nov 2013 17:23:18 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/choc-shutterstock_120901162.jpg

If the weather suits it, try a candlelight tour of historic Alexandria, along with a much-needed chocolate fix. 

On Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15, make your way to the Gadsby's Tavern Museum (138 N. Royal St., Alexandria, Va.) for a twilight tour of this old city while you learn thing or two about the history of chocolate.
 
You'll hear about (and taste) how chocolate found its way into the recipes of today and see a selection of authentic products from the days of our ancestors, complete with demos by the History Division of Mars
 
The candlelight tour will take you to the Carlyle House, Gadsby's Tavern Museum, historic Bank of Alexandria and the Lee-Fendall House, with live musical performances at each location.
 
Sites can be toured in any order, and a shuttle will take you between each site both days if you'd rather not walk. Tickets are $20 per adult and $5 for kids ages 6-17.
 
A presale discount is available if you buy before Dec. 1.  Tickets can be picked up at Will Call at Gadsby's Tavern Museum the night of the event.
 
Saturday's event runs 6-9 p.m. and Sunday's is 3-6 p.m.
 

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Best Breweries in Virginia]]> Thu, 14 Nov 2013 16:41:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/brewing.jpg The Washington Post's Lavanya Ramanathan lists the best beer breweries in Virginia, including Crooked Run Brewing, Tuscarora Mill and Leesburg Brewing Company.]]> <![CDATA[Free Flicks at the Enoch Pratt]]> Thu, 14 Nov 2013 15:11:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_149878988.jpg

Conked out after a trip to Baltimore’s National Aquarium or a huge, carb-laden lunch in Charm City’s Little Italy? Relax with a free flick before making the drive back to D.C.

Free movies are screening several times each month at the Enoch Pratt Free Library system in Baltimore -- don't miss out!

Stop by for a free screening of anything from family-oriented films like "Pocahontas" and "OZ: The Great and Powerful" to action-adventure flicks like "Man of Steel" and "After Earth."

The Enoch Pratt Library system hasseveral locations around the Baltimore area, including the Central Library (400 Cathedral St.) near the Inner Harbor. Each location offers their own showings, with many on Saturdays.

Find the movie schedule online here.

Baltimore is located about 60 minutes from downtown D.C.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Cyndi Lauper Forever (in Philly)]]> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 18:33:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/170256576.jpg

We're all so unusual. Go sing about it with Cyndi Lauper. 

Following the success of this summer's "She's So Unusual" tour, the queen of our hearts, Cyndi Lauper has decided to take pity on us, the miserable peasants, and give us another show.

The tour, named after her debut album, marks the 30th anniversary of the album's release. To celebrate this most auspicious occasion, Ms. Lauper is performing the entire album from start to finish each night. 

There are a limited number of seats remaining for the Nov. 15 performance at Philly's Keswick Theatre (291 N Keswick Ave.). Since we can all agree that there's nothing better than road-tripping to a nearby city to see your favorite act of yesteryear, making the trip to see our lady Cyndi in concert only makes perfect sense. 

Tickets are running out quickly, so make your purchases quickly through the Keswick Theatre site, or through this convenient link.

Don't waste time... after time. Darn it, and we were so close. Anyway, enjoy the show!



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bringing the Arts to Your Black Friday Deals]]> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 18:27:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/WHOUSE.jpg

You've staked out your Black Friday shopping locations and searched the Internet for the best deals -- but you can get clothes any time and we're sure that the DVD you want to buy for your nephew will still be the same price in three months.

But what price can you put on an original art piece? A sale price, right? 

Before you're totally spent, take a trip to Workhouse Arts Center for their Black Friday Holiday Celebration.
 
On Friday, Nov. 29 from 9 a.m to 7 p.m., shop the campus-wide sale event at Workhouse, a former prison now home to dozens of studios for more than 100 artists. Find fun and unique gift ideas at multiple price points.
 
If buying art isn't on your agenda, then buying someone a nine-week course in the arts might do the trick. The center offers weekly classes that are nine weeks long for all skill levels and all ages. Each quarter offers courses in culinary, visual arts, mixed media and hot glass, to name a few.  The winter quarter ($150 per person) starts Jan. 9. 
 
Admission to Workhouse is free. Normal business hours are Wed.- Sat., 11-6 p.m. and Sundays noon-5 p.m. Workhouse is located at 9601 Ox Road in Lorton, Va., about 45 minutes from downtown D.C.
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<![CDATA[Winter Beer Fest in Philly]]> Mon, 11 Nov 2013 18:28:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_145416532.jpg

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is a weird time in all of our lives. To stay in town or leave for home a week early is the question we all must ask. The answer is simple: Do neither and go to Philly's Winter Beer Fest instead. 

The beer fest, located at the 23rd Street Armory in Philadelphia, will give you something to quiet all of your stomach's rumblings for seasonal brews and taps.

The two-session festival will open its doors (yes, fortunately, it's inside) at 1 p.m. Nov. 23 for the first session and 6 p.m. for the second, with more than 100 beers from around the world, including some once-a-year fare brews for even the most discerning beer palate.

In addition to old seasonal favorites, the festival will also host many local newcomer brews, including Carton Brewing Co., 4 Hands, Naked Brewing and more.

And since everybody knows that the best kind of food comes off of a truck, the festival will feature a barbecue food truck for its patrons.

The event is 21+, so bring the proper identification and leave children at home, no exceptions. 

Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Designated driver tickets are available on the day of the event for $10 and are only available at the door.

For more information, ticket sales and a full list of vendors, visit the Winter Beer Fest site here.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>