<![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 Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:03:32 -0400 Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:03:32 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Shenandoah Music Festival Runs All Summer Long]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:03:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/450309554.jpg

The all-summer-long Shenandoah Valley Music Festival kicked off over the weekend and, like summer itself, doesn't end until early September.

Enjoy the sounds of bluegrass, country and symphonic melodies at the Shrine Mont Conference Center in Orkney Springs, Virginia. 

Since it began in 1963, the festival has featured countless Grammy Award-winning artists performing in the pastoral setting of Orkney Springs, always keeping one thing in mind: They provide the music, nature provides the show.
 
Tickets range from $10 to $40 per show and can be purchased online. This year's concert series includes the likes of the Oak Ridge Boys, Rosanne Cash and the Arrival From Sweden, an ABBA cover band. 
 
The festival is about two and half hours from downtown D.C. located at 217 Shrine Mont Circle, Orkney Springs, Virginia.

SCHEDULE:
 

  • Straight No Chaser, Friday, July 18, 8 p.m.
  • Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal, Saturday, July 19, 8 p.m.
  • "I'll Be Seeing You" with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Friday, July 25, 8 p.m.
  • Silly Bus, Saturday, July 26, 10 am
  • "A Civil War Portrait" with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Saturday, July 26, 8 p.m.
  • United States Air Force Strings, Sunday, July 27, 2 p.m.
  • The Arrival from Sweden: The Music of ABBA, Friday, Aug. 1, 8 p.m.
  • Hot Strings and Cool Breezes Bluegrass Mini-Fest, featuring Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, Saturday, Aug. 2, 6 p.m.
  • Gustafer Yellowgold, Saturday, Aug. 30, 11 am
  • The Oak Ridge Boys, Saturday, Aug. 30, 7 p.m.
  • Eddie from Ohio, Sunday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Escape D.C. Humidity With a Cape Cod Getaway]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:09:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/hotel4.jpg

Situated within (almost) comfortable driving distance from the political hustle of Washington, D.C., the Sea Crest Beach Hotel (350 Quaker Road, Old Silver Beach, North Falmouth, Massachusetts) provides a soothing Cape Cod visage to weary workers during the dog days of summer.

More than 250 fully renovated guestrooms and suites are available throughout the summer. While the Atlantic Ocean-facing rooms are desirable for their pristine, unobstructed views, the walls and ceiling construction are painfully thin. Every walking step upstairs clunked clearly like cinders being dropped -- so we have another recommendation for you.

Instead of choosing the views, select either the "Hot Foot" or "Madcap" guest rooms. Merely a few feet away from the waterfront rooms, these single-story rooms are infinitely quieter. An additional option would be the Pinterest-worthy, three-bedroom cottage with its own private backyard with Adirondack chairs and a firepit.

After dropping the bags off, head straight to the Old Silver Beach with drinks and a delectable lobster roll from Red's Restaurant at the hotel. Indoor and outdoors pools are also an alternative to the seawater.

Also, you should definitely consider the 30-minute drive to Pain D'Avignon (15 Hinckley Road, Hyannis, Massachusetts), a café and boulangerie that transforms into a bar at night. This adorable café came recommended by the White House pastry team, and offers some of the best treats around.

The fabulous pastries include a brownie so dense with sweet flavor that you may be hard-pressed to enjoy one anywhere else in the future. For savory fare, try the pizza du jour ($11) grilled with sensationally fresh vegetables.

Additionally, the Sea Crest Beach Hotel is close to Provincetown, as well as Martha's Vineyard. A 20-minute drive to the ferry will have you on Martha's Vineyard for a full day's worth of fun, exploring and eating.

Your first stop off the ferry should be a hard left toward M.V. Gourmet Café & Bakery. Home of the famous Back Door Donuts (5 Post Office Square, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts,), the bakery has a line to get the fresh out-of-the-oven donuts that begins at midnight -- and it is a very long line.

If you would rather drink than eat donuts late at night, then stop by in the morning for the still-delicious apple fritters ($4). Essentially the circumference of most people's heads, the apple fritter pulled away in sugary, buttered goodness. I barely managed to eat a quarter of it!

Then head over to the Seafood Shanty (31 Dock St., Edgartown, Massachusetts) for their amazing roof deck bar and anything on their menu with lobster in it. The steamed lobster is market price (around $34) and the lobster roll ($18.99) has huge chunks of lobster meat perfectly cooked and seasoned.



Photo Credit: Sery Kim]]>
<![CDATA[Your 2014 County Fair Rundown ]]> Sat, 19 Jul 2014 14:35:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_107289284.jpg

Looking to experiment just how much funnel cake is a good idea before hopping on that spinny carnival ride?

Luckily for you, County fair season is coming up -- and we've rounded up the top fairs in Maryland and Virginia. A few fairs even kick off this weekend.

Go ahead. Step into that summer-time universe where dough is meant to be fried, pigs are meant to be raced and pies are not simply for eating, but for judging.

IN MARYLAND:

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair 

When: (Aug. 8-16) 

Where: Montgomery County Fairgrounds (16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg)

Only at a county fair can you find a monster truck show, a robot, a puppet show and a performance by real live grizzly bears -- all while munching on a bag of kettle corn that's roughly the size of a car. Admission is $10 for adults; ages 11 and younger are free.

Prince George's County Fair

When: Sept. 4-7

Where: Prince George's Equestrian Center and Show Place Arena (14900 Pennsylvania Ave, Upper Marlboro)

Which baby is the most beautiful? What kind of balloon animal do I want? These are the questions you'll ponder while at the Prince George's County Fair. Admission is $6 for ages 12 and older; $5 for kids ages 6-11; kids 5 and younger are free.

Anne Arundel County Fair
 

When: Sept. 11-15

Where: Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds (1450 General's Highway, Crownsville)

If you can't win over the crowd at  "Arundel Idol," you can always try for the watermelon eating contest. Admission is $6 for adults 16 and older; $4 for ages 8-15; kids 7 and younger are free.

Charles County Fair  

When: Sept. 11-14

Where: Charles County Fairgrounds (8440 Fairgrounds Road, La Plata)

Go for the long list of exhibits (think livestock, arts and crafts, quilts, etc.) and stay for the old-fashioned fair goodness of lawn mower racing and pet shows -- there's even a contest for the dog with the most "ear-resistable" ears. Admission is $5 for ages 11 and older; kids 10 and younger are free.

Howard County Fair

When: Aug. 2-9

Where: Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairground Road, West Friendship)

Head out to Howard County for a day (or two) filled with magic shows, square dancing and all the classic fair favorites. Admission is $5 for ages 10 and up, and $2 for ages 62 and up; kids younger than 10 are free.

Great Frederick Fair

When: Sept. 12-20 

Where: Frederick Fairgrounds (797 E. Patrick St. Frederick)

During the day, there's tractor pulls, goat shows and plenty of fair food to go around. At night, there's a top-notch music lineup including Kip Moore, Brantley Gilber, Kenny Roers, Chris Young and Cassadee Pope. Admission is $8 for ages 11 and up; kids ages 10 and younger are free.

St. Mary's County Fair

When: Sept. 18-21

Where: St. Mary's County Fairgrounds (42455 Fairgrounds Road, Leonardtown)

There's not a beauty pageant at this fair -- instead, they crown a "queen of tolerance." There's also a parade, cutest-kid contest and a galore of carnival treats throughout this festive weekend. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for kids ages 6-12; kids younger than 6 are free.


IN VIRGINIA:

Arlington County Fair


When: Aug. 6-10

Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 Second St. S., Arlington)

This fair is free and Metro-accessible! With everything from pony rides to pig races, there's a neat blend of fair festivities happening in Arlington. Plus, if you need to burn a few calories before/after gorging on corndogs, sign up for the fair's 5K run on Aug. 9. Reminder: Admission is free!

Fairfax County 4H Fair and Carnival

When: Aug. 1-3

Where: Frying Pan Park (2709 W. Ox Rd., Herndon)

Enjoy three days of Fairfax's finest with horse shows, dog shows and exhibits in virtually every category. There's hundreds of food entries -- and at least 20 are dedicated to cookies and cake (just a heads up). Admission is free, but parking is $7.

Fauquier County Fair 

When: July 17-20

Where: Fauquier County Fairgrounds (6209 Old Auburn Road, Warrenton)

From fireworks to hayrides to baby beauty pageants, it's sure to be a jam-packed weekend in Fauquier County. Country music singer Darrly Worley will also be stopping by. Admission is $10 for ages 13 and older, $5 for 12 and younger.

Loudoun County Fair

When: July 21-26

Where: Loudoun County Fairgrounds (17558 Dry Mill Road, Leesburg)

You won't want to miss the long list of happenings in Loudoun County. It starts with a corn-on-the-cob eating contest and keeps going until Saturday's "Kiss-A-Pig" contest. The main attractions include a rodeo, demolition derby, and a concert by Chris Lane. Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for children 6-14.

Prince William County Fair 

When: Aug. 8-16

Where: Prince William County Fairgrounds (10624 Dumfries Road, Manassas)

Along with the promise of all things carnival-like, Virginia's largest fair features two weeks of tractor pulls, rodeos and demolition derbies. Admission is $10 for adults ages 14-59, $13 for ages 5-13 and ages 60 and up; kids 4 and younger are free.

IN THE DISTRICT:

D.C. "State" Fair

When: Sept. 20

Where: Old City Farm and Guild (925 Rhode Island Ave. NW)

Farming may not come to mind when you think of the District, but there will be a host of "home-grown" talent at this fair. For the fifth year in a row, you can check out photography, plants, food and art by locals while enjoying the fair atmosphere.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Where to Eat, Shop and Sun at Va.'s Northern Neck]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:29:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/thjfghfghfghfgh.jpg

Looking to get out of town this weekend but want to beat the beach traffic? Check out the Northern Neck of Virginia.

This little-known gem is about three hours away from the District (with only about an hour spent on 95!), and is a great place to sail, fish, kayak or spend the day on the beach.
 
Sound good? Check out this guide to your weekend on the Northern Neck before you pack your bags. (Note: The Northern Neck is pretty big, so we’ve narrowed this list to include the towns of Irvington, Whitestone, Kilmarnock and Reedville.)
 
Where to Stay:
 
Looking for Luxury — For an unforgettable waterfront experience, visit the Tides Inn in Irvington. The Inn is set on its own peninsula with the Potomac River to the north, the Rappahannock River to the south and the historic Chesapeake Bay to the east.
 
The resort and spa has its own marina, an 18-hole golf course and a full-service spa. If your stay extends beyond the weekend, be sure to sign up for one of the Tides’ sailing courses (no experience required) or one of three wine-centered tours.
 
The resort isn’t just for adults. The Tides also welcomes families, offering a suite large enough for everyone to stay together, and pets.
 
Looking for Romance — The Hope and Glory Inn, located down the road from The Tides, consists of six rooms and 10 cottages. Book one of the quaint romantic rooms and spend your days out on the Faded Glory, the inn’s authentic Chesapeake Bay oyster boat, or treat yourself to one of their 14 spa treatments.
 
The inn boasts its own vineyard, The Dog and Oyster, where guests and locals can try several varieties of wine and local oysters.
 
Still don’t want to leave the kids? Book a "tent," a three-bedroom cottage, on the vineyard’s grounds and enjoy the pool, dock and access to kayaking and paddling.
 
Looking to Be in Town — If you want to be closer town, try the Kilmarnock Inn in Kilmarnock. The inn is located right off Main Street, where you’ll find plenty of food, shopping and fun. Catch the local trolley off Main for easy access to Irvington and grab lunch at the Tides, or hop in the car and drive to White Stone’s Wind Mill Point, one of the best beaches in the area.
 
The inn offers several rooms, all named after U.S. presidents; afternoon tea; a full bar; free WiFi and complimentary breakfast. The inn is pet- and kid-friendly.
 
Looking to be Near Historical Sites — The Whispering Pines Motel in White Stone is conveniently located near Historic Christ Church, the Mary Ball Washington Memorial Museum and St. Mary’s White Chapel.
 
Explore Colonial documents dating back to 1652 at the nearby Lancaster Court House, or take a quick drive to the Tides for lunch.
 
Looking for Something Low-Key — Want to book something quick and efficient? Kilmarnock offers a Holiday Inn Express for around $150 a night. The hotel is driving-distance to the town of Kilmarnock and local beaches.

Where to Shop:

River and Creek: River and Creek is located in Irvington, walking distance from the Tides Inn, and prides itself in "outfitting you AND your home." The charming store sells women's clothing and accessories, and devotes half its space to home-decor. Check out their website for directions and more.

The Dandelion: Walk from  River and Creek to the Dandelion, located just down the block, for even more clothing and housewares. The boutique features women's clothing, shoes and more.

The Box Boutique: The Box Boutique sells unique clothing and housewares, as well as beachy finds like cover-ups and sandals. Visit their store on your way to Windmill Point to pick up some essentials. The White Stone shop is a quick drive from Irvington or Kilmarnock.

Burgess House: This unique antique store features old and new and everything in between. It's located at 80 Jessie Ball DuPont Memorial Highway outside Kilmarnock (look for the giant chair out front!).

Rappahannock Art League Studio Gallery: This gallery is the oldest and largest visual arts organization in the area. The studio has 400 members and is located on Main Street in Kilmarnock. Find it within walking distance of the Kilmarnock Inn.

Feeling inspired by the beauty of the Northern Neck and want to put it down on paper? The studio has workshops for kids and parents -- check out their website for a schedule.

Where to Dine:

The Tides Inn: You don't have to be a guest at the Tides Inn to enjoy its delicious lunches and dinner. Be sure to request a seat outside on the patio to enjoy spectacular views of the water and local sailors.

The Local: Hungry from walking around Irvington? Try one of the Local's specialty sandwiches (the brie and apple panini is a fan-favorite) and coffees.

Lee's Restaurant: You'll probably see more locals than vacationers in Lee's, located in Kilmarnock. The restaurant features traditional diner fare and a homey atmosphere. Save room for dessert -- their pies are unbelievable.

Thai Pot: Thai food might seem unusual on the Northern Neck, but Thai Pot on Main Street in Kilmarnock sticks to traditional roots. The restaurant features a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, and guests can ask chef and owner Tan to spice up any dish with traditional curries. Be sure to try her famous fresh rolls and dim sum.

Good Luck Cellars: Good Luck Cellars, located outside Kilmarnock, doesn't serve food, but invites guests to pack a picnic to bring to wine tastings. Not in the mood for wine? That's OK; pack a picnic and go anyway -- the owners say they love company.

The Crazy Crab: Some of the best seafood on the Northern Neck can be found at Reedville's Crazy Crab. The waterfront joint has beautiful views of sunset every night and serves all things seafood. Try their fried oysters, steamed clams and mini-clam pasta for a fresh, local treat.

Smokin' Joe's BBQ: Smokin' Joes, found off Main Street in Kilmarnock, serves traditional barbecue and sides. Head out during the evening to hear local musicians perform on the adjoining stage, or stop by for lunch and take your food to go.

Where to Hit the Beach:

Windmill Point: This beach, just down the road from White Stone, is big enough to accommodate families but never feels crowded. The water is great for children, pets and parents alike and has several shallow areas for weaker swimmers. Pack a picnic and plan to spend the day there -- you won't want to leave!

Hughlett Point: This lesser-known treasure is tucked off Jesse Ball DuPont Memorial Highway. Walk through the surrounding forest on boardwalk paths before landing on its sandy beach. The beach is also a great place to launch kayaks and paddleboards.

Belle Isle State Park: Belle Isle features a large park with room to play and hang out. The beach nearby doesn't have much room to spread out on, so leave your towels on the grass!

Colonial Beach: Don't mind driving? Take a trip to the northern tip of the Northern Neck to visit Colonial Beach. The river town is a great place for water sports enthusiasts, and draws crowds of visitors every day.

]]>
<![CDATA[Wild Ponies, Arts & Music at Chincoteague Fest]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:43:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/179*120/bluebbd.jpg

Blueberries are the new kale? The Chincoteague Blueberry Festival boasts wild ponies, arts, music and many, many blueberry treats.

Every year prior to the Chincoteague Pony Swim, the Chincoteague Center holds the largest fine arts and crafts event on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Whether you travel by foot, bike, car or on the Chincoteague trolley, you'll be in the midst of the 100+ crafters from 12 states.

From July 25 to 27, you can explore the tastes of the Eastern Shore with foods like crab melt pitas, Maryland crabs and plenty of blueberry-themed foods, including pies, muffins, pancakes and ice cream. Live music will be played throughout the entire festival from a total of nine musicians. 
 
Ticket prices for the festival are $5 daily; $8 for a two-day pass, or $10 for a three-day pass. The festival is located at 6155 Community Drive, Chincoteague Island, Virginia, about three hours from downtown D.C.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Summer Spirit Festival at Merriweather ]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:47:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/merriweatherrr.jpg

A not-to-miss summer concert is coming up: the Summer Spirit Festival, happening Aug. 2 in Columbia, Maryland.

We didn't think it'd be fair for you to miss seeing Lauryn Hill and Janelle Monae or the 10 other artists on the bill for the Spirit Festival, held at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.
 

Other featured artists include Meshell Ndegeocello, Raheem DeVaughn, Talib Kweli, Junkyard Band, Backyard Band, RDGLDGRN, George Tandy Jr., Roman GianArthur and DJ Quicksilva.

 
Doors open to the marketplace and park at 2 p.m., with the first artist on stage at around 3 p.m. Tickets range from $46-$125 -- you can get them at ticketfly.com or merriweathermusic.com. Pay a little more to sit inside the pavilion if you're worried about rain; otherwise, bring a blanket and stretch out on the lawn.
The Merriweather Post Pavilion is located at 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway Columbia, Maryland, about an hour from downtown D.C.


Photo Credit: Merriweather Post]]>
<![CDATA[15 Things to Do Before Summer Is Over]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:41:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_112903987.jpg

Consider this your mid-summer checkpoint.

Have you done all those sunshine-related things you were dreaming about back during the polar vortex? Or have you spent a few too many nights on the couch hitting "next episode" on Netflix?

Now that Fourth of July is over, there's only so many days left in the sunny season to eat ice cream, wear shorts and partake in all those outdoor adventures that sums up summer.

Read on for 15 ideas that'll make your D.C. summer shine.

1. Watch a movie outdoors


Pack a junk food-filled picnic, grab a blanket and watch a film underneath the D.C. night sky. From "Frozen" sing-a-longs to old favorites, there's plenty of titles for every movie enthusiast. 

One outdoor viewing experience you won't want to miss is Screen on the Green, which shows movies against the illustrious backdrop of the National Mall. The festival begins with a screening of 1984's "The Karate Kid" (July 21) followed by "Lover Come Back" (July 28), "Key Largo" (Aug. 4) and "A Soldier's Day" (Aug. 11). For more options all around the DMV area, check out our full outdoor summer movie schedule.

2. See the sights from atop the Capital Wheel


Have you seen the Capital Wheel from afar, but not taken a ride just yet? This summer is the perfect time. At 180 feet, the Capital Wheel gives riders a bird's eye view of the Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol and the Potomac River. It's the tallest observation wheel east of the Mississippi River.

You also get to ride in an air-conditioned gondola -- which is pretty cool. The wheel is open daily year-round and consists of 42 gondolas that seat up to eight people.

A ride in the Capital Wheel costs $15 for adults and  $11.25 for kids ages 3-11. If you want a trip in the VIP gondola (extra bucket list points), which features leather seats, a glass floor and a DVD player, seats are $50 per person.

3. Go to a county fair

You really can't let summer fade without getting your fix of fried dough, face paint and carousel rides. County fair season is coming up soon, so be on the lookout for one near you. From Arlington (Aug. 6-10) to Prince George's County (Sept. 4-7), and monster truck shows to pony rides, there's a whole lot of summer fun to look forward to. See our list to find a county fair near you.

4. Join in an Ice Cream taste test

There's nothing quite like enjoying a summer day with an ice cream cone in hand. Union Market (1309 5th St. NE) is putting all the area's best ice cream shops in one place for the D.C. Scoop Festival on July 19. You can expect rows of ice cream trucks, free samples from the area's shops and ice cream eating contest for those brave souls who are brain freeze-averse.

If you can't make it to the festival, don't worry -- July is National Ice Cream month, so you can keep on embracing summer's chosen sweet in your own style.

5. Buy fresh fruit at a farmer's market

It won't be prime peach-picking time for much longer. Spend a Saturday morning strolling through a local farmer's market, trying free samples and taking home a fresh selection of your favorites. Here's a few options: 

  • For a wide range of farm-fresh produce and handmade crafts, head to Eastern Market (225 7th St. SE) Tuesday through Sunday.
  • There's also the Dupont Circle market (20th Street NW between Massachusetts Avenue and Hillyer Place) , which is open Sundays.
  • You also might want to check out the farmer's market in Arlington's Court House neighborhood, open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

6. Cheer on the Nats from the stands

Mmm, a day at the ballpark. With hot dogs, nachos, beer -- and even some baseball -- catching a  Nationals game is an ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon. Grab your ball cap, check the summer schedule and cheer on the D.C. home team.

7. Go for a boat ride, or a bike ride or a hike

Just go outside. Just do it. Put your phone on silent and visit one of the area's nearby trails or national parks. There's dozens of spots to experience nature at its finest -- and these summer months are the perfect time to throw on your tennis shoes and get active.

Try parking at Fletcher's Cove, Carderock Recreational Area or the Georgetown Waterfront where you can rent a bike or boat by the hour.

Whether you're running down the C&O towpath or kayaking on the Potomac, an outdoor adventure is a stress-reducing summer activity that's sure to make you smile.

8. Watch the planes at Gravelly Point

Who knew watching airplanes land shockingly close to your head could be so entertaining? Post up in Gravelly Point Park for an afternoon and watch as the airplanes come in for a landing just a few hundred feet from Reagan National Airport.

Pack a picnic and find a spot in the grassy area with a great view of D.C. There's also a walking and biking path nearby if you need to stretch your legs.

9. Visit a small town

Trade in the bustling city vibe with all its traffic, noise and crowds for a day of small town charm. Stroll down main streets, uncover hidden gems and and take in the summery smells, sights and smiles of a town that's not so big. You won't have to travel far to uncover a peaceful hidden gem near D.C.

Here's a few options: 

  • Frederick, Maryland was named one of the top 25 "Small Art Cities in the USA." Try a guided walking tour of the historic sites.

  • Cambridge, Maryland is known as "The Heart of the Chesapeake Bay." As the birthplace of Harriet Tubman, this town has a slew of historical stories to tell.

  • Washington, Virginia was first surveyed by a young George Washington. Along the rolling countryside, check out some fine dining, a bed and breakfast and a gallery of fine art.

  • Leesburg, Virginia is just about 20 minutes past Dulles International Airport. You'll get the feel for historic architecture and a chance to shop at the Leesburg Premium Outlets.

10. Sing a long with your favorite band

Let's face it: there's at least one song on the radio you'd love to hear live this summer. It's definitely not too late to add a concert to your plans. You can catch a number of big and small acts in the D.C. area before those outdoor venues close up shop.

To give you a head start, here's three outdoor shows coming your way: 

  • Fall out Boy, Paramore at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, July 18
  • Queen with Adam Lambert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, July 20
  •  Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line at Nationals Park, July 25

11. Peek at a few lions, tigers and bears

Visit the National Zoo for your chance to hang out with all the animals, including a quite famous panda cub. Bao Bao is currently on exhibit and she makes for a perfect furry addition to your summer bucket list. Other than a panda sighting, the zoo has a full daily lineup -- including feeding the fish, elephant training demos, and seeing the newest and littlest lion cubs.

12. Spend a Friday evening at Jazz in the Park

Start your weekend with a cool rhythm -- head down to Sculpture Garden for a free jazz concert every Friday (you get extra points for sneaking in wine). The Pavilion Cafe features a creative menu of food and drinks, including sangria and beer.

13. Ride the biggest coaster at King's Dominion

What summer is complete without the long lines and high-pitched screams that accompany an amusement park? Head out to King's Dominion for a day and let your inner-child soar.

14. Walk around the monuments at sunset

Whether you're brand new to D.C. or a long-time resident, a nighttime stroll around the National Mall memorials is a must-do pretty much every summer. Stand on the steps of the lit-up Jefferson Memorial and pose next to the 19-foot-tall Abraham Lincoln, all while watching the sun go down.

15. Reach for the beach

Are you craving a day (or two) sitting in the sand and splashing in the sea? Well, the beach doesn't just exist on your computer's screensaver. Pack a bag and hop in the car for a weekend trip spent at nearby beach.

You could go for the bustling beach scene at Ocean City -- complete with amusement parks, arcades, miniature golf courses, a host of shopping and that iconic three-mile boardwalk. Or opt for a drive to Virginia Beach and enjoy restaurants, a round of golf, and the nearby state parks all while breathing in the ocean breeze.  And at the much quieter Sandy Point State Park on the Chesapeake Bay, you can try all the best summer activities, from swimming to fishing to windsurfing and more.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Lake Fest Features Boats, Balloons, Fireworks]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 09:06:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/clarksvilleva3.JPG

Having been born in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I always get excited when there's a worthwhile event taking place near a lake. The Virginia Lake Festival on Buggs Island Lake is one of them. 

Buggs Island Lake, located in Clarksville, Virginia, is the largest lake in Virginia and one of the best for fishing on the East Coast. Every year, the town Clarksville hosts the Virginia Lake Festival, an artsy and outdoorsy festival that draws tens of thousands of people from all over the region to one of the state's most scenic backdrops. 
 
The event features dozens of food vendors, live music, helicopter rides and fireworks. Events specially geared toward kids include tethered hot air balloon rides, games, rides and arts and crafts.

The lake also offers many outdoor activities like biking, fishing, golf and marinas to park your boat, if you bring one. If you don't have a boat, you could always rent one -- GetMyBoat will have one ready for you when you arrive.  

The festival happens July 17-20, in Clarksville, Virginia, about four hours from downtown D.C. 
 
Thursday, July 17:
 
6 p.m. -- Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides. Games, snow cones and popcorn.
 
Friday, July 18:
 
All Day -- Sand sculpture artists (Virginia Avenue and 4th Street)
 
6:30 p.m. -- Food vendors, childrens' rides and games, Lakefest raffle drawing
 
7 p.m. -- Welcome ceremonies
 
7:30 p.m. -- Josh Rogan performs
 
Saturday, July 19:
 
6 a.m. -- Hot air balloon show
 
8 a.m. -- LakeFest 5K run/walk
 
9 a.m.-5 p.m. -- Arts and crafts, sand sculptures, water balloon launchers, helicopter rides, petting farms, picnics, antique auto show, magic shows,
 
11 a.m.-2 p.m. -- Celeste Kellogg and JRyan perform
 
5-10 p.m. -- Select group of vendors stay open late
 
6 p.m. -- Childrens' rides and games, hot air balloon show
 
7 p.m. -- The Green Boys perform
 
9:30 p.m. -- Gathering of the boats, fireworks
 
Sunday, July 20:
 
6 a.m. -- Hot air balloon show


Photo Credit: Clarksville.gov]]>
<![CDATA[Nearby Luxury at Middleburg's Salamander Resort]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 08:49:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/salamander2.jpg

If you're not shelling out money for plane tickets this summer, you might be able to afford a little more luxury. Case in point: The Salamander Resort & Spa (500 N. Pendleton St.) was voted one of Conde Nast Traveler's best spas in the world -- and its proximity to D.C. makes it an easy weekend retreat that stills feels like a getaway.

The huge spa offers a range of services and treatments, but the highlight of your trip might be Executive Chef Chris Edwards' revamped menu. The food is inspired by his training in Spain, as well as his wife's Ethiopian background, and it's full of international character. Standout items items include the hay-smoked gnocchi and, for dessert, the baked Alaskan fireball.

But after you recover from your food coma, you might want something more invigorating. Look to the Tree Top Zip Tour for five different ziplines and two suspension bridges with lengths varying from 90 to 670 feet. The 20-acre course allow guests to fly over the resort and offers beautiful views of the Virginia landscape.

The equestrian center offers daily programs, and visitor favorites include trail rides, riding lessons and Horses 101. All sessions are $125.

Whatever experience you choose, book an appointment in advance. Just note the 24-hour cancellation policy, since scheduling is rather tight. Consider the range of accommodation packages available for a truly indulgent weekend.



Photo Credit: Salamander Resort]]>
<![CDATA[Top 10 Stress-Busting Activities Close to D.C.]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:49:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_196609856+%281%29.jpg

Are you feeling down by the daily grind? If you need to escape the stress of daily life in D.C., you're in luck. We've compiled a top 10 list of some great opportunities to let off steam, all situated within easy access of D.C.

1. Hike the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls Park, Md.

  • What is it?

A fairly strenuous but beautiful half-day hike, situated in Great Falls Park (the Maryland side). The park is only about a half hour's drive from the city. There are three trails available: A, B and C. The latter offers a gentle route while A and B offer more exciting trails with some rock scrambles and a little climbing. Start at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center.

  • Why will it bust stress?

The views alone are worth the trip. The falls are a beautiful sight, and can be seen from various vantage points without the need to hike. But the trails do offer gorgeous river views and enough exercise to work off the stresses of the week. This is a free activity, but you will have to pay for parking (about $5.)

  • Top tips

Arrive before noon to beat the crowds. Pack water and snacks and take the trails slowly to really enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

2. Jog the Swamp Trail on Roosevelt Island in D.C.

  • What is it?

You might have heard people refer to D.C. as a swamp in the humid months, but on Roosevelt Island this seems even truer. The island is in the center of the Potomac River and was built as a monument to Theodore Roosevelt on the 1930s. It's actually comprised of forest and swamp land that was designed by architects to resemble the overgrown island that once stood in that spot.

  • Why will it bust stress?

Exercise is a great stress-buster and this trail feels surprisingly isolated, despite being a stone's throw from both Rosslyn and D.C. Entry is free and the island is accessible by footbridge close to the Rosslyn metro station, so there's no need to drive.

  • Top tips

Park Rangers offer tours that bring the island's secrets to light.

3.Visit the GoApe ropes course in Rockville, Md.

  • What is it?

A "treetop adventure course" with zip lines, rope courses, swings and trails through the forest canopy. You'll be strapped into a harness and allowed to traverse 6 distinct sections by yourself, at your own pace, with qualified staff on hand at intervals to keep you safe and secure.

  • Why will it bust stress?

This one is a little pricey, with tickets at $55 for adults and $35 for kids, but it's a unique experience. The adrenaline should wash away the cares of the week and there's plenty of fun to be had too.

  • Top tips

Book in advance and wear old, comfortable clothes (you may get a little dirty).

4. Tour the Caverns of Virginia

  • What is it?

In the heat, escaping underground is a welcome relief but in Virginia's many caverns there's also a lot of natural beauty to enjoy. There are four cavern systems about an hour's drive from D.C. including Luray Caverns, Shenandoah Caverns, Endless Caverns and Skyline Caverns.

  • Why will it bust stress?

There's nothing like grandiose natural sights to make human worries seem smaller. The caverns can be toured with guides or at your own pace and they offer peaceful contemplation on quiet days. Escape the world you know, and all of the problems in it, for a few hours.

  • Top tips

Luray Caverns is the most famous, and the largest, of the attractions. It offers more of a tourist trap though and is the most expensive. Consider the handful of options for the one that is right for you.

5. Explore the Great Dismal Swamp in Suffolk, Va.

  • What is it?

In southern Virginia, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a huge patch of protected land that also includes Virginia's largest natural lake, Lake Drummond. The swamp is full of birds, fish and mammals to spot and trails to hike or bike, and it's free to visit.

  • Why will it bust stress?

This is a bit more of a drive from the city, but it offers incredible beauty and a real change of scene. Biking and hiking through the quiet marshland is a great way to catch your breath and forget the world for a few hours.

  • Top tips

The Great Dismal Swamp is a great location for fishing, hunting and bird watching.

6. Go tubing at Harpers Ferry, Va.

  • What is it?

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is a living historic community and a beautiful slice of nostalgia. You can tour shops and museums but also offers a great spot for tubing on either the Shenandoah or Potomac rivers.

  • Why will it bust stress?

Floating the day away on an inner tube with a drink in hand is about as relaxing as it gets. But there are also options for more exciting white-water tubing and rafting. There are plenty of options available from outdoor adventure companies if you need to rent equipment.

  • Top tips

Wear sun screen and sunglasses and bring some stressed-out friends and a small cooler of your favorite drinks to put in a "cooler tube" (be aware that operating a tube under the influence of alcohol is illegal though).

7. Enjoy a break in Rehoboth Beach, De.

  • What is it?

Ocean City in Maryland might be the beach destination to which D.C.'s families are most drawn, but Rehoboth Beach in Delaware offers a quainter alternative. Aside from the big holiday weekends, it can be a little quieter than either Ocean City or Virginia Beach but offers all the same amenities.

  • Why will it bust stress?

The beach is huge and the boardwalk provides all the expected fun and games -- but it's the city itself that's the real gem. Full of cozy charm, it's quiet enough to be relaxing but still offers plenty to do. Take advantage of some of the upscale dining, farmers' markets and local crafts to really unwind.

  • Top tips

Try booking a vacation rental instead of a hotel for a chilled-out weekend with some friends.

8. Spend a day at Six Flags America

  • What is it?

A large theme park in Maryland that is often overlooked thanks to its proximity to both King's Dominion and Busch Gardens Virginia. Six Flags America doesn't have as many coasters as the former or the sprawling grandeur of the latter, but it is the only major amusement park accessible by metro from D.C. It also offers a free water park (included in theme park admission).

  • Why will it bust stress?

Do you ever just need to scream? Here's the place to do it. The park has added two new coasters in the last three seasons, Apocalypse and Ragin' Cajun, and has taken steps to revamp the themeing and landscaping park-wide in recent years. If you're familiar with the other area parks, try leaving the car at home and give Six Flags a try.

  • Top tips

Bring swimwear, as the water park is a big addition to your day. Superman: Ride of Steel attracts long lines so try to hit that during meal times or show times.

9. Escape to Tilghman Island

  • What is it?

 An area of the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay that juts out into the water and offers old-fashioned good times. 

  • Why will it bust stress?

We recently covered a seafood festival on Tilghman Island, but there's plenty of chances to get some great crab, shrimp and fish in the restaurants on the island. This could make a peaceful detox destination with a choice of luxury or modest accommodations.

  • Top tips

Keep an eye on events for an extra special trip.

10. Take a kayak down the Potomac River in D.C.

  • What is it?

 A gentle option to get out on the water without having to stray far from the city. You can choose from options at the Key Bridge, near to Nationals Park or the National Harbor.

  • Why will it bust stress?

This trip requires very little planning and kayak rental is available for about $15 an hour. You could take classes and enjoy learning something new, or simply go out on your own for an hour of peaceful exercise.

  • Top tips

Take (or rent) a bicycle from the city, through Rock Creek Park down to the waterfront for a whole day of outdoor fun.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[A Distillery and a Pug Named Frank]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 16:47:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cms603.jpg

Owning a distillery is a big job, but somebody has to do it. Becky and Scott Harris of Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Virginia have managed to produce a mighty fine (and organic) whiskey.

When we visited Catoctin, we were amazed by the amount of sheer grunt work needed just to make a simple bottle of whiskey. Every day, the Harris' fill the mash tank with water and about 700 pounds of milled rye.
 
They cook the rye for several hours to break down the starches to produce sugar. Then they put the cooked rye into 500-gallon tanks to ferment for a week until there's enough alcohol content, about 10 percent. The fermented liquid is then put into a still to... well... distill.  
 
One of their most popular concoctions is the Roundstone Rye (about $45 per bottle), a 100 percent pure organic rye aged in new Minnesota white oak casks. The end result is a woodsy taste with caramel overtones, and earns it the distinction of being one of the only organic whiskeys in the entire nation.
 
Another favorite is the Mosby's Spirit, named after the fiercely loyal Civil War Commander John S. Mosby. The whiskey pays homage to the clear grain spirits that were popular in the 19th century.
 
And if you're looking for more ways to enjoy whiskey other than straight or in cocktails, try Catoctin Creeks recipes, which feature their whiskey in unexpected ways; e.g., Banana Nut Cake, Manhattan sundaes, and chorizo.
 
And if you see a tiny little pug with his tongue always dangling... His name is Frank, and he loves to greet customers. He's loved so much that he has his own Facebook page. Scott and Becky also make homemade dog treats for Frank from the spent mash. This could someday turn into another business venture for Catoctin Creek.  
 
Catoctin Creek Distillery is located at 120 W Main St. in Purcellville, Virginia, about an hour from downtown D.C.

 



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Va.]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:39:33 -0400 Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Virgnia have managed to produce a mighty fine (and organic) whiskey.]]> Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Virgnia have managed to produce a mighty fine (and organic) whiskey.]]> http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/catocbb.jpg Owning a distillery is a big job, but somebody has to do it. Becky and Scott Harris of Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Virgnia have managed to produce a mighty fine (and organic) whiskey.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Alternatives to NYC's Traditional Tourist Spots]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:38:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/IMG_10872.JPG

For many adventurous D.C. residents, New York City isn't exactly a new and exciting weekend destination -- but what if the budget and a dearth vacation days are holding you back from flying to far-flung corners of the globe this summer?

Here's how to explore a few alternatives to NYC's traditional touristy spots.

Where to Stay:

When traveling to New York, one thing to keep in mind is choosing a hotel with a centralized location. The Hotel Sofitel New York is in the heart of Midtown at 45 West 44th St. -- it's a quick one-block walk from Bryant Park and the New York Public Library, as well as the shopping of Seventh and Fifth avenues. With perfectly appointed rooms and suites, and some of the most comfortable beds around, the Sofitel New York is consistently one of the best places to drop your bags.

The Perect New York Bagels:

You won't have to go far -- enjoy breakfast at the Gaby Brasserie Francaise inside the Sofitel. Executive Chef Sylvain Harribey is a charming Frenchman (who also happened to win Food Network’s "Chopped"), but more importantly, he creates a delightful New York bagel with organic smoked salmon ($19). Sour cream, cream cheese, capers, onions, tomato and lemon come together to create the cherished construction.

What To Do:

New York might be famous for its bagels, but the culinary excellence doesn't end there. Visit Chelsea Market, located in the Meatpacking District, to try some of the city's finest fare. The market has more than 35 vendors and sells everything from wine to cheesecake. More than six million people visit the spot every year, making it one of the most-trafficked destinations in New York City.

Take advantage of NYC's ample cabs and visit the Brooklyn Brewery. The unique spot harkens back to a time when Brooklyn was a premier brewing center, and offers tastings and tours from Monday to Thursday (tours are free on weekends, but require $5 tokens for beers). You can also skip the tour and spend the day in their tasting room.

For an entirely unique experience, buy a ticket to "Sleep No More" at the McKittrick Hotel. The indoor promenade performance lasts up to three hours and ventures into the world of MacBeth. The interactive theater-thriller is silent, and guests must wear masks as they follow performers through several floors. Following the performance, guests are invited to sample interesting drinks (like absinthe!) at the Manderly Bar.

If you simply must have a museum on your to-do list, head off the beaten path to the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. Long-term exhibits include Steel, Stone & Backbone: Building New York's Subways 1900-1925; a collection of various fare-taking devices through the decades; and a look into the history of above-ground travel (think trolleys), complete with a simulated traffic intersection. If you're visiting before July 6, check out the Grand Central Centennial Quilts exhibit, which features quilts inspired by (wait for it) Grand Central Station. The museum is closed Mondays.

Lunch and Drinks:

While on the Upper East Side, enjoy a beverage or lunch while viewing the $100 million renovation project at the Loews Regency Hotel. Al Sharpton is a regular, as well as a swath of NYC biggest power players. Order the Hendricks, tonic and St. Germain, while taking in the views at the Regency Bar & Grill.

If you skipped breakfast, then try their Class Eggs Benedict ($26) with Canadian bacon. I can say with confidence this incessantly flavorful dish is probably the best eggs Benedict I’ve ever had.

You could also try lunching in Hell’s Kitchen at Medi Wine Bar & Cellar. Their gritty yet bright patio space feels like being in a friend’s backyard, while their Grilled Merguez Sausage ($13) had me licking my fingers with joy. I voraciously downed the Moroccan spicy lamb sausage with Gruyere cheese, roasted red pepper and mustard with the accompanying side salad.

Dinner Spots:

For dinner, take the subway or cab it to Brooklyn to Almadira, one of Prospect Heights' best new restaurants. Italian cuisine provides a hearty anchor to the rustic interior. Both the earthy Ravioli Del Giorno ($18) and the mouth-watering lasagna ($18) provide some serious competition to the new, but already legendary, Carbone Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village. Sadly, Almadira’s desserts are disappointing, but the promising savory menu should soon bring the sweets up to par.

If you venture down Madison Avenue for some excellent shopping, you might want to end up at Eleven Madison Park for dinner, a snack or dessert. This is the highest-ranking U.S. restaurant in the world, according to Restaurant magazine. Diners should request a seat at the bar for a tasting, since reservations are a premium.

]]>
<![CDATA[Dew Tour Brings BMX, Surf and Skate Back to O.C.]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 16:44:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/208*120/dewtour.jpg

Surf, BMX and skateboarding will be at the center of everyone's attention at this year's Dew Tour in Ocean City this weekend.

Now in its fourth year in O.C., the Dew Tour is once again bringing the athletes, music and beach fun to this year's schedule. You'll watch as Jamie Bestwick goes for his tenth BMX Vert title, while local Bucky Lasek will compete in both the Skate Vert and Skate Bowl. The event will also feature meet-and-greets for fans, prizes and games.

The tour is offering VIP and Quick passes for the first time. With a VIP pass, you'll get tower viewing, catered lunch and dinner, and probably best of all, shaded lounge seating. 

As for musical entertainment, Cage the Elephant -- fresh off a gig at Delaware's popular Firefly Music Festival -- will light up the stage Friday night, with GRIZ performing Saturday night.

Friday, June 27
Noon: Gates open
1:30-3:30 p.m.: BMX Park Semifinal
4-4:45 p.m.: Skate Street Session
6-8 p.m.: Skate Bowl Semifinal
9-11 p.m. Concert featuring Cage the Elephant, SKATERS

Saturday, June 28
Noon: Gates open
1-3 p.m.: BMX Park Final
4-4:45 p.m.: BMX Street Session
5:30-7 p.m.: Skate Vert Final
9-11 p.m.: Concert featuring GRIZ, heRobust
 
Sunday, June 29
Noon: Gates open
2-4 p.m.: Skate Bowl Final
5-6:30 p.m.: BMX Vert

Tickets to the Dew Tour are $20 for a Quick Pass and $200 for a VIP pass.



Photo Credit: Dew Tour]]>
<![CDATA[Escape the City at the Tilghman Island Seafood Fest]]> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 14:27:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_177038531.jpg

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is just an hour's drive from D.C., but if you know exactly where to go, it's also the gateway to another time. Tilghman Island lies just on the other side of the bridge and is host to an old-fashioned seafood festival this Saturday.

The Seafood Festival is organized by the Tilghman Island Volunteer Fire Department and runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a parade at 3 p.m.

There, you'll find an array of seafood options; think clams, crabs, shrimp and fish -- and plenty of cold beer. Music will be provided by Bird Dog and The Road Kings. Local artists and vendors will also be on hand, along with games for children.

The island forms the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, but juts out into the water, giving it a surprisingly secluded feel. Although the festivities are just on Saturday, the island could provide a peaceful getaway for city-weary workers for an entire weekend.

There are several options for lodging, including inns and vacation rentals. But to really escape the District's bustle, a bed and breakfast offers a rustic romantic scene (for a price.) The Black Walnut Inn is perched at the very southern tip of the island, while The Lazyjack Inn is in town, overlooking the harbor.

Admission to the festival is free, and food items are priced separately. All proceeds benefit the fire department.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Petrossian: Eat Rich, Even on a Budget]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 14:41:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cms600.jpg

In the relentless drive to uncover the "next best" foodie treasure, decadent old-school culinary institutions are pushed aside and forgotten by the trendy set. But the youthful, the glamorous, the foodie, shouldn't be so quick to let the finicky standards of cool -- whatever that means -- prevent them from enjoying the tried-and-true.

Such is the case for New York City's Petrossian Restaurant (182 West 58th St.), located steps from Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. The French-Russian inspired menu opened in 1984 focusing on a savory indulgence: caviar.

On a recent Friday night, Petrossian's tables were empty save three. "You would think the food is terrible," I whispered to my dinner companion.

That's definitely not the case -- we were overwhelmed by the decadent texture of not just the caviar but each ingredient contained within the courses. Repeatedly, we found ourselves marveling, "Why aren't there more people here!?"

One reason might be the price; a small, succulent tasting of caviar can run from $65 to $300. But if your budget's a concern, try a tasting of several caviars with the Petrossian Tasting ($36).

Comprised of foie gras terrine, salmon and caviar Beggar's Purse; smoked sturgeon; smoked trout and trout caviar; and Transmontanus caviar on mini blini, the tasting features each item handsomely, like a miniature gift. With every bite I could feel myself growing happier and happier, as though Petrossian had given me the best food gift all year.

Continuing in this gifting theme, I will gush with enthusiasm for two particular dishes.

First, the seared Hudson Valley foie gras ($27) lit up my taste buds. Perfectly cooked, the foie gras was encircled by an even ring of black pepper caramel sauce. Then, alternating clusters of pistachio dates tart as well as rhubarb and pineapple anchored the slightly salty flavor of the foie gras with sweet relief.

Unquestionably, my favorite dish all night was the voluptuous pan-roasted Maine lobster risotto ($42). Large, unforgiving portions of lobster were perfectly cooked and laid on a bed of sautéed porcini mushrooms, Parmesan and black truffle shavings. For $6 more, a heaping spoonful of Caviar Transmontanus USA can be laid on top, and you should definitely go for it.

Rarely do I find words fail me, but with this dish, my mind registered nothing -- in a good way. I just ate, without being able to process, because I enjoyed the dish so much.

My singular critique of the restaurant would be their pastry/dessert menu. For such a marvelous savory menu, the sweets were wholly inadequate. The quenelle of ice cream was choppy, abrupt and mostly melted. The brownie too bitter, the tart too sweet. The desserts weren't for me, which is probably for the best because it will remind me to just focus on the caviar next time.

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<![CDATA[Beer Fest by the Water in Md.]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:30:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/STMARYSWTT.jpg

Feeling overheated after the District's brutal weather this week? Grab your friends and family and head toward the water.

Historic St. Mary's City will host its annual Beer Fest from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $18 for tasters and $8 for designated drivers, but you can nab two for $20 on LivngSocial.

St. Mary's is a waterfront town, making it feel much further than two hours from the District, and its 4th annual Beer Fest has a lot to offer. You'll find six kinds of beer and five food vendors available for guests to sample, as well as three musical acts.

Eager to learn more about the beer you're drinking? Hollywood Hop Heads and Danny's Homebrew will be on site demonstrating how to brew at home.

If you can't find a friend to volunteer as D.D., or just want to stay by the water to catch some rays, book a room at the Inn at Brome Howard or Home2 Suites by Hilton to make a weekend of your trip.

If you do decide to extend your trip, make a reservation at the Brome Howard Inn for their famous Sunday brunch. June is the last month before fall to sample the brunch's buffet, quiche-of-the-week and $5 unlimited Bloody Marys. Reservations (available by calling 240-237-8319) are suggested for small parties and recommended for groups.

Be sure to leave a few hours after brunch to explore Historic St. Mary's City. Start your day at the Visitor Center with a video and continue your tour outside on your own or with the assistance of a smart-phone-friendly audio tour.

Looking for something more interactive? Visit the Town Center and help run a printing press, or check out the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation to see varieties of plants used 350 years ago for food and medicine. You can also meet and interact with livestock.

Finish your day at the St. John's Site Museum to see how archaeologists preserve colonial sites like Historic St. Mary's City, and head back to the city feeling refreshed and ready for the week ahead.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[1st Day of Summer at Water Country USA]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 15:34:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ColossalCurl1.jpg

With the humidity, heat and mosquito assault, it may seem like summer is already here, but officially the first day isn't until June 21. To celebrate the occasion, Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Virginia is throwing a party.

The aptly named First Day of Summer Party is an all-day event from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with games and activities themed around summer.

A DJ will set up all day at the park's gigantic wave pool, and families will be able to enjoy a brand new attraction, Colossal Curl. The first major addition to the park in three years, it's also the first of its kind in the U.S. Designed by acclaimed water slide manufacturer Proslide, it features funnel elements, huge twists and weightless moments.

The brave can look forward to thrill rides including a near-vertical drop on Vanish Point, but there are also less intense thrills including tube rides, enclosed dark slides and an expansive kids' play pool.

Bring flip-flops (the concrete paths can get extremely hot) and sunscreen, but be prepared to do quite a bit of walking across the sprawling complex.

Water Country USA, part of Busch Gardens, is Virginia's largest water park and includes more than 15 slides and attractions inspired by 1950s Americana. The park is approximately 150 miles from D.C. The party is included with your water park admission fee; single-day tickets start at $30. Other options, including admission to the theme park, are available from the park's website.



Photo Credit: Busch Gardens Williamsburg]]>
<![CDATA[Watch the World's Best Sand Sculptors at Work]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 11:51:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/485071541.jpg

Want to watch 500 tons of sand be transformed into world-class sculptures?

Starting June 19, some of the world's best sand sculptors will be in Atlantic City to compete in the multi-week DO AC Sand Sculpting World Cup.

The sculptors will be on Atlantic City's Pennsylvania Avenue beach, adjacent to the famed Steel Pier and the Landshark Bar & Grill, crafting enormous sand masterpieces. The sculptors have until June 27 to finish their pieces, which will be judged that evening at 6 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public, and beachgoers can watch the action from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The 20 participating sculptors were recruited from around the world by event director and professional sand carver John Gowdy. They'll be on-hand to mold with 500 tons of sand, an amount that judges say will allow them to build higher and with more detail than in past years.

Interestingly, no agents (like water) are permitted to be used during the building process. Artists can only add sticking solutions after construction is complete to help their work withstand beach weather.

Competators can join as solo and doubles carvers. Solo carvers will work June 19-22, and doubles teams will carve June 24-27.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Your Summer Outdoor Movie Rundown]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:10:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DSC_08671.jpg

In a city filled with plenty of non-cheap attractions, it's not always easy to find a free activity to bolster your budget. Cue the wave of summer outdoor movies hitting virtually every corner of D.C. this summer. Whether it's Adams Morgan, Arlington or the National Mall, there's sure to be an outdoor movie screen nearby.

Scroll on to see the endless (really, the list just keeps going) movie-watching possibilities in D.C. this summer.

NOTE: Film schedules are subject to change due to weather and such things. Please check with the venue to verify dates and times before you head out.

IN THE DISTRICT:

Adams Morgan Movie Nights -- Marie Reed Elementary School Field, corner of 18th Street NW and California Avenue NW. Movies begin half an hour after sunset.

June 10: "All the President's Men"

June 24: "Rushmore"

Capitol Riverfront: Front Flicks -- Canal Park, 250 M St. SE. Movies begin at sunset.

June 26: "Wimbledon"

July 10: "Balls of Fury"

July 17: "Space Jam"

July 24: "Invincible"

July 31: "Bend It Like Beckham"

Aug. 7: "Rudy"

Aug. 14: "A League of Their Own"

Aug. 21: "The Blind Side"

Sept. 4: "Moneyball"

Golden Triangle: Golden Cinema Series -- Farragut Square, Connecticut Avenue NW and K Street NW. Movies begin at 7:30 p.m.

June 13: "My Date with the President's Daughter"

June 20: "Legally Blonde 2" 

June 27: "Annie"

July 11: "The American President" 

Family Night at Sursum Corda -- Loree Grand Field, 2nd and L streets NE. Movies begin at 7 p.m.

June 24: "WALL-E"

July 8: "Frozen" 

July 22: "The Lego Movie" 

Aug. 5: "Despicable Me" 

NoMa Summer Screen -- Loree Grand Field, 2nd and L streets NE. People start gathering at the field at 7 p.m. for music, giveaways, food trucks and other activities before the movie begins.

June 18: "Up"

June 25: "When Harry Met Sally" 

July 2: "Clueless" 

July 9: "The Muppets"

July 16: "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" 

July 23: "The Dark Knight"

July 30: "Pitch Perfect"

Aug. 6: "Top Gun"

Aug. 13: "The Sandlot" 

Screen on the Green -- National Mall, Constitution Avenue between 7th and 12th streets NW. Movies begin at 7 p.m.

July 21: "The Karate Kid" 

July 28: "Lover Come Back"

Aug. 4: "Key Largo" 

Aug. 11: "A Soldier's Story" 

U Street Movie Series: Harrison Field Under the Stars -- Harrison Recreation Center field, V Street NW between 13th and 14th. Movies begin at sunset.

June 18: "Marley"

July 16: "Talk to Me" 

Aug. 20: "The Tribute Concert to Chuck Brown: Put Your Hands Up"

Sept. 17: "The Bayou: DC's Killer Joint"


IN MARYLAND:

Bethesda Outdoor Movies -- Woodmont Triangle, corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues, Bethesda. Movies begin at 9 p.m.

July 22: "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" 

July 23: Moonrise Kingdom" 

July 24: "Citizen Kane"

July 25: "Pitch Perfect" 

July 26: "Top Gun" 

Columbia's Lakefront Summer Festival -- Columbia Lakefront Stage, 10275 Wincopin Circle, Columbia. Movies begin around 8:30 p.m.

June 16: "Brave" 

June 20: "Moonrise Kingdom"

June 23: "The Incredibles" 

June 27: "Saving Mr. Banks" 

June 30: "Mary Poppins" 

July 7: "Monster's University" 

July 11: "Frozen" 

July 18: "Thor: The Dark World"

July 21: "Despicable Me 2" 

July 25: "Iron Man 3" 

July 28: "Dolphin Tale" 

Aug. 1: "Superman: Man of Steel" 

Aug. 4: "Ernest and Celestine" 

Aug. 8 : "Gravity"

Aug. 11: "Rio" 

Aug. 22: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Aug. 23: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" 

Aug. 29: "The Princess Bride" 

Aug. 30: "Wreck-It Ralph" 

Aug. 31: "The Lego Movie" 

Sept. 5: "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" 

Sept. 6: "The Monuments Men"

Sept. 12: "Muppets Most Wanted" 

Sept. 13: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"

Greenbelt Moonlit Movies -- Greenbelt Aquatic and Fitness Center, front lawn, 101 Centerway, Greenbelt. All movies begin at 9 p.m.

June 14: "Meet Me in St. Louis" 

June 28: "The Princess Bride" 

July 12: "The Wizard of Oz" 

July 19: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" 

Aug. 2: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" 

Aug. 16: "The Muppet Movie" 

Sept. 6: "Singin' in the Rain" 

Sept. 20: "Ernest and Celestine" 

Oct. 4: "Up" 

Laurel Friday Flicks -- Granville Gude Park, 8300 Mulberry St., Laurel. Movies start around 8:15 p.m.

July 11: "Frozen" 

July 18: "The Nut Job"

July 25: "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" 

Aug. 1: "Smurfs 2" 

Aug. 8: "The Lego Movie" 

National Harbor Movies on the Potomac -- National Harbor Plaza, 137 National Plaza, Fort Washington. Movies begin at 6 p.m.

June 8: "The Incredibles" 

June 15: "Father of the Bride" (1991)

June 22: "The Parent Trap" (REPLACED BY WORLD CUP VIEWING)

June 29: "The Princess Diaries" 

July 6: "Freaky Friday"

July 13: "The Wizard of Oz" (REPLACED BY WORLD CUP VIEWING)

July 20: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"

July 27: "Annie" 

Aug. 3: "Singin' in the Rain"

Aug. 10: "Goldfinger" 

Aug. 17: "From Russia, with Love" 

Aug. 24: "Dr. No" 

Aug. 31: "You Only Live Once" 

Sept. 7: "Finding Neverland"

Sept. 14: "Peter Pan" (1953)

Sept. 21: "Peter Pan" (2003) 

Sept 28: "Hook"

Rockville Town Square: Movies on the Square -- Rockville Town Square, 200 East Middle Lane, Rockville. Movies start around 8:30 p.m.

June 12: "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" 

June 19: "Saving Mr. Banks" 

June 26: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

July 3: "Frozen" (sing-a-long version)

July 10: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" 

July 17: "Gravity"

July 24:" The Great Gatsby" (2013)

July 31: "The Lego Movie"

Aug. 7: "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" 

Aug. 14: "Star Trek Into Darkness"

Aug. 21: Despicable Me 2" 

Summer Movies at the Wine Bin -- 8390 Main St., Elliot City. Movies start at 9 p.m. in June, July and August, and at 8 p.m. in September.

June 14: "Sideways" 

June 21: "Dirty Dancing" 

June 28: "Risky Business"

July 5: "Iron Man"

July 12: "Moonstruck" 

July 19: "When Harry Met Sally" 

July 26: " Grease" 

Aug. 2: "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" 

Aug. 9: "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" 

Aug. 16: " To Catch a Thief" 

Aug. 23: "Life of Pi" 

Aug. 30: "The Princess Bride" 

Sept. 6: "Star Trek" 

Sept. 13: "Chocolat" 

Sept. 20: "Rock of Ages"

Sept. 27: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" 


IN VIRGINIA:

Cinema Del Ray -- Mount Vernon Recreation Center, 2017 Belle View Blvd., Alexandria. Movies begin at sunset.

June 21: "Despicable Me 2" 

July 19: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" 

Aug. 16: " The Lego Movie"

Crystal Screen: In Flight -- Crystal City, 1851 S. Bell St., Arlington. Movies begins at sunset.

June 16: "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" 

June 23: "Red Eye" 

June 30: "Top Gun" 

July 7: "Hot Shots!" 

July 14: "Up in the Air" 

July 28: "Con Air" 

Aug. 4: "Red Tails"

Aug. 11: "Executive Decision" 

Aug. 18: "Flight" 

Aug. 25: "Snakes on a Plane"

Lovettsville Movies on the Green -- Lovettsville Community Center, 57 E. Broad Way, Lovettsville. All movies begin at dusk.

June 13: "Ghostbusters"

July 11: "Frozen"

Aug. 8: "Babe the Gallant Pig"

Sept. 12: "The Lego Movie"

Loudoun Station's Cinema Under The Stars(Plex) -- Loudoun Station,  43805 Central Station Dr., Ashburn, Va. All movies begin at sunset.

June 28: "Frozen"

July 5: "The Lego Movie"

July 12: "Monsters University"

July 19: "Enchanted"

July 26: "Despicable Me 2"

Aug. 2: "TMNT"

Aug. 9: "Nut Job"

Aug. 16: "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2"

Mosaic District: Films in the Park -- Strawberry Park, 2910 District Ave., Fairfax. Movies begin at 7 p.m.

June 13: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" 

June 20: "Man of Steel" 

June 27: "Gravity" 

July 4: "The Rookie" 

July 11: "Apollo 13" 

July 18: "Jobs"

July 25: "Captain America"

Aug. 1: "Julie & Julia" 

Aug. 8: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" 

Aug. 15: "Fried Green Tomatoes" 

Aug. 22: "Frozen" (sing-a-long version)

Aug. 29: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" 

Movies Under the Stars -- Pinn Community Center Tennis Court, 10255 Zion Drive, Fairfax. All movies begin at 8 p.m.

June 21: "Willow" 

July 26: "The Sandlot" 

Aug. 9: "Finding Nemo" 

Aug. 23: "Princess Bride" 

Rosslyn Film Festival -- Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway, Arlington. Movies start at 8 p.m.

June 13: "Horrible Bosses" 

June 20: "Thank You For Smoking" 

June 27: "Two Weeks Notice" 

July 11: "The Internship" 

July 18: "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days" 

July 25: "Up in the Air"

Aug. 1: "9 to 5" 

Aug. 8: "Empire Records" 

Aug. 15: "Miss Congeniality" 

Aug. 22: "Anchorman" 

Starlight Cinema Centreville -- 5875 Trinity Parkway, Centreville. Gates open at 6 p.m.; movies begin at dark.

Aug. 2: "Casablanca" 

Aug. 9: "Despicable Me 2" 

Aug. 16: "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" 

Aug. 23: "Frozen" 

Aug. 30: "The Lego Movie" 



Photo Credit: Jesse Rauch]]>
<![CDATA[10 Ways to Learn More about World War II This D-Day ]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 16:58:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/97644097.jpg

Friday marks 70 years since 160,000 Allied troops stormed the French shore at Normandy, turning the tide of World War II with one of its most dramatic, and bloody, conflicts.

But the generation that lived through the war is leaving us. About 555 World War II veterans die every day, according to the Veterans' Administration.

This year, take some time to remember them -- and to learn more about the world-changing events of June 6, 1944. Here are 10 ways that you can honor the sacrifice of D-Day this weekend:

10. WATCH HBO'S MINISERIES, 'BAND OF BROTHERS'

HBO's ten-part miniseries follows "Easy" Company from their first parachute jump training until the war's end. The series, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, introduces viewers to the vets who lived through D-Day, in their own, blunt words.

The series is based on Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 book of the same title and won 6 Primetime Emmy Awards, the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries and a Peabody Award, among others. 

The complete DVD series can be purchased on Amazon or paid for as single, instant-view episodes.

9. HAVE A MOVIE SCREENING OF WWII CLASSICS

For audiences who aren't ready to commit to an 11-hour miniseries, USA Today recently released a list of the five best movies about D-Day. 

"Saving Private Ryan," which won five Oscars, tops the list for a 27-minute opening scene that has been hailed as "arguably the most graphically authentic scene in any war movie."

8. TAKE A TRIP TO THE NATIONAL D-DAY MEMORIAL IN BEDFORD, VA. 

Visit the National D-Day Memorial, located about four hours south of D.C. in Bedford, Va. 

A full list of the memorial's 70th anniversary events can be found here, but some highlights include an honor guard, recognition of D-Day veterans, music and dignitaries from France, Canada and Belgium. 

7. VISIT THE WWII AVIATION EXHIBIT AT THE NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has several exhibits on World War II aviation, including numerous examples of both German and American aircraft. 

Visitors can find maps, floor plans and directions to the museum here

6. LEARN THE HISTORY BEHIND THE FAMOUS IWO JIMA PHOTO AND SEE IT BROUGHT TO LIFE AT THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS WAR MEMORIAL

Remember the other front of the war: learn how a Pulitzer Prize-winning World War II photograph was turned into one of America's most recognizable memorials. The memorial is open from 6 a.m. until midnight. More information and directions can be found here. 

5. CHECK OUT THE WAR PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE NEWSEUM'S PULITZER PRIZE PHOTOGRAPHS GALLERY

The Newseum's gallery of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs features a comprehensive look at winning photographs and interviews with photographers, including Marines raising Old Glory on Iwo Jima, the inspiration for the Marine Corps Memorial. 

The Newseum charges an admission fee, which can be found here, but also offers a free virtual tour

4. SPEND SOME TIME AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Some highlights of the military cemetery include the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, the Memorial Ampitheater and several monuments and memorials. Visitors can also find the location of a particular gravesite by using a kiosk

Private cars and buses are not allowed in Arlington National Cemetery, but tickets for an interpretative bus tour can be purchased from the cemetery's on-site Welcome Center or online.

3. VISIT THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM

The Holocaust Memorial Museum, adjacent to the National Mall, is a living memorial that aims to inspire visitors to confront hatred. The museum currently features exhibits on complicity in the Holocaust, the Holocaust through the eyes of a child and a contemporary look at meeting the challenges of genocide. 

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. and requires timed passed to enter the permanent exhibition. Passes can be reserved for free online in advance of visits

2. RESEARCH YOUR RELATIVES' SERVICE

Want to know more about your relatives' service in the United States Army during World War II? Research it!

The National Personnel Records Center keeps records for officers who served after July 1, 1917 and enlisted personnel in service after Nov. 1912 and no longer in service. The center can help relatives find information about previously enlisted family members, casualties and particular Army units. They also provide links to help family members understand what relatives did in the Army.

The Center of Military History also has a good FAQ about how to access personnel records on other sites. Click here to see it.

1. VISIT THE NATIONAL WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL

Friends of the National World War II Memorial and the National Park Service have teamed up to host a D-Day 70th Anniversary Commemoration at the National World War II Memorial. 

The event will begin at 11 a.m. at the memorial. Historian and author Craig Symonds will serve as master of ceremonies. As part of the ceremony, representatives from each of the Allied Nations that took part in the Normandy Campaign will lay wreaths at the Freedom Wall of the memorial. 

Attendees should RSVP here.

Can't make the event? The memorial is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The electronic World War II Registry of Americans who contributed to the war effort, where names of loved ones can be added, can be found here

VOLUNTEERING 

Although visiting memorials and commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day is a great way to honor veterans, one of the best ways to thank them for their remarkable service is to volunteer. The United Service Organization (USO) offers several ways you can get involved and help serve veterans of all branches of the military.

Visit their website to learn more about how to donate, volunteer and get involved with your local USO center. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watch a Rocket Launch on Wallops Island]]> Fri, 30 May 2014 17:10:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/wallops.jpg

To plan a trip to NASA, you don't have to travel to Cape Canaveral to see rockets being launched into the sky -- we have our own NASA rocket launcher right here in Virginia: Wallops Island.

Located at the extreme northern part of Virginia's eastern shore, Wallops Island was once an outpost for launching mostly weather satellites, but it's now become known as the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport, an integral portion of the NASA program that will launch rockets with payloads into orbit destined for the International Space Station. The latitude and longitude make its coordinates one of the few places in the U.S. perfect for launching those particular satellites.

A visitor center/museum features hands-on exhibits, educational programs and launch viewings. You'll also learn about the history of the island and the science behind aeronautics -- and, of course, you can watch a rocket launch while standing on the rooftop.

One can't-miss exhibit is the Science On a Sphere, a room-sized global display system that uses computers to display planetary data on a six-foot sphere. You'll be shown atmospheric storms and how the climate changes on earth, as well as changing ocean temperature.

The best news yet is that it's all free -- free to watch a launch and free to enjoy the many projects, the planetarium, and exhibits at the visitor center. Mark your calendars for the next launch, June 10 at 2 a.m.

The visitor center is always open during launches, but doesn't officially open until June 15. Hours after that will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Wallops Island Visitor Center is located at Building J-17 Wallops Island, Virginia, about three hours from downtown D.C.

Wallops Island is also within driving distance to both the Assateague Wildlife Refuge -- known for its wild ponies -- and the Wallops Island Wildlife Refuge.



Photo Credit: Marlene Crey]]>
<![CDATA[Modern Twists on Classic Pastimes at Finch Sewing Studio]]> Fri, 30 May 2014 17:13:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-05-30_1700.jpg

Nicole Morganthau grew up around an entire family of women that knew how to sew. "I can't think of a woman in our family who hasn't sewn," she said.

So it makes sense that she's now owner of Finch Sewing Studio in Leesburg, Virginia.
 
"I live in Leesburg, and every time I passed this building, I thought, 'Gosh, that would be perfect!' It was important for me to be in downtown Leesburg where there is more foot traffic. It's also appealing to me that the building was built in 1790," Morganthau said. "The juxtaposition of the modern aesthetics in an historic building is something I love."
 
Finch Studio (102 Loudoun Street SW in downtown Leesburg) has a modern yet warm feel, with wall hangings and trinkets that were all made in the studio.

Morganthau seems to have found harmony with her own style for the studio. "We think it's important for people to feel inspired when they come in, and we want them to know that the possibilities for their own creativity can be endless. So there's definitely a lot of love that goes in to this place."

As for the sewing, knitting and crocheting that is done at the studio, you have plenty of options to choose from. Finch offers a variety of beginner classes designed around what you're interested in making, such as a beginner pillow cover class.

Close to 20 other options for sewing include a knit-and-sew pillows class, in which students knit a pillow front, and then come back for a second session to finish the back of the pillow with the sewing machine. You get the best of both worlds that way.

A maxi skirt class is one of the most popular -- students come for three hours and sew a custom-fit maxi skirt. Other beginner classes let students make beach bags and ruched scarves.
 
If you're looking for something more social, consider a sew-and-sip class June 2 at Stonetower Winery, where you can sip wine and sew 'till your heart's content. These types of events are held once a month at various locations.
 
It goes without saying that beginners and experienced seamstresses and knitters alike are all welcome at Finch Studio. There's also no need to bring anything with you. Finch has tool kits and sewing machines in the classrooms, along with all materials for classes sold in the retail shop.

Morganthau's ambition behind the sewing studio has always been about teaching others about these pastimes. "I'm just trying to bring back this very historic craft in a really modern way for a modern crowd," she said.
 
Finch Sewing Studio is located about an hour from downtown D.C.



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Leesburg's Finch Sewing Studio]]> Fri, 30 May 2014 17:18:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/finch1+%284%29.JPG You'd be surprised at how many people don't learn to sew -- but if you want to learn how, Finch Studio in Leesburg will get you started with some modern updates.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Rappelling for a Cause in Baltimore]]> Thu, 22 May 2014 17:05:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/rappelling-kidney-foundation-baltimore.jpg

Ever rappelled down a 28-story building? No? Well, your chance is coming up June 6-7 at the 5th Annual Rappel for Kidney Health in Baltimore.

You have only just a couple of weeks to raise $1,000 or more for your chance to rappel down the 28 stories of the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel.

The event helps raise funds for the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, including funding a mini-grant at a local hospital, helping pay the rent or mortgages of at least four dialysis patients, and screening up to 50 people for early warning signs of kidney disease.

For some, it may be easier to raise money than actually doing the rappelling itself. But if you have the audacity to rappel, once you've raised the money, you'll be given a time to arrive for your (moderately terrifying) rappelling experience.

For more info on the event, contact Katie Kessler at 443-322-0374, or kkessler@kidneymd.org.
 



Photo Credit: National Kidney Foundation]]>
<![CDATA[A 3.2-Day Vacation in Philly (Really)]]> Tue, 20 May 2014 15:01:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/phillkkky.jpg

An Oxford Economics study found that Americans leave 3.2 vacation days unused each year -- and the folks at Visit Philly found a way for you to use those forgotten days with their 3.2 Day Itinerary in Philadelphia vacation.

What we like about this idea is that Visit Philly conveniently planned out your long weekend away, keeping you from having to plan out your own trip.

The tour starts you off in Midtown Village, which the locals call a forward-thinking village full of boutiques, lofts and distinctive restaurants. You'll also swing by the Ben Franklin Museum, Independence Hall (where the Liberty Bell sits), Reading Terminal Market and much more.

The full list of stops can be found on their site. Each day averages about 11 stops, so you'll be a Philly know-it-all when you leave.

Traveling around during your entire 3.2 days will be accomplished by foot, car, and public transportation -- whatever makes it easiest for hitting each destination in a timely matter. Don't stress if you feel you can't make all the stops. Everyone needs time to kick back.

As for hotel accommodations, choose the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel package. It includes a two-night stay, free hotel parking, gift, and two free all-day passes for the PHLASH bus with your reservation.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Top 10 Day Trips]]> Tue, 20 May 2014 14:03:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/179*120/cms558.jpg Where do you go when you want to get away... and also sleep in your own bed that night?

Photo Credit: Randy Pertiet, Flickr.com]]>
<![CDATA[Front Royal Wine & Craft Fest Stars 20 Va. Wineries]]> Mon, 12 May 2014 16:25:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/167*120/festvoalgg.jpg

The countryside gets crafty once again for the 28th annual Front Royal Wine and Craft Festival.

Front Royal may be the canoe capital of Virgina because of its proximity to the Shenandoah River, but it's also known for great outdoor festivals and events. The Front Royal Wine and Craft Festival happens to be one of them, starring some of Virginia's best wines.

Coming up Saturday, May 17, the festival features four local bands throughout the day, along with 20 local vineyards offering tastings.

As for crafts, you can expect handmade jewelry, wine glasses, hand-crafted musical instruments, pottery and ceramics, clothing, original paintings and artwork, antiques and more. Kids will have a blast, too, with plenty of games to keep them entertained.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs through 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person.

Front Royal is located about two hours from downtown D.C. Call 540-635-3185 for more info.



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Box Yourself In -- Literally -- at "While You Wait"]]> Thu, 08 May 2014 18:16:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/190*120/DSC_2795rrff.jpg

Waiting: It's something that most of us loathe. For most people, waiting is a part of life. We wait for traffic, slow internet speeds, lines at the DMV -- and most of the time it drives us crazy. Just when you think your patience is at its end, a woman in Charlottesville is making it a point to test your patience.

Jennifer Tidwell, a Virginia native who hails from the rural wetlands of the Northern Neck, prefers to be called "The Attendant" when she's in character. Tidwell's current exhibit, "While You Wait,"

tours around the Charlottesville area.

It consists of a wooden box, just big enough to house a human being.

"I provide a space and mechanism for others to stop and experience presence, to pay attention to what is going on around them," Tidwell said.

Inside the box, you'll find nothing but an object that you will have to spend five minutes with. While you wait, Tidwell will hold your belongings, children or pets.

"The Attendant" uniform, reminiscent of an early '40s aviator, has presented the public with views of nature, natural objects and other art objects inside the box.

"I show up, keep my uniform pressed, stay present and provide a space," she said. "I make time for it because it's also my work, even though it doesn't pay."

Tidwell was also executive director of CLAW USA, a non-profit alliance of theatrical lady arm wrestlers raising money for charity. She's also had a career in web design, video production and even construction, which is what currently takes up most of her time.

As for the future of "While You Wait," Tidwell hopes to break through the "bureaucracy," as she states it, and put "While You Wait" outside near the big-box stores at a place near you.

"While You Wait" is currently open on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at various locations around the Charlottesville area. For new locations and times, Tidwell's Facebook page is the only means of finding current exhibit times and locations. Charlottesville, Va., is about two and half hours from downtown D.C.



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[The Best Places to Travel for Brunch With Mom]]> Wed, 07 May 2014 14:00:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/bloody+mary+0505.jpg

Mother's Day is almost upon us, and even if you yourself haven't experienced the (mildly terrifying) wonder of childbirth, anyone can appreciate a good brunch. Here are some places not too far from the District to treat yourself to a great (and potentially boozy) Sunday brunch.

Philadelphia

12 Steps Down: This South Philly dive offers an unusual take on brunch, in that they only offer a liquid brunch. If you're not in the mood for "breakfasty" foods, but can go for a good mimosa, visit 12 Steps from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $3 Bloody Marys and mimosas and get lost in heavy food and delightfully light conversation. 831 Christian St.

Abbaye: For the brunch lover who loves a twist, Abbaye offers the traditional takes on brunch like buttermilk pancakes and omelets, but also a whole section devoted to hangovers (which you will undoubtedly exacerbate with draft specials and $4 mimosas) with fare like seitan cheesteaks, huevos rancheros and potato pancakes. 637 N. 3rd St.

Amada Restaurant: For $40, the upscale Spanish restaurant, Amada, offers a brunch tasting menu of delicious, traditional Spanish food. If tasting isn't your thing, take the plunge and order a plate and a glass of wine from their extensive drink menu.

London Grill: For Mother's Day, London Grill will host a $25 per person ($15 for kids) three-course-meal from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m with a make-your-own Bloody Mary and mimosa bar. 2301 Fairmount Ave.

Baltimore

Alchemy: Smoked salmon omelet, Alchemy Benedict and sweet potato pancakes are some of the yum-inducing items you can expect to see on Alchemy's brunch menu. Wash down all of the brunch madness with Mojo Mojitos, Flirty Margaritas and Ruby Relaxers. 1011 W. 36th St.

Golden West Cafe: A Wild West ambiance with a south-of-the-border menu is the Golden West's claim to fame. Break away from the mimosa-sipping norm and have a nip of Irish coffee, hot spiked cider, or even a Diomosa carafe, instead. 1105 W. 36th St.

Clementine: This year's Mother's Day brunch menu at Clementine includes vanilla crepes with rabbit confit, farm lamb shoulder, vegetarian quiche Lorraine and salmon Benedict. We're not drooling, our mouths are just crying with joy. 5402 Harford Road

Victoria Gastro Pub: Everything about Victoria's menu is right. There are duck fat fries, lobster grits, mascarpone stuffed french toast and a ton more delicious foods that will tempt you to move into the dumpster behind the building just so you can be near all of this goodness. For your liquid needs, join their beer or cork club for a dive into the world of international beer and wines. 8201 Snowden River Parkway, Columbia, Md.

Virginia Beach

TradeWinds Restaurant: Located in the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel, TradeWinds offers a selection of fresh seafood, fresh fruit and an entire chocolate fountain, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 2800 Shore Drive

Waterman's Surfside Grille: While their usual brunch menu is something of a superstar itself, Waterman's has prepared a special menu for all Mother's Day feasters in the area. Have your choice of steak and eggs, crab and shrimp quiche, or whatever else happens to catch your eye. Top off that perfect meal with fresh-squeezed mimosas, Bloody Marys or a newly introduced Rubyosa (all the fun of a mimosa with all the glory of a grapefruit). 415 Atlantic Ave.

Citrus: Citrus is a hometown hero in the Virginia Beach area, and it's no wonder with a breakfast/brunch menu as extensive as theirs. Their specials change every weekend, but don't be afraid to try something a little different like a beach Benedict (made with avocado), a crab omelet or a mango almond croissant. 2265 W. Great Neck Road

Croc's 19th St. Bistro: Drag Yourself to Brunch, Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for drink specials, a delicious brunch menu and a drag show that would make you scream (if your mouth weren't full of pineapple mimosa). Reservations are a must and the show is 18+, but if you want to give your mom most memorable Mother's Day she's ever had, don't be afraid to step out of the box with this one.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reston Gets Colorful at NoVa Fine Arts Fest]]> Wed, 07 May 2014 13:24:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_108263612.jpg

Creative minds will think alike at the the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, coming up May 16-18, when artists from all over the nation will set up shop for this three-day art celebration. 

More than 200 artists from around the U.S. will be on-hand at Reston Town Center (11900 Market St. Reston, Va.), showing off their original sculptures, paintings, photographs and more. The festival showcases 16 fine art categories, plus music and dance performances each day of the festival. 

 
If you prefer to ring in the festival with a celebration, join in on the Opening Night Party (5-8 p.m. Friday) for live music, raffle prizes for a Celebrity cruise, and a silent auction. Guests will also receive a 10 percent discount toward a purchase at the Fine Art Festival. Tickets for opening night are $100 per person.
 
Although the festival is free, a suggested $5 donation is suggested on Saturday and Sunday to support the Greater Reston Arts Center. Anyone 18 and under are free. Reston, Va. is located 35 minutes from downtown D.C.
 
Hours are 5-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
 

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Kite Fest Meets Beer Fest in Virginia Beach]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 12:58:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/5363_502929953088540_955029809_n.jpg

Astonishingly, summer is just around the corner, and there's no better way to prepare for it than with a trip to Virginia Beach the weekend of May 3-4 for both the Atlantic Coast Kite Festival (both Saturday and Sunday) and the Town Center Craft Beer Festival (Saturday only).

The beer festival runs from 1 to 6 p.m. that Saturday at 101 Central Park Ave. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 the day of. The fest will feature 50+ craft beers from more than 25 breweries, as well as live entertainment.

Not too far away, the kite festival will bring kite pros and spectators of all ages to the beach for a weekend of fun.

If you want to compete, don't worry about registering; just show up with your kite. Competitors will be judged on craftsmanship and visual appeal, and duration of the kite's flight (five minutes minimum).

There will be three competitive divisions: Master, Novice and Youth (ages 7-14).  Trophies will be given out for each division and participants are encouraged to decorate their kite based on the "Colors in the Sky" theme for this year's festival.

 
The event -- both competing and viewing -- is free and takes place from 1:30 to 3 p.m. both days, at the Virginia Beach oceanfront on Saturday and at the City Park in Portsmouth on Sunday. 


Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing Adventure in Va.]]> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 15:15:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/Angler_3.jpg
You don’t have to love fishing to enjoy a fly fishing weekend adventure, especially when it’s located less than 30 minutes from both the Homestead Resort and the Greenbrier Resort in Virginia.
 
The Escatawba Farms is a catch-and-release fly fishing go-to spot in the lovely town of Covington, Va. Escatawba Farms offers a secluded experience on Dunlap Creek, a creek that runs through two miles of mountains and pastures and also has a spring-fed lake on the property for a more idle fishing experience.
 
Reservations are required for each angler and the rod fee per day is $120. Both guide service and casting lessons are available with a reservation. The lessons are given by certified fly casting instructors, some with more than 20 years of experience.
 
For more info on reservations, call 540-962-6487. Ecsatawba Farms is located about three hours and half hours from downtown D.C.
 
While there isn’t lodging specifically for anglers at Escatawba Farms, there are shelters around the property for breaks and relaxation. If you want to stay the weekend, we recommend booking a room at the nearest resorts.


Photo Credit: Escatawba Farms]]>
<![CDATA[Happiness Awaits: Maryland Bacon Festival]]> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 15:18:09 -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 event, 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[Wine Wednesday: Williamsburg Winery]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:40:57 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/wwwine017.jpg

There are two main things you should know about Virginia fave Williamsburg Winery: Its pair of awards for best wine in Virginia and the 6'5" colonial-era man buried on the property.

We don't mean to take you off course from wine, but it isn't every day that you find a 400-year-old grave of a freakishly tall English colonial buried on winery property. But our tour guide, Jack, spilled the beans and now we must tell.
 
The grave was found during a 1988 archaeology dig on the property and dates back to the 1600s. Ultimately, it was moved to another location on the property shortly after it was found -- and the mystery man was buried with a bottle of the Governors White. 
 
No, we're not making this up. So, speaking of Governors White, this was the first wine ever produced by Williamsburg back in the late '80s, and within two weeks of its release, it won a gold medal. The winery's 2010 Adagio would be awarded the 2014 Virginia Governors Cup 26 years later for best wine in Virginia. The 2010 Adagio is a red wine blend with a blackberry richness and tastes of vanilla and cream from the oaks used for aging.
 
Adagio is a blend of 42 percent Cabernet Franc, 30 percent Merlot and 28 percent Petit Verdot, aged in French, American and Hungarian oak.
 
"I taste a lot," said winemaker Mathew Meyer. "I also have a certain idea with each vintage on how to make them a bit different, some years being more bold then the last. When you do a blend, sometimes one percent can make a difference."
 
If you're not familiar with the Virginia Governors Cup, it features a panel of 40 world-class judges that sample close to 400 of the best Virginia wine. The 12 highest ranking wines are then assembled to the Governors Cup Case, where the winner is chosen. This years Governors Cup took place Feb. 27, 2014, where Matthew Meyers, Patrick Duffeler II and Patrick Duffeler Sr. of the Williamsburg Winery were awarded top prize for their 2010 Adagio.
 
During our visit along our tour of the property, we were also shown part of a cork tree, which we've never actually seen before. It takes a total of 10 years for a cork tree to regenerate, but cork trees can be used over and over.
 
Our tour also included an informative video of the history of the winery as well as a tour of the dark and rustic looking underbelly of the property. The idea behind the design was to make the building look like a rustic Italian winery, which is a job well done -- it looks authentic. 
 
Tastings are $10 and include a short tour. If you want a more extensive tour, you'll pay $36 per person (reservation required) with tastings in the private wine cellar. 
 
The winery is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily March through December. The last tour begins at 5 p.m. each day. In January and February, the tastings are weekdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and weekends 10 a.m.-6: p.m. The last tour begins at 4 p.m.
 
Williamsburg Winery is located at 5800 Wessex Hundred, Williamsburg, Va.
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<![CDATA[Pics: Williamsburg Winery]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:50:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/wwwine015.jpg Williamsburg Winery: a 2014 Virginia Gold Cup winner and home to the best-selling Virginia wine, Governors White. ]]> <![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[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]]>