<![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 Mon, 22 Dec 2014 05:50:37 -0500 Mon, 22 Dec 2014 05:50:37 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Find D.C.-Area Holiday Light Displays ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:58:28 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/520916115.jpg

The days are just about as short as they can get -- good thing there's plenty of holiday lighting displays to light up the night. Check out our top picks in D.C., Maryland and Virginia:

D.C.:

ZooLights (3001 Connecticut Ave. NW) -- Visit the Smithsonian National Zoo for a holiday extravaganza. Enjoy winter treats, live musical performances, and 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights that brighten the Zoo. Through Jan. 1; 5-9 p.m.; admission is free.

MARYLAND:

Washington D.C. Temple Festival of Lights (9900 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington): The Mormon temple grounds are illuminated by 600,000 lights, and when you want to get out of the cold, duck into the indoor theater for nightly performances that vary from bells to choirs to swing music and more. (Free tickets are available 90 minutes before each performance.) You'll also find Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity. Through Jan. 1; most performances 6, 7 and/or 8 p.m. nightliy.

Winter Lights Festival (1950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg) -- Drive through 3.5 miles of 365 illuminated displays and 65 animated vignettes at Seneca Creek State Park. Through Dec. 31; Mon.-Thurs.: $12; Fri.-Sun. $15. Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 6-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 6-10 p.m.

Lights on the Bay (1100 E College Parkway, Annapolis) -- Grab your friends and head out to Anne Arundel Medical Center's 20th annual holiday light show, Lights on the Bay. Enjoy a two-mile scenic drive along the Chesapeake Bay with 70 animated and stationary displays lighting the roadway. Through Jan. 1; 5-10 p.m. nightly, including holidays.

Festival of Lights (301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro) -- Drive through this holiday display featuring more than one million lights. Through Jan. 1; check site for pricing information.

Bike the Lights (Symphony Woods, Columbia) -- On Dec. 15, you can take spin a around Howard County's Symphony of Lights. Bicyclists can take a 1.4-mile ride while watching the illuminated light displays, featuring more than 70 animations and 250,000 bulbs. Admission is $10 in advance; $12 at the door; children under 10 are free. Dec. 15; 4-5:45 p.m.

Annmarie Garden in Lights (13480 Dowell Road, Dowell) -- Take a walk through the magical woods, where light sculptures of mythical beasts, pirates, circus performers and more will surround you on your journey. Through Jan. 3; 6-9 p.m.; admission $7 for ages 5 and up.

VIRGINIA:

Bull Run Festival of Lights (7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville) -- Visit Santa's Enchanted Lights in the Holiday Village, and watch 40,000 lights dance to the season's holiday tunes. Through Jan. 4; Mon.-Thurs. 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. 5:30-10 p.m. Check site for varying ticket prices.

Winter Walk of Lights (9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna) -- Now through Jan. 4, take a half-mile walking tour of lights with animated displays. You may run into Flurry the Snowman and Molasses the Gingerbread Man on the trail! Click here for more information on special events in December. Through Jan. 4; 5:30-10 p.m.; $6-$13.



Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[New Year's Eve Celebration Guide]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:30:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*133/2015bfch.jpg.jpg

Do you want to ring in 2015 outdoors on a pier or cradled in the comfort of a luxury hotel? In downtown D.C. or a couple hours out of town? Whatever you want, we've got you covered when it comes to New Year's celebrations.

 

THE DISTRICT:

  • POV Lounge at the W Hotel (515 15th St. NW): Spend New Year's Eve with the best view in D.C., with live DJs and champagne toasts at midnight. You can also opt for a four-course meal option at Pinea before you reach the rooftop spot. Seating is from 7:30 to 10 p.m.; tickets with meal start at $135 per person. Book a room at the W and get two free tickets.
  • Roofers Union (2446 18th St NW): A ticketed event from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. will take over the top two floors of the restaurant, including the heated and covered rooftop. The night includes an open bar with local craft brews, your choice of red, white or bubbly wines, and better-than-rail cocktails -- or choose to enjoy a three-course, pre-fixe menu from Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley and a complimentary champagne toast with desert, ( $45 per person) from 5 to 8 p.m. To reserve, call 202-244-7995.
  • Co Co Sala (929 F St. NW): Mmm, chocolate. Celebrate your sweet tooth with Co Co Sala's five-course New Year's Eve dinner, available for $65 per person or $85 with wine pairings. All tickets include a glass of bubbly, party favors, and DJ entertainment.

 

VIRGINIA:

  • Lansdowne Resort (44050 Woodridge Parkway, Leesburg): Celebrate with live music, an open bar, a dinner buffet and a midnight champagne toast. Individual tickets are $150 per person; packages are $399 and include deluxe overnight accommodations for two, buffet dinner for two, a live band, open bar, a midnight champagne toast and midnight snack
  • Peaks of Otter Lodge (85554 Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford): Go for great views on the lake along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and enjoy a buffet from 8 to 11 p.m., live music, champagne toasts and an eight-foot screen to watch the ball drop. Packages start at $270.44 and include dinner for two, champagne toast with party favors, accommodations for two and breakfast for two.
  • Boars Head Resort (200 Ednam Drive, Charlottesville): Ring in the new year with a road trip! Boars Head Resort will host an intimate New Year's Eve dinner.  Seating times are at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $80 per person in the Old Mill Room. Accommodations start at $175 per night. Boars Head Resort is about two and a half hours from downtown D.C.
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens (1800 Lakeside Ave., Richmond): Find family-oriented fun, with activities from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Kelly Education Center. Afterwards, you can literally roll down the hill to the Rose Garden and take photos with the Garden Keeper and Butterfly Fairy. Kids can make their own party hats and write wishes to be added to the "Wishing Chain." Stay to attend the Dominion GardenFest of Lights from 5 to 10 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for kids older than three. Kids younger than three are free. The garden is located about two hours from downtown D.C.
  • First Night Williamsburg: This non-alcoholic celebration is spread out over multiple locations across Williamsburg, with live music from 20+ performers. The event also features children's shows, puppeteers and fireworks at midnight.  Admission is $15 per person for a souvenir admission button.
  • Carlyle Club (411 John Carlyle St.): This swingin' NYE gala features live music by Doc Scantlin, drinks and dinner. Tickets are $220 per person.
     
  • Arlington Draft House (2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington): Celebrate the ball drop on the big screen during this '80s themed party. Tickets are $15 per person and include a live DJ, entertainment and party favors.
  • Kingsmill Resort (1010 Kingsmill Road, Williamsburg): Step into the roaring '20s at the Kingsmill New Years Eve celebration (child care available!). You'll get reserved seating all night in the grand ballroom, beer and wine, a three-course dinner and live music playing all night. The next morning, you'll be treated to breakfast. Prices start at $499 per couple.

 

MARYLAND:

  • Charm City Countdown (Baltimore Plaza Hotel, 2004 Greenspring Drive, Towson): This could be the party of all parties, with an open bar all night, a gourmet buffet, DJs, bands and comedy performers, as well as body painting, casino action and dancing. Tickets are $104 per person. 
  • Annapolis City Dock (1 Dock St., Annapolis): Marching bands, face painting, live music and fireworks are all happening on the city dock in Annapolis. Admission is free.

 

PENNSYLVANIA:

  • SugarHouse Casino (1001 N. Delaware Ave., Philadelphia): Celebrate the new year along the Delaware River, with hors d'oeuvres from 10 p.m. to midnight, an open bar all night, a champagne toast, and a private viewing of midnight fireworks over the river. Tickets are $75 per person; 21 and older. SugarHouse is about three hours from downtown D.C.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Your Holiday Market Roundup]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:17:14 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Downtown-HolidayMarket-5.jpg

The holiday season is just around the corner. Gather your shopping stamina and holiday cheer, and check out the best markets the area has to offer.

THE DISTRICT:

  • The festive outdoor Downtown Holiday Market has returned to 8th and F streets NW, featuring more than 150 local artists, crafters and small businesses. Rotating daily, 60 vendors will offer gifts such as jewelry, pottery, paintings and textiles. You'll also find food vendors (think hot donuts!) and live entertainment. Friday, Nov. 28-Tuesday, Dec. 23; noon-8 p.m.

 

  • Modern light displays and public art will dominate the first-ever Georgetown GLOW exhibition. Stroll down an M Street transformed by lights, and view works of art from local, regional and international artists. You'll also find art along the the Book Hill Park area of Wisconsin Avenue, as well as at Washington Harbour and office buildings south of M Street. Many Georgetown stores and restaurants will run promotions throughout the weekend. Friday, Dec. 12-Sunday, Dec. 14.

 

  • Embrace the holiday spirit at the Smithsonian Holiday Festival, which will offer musical performances, films, book signings, apparel and jewelry trunk shows, and family craft activities throughout the museums. Saturday, Dec. 6-Sunday, Dec. 7, varying times and locations; see complete schedule here.

VIRGINIA:

  • Inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, Tysons Corner Center will host their second annual Christmas Market (1961 Chain Bridge Road, McLean). For 20 days, shoppers can explore 20+ exhibitor booths and a large tented pop-up store for Käthe Wohlfahrt, a German merchandiser. Tysons' Winterfest 2014 will also feature a Christmas tree, ice skating rink and beer garden, as well as outdoor seating around fire pits and entertainment. Friday, Dec. 5-Wednesday, Dec 24, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., ending at 4 p.m. Dec. 24.

 

  • For its fourth year, the GRUMP Holiday Arts & Crafts Show (Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington) will feature 75 local vendors, selling everything from locally designed T-shirts to handmade soap. In addition to shopping, you'll find a make-your-own-gift craft station and a gift-wrapping station. GRUMP will also offer kids a gingerbread history lesson, cookie decorating and ornament making, and will air repeat screenings of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Sunday, Dec. 14, 11a.m.-5p.m.

 

  • The Del Ray Artisans Fine Art & Fine Craft Holiday Market (Nicholas A. Colasanto Center, 2704 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria) will feature pottery, jewelry, glass, cloth and paper from local artists. You'll find different vendors and free refreshments each weekend. Fridays through Sundays until Dec. 21: Fridays 6-9 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays noon-4 p.m.

 

  • More than 90 artisans will showcase handmade jewelry, woodcraft, textiles food and other products at the Fine Arts and Crafts Show (Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, 60 Ida Lee Drive NW, Leesburg). Saturday, Dec. 6, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

MARYLAND:

  • Stay warm while shopping for gifts at the National Harbor Holiday Market with hot chocolate and other winter treats. On Saturdays, the market (201 Waterfront St., National Harbor) will offer festival carousel rides with Santa and carol performances. Weekends through Dec. 21, noon-5 p.m.

 

  • Charities will offer new ideas at the Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair. These are gifts that give back: Past events have offered gifts like training kits to educate a rural women's group to produce clean fuel charcoal briquettes ($10) or a month of fresh, local vegetables for a low-income family ($40). You'll find the fair at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church (310 Tulip Ave., Takoma Park). Saturday, Dec. 6, noon-4 p.m.



Photo Credit: Downtown Holiday Market]]>
<![CDATA[Christmas and History in Fredericksburg, Va.]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 10:02:07 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/6543086435_783ced6133_b.jpg

The historic town of Fredericksburg, Virginia is never short on holiday cheer. Join in on the many cheery festivities happening this month and beyond.

  • Jingle Bell Christmas Carriage Rides: Now through Jan. 3, you can ride through Fredericksburg’s 40 blocks of historic neighborhoods, where you’ll see the quaint cobbled streets and picturesque architecture. Travel down Caroline Street to see the decorated store windows, past Kenmore Plantation, down Washington Avenue and then wind your way past Fredericksburg's official Christmas Tree.

 

  • Breakfast with Santa at Eileen's Bakery: Three Sundays, Dec. 7, 14 and 20, offer the chance to enjoy a breakfast buffet with an area set up for the kiddos to decorate their own pancakes. Seating times are 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Each child will have a personal visit with Santa and receive surprise gift.

 

  • Fredericksburg Christmas Parade: On Saturday, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m., more than 90 floats from community groups will take to the streets for the annual downtown Christmas parade. The parade begins at the Visitor Center in the 700 block of Caroline Street and winds its way up to the 700 block of Princess Anne Street.

 

  • Spotsylvania Courthouse Luminary: On Sunday, Dec. 7, more than 500 luminaries will be placed on the courthouse lawn, accompanied by music provided by local chorus groups. Sip hot cocoa at this free event which takes place from 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dress for cold weather and bring a blanket or chairs.

 

  • Annual Spotsylvania Christmas Parade: On Saturday, Dec. 6, this frozen wonderland will take over the historic courthouse district starting at 1 p.m. Expect to see fire trucks, antique cars, horses, floats and of course, Santa Claus.

 

  • Holiday Night Walk: On Saturday, Dec. 20, stroll through Fredericksburg while enjoying the lights and sights of the holiday season. Walk at your own pace along three- or six-mile trails. A cookie checkpoint will offer hot drinks and homemade cookies. Start between 3 and 5 p.m.; the free event finishes by 8 p.m.

 

  • Potomac Point Winery Open House: On Saturday, Dec. 6 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Potomac Point will be offering up to 20 percent off wine and gift shop merchandise. Sampling their signature wine grog and shop ready-made gift baskets. You'll also find live holiday music and a visit from Santa.

Fredericksburg is about 54 miles south of downtown D.C.



Photo Credit: Rainier Homoroc]]>
<![CDATA[A Month of Holiday Fun in Alexandria]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:28:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cms623.jpg

Listed as one of the top 10 Christmas-Crazy Towns by HGTV, Alexandria has a lot to offer when it comes to holiday fun.

Check out our top picks for seasonal events in and around Old Town Alexandria:

  • City of Alexandria Tree Lighting Ceremony (301 King St.) -- Join Santa and Mrs. Claus the day after Thanksgiving as they help light the city tree in Market Square. You'll also find live entertainment and a community singalong. 6.-8 p.m.; free admission.

 

  • Scottish Christmas Walk and Parade (various locations) -- Immerse yourself in Scottish sights and sounds as bagpipers march in full finery. You'll also have the chance to tour Old Town homes decorated for the holidays, shop for gifts at a holiday marketplace, sample Scotch and more. Dec. 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Dec. 6, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

 

  • Mount Vernon by Candlelight (3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway) -- From Nov. 28 through Dec. 21, "Martha Washington" will host evenings of candlelight tours, fireside caroling and festive treats. Saturdays and Sundays, 5.-8 p.m.; $22 adults; kids 11 and younger $15.

 

 

  • Holiday Boat Parade of Lights (105 N. Union St.) -- On Dec. 6, watch as Alexandria's harbor light ups as more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront. 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.

 

  • Holiday Favorites With the Colonial Handbell Ringers (201 S. Washington St.) --The Colonial English Handbell Ringers will be using more than 80 handbells to perform several loved "Nutcracker Suite" selections, as well as new arrangements of popular classics. Dec. 14, 2 and 4 p.m. Free admission, but reservations are required; call 703-746-4994.

 

  • Waterskiing Santa Comes to Old Town Alexandria (Alexandria's Waterfront between King and Oronoco streets) -- Witness Waterskiing Santa, his wakeboarding reindeer and all of his friends (including the Grinch) perform in a waterfront performance on Christmas Eve. Pre-show at 12:45 p.m.; main show 1 p.m.; free admission.



Photo Credit: R Kennedy for ACVA]]>
<![CDATA[Nearby Slopes Open for the Season]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 09:13:27 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cms626.jpg

Winter is on its way -- or judging from the pre-Thanksgiving snow that fell on the D.C. area, it's already here. Embrace the new season in nearby Pennsylvania, where three almost-local ski and snowboard resorts reopened for the season on Black Friday.

Read on for the details:

Liberty Mountain (78 Country Club Trail Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania) -- Liberty Mountain opened its six trails to the public on the three-day weekend after Thanksgiving. The slopes are closed again Monday through Thursday, Dec.1-4, but will reopen Friday, Dec. 5. Lift tickets are available online. About 80 miles from downtown D.C.

Whitetail Resort (13805 Blairs Valley Road, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania) -- Trails opened Black Friday with the breaking of the resort's "First Chair" ceremony banner. The resort is closed again during the week of Dec. 1-5, but will reopen Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6-7. Lift tickets are available online. About 92 miles from downtown D.C.

Roundtop Mountain (925 Roundtop Road, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania) -- Slopes opened Black Friday, and unlike Liberty and Whitetail, Roundtop's slopes are open Monday, Dec. 1, although snowtubing is closed Monday. The slopes will be closed Tuesday throught Friday and will reopen the weekend of Dec. 6-7. Lift tickets are available online. About 117 miles from downtown D.C.

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<![CDATA[Holiday 'Stache Bash in Norfolk]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:47:17 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/189*120/shutterstock_208397449.jpg

Although No Shave November is coming to an end, a Norfolk barber shop is asking facial hair connoisseurs to hold off on the clippers and razors for a few more weeks.

On Sunday, Dec. 7, the second annual Holiday 'Stache Bash will host a facial hair fashion show, as well as a competition between mustaches, beards and clean-shaven faces.

The hairy event, co-hosted by Jake's Place Men'’s Barbering Lounge and Spa, will benefit Hope House Foundation, a Virginia organization that supports adults with disabilities at their homes.

The event will start at 4 p.m. at the Belmont House of Smoke (2117 Colonial Ave.) in Norfolk, Virginia. Admission is free, but a $5 suggested donation is encouraged.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock ]]>
<![CDATA[Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:20:08 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_186576560.jpg

Think ink: The Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival is coming up this weekend. Starting Friday, a select group of world-renowned tattoo artists will gather at the Greater Richmond Convention Center (403 N. Third St.), including Big Gus, star of Spike TV's "Tattoo Nightmares."

On-site tattooing will also be available; however, you should schedule an appointment beforehand.

Not in search of new ink? Enjoy shopping from the festival's many vendors, including Chaos Cards, Hardnox Clothing and Belzel Books.

You can also join the audience to watch competitions, like Best Sleeve Tattoo or Best Portrait Tattoo.

The festival runs Friday through Sunday; see the complete schedule here. Tickets are still available. One-day passes are $20; three-day passes are $40; ages 12-17 get in for $5; kids younger than 12 get in free. Military, fire and police personnel with valid ID get a $5 discount.
 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[VRE Santa Train Tickets Now on Sale]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:37:44 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/vre+train.jpg

All aboard!

Tickets for the Virginia Railway Express Santa Trains will go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday.

The trains will run from stations in Fredericksburg, Manassas, Woodridge and Burke Centre. Ticket sales are nonrefundable and are limited to six orders per person for most trains.

Tickets are available for $5 at the four stations and $6 online. All tickets must be purchased in advance. Proceeds will benefit rail safety education.

The stations also will serve as drop-off sites for the Marines Corps Toys for Tots campaign.

Click here for more information.

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<![CDATA[Wine Wednesday: Pippin Hill Farms Winery]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:43:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cms625.jpg

The closest you can get to a Napa Valley wine experience is closer than you think. All it takes is a trip to the Monticello Wine Trail, which will put you in the realm of the idyllic Virginia winery Pippin Hill Farms.

Husband-and-wife team Dean and Lynn Andrews opened Pippin Hill in 2010. The Andrews originally wanted a location where they could preserve the character of the land and keep it timeless. They came across the Bundoran Farm preservation development and never looked back. 

Their idea behind the winery has always been to make guests feel like they were "coming home." Of course, anyone who visits would probably decide that calling Pippin Hill their home would be a dream come true -- its location in a valley means it offers sweeping views of the hills about 15 minutes south of Charlottesville.

Wine tastings are $6 and consist of a variety of five whites, five reds and two sparkling wines. The winery's fave: the estate-grown 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. The tasting room is open daily (except for Mondays) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You'll also find vineyard-to-table cuisines to enjoy at the hand-carved wine bar or rustic wooden tables in the tasting room. The menu consists of bistro-style eats, made-from-scratch bread and even artisan catering cuisine.

Whether you're celebrating a wedding in the winery's granery, sitting on the veranda with friends or enjoying a quick sip at the wine bar, Pippin Hill Farms is the ideal event destination along the Monticello Wine Trail.

Pippin Hill Farms is located at 5022 Plank Road in North Garden, Virginia, about three hours from downtown D.C.

The Andrews have also recently opened a restaurant on main street in Charlottesville (401 E. Main St.) called the Red Pump Kitchen. (Not so) coincidentally, you can find the actual red pump to which the name refers on the veranda at the winery.



Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Pippin Hill Farms]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:42:48 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/apip2.jpg.jpg The closest you can get to a Napa Valley wine experience is closer than you think. All it takes is a trip to the Monticello Wine Trail, which will put you in the realm of the idyllic Virginia winery Pippin Hill Farms.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Thanksgiving in Natural Bridge, Virginia]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 12:55:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_588239381.jpg

Forget about cooking and cleaning this Thanksgiving -- spend the holidays at Natural Bridge for an easy (and nearby) holiday getaway. Yes, there's more than just a bridge. There's also turkey.

The Natural Bridge Hotel is offering a Thanksgiving day buffet ($26.95 per person) this Thanksgiving, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Why choose the Natural Bridge Hotel versus any other Thanksgiving Day plan? No cooking, less stress, and, hey, there's also that 215-foot-tall Natural Bridge that Mother Nature carved from limestone located near the hotel (photo op time!).

During your stay, check out the caverns, too. They descend 34 stories underground, swerving through layers of limestone. A tour will last 45 minutes, but book soon, because the caverns close for the season Dec. 1.

The Cedar Creek Trail is another activity you should plan on visiting during your stay. The trail goes under the Natural Bridge, makes its way through the picturesque Lace Falls, a 50-foot cascading waterfall, and ends at the James River a few miles south.

Accommodations at the Natural Bridge Hotel include rooms in the historic hotel ($79-$99 per night) as well as a village of single-room cottages.

Natural Bridge is located at 15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge, Virginia, about three hours west of downtown D.C. Call 800-533-1410 for more info.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Find D.C.-Area Ice Skating Rinks]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:17:47 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Sculpture+Garden.jpg

Grab your friends, family or special date and lace up your skates! We've picked out the top ice skating rinks in D.C., Maryland and Virginia for you to explore.

(Did we miss your favorite? Tell us @DCscene!)

D.C.:

Sculpture Garden Ice Rink (between 3rd and 9th streets NW along Constitution Avenue) -- Bring friends for an artsy spin in the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden, located on the National Mall. The rink's perfect soundtrack will get you pumped to stay even once you get chilly. $8 adults; $7 kids; $3 skate rentals. Open Nov. 14-March 16, weather permitting. Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

Washington Harbour Ice Rink (3050 K St. NW) -- The newish rink is D.C.'s largest. You'll find it at the Georgetown waterfront surrounded by restaurants... just in case you need to warm up with a tasty bite when you're done. $10 adults; $9 kids; $5 skate rentals. Opens for the season Nov. 15.

Canal Park Ice Rink (202 M Street, SE) -- If you’re looking to spice up your skating experience, check out College Night on Thursdays, Rock n Skate on Fridays or Cartoon Skate on Saturdays. $9 adults; $8 kids; $4 skate rentals. Opens for the season Nov. 15.


MARYLAND:

Silver Spring Ice Skating at Veterans Plaza (8523 Fenton St., Silver Spring) -- This covered, but outdoor, rink is smack in the middle of downtown Silver Spring. After you're done skating, explore the surrounding restaurants and shops. $8 adults; $7 kids; $3 skate rentals. Already open for the season.

Skating at the Square (131 Gibbs St., Rockville) -- $9 adults; $8 kids; $3 skate rentals. Open through mid-March.

VIRGINIA:

Pentagon Row Ice Outdoor Skating Plaza (1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington) -- Grab your friends and skate on the newly renovated and expanded ice rink. $9 adults; $8 kids; $3 skate rentals. Already open for the season.

The Loy E. Harris Pavilion (9201 Center St., Manassas) -- Take a spin on the ice in Old Town Manassas. $7 adults; $6 kids; $3 skate rentals. Nov. 15-March 1. Closed Dec. 25.



Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Cider Week: Our Picks]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:43:18 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_217621018.jpg

Attention, cider lovers everywhere: Virginia is attempting to entice you with Cider Week 2014. (Is it working yet?) From Nov. 14 to 23, you can bring your friends out for a week full of food, events and most importantly, hard cider.

Here are our picks for the best events this week:

Virginia Cider Harvest Tasting (1797 Hydraulic Road, Charlottesville) -- On Friday, Nov. 14, kick off Cider Week at Charlottesville's Whole Foods for the season's best cider. Free admission; 3-6 p.m.

Cider Under the Stars (5909 Long Fall Lane, Delaplane) -- On the weekend of Nov.14-16, Custom Adventure Tours is putting on a three-day camping event, during which you can go hiking and taste hard ciders at Cobbler Mountain Cellars. Different events each day will let you explore the area and meet new people while tasting hard cider along the way. $195 with camping gear and setup provided; $135 if you bring your own gear.

Richmond Cider Celebration (100 N. 17th St., Richmond) -- On Saturday, Nov. 15, head to the 17th Street Market to taste hard ciders and apple juices, take workshops on juice pressing, and more. Local restaurants will also be offering food for sale. $20 ticket includes 10 cider tastings; free admission for those under 21; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cider Press Sampling (Virtue Feed & Grain, 106 S Union St., Alexandria) -- On Sunday, Nov. 16, enjoy the Second Annual Cider Press and taste unlimited samples of hard ciders. This event will benefit SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) of Northern Virginia. You'll have the chance to win fun prizes and listen to live entertainment. $25 in advance or $35 at the door; 7-10 p.m.

Hill & Holler Cider Dinner (2801 E. Franklin St., Richmond) -- On Sunday, Nov. 16, visit food stations in Libby Hill Park for bites from Richmond's top chefs. Enjoy dinner in a rustic setting with pairings of hard cider with each dish. $65; 3-6 p.m.

Home Cidermaker's Workshop (900 Preston Ave., Charlottesville) -- On Wednesday, Nov. 19, learn the art and science behind cider making. Juice and home cider making supplies from Fifth Season will be available for purchase. Free admission; 6-8 p.m.

Cider Happy Hour with Blue Bee Cider (212 W. 6th St., Richmond) -- On Thursday, Nov. 20, bring your friends to Blue Bee Cider and enjoy six ciders in bottles, with one or two more on tap. Free admission; 5-8 p.m.

Clash of the Pippins (2545 Rural Ridge Lane, North Garden) -- On Saturday, Nov. 22, get your blindfolds ready and be the judge at a blind cider tasting at Albemarle Ciderworks. $15; 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Cider Fest 2014 All-Day Festival (6065 Turkey Sag Road, Keswick) -- On Sunday, Nov. 23, end Cider Week at Castle Hill Cider for a day full of live music and Virginia's best cider. Local performers Erin and the Wildfire and We Are Star Children will be taking the stage. $25; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Walking With Lincoln in Virginia]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:12:52 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_215837239.jpg

Get to know President Abraham Lincoln with a tour depicting his final footsteps in Virginia. Think of it a scavenger hunt with a historical twist.

The "Walk in Lincoln's Final Footsteps" program will guide you to six of the spots Lincoln last visited in Virginia, as well as offer a few nearby attractions that are also worth the trip.

The itinerary first takes you back to June 1862, with a visit to General Grant's headquarters, and ends in April 1865 with Lincoln's final visit to the Centre Hill Mansion, where he met with Major General George L. Hartstuff to discuss the downfall of the Confederacy and the end of slavery.

The stops in between include Fort Wadsworth, Point of Rocks, Fort Mahone and the Wallace House.

If you're not up for visiting each stop in person, you can also opt to watch a video presentation of each location.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Pittsburgh Hosts First-Ever Juice Fest]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 15:16:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_215590762.jpg

Mildly obsessed with juicing? Say "carrot-kale-apple-ginger" in a single breath? You're not alone.

Local juice companies, foodies and wellness professionals will converge at the Pittsburgh Juice Fest this Saturday.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., watch live demos, shop from 30+ vendors, attend classes and, of course, sample all the juices the festival has to offer. You'll also have the chance to determine who has the best juice in Pittsburgh. Vote your picks for categories like "meanest green juice," "most unique juice," and "best seasonal juice."

Attendees are asked to check in at the beginning of the event at the Pure Athletex SportsPlex (119 Neely School Road, Wexford, Pennsylvania). The day's first class, Gluten Free 101, gets under way at noon. See the complete schedule here.

Early bird tickets are $10. The VIP package, which includes a T-shirt and an Organically Social membership card, is $35. Children younger than 10 are free.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Silver Spring Throws Tree-Lighting Bash]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 16:02:44 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tree38.JPG

OK, so it's not Thanksgiving yet, but it's never too early for art. On Saturday, downtown Silver Spring will light up its 35-foot-tall Christmas "tree" -- actually a public art installation made from chimes, bells, pinwheels and ribbons.

The Re-Imagining the Holidays celebration will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fountain Plaza on Ellsworth Drive, and will include an a capella performance by the University of Maryland’s Generics and the B Natural Group of Montgomery College. Tommy McFly of 94.7 Fresh FM wil hosts.

Throughout the evening, you'll also find giveaways, face painting, hot cocoa and dining specials, as well as the chance to meet Maryland Youth Ballet dancers and Nutcrackers. An ice-skating Santa will be on the rink at Veterans Plaza from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.



Photo Credit: Clark Day ]]>
<![CDATA[World of Color Expo: Pop-Up Painting Classes]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 15:18:34 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/painterx.jpg

You may be an experienced artist, or maybe you're a novice who wants to hone your skills. Either way, you can encourage your inner creative genius at the World of Color Expo at the Dulles Hilton, coming up Nov. 12-15).

The event brings experienced painters from all over the region into one location to offer classes, seminars and demos. Register to improve your skills or just spend the day with friends learning something new.

Painting classes will be held in well-lit classrooms and vary by skill level. Courses include painting with oils and acrylics, learning how to paint animal portraits in pastels, and mastering the techniques to create breathtaking skies with oils. There's even a kick-off painting party on Tuesday (6:30-9 p.m.) that will be giving out $75 worth of supplies, a holiday wine glass and a painting for each person that attends. Cost of the event is $35.

Regular class fees start at $18 plus supplies for a two-hour session. One-day registration is $40, and is required to get into any class. If you prefer to register for the entire expo instead of an individual day, you'll pay $125. Registration for entire expo includes a goody bag, name badge, unlimited entry and the ability to purchase classes.

Don't feel like painting? That's OK, because painting demos will let you just be a member of the audience -- Bob Ross would be proud.

The World of Color Expo will be held at the Dulles Hilton (13869 Park Center Road, Herndon, Virginia), about 40 minutes from downtown D.C. The Hilton is also offering special packages for guests to stay for the event.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Chocolate: The Exhibit in Philadelphia ]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:52:35 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_122911063.jpg

Chocolate is one commodity that will never go out of style. If you love chocolate as much as we do, then Chocolate: The Exhibition at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will satisfy your all your cacao cravings.

This sweet new exhibit features interactive displays, tastings, special programs and traces chocolate to its rain forest origins. After you've interacted and learned a thing or two about the famous cocoa bean, you'll sample tasty chocolate goodies from Philly's many chocolatiers, mixologists and patissiers.

The exhibit also has four not-to-miss special events:

Sustainable Chocolate Day: Nov. 2, noon-2 p.m. Melted varieties of chocolate will flow through the museum's commons room, with visitors receiving a box of delicious treats for dipping. $8 per person.

Cuisine from the Collections: Chocolate Edition:  Nov. 8, 7-10 p.m. The museum's annual event features edibles from the everyday to the exotic.

Hot Chocolate Bars: Nov. 28-30 and Dec. 27-30, noon-2 p.m.  Visitors get the chance to warm up with the ultimate drink of hot chocolate --- and 20+ toppings. $6.95 per person.

One Last Shot of Chocolate: Beer and Chocolate Tasting: Jan. 15, 7-9 p.m. A reception that offers a sweet to savory menu of foods with just the right kind of beer to go with them. Ages 21 and older; $35 per person.

Admission to Chocolate: The Exhibition is $5, but you can save $2 when you purchase tickets online with promo code "TV2014."

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is located at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, about three hours from downtown D.C.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[The Maryland Irish Festival Returns]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 11:10:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/irishfestival.jpg

The Maryland Irish Festival is back at the Maryland State Fairgrounds this weekend, giving you the chance to celebrate Irish culture, Nov. 7-9.

Expect to experience plenty of live Irish music and dance along with a wide variety of Irish cuisine and beer. Kids can enjoy a play area with bouncy castles, activities and games.

Live music includes the Brock McGuire Band and Makem & Spain. You'll also find an Irish baking contest, a book fair and more; see a complete list of events here.

General admission is $20 for each day. For seniors, it's $15; teens, $5 and kids younger than 14 and active military members (with ID) get in free. Three-day general admission is $50; seniors pay $35.

Timonium is located about 75 minutes north of downtown D.C.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Manassas Hosts Veterans Day Parade]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 11:25:58 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/206*120/2014-11-07_1124.jpg

Show your patriotic side at the Greater Manassas Veterans Day Parade, coming up Saturday at 11 a.m.

The parade will pay tribute to all veterans and active soldiers, showcasing military and high school bands, a pipe and drum team, dance groups and military units.

The event will start off in historic Manassas at the intersection of Quarry Road and Prescott Avenue, traveling south and then west on Center Street and ending at West Street.



Photo Credit: Greater Manassas Veterans Day Parade]]>
<![CDATA[Richmond Road Trip: Graze on Grace Food Fest]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:36:17 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_159421754.jpg

The Graze on Grace food fest is set to celebrate local and seasonal cuisine on Sunday, Nov. 9. Road-trip it to Richmond to sample dishes from noon until 5 p.m. as the fest takes over three blocks of Grace Street, from 4th to 7th streets.

Admission to this event is free; samples are $3 from more than 25 of Richmond restaurants offering local, seasonal and sustainable eats. Local farms along with specialty food providers will be offering fresh Virginia produce, meats, cheeses, herbs and artisan breads as well. Several Virginia wineries will also be pouring out their own samples.

Restaurants have posted their menus on the Graze on Grace website; you can expect to nosh on everything from oysters to cupcakes.

You can also catch a special screening of the documentary "Dog Days," which sheds light on urban farming and raises awareness on regulation issues faced  by mobile food vendors.

Guests are also encouraged to bring canned goods to the event in order to help support FeedMore in its fight to end hunger.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Look Back at Local History: Fairfax Train Museum]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:41:20 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/DSC_8091.JPG Fairfax Station wasn't just a train station in the late 19th century; it was a thriving village.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Halloween Light Show Back With A Bang ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:23:03 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Edwards+light+show.jpg

Grab your keys, friends and sound system and visit 1816 Woods Edge Drive, Leesburg, Va.  for an entertaining show.

Last year, Edwards Landing Lights went viral after the “What Does the Fox Say?” light display. This year, the singing house is back performing the hit song, “Bang Bang.”

Each year, the owners put on a light show for people to see, but they also broadcast the show on YouTube for the world to watch. Decorated with over 8,500 lights, the house light show is produced by over 2,500 channels of computer animation. The music does not broadcast from the house, but viewers can “hear the lights” by tuning their radios to 98.1FM.

According to the owners’ Youtube account, producing the light show is a personal hobby and is not business-affiliated. The electric bill for the display ranges from $25-35 during Halloween season because they used energy efficient LEDs.

The show runs on a continuous loop from 7-9 p.m. through Halloween.



Photo Credit: EdwardsLandingLights, Youtube.com
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<![CDATA["Frankenstein" Gets a Live Soundtrack in Va. Beach]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:34:01 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_82060474.jpg

You've probably seen or read the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster -- but we're guessing it was probably never while sitting in front of a live orchestra.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, you can head to Virginia Beach to catch a screening of the original 1931 "Frankenstein," starring Boris Karloff, with a live accompaniment by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Conductor Michael Shapiro will lead the orchestra in his all-new score for this one-night-only event. While the audience watches the film on a big screen, the live orchestra will be playing directly below it, bringing this classic to life... but in a terrifying way. You know, sort of like Frankenstein's monster.

Tickets start at $20; the show begins at 8 p.m. You'll find it at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, at 201 Market St., Virginia Beach, Virginia.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Ocean City Restaurant Week & Oktoberfest]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:38:31 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_100188380.jpg

Sure, you may not be able to enjoy the sun, surf and sand, but the Ocean City beaches aren't throwing in the towel just yet. Even though cooler weather has rolled in, Ocean City is celebrating two big events this month: OC Restaurant Week and Oktoberfest.

Ocean City Restaurant Week, conveniently enough, is actually two weeks -- Oct. 12-26 -- and features fixed-price menu options at participating establishments. Choose from $10, $20, $30 or $40 fixed menu options, some even include a tasty dessert. What's kind of experience will you get? It depends on which restaurant you choose, but the 21 participating restaurants have something for everyone, from relaxed to fine dining.

For a list of current restaurant and locations, view the map on the official website.

Still need more options to travel to the beach in October? Try the Beach Maze, happening Oct. 18-19 on Division Street and the OC beach. You'll see pirates on the sand, graveyard ghouls and zombies awaiting your arrival.

The Ocean City Oktoberfest (Oct. 19) features German food, beer, bratwurst-eating contests and arts and crafts.

Ocean City is about 90 minutes from downtown DC.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Week of Fun: Halloween Edition ]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:13:32 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_220961677.jpg

Are you tired of haunted houses or trick-or-treating? Venture out of the box and check out these events to make your Halloween week full of spooky fun around D.C., Maryland and Virgnia:

Blood and Guts Run (7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville, Va.) -- On Saturday, Oct. 25, fight your way through this obstacle course to reach the finish line. If you can survive being chased by bloody zombies, you’ll receive a Blood and Guts Run T-shirt and finisher medal. When the race is over, enjoy live entertainment, wild costume competitions and food trucks. Race begins promptly at 9 a.m.; new races start every half hour; prices vary; see registration website for more details.

Night on M Street (Dupont Circle area) -- On Saturday, Oct. 25, party all over Dupont for the 15th annual bar tour. Take your pick 30+ of Dupont area's hottest bars for drink specials and, of course, go dressed in costume. Did we mention there's no covers all night long, as long as you register first? Register from 5-10 p.m.; registration fee is $20.

The Haunted Washington Scavenger Hunt (White House Area) -- On Saturday, Oct. 25, grab your flashlight and your team of up to six people to solve the tricky questions about the spooky places you'll visit. You just may see the spirits of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and other lingering ghosts. Hunt begins at 6 p.m.; adult admission is $22.50.

Goodwill Gridiron Halloween Party (7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover, Md.) - On Monday, Oct. 27, have some scary fun while giving back to the community. Head out to Dave & Busters and enjoy an open bar, dancing, a silent auction and more. The Baltimore Ravens' Dennis Pitta, Justin Tucker and Brandon Williams will be hosting this event. Proceeds from auctioned items will benefit Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake. 7 p.m.-midnight; tickets are $150 for individuals and $250 per couple.

17th Street High Heel Race (17th Street NW, between P and S streets NW near Dupont Circle) -- On Tuesday, Oct. 28, watch hundreds of drag queens strut down 17th Street -- in stilettos, of course. This annual block party will last for hours. Parade begins at 7 p.m.; the race starts at 9 p.m.; admission is free.

Day of the Dead Skull Painting (1728 Connecticut Ave. NW) -- On Wednesday, Oct. 29, delve into Mexican culture and celebrate this unique holiday. Honor loved ones who have passed and create your own sugar skull painting with bright, bold artwork. 7-8:30 p.m.; admission is $36 plus fees.

Night of the Living Zoo (National Zoo) -- On Thursday, Oct. 30, take part in a costume contest, listen to live music and performance artists, and play glow-in-the-dark lawn games at this annual zoo event. After getting an airbrush tattoo, you can roam the zoo during the witching hours. 6:30-10 p.m.; tickets begins at $20; see website for more ticket prices.

Halloween Live Thriller Night (7002 Arundel Mills Circle #7777, Hanover, Md.) -- On Halloween night, take it all the way back to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Moonwalk your way to Maryland Live! Casino, and watch Who's Bad, a Michael Jackson Tribute Band, as they pay homage to the King of Pop. Event begins at 8:30 p.m.; admission is $20.

Boo Cruise (departs from 600 Water St. SW) -- Board the Spirit of Mount Vernon and cruise down the Potomac on Halloween. Enjoy DJ entertainment and spooky late-night views of D.C. under the moon. 9 p.m.- midnight; admission is $44.90; passengers must be 21+.

The Halloween Circus (Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW) -- If you're looking for a unique Halloween experience Oct. 31, go see what the Black Cat'’s Halloween Circus has to offer. Enjoy visual arts performances, slideshows, and Burlesque performances on Halloween night. Begins at 9 p.m.; admission is $12-15; must be 21+. 

]]>
<![CDATA[Fall Harvest Fest at Sky Meadows Park]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 14:40:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/183*120/skymeadowsff.jpg

The chill of autumn is in the air, bringing along many fall festivals, including the Sky Meadows State Park Fall Farm Festival at at Mount Bleak Farm in Virginia.

This month-long harvest festival features live music, concessions, living history demos and plenty of exhibitors -- plus, of course, all the fall must-haves, including corn mazes and pumpkin patches.

Mount Bleak Farm is located in Sky Meadows State Park (11012 Edmonds Lane, Delaplane, Virginia), is a gem of a property very close to Middleburg. It's a great spot for sunsets (and photographs of said sunsets).

The festival continues through the weekends of Oct. 18-19 and Oct. 25-26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Each weekend has a theme, with Wildlife and Habitat the theme for Oct. 18-19, when you can attend ranger-led programs, visit with wildlife ambassadors and hike park trails. History is the star Oct. 25-26, with colonial and Civil War encampments, living historians, quilters, blacksmiths and tastes of colonial cooking. Parking and admission are free.



Photo Credit: Sky Meadows State Park]]>
<![CDATA[Vendemmia Wine Festival in Wilmington ]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 11:40:20 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_78273733.jpg

More than 3,000 wine lovers are expected to meet up Sunday, Oct. 12 for the Societa da Vinci Vendemmia Wine Festival in Wilmington, Delaware.

From 2 to 6 p.m., you can sample fine wines and other treats from the area's best Italian restaurants and bakeries. The festival will also include live music performances, handcrafted wine and homemade gravy contests, along with a silent auction.

It's all happening at Tubamn-Garrett Riverfront Park (815 Justison St., Wilmington, Delaware).

Advance tickets are $50; tickets at the gate will be $60. Your ticket will also get you a Vendemmia 2014 Wine glass as well as admission to the Italian Beer Garden.

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Find D.C.-Area Haunted Houses & Ghost Tours]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:39:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_25302445.jpg

Halloween is just around the corner -- which means it's time to grab your friends, flashlight and courage.

Throughout October, you can visit haunted houses the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area has to offer. Here are our picks:

D.C.:

The Curse of Frau Mueller (50 Florida Ave. NE) -- Now through Nov. 1, roam 50,000 square feet of terror as you listen to spooky background stories. 7-11 p.m.; tickets are $30-$50.

Fright at the Museum (575 7th St. NW) -- From Oct. 23 to Nov. 1, visit the Crime Museum for a night of creepy fun. Roam through this haunted house and view an actual electric chair used in hundreds of real executions. Keep in mind you'll be seeing it in the dark. Tickets are $30; entry times vary depending on ticket.

Nightly Spirits (1475 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) -- This 2.5-hour walking downtown pub tour is led by a costumed tour guide. Explore haunted pubs and buildings in D.C., and at each stop, listen to a popular ghost story as you sip on a cool beverage. Tues.-Thurs. $25.95/person; Friday-Sat. $32.95/person.

Ghosts of LaFayette Park (1520 H St. NW) -- Explore the dark past of our nation’s capital at “Tragedy Square,” filled with crime, conspiracies and assassination. Tour begins at 8 p.m. $17 for adults; $10 for children ages 7-11.

Capitol Hill Haunts (303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) -- Find out the curse that lurks on the Hills as you watch famous status that dance in the night. Tour begins at 9 p.m. Monday-Sunday; $17 for adults; $10 for children ages 7-11.

MARYLAND:

Laurel’s House of Horror (371 Armstrong Ave, Laurel) -- Located in Laurel’s historic district, this old movie theater is the newest edition to Maryland’s haunted house attraction. Zombies, clowns and other creepy beings (i.e., actors) are waiting to scare you at every corner. $15 online; $20 at box office; $30 speed pass.; dates vary.

Bennett’s Curse Haunted House (82024 Max Blobs Park Road, Jessup) -- Now through Nov.1, visit this haunted house and find your way through frightful mazes with special effects. It takes about 40 minutes to walk through this haunted house, known as one of the largest in the Washington/Baltimore area. Thursdays and Sundays 7-10 p.m.; general admission $30.

Markoff's Haunted Forest (19120 Martinsburg Road, Dickerson) -- If you’re looking for a change of scenery, take a hike through a terrifying forest. Every weekend in October, you can choose from two creepy trails, take part in a zombie hunt, or zipline above it all. Oct. 10-11, and then Thursday through Saturday nights through Oct. 30-Nov. 1; opens at 7 p.m.; ticket prices vary; see website for more information.

Nightmare Manor (10240 Fingerboard Road, Ijamsville) -- Throughout October, enjoy tasty concessions, live magic and and eyeball toss at this 200-year-old cursed estate. Thursdays and Sundays 7-10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 7-11 p.m.; tickets start at $20.

Field of Screams (4501 Olney-Laytonsville Road, Olney) -- After walking through the Trail of Terror, seek revenge as you battle zombies in a game of glow-in-the-dark paintball. Sundays and Thursdays 6:30-9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 6:30-10 p.m.; see website for ticket prices.

VIRGINIA:

Shocktober (601 Catoctin Circle NE, Leesburg) -- Three haunts. One location. Dare to walk the haunted halls of Paxton Manor, the Haunted Well of Souls, and the Last Ride. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October; 7-10 p.m.; prices vary.

Route 29 Haunted Farm (4484 Lee Highway, Warrenton) -- On every Friday and Saturday through the month of October, tour the Buckland Farm Market for a 20-minute walk in the night. During the day, enjoy pumpkin patches, moon bounces and hayrides. Fridays and Saturdays in October, plus Nov. 1; tours begin around 7 p.m.; tickets $15.

Darkwood Manor (104 N. Hawksbill St., Luray) -- Enjoy this theatrical haunted house and witness talented actors, detailed sets and original scary stories. Fridays and Saturdays in October, plus Oct. 30 and Nov. 1; 7-11 p.m.; general admission $12; FastPass tickets $24.

Fear Forest (Oak Shade Road, Ashby) -- Aside from walking down a spooky woods trail and getting frightened by zombies, you can take part in a zombie laser hunt and haunted hayride. Fridays and Saturdays in October, plus select weeknights through Nov. 1; opens at 7 p.m.; general admission is $12; FastPass tickets are $27.

Ghost & Graveyard Tour (221 King St., Alexandria, Va.) -- Follow your tour guide dressed in an 18th century costume down the streets of Alexandria’s historic district, Old town. Get ready to find out more about unsolved mysteries, folklore, and ghosts seeking revenge. Tours begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly; Fri.-Sat. 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.; $13 for adults; $7 for children ages 7-17.

WEST VIRGINIA:

Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry (100 Church St., Harpers Ferry, W. Va.) -- Listen to historic ghost stories and walk revenge several blocks of "Lower Town." Learn more about the Civil War and Harpers Ferry's violent history. The tour begins at 8 p.m.; $12 per person; $9 for children ages 8-12.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Your D.C.-Area Fall Festival Roundup ]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:47:02 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_113523676.jpg

If you're ready to break out your fave plaid shirt and seek pumpkin-flavored food items, you're certainly ready for fall -- and fall fests.

See our picks for the best festivals to attend around D.C., Maryland and Virginia for live entertainment, great food and plenty more:

D.C.:

Art & BookFair 2014 (2201 C St. NW) -- On the weekends of Oct. 11-12 and Oct. 18-19, the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide brings you thousands of treasures, used books, jewelry and much more at this annual book fair. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; admission is free.

Shuckeroo Oyster and Beer Festival (1299 Half St. SE) -- On Saturday, Oct. 18, relax with fresh oysters, 60+ kinds of beer, and a game of corn hole. 11 a.m.- 7:30 p.m.; Living Social tickets are $39.

MARYLAND:

34th Annual Pumpkin Festival (22222 Davis Mill Road, Germantown) -- On weekends now through Oct. 25-26, you can head out to Butler's Orchard for a straw maze, corn hole games, giant slides, a pumpkin coach, and more. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $11 admission ages 2 & up; kids under 2 are free.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival(4841 Bethesda Ave.) -- On the weekend of Oct.18-19, witness downtown Bethesda transform into an outdoor art gallery. 190 artists will showcase their fine arts and crafts for festival goers to buy. Saturday 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; admission is free.

World of Montgomery Festival (11160 Veirs Mill Road, Wheaton-Glenmont) -- On Sunday, Oct. 19, bring the family to this event and celebrate the rich cultural heritages of the DC area. Two entertainment stages, a global kitchen featuring an international chef and multicultural performers will be showcased at this interactive festival. Noon to 5 p.m.; admission is free.

Fall Frolic (7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo) -- On Saturday, Oct. 25, families are invited to this Halloween-themed event to take part in trick-or-treating, arts and crafts, and much more. Don’t miss out on the pumpkin playoffs, where kids can take part in pumpkin themed games. 1 p.m.-4 p.m.; prices vary.

VIRGINIA:

Tysons Fall Harvest Wine and Beer Festival (8025 Galleria Drive, Tysons, Va.) -- On the weekend of Oct. 18-19, bring the kids to the candy walk and hay maze. Make sure visit the wine and beer garden with more than 75 wines and beers. Wine & beer admission is $35; adult fall festival admission is $10; kids under 15 are free.

NOVA Fall BrewFest (7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville, Va.) -- This is your chance to sample beers from around the world. On Oct. 18-19, stop by the Cooking With Beer Demonstration Tent for brew-filled recipes and enjoy live musical entertainment. 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. Admission is $25; must be 21+.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[A Presidential Getaway: Rosemont Manor]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:09:36 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/rosemont.jpg

Virginia is full of historic destinations, but few are as beautifully restored as Rosemont Manor (16 Rosemont Manor Lane, Berryville, Virginia), where presidents have walked the halls. 

Constructed in the Georgian style of architecture popular at the time, the mansion dates back to 1811, when it was built by George Norris, Clarke County's first high sheriff.
 
"You are stepping back into a time where people were kinder, more gracious, where life slows down for a moment and you truly get to enjoy the time, season and the moment," said Michael Haymaker, director of weddings and design at Rosemont.
 
Today the mansion is a beautiful B&B, spa and event space that also offers destination weddings and corporate retreats. But when Gov. Harry Byrd bought the home in the early 20th century, his guests were nothing short of remarkable.
 
Presidents Eisenhower, Roosevelt, Nixon and Kennedy have walked the halls and icons like John Wayne, Liz Taylor and Albert Einstein have all had their sheets turned down at Rosemont.
 
Each guest room on the U-shaped upper level is named after its notable past occupants. The Kennedy room is mesmerizing for its period touches: Authentic 1960s Time magazines rave about color TVs, while a portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis grins invitingly from one of the coral walls. Rosemont delights in the details. 

The resort is also known for its manor house tea events held throughout the year. For $44 per person, patrons are treated to three courses: savory, scone and sweets. Service usually begins around 1 p.m. and lasts about 90 minutes. 

Accommodations at Rosemont range from guest rooms to suites, and special two-night packages start at $475 per couple. Those include chilled champagne, long-stemmed roses and a full breakfast.
 
But for complete privacy, consider a stay in the Byrd's Nest.  A quaint and detached cottage across from the manor house that was once used as the office of Sen. Harry F. Byrd, Sr., it features a private bath with soaking tub, kitchenette and wood-burning fireplace. Room rates start at $250 per night.
 
Check out some of the attractions in the Berryville area and consult the spa services if you feel the need to unwind.
 
Rosemont Manor is about 90 minutes from downtown D.C.


Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Rosemont Manor]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:08:19 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/DSC_7f387.JPG One of the most beautifully restored historical properties in Virginia, Rosemont Manor counts presidents among its guests.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Wilmington Beer Week Offers Prix-Fixe Menus]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:59:17 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_206456653.jpg

Wilmington Beer Week runs Nov. 1-8, which means you still have plenty of time to plan on attending the weeklong celebration, which includes dinners, tap takeovers and brewer meet-and-greets.

Various craft beer restaurants will be offering prix-fixe three-course menus for $50, including Kid Shelleen's, Harry's Savoy Grill and Chelsea Tavern, which will serve up three-course meals under $50. Availability is limited, so make sure to make reservations. See a full list of participating restaurants here.

Participating chefs are also offering recommendations for food and craft beer pairings on Wilmington Beer Week's official website.

For day-to-day updates on specials throughout Wilmington Beer Week, follow @WilmBeerWeek.

 



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Need for Mead: Md. Renaissance Fest Returns]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:55:15 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Bernard+McShaeA+New+Day.jpg

HBO's "Game of Thrones" doesn’t return until next year, but you can indulge your need for mead at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Anne Arundel County.

Travel five centuries in less than an hour to Crownsville, which has once again been transformed into a 15th-century village. The festival conjures a fantasy vision of Henry VIII's England through live music, performance art and costumed characters.

Expect jousting knights, kids' entertainment and acrobatic shows. The full line-up of entertainment is available online. You could even share a smoked turkey leg with Henry VIII himself -- but don't lose your head.

The festival has a different underlying plot each year to drive the shows and performances. Check out the story line for this year's festival.

For many visitors, food will be the highlight, and the hearty fare on offer should be enough to fill even a king's belly. Find out more about food options here.

And don't forget to consult the festival organizers' tips for getting to the event and information on local accommodations if you want to make the trip into a weekend break.

Tickets are available from the festival's website and cost between $17 and $22 for standard admission. Group rates and season passes are also available.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every weekend, from Aug. 23 through Oct. 19.



Photo Credit: Bernard McShae]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia State Fair Underway in Caroline County]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:11:18 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cows.JPG

The Virginia State Fair began Friday at the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, Virginia. The family-friendly fair is filled with dozens of competitions, educational exhibits and live shows.

At the "Try your hand at milking a cow" exhibit, guests can attempt to milk a cow the old-fashioned way at Young MacDonald’s Farm.

Dogs flip and fly to catch discs out of the air as they race through obstacle courses At K9s in Flight.

And don’t forget to check out the Giant Watermelon Weigh-in competition Saturday. Watch as judges weigh watermelons in search of the heaviest one. A cash prize of $75 goes to the heaviest. Second place gets $50 and third place will receive $25.

The fair continues through next week until Sunday, Oct. 5.

Prices for general admission one day tickets to all concerts, attractions and exhibits are listed below.

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays:

  • Adults: $15
  • Youth (5 years old to 12 years old): $10
  • Seniors (60 years old & up): $10
  • Military: $10
  • Children (4 years old and younger): FREE with paid adult admission

Monday through Thursday:

  • Adults: $12
  • Youth (5 years old to 12 years old): $8
  • Seniors (60 years old & up): $8
  • Military: $8
  • Children (4 years old & younger): FREE with paid adult admission

For more information on all of the scheduled events, visit the Virginia State Fair’s official website here.



Photo Credit: Richard Ross]]>
<![CDATA[Stargaze With an Astronomer in the Shenandoahs]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:49:21 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_106755728.jpg

Skyland Resort in the Shenandoah Mountains is known for its beautiful views, but there's more to gaze at than just the mountains: You can also get the chance to star-gaze with astronomers. 

NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador Greg Redfern, an amateur astronomer/astrophotographer, offers his knowledge and passion about the solar system during 30-minute presentations at Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge, followed by star gazing in the Big Meadows area. 
 
Upcoming dates for the presentations are Sept. 10, Sept. 21 and Oct. 2. 
 
During Redfern's "The Sky Is Falling" presentation, he'll bring out his piece of the Chelyabinsk meteorite that fell over Russia in February 2013. The "So, You Want to Be an Astrophotographer" session will teach the basics of how to photograph the park and sky. 
 
To book your star-gazing stay or for general lodging, visit the GoShenandoah website for reservations. We recommend the Linger Longer package that includes a one-hour guided horseback ride, three-hour canoe trip, a tour of Luray Caverns, wine tasting and a cooking demo. This package starts at $462 for two people and will include the star-gazing presentations if you plan accordingly. 
 
Check out their calendar of events to help choose a booking date that works for you. 
 
A few tidbits about Shenandoah Park: 
 
  • 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail

  • three lodging options: Skyland Resort, Big Meadows Lodge and the Lewis Mountain Cabins.

  • Skyline Drive, 105 miles of open road

  • more than 1,400 species of wild flowers bloom in the spring

  • rock climbing and rappelling classes

  • monthly wine tastings from four wineries

  • relaxation: priceless.
Skyland Resort is located about two and a half hours from downtown D.C.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Need a Fall Road Trip? We Have Lots!]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 15:31:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/167*120/winefest43.jpg

Fall is just around the corner and there's always somewhere you could be traveling. We've chosen a few of the many (and we mean many) fall events happening in our region and beyond. Whether it's a fair, festival, corn maze or art walk, we've got ideas for your next trip so you can get on the road. Did we miss an event you like? Send us a tip on our Twitter page.

VIRGINIA:
 
Corn Maze In The Plains (4501 Old Tavern Road, The Plains) -- Starting Sept. 27, pick pumpkins, enjoy a five-acre corn maze, get your face painted and enjoy the barnyard of fun. Open every weekend; admission $12. 
 
Stratford Hall Wine and Oyster Festival (483 Great House Road, Stratford) -- On the weekend of Sept. 20-21, enjoy Virginia wine tastings from 13 local wineries, Chesapeake oysters, a children's arcade and many craft and food vendors. Admission starts at $20. 
 
Virginia Wine Festival (5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains) -- During the weekend of Sept. 13-14, sample from 50 Virginia wineries and enjoy musical performances on the unspoiled grounds of Great Meadows. Admission starts at $30. 
 
Black Dog Music and BBQ Festival (287 Winery Road SW, Floyd) -- On Sept. 13, Chateau Morrisette Winery will host this annual music/barbecue fest that features an official Kansas City Barbecue competition, live music and wine, of course. Admission of $25; ages 21 and older. 
 
Rocktown Fall Beer Festival (228 South Liberty St., Harrisonburg) -- On Sept. 20, the streets of downtown Harrisburg become a hub for music, food and craft beer during this daylong celebration with 60+ beer styles to enjoy. Admission is $40 at the door. 
 
Smithfield Bacon, Bourbon and Beach Music Fest (301 Jericho Road, Smithfield) -- On Sept. 27, take a quick two-hour drive to Hampton Roads for this fall bacon fest. Taste craft brews, play bacon games and enjoy other non-bacony foods during the celebration. The festival is also the start to Smithfield's Bacon Days, which last two weeks. 
 
MARYLAND:
 
Maryland Seafood Festival (1100 E. College Parkway Annapolis) -- On the weekend of Sept. 6-7, this Maryland staple comes to Sandy Point State Park. Taste famous Maryland crabs, listen to live music and enjoy exhibits, arts and other great food. The Capitals Crab Soup Cookoff also happens during the fest. General admission is $15.
 
Ocean City Sunfest (Ocean City) -- From Sept. 18 to 21, make the best of a fading summer with one last trip to the beach. The OC Sunfest brings you live music (Rick Springfield, Righteous Brothers), art and crafts, and plenty of beachy fun for this four-day fest. Book your room soon. Admission is free. 
 
Baltimore Book Festival (Baltimore's Inner Harbor) -- From Sept. 26 to 28, visit more than 100 exhibitors, meet celeb authors and get your books signed, and watch cooking demos during this three-day literary celebration. Kids will love the hand-on special projects while the adults will enjoy live music along with food, beer and wine. Admission is free. 
 
Silver Spring Maker Faire (Corner of Fenton and Ellsworth in downtown Silver Spring) -- On Sept. 14, a unique festival comes built for the imagination. Bring your kids because this is full of art, science, crafts and technology presented by the KID Museum. The festival invites your family to join in the fun as you build robotics, make computer games, build a giant marble run and experiment with 3D printers. The event is free and runs from noon to 5 p.m. 
 
Baltimore Seafood Festival  (3001 Boston St., Baltimore) -- Sept. 20. Do we need to explain more? Seafood. Music. Waterfront. Done. Tickets start at $29.
 
PENNSYLVANIA:
 
Steampunk unLimited (301 Gap Road, Ronks) -- From Sept. 26 to 28, Strasburg Railroad is giving you an unprecedented adventure through the Industrial Revolution. Train rides will feature delicious treats, live entertainment, authors, artisans and music from the Victorian era. Tickets start at $18. RSVP soon.
 
Mount Airy Street Fare (Germantown Avenue between Sedgwick Street and Mount Airy Avenue, Philadelphia) -- On Sept. 18, savor Philly's gourmet food vendors as you make your way down Germantown Avenue during this outdoor food fest. Sample food, listen to music and browse for your next fashion fix in the many fashion trucks parked nearby. Admission is free. The even runs 6-10:30 p.m.
 
The Mushroom Festival (101 S. Union St., Kennett Square) -- From Sept. 5 to 7, celebrate Kennett Square's #1 cash crop, the mushroom. Kennett Square is the mushroom capital of the world and they do it justice with this annual festival. Check out 200+ vendors, soup and wine events, a national fried mushroom eating championship, an old-fashioned carnival and much more. Admission is $2. 


Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Sip Wine and Soak Up the Sun at Airlie]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 14:18:33 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/airlie-property.jpg

Got space in your summer schedule for a weekend of fly fishing, picnicking, wine drinking and all around fun in the sun?

Yep, we know you do. 

Escape the city life for a few days and plan a stay at Airlie, a hotel and farm in Warrenton, Virginia, roughly an hour's drive from D.C.

Spread out over 1,200 acres at the foothills of Shenandoah Mountains, Airlie offers a slew of to-dos at this "island of thought."

Airlie has hosted a variety of guests from participants of the civil rights movement to the leaders of NASA. It was recently recognized by Historical Hotels of America for keeping its roots alive since its opening in 1956.

Now, you can create your own classic weekend at Airlie. Choose from more than 150 rooms and a dozen cottages for your stay, but don't forget to clock plenty of hours outside.

For the athletic-minded, there's everything from biking trails to a shooting range to tennis courts on the grounds. Outdoor yoga classes and golf courses also top the list.

How about an agriculture adventure? Get an inside look at all things organic with a tour of the farm's four-acre garden and greenhouse. You can also get tips for growing your own fruits, veggies and flowers.

Once you've worked up an appetite, try something from Airlie's menu, which features locally grown ingredients and farm-fresh flavors. You can also throw back a pint of craft beer at the center's Whistling Swan Pub.

And what's better than a glass or wine (or two) to mix into your day? With more than 20 wineries located nearby, Airlie is an ideal home base for your explorations of Virginia wine country. Taste top regional wines with a wine-makers dinner package.

Whether you're craving a pool day or winery tour, a weekend at Airlie may just be the perfect getaway to fit in this summer.



Photo Credit: Airlie ]]>
<![CDATA[DIY Ice Cream in Pa. Dutch Country]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 23:28:55 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/185*120/colubbiahgf.JPG

Lancaster County offers travelers rolling hills, covered bridges and plenty of outdoor events. Check out our picks for fun in and around the town of Columbia, Pennsylvania that just might get you on the road this summer:

Columbia is a Pennsylvania Dutch area full of Amish goods and never short on attractions -- including museums you definitely won't find down on the National Mall.

First up, consider the Wrights Ferry Mansion (38 S. 2nd St., Columbia), which features Philadelphia furniture, English ceramics, needlework, metals and glass, all made prior to 1750. The idea behind museum reflects the interests of the original owner, Susanna Wright, a Quaker settler who had an affinity for law and medicine.

There's also the National Watch and Clock Museum (514 Poplar St., Columbia), which houses America's largest collection of timekeeping items on display with events such as the Hops-n-Clocks beer tasting and family sleepovers, when visitors can stay overnight.

Nearby is also the home of the Nissley Wine Vineyard (140 Vintage Drive, Bainbridge), which holds summer lawn concerts every Saturday from 7:30 to 10 p.m. that feature regional bands. What we also like about Nissley is that they can personalize any of their wine bottles for you. Having a wedding or birthday? Have Nissley create a one-of-a-kind label just for your event.

Last but not least would be the Turkey Hill Experience (301 Linden St., Columbia). Yes, we're talking about ice cream. The Turkey Hill Experience offers your kids the chance to create their own flavors. That in itself is worth the drive.

The Susquehanna Glass Factory (731 Avenue H, Columbia) will let you create customized glassware and get a complete factory tour to learn about the glass-making trade. They also offer 50 percent off all hand-cut patterns and monograms when you visit.

Columbia, Pennsylvania is located about 2.5 hours from downtown D.C.



Photo Credit: PADUTCH.org]]>
<![CDATA[Your 2014 County Fair Rundown ]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:59:35 -0500 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.

Go ahead. Step into that 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[Escape D.C. Humidity With a Cape Cod Getaway]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:09:00 -0500 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[Cruise D.C. Before Summer Sails Away]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:55:01 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/sadsadsad.jpg

Summer is almost over, which means you have a limited amount of time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Instead of walking around the monuments or visiting museums, how about getting out onto the water and cruising the Potomac River? If you're looking for a family-friendly, belly-filling experience, check out Spirit Cruises' Crab Leg Feast Cruise on Aug. 16.

The cruise features an all-you-can-eat crab feast with snow crab legs and comfort food classics like herb roasted chicken, Gouda mac and cheese, corn on the cob, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and more.

The cruise is $59.50 per person. Guests board the boat at 11 a.m. and cruise until 1:30 p.m. Following the feast, guests are invited to take in the sites on the vessel's open-air rooftop. More information and tickets can be found online.

Busy on the 16th? Not to worry, Spirit Cruises offers cruise excursions to historic Mount Vernon through October.

Enjoy a 90-minute trip to the estate featuring historical narration and beautiful views of the Potomac. Once docked, guests have three hours to explore George Washington's estate at their leisure.

The cruise costs $45.95 per adult and $39.95 per child, and is the only direct cruise to Mount Vernon. A cash bar with an assortment of snacks is available on board.

For additional information, to view a complete cruise schedule and to book tickets, visit Spirit Cruises' website.



Photo Credit: Spirit Cruises]]>
<![CDATA[Taste Prince George's Food & Wine Festival]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:03:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Ragin+Cajun+Family+2.jpg

If you like mouth-watering treats served with hair-raising thrills, the Taste Prince George's Food & Wine Festival at Six Flags America might be for you.

The culinary event is Saturday, Aug. 23 and is included with admission to the theme park on that day, with entry significantly discounted.

The festival celebrates some of the best food and drink in Prince George's County, with easy access to the biggest amusement park in Maryland. Participating restaurants include Olde Towne Inn, Kitchen Cray and Everlasting Life vegetarian restaurant.

Food from the vendors must be purchased using Taste Tickets, which are $1 each and are sold in books of 10.The event organizers said that food samples will "cost" between one and five tickets, while beer and wine will require about six tickets.

But sampling snacks and sipping wine are just some of the things you can enjoy at the fest. You'll also find kids' activities, live cooking demos with acclaimed chefs, competitions and live music, as well as full access to Six Flags America.

That said, you might not want to eat a full meal before tackling thrill rides like Apocalypse, Ragin' Cajun and Superman: Ride of Steel.

Admission tickets are available for $27, saving at least $13 on general theme park admission. Tickets include entry to the park, parking and entry to the food and wine festival, but they must be purchased online before midnight Aug. 22.

You can purchase tickets from the Taste Prince Georges' Eventbrite site.



Photo Credit: Six Flags America]]>
<![CDATA[15 Things to Do Before Summer Is Over]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 13:22:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_40714882.jpg

Consider this your end-of-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 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 Hit the water for tubing at Harper's Ferry

August is your last chance to get a killer tan, but sitting in the sun can be a drag. The solution? Grab a tube and hit the rapids in Harper's Ferry.

The sun will tan you as you float down the river with friends, and small sections of rapids will keep you cool (and on your toes!) River Riders offers several packages for tubing, and LivingSocial has some great deals, too.

2. 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.

3. Try D.C.'s finest fare at Restaurant Week

D.C. Restaurant Week is a great chance try amazing food at deep discounts! More than 200 restaurants are participating this summer, offering three-course lunches for just $20.14 and three-course dinners for $35.14.

Restaurant Week runs Aug. 11-17. Get more information and book tables online.

4. 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.

5. Go to a county fair

You really can't let summer fade without getting your fix of fried dough, face paint and carousel rides. We're smack in the middle of county fair season, with the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair beginning Friday and running through Aug. 16. Other upcoming fairs: Prince William Fair (Aug. 8-16), Prince George's (Sept. 4-7), and more. See our list to find a county fair near you.

6. Stay cool with a brew at D.C. Beer Week

Get educated while you drink great beer! D.C. Beer Week aims to educate all on good beer -- "from conception to consumption" -- through various events and seminars Aug. 17-24.

The event has different activities every day, and takes place at various locations. Check out a full schedule of events online.

7. 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.

8. 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.

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. Visit the scary side of D.C.

Evenings are some of the only times you can catch a break from the city's August humidity, so don't spend them inside!

Try taking a "haunted" tour of the city instead! Hunt for ghosts and ghouls while you learn more about the city's scariest legends. LivingSocial has great deals on spooky tours of the city sure to leave you breathless.

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. Take a tour of the Hillwood Estate and Gardens

Escape from some of D.C.'s tourist traps at the Hillwood Estate -- the home once owned by Post Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Pack a picnic and lounge in the gardens, or explore the home's collection of Russian and European art and antiques. The mansion is open Thursday through Saturday, and suggests a donation of $15.

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

The beach doesn't just exist on your computer's screensaver. If you want a bustling beach scene, head to Ocean City for rides, arcades, minigolf, a host of stores, 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.

If you don't want to brave the traffic on the Bay Bridge, opt for the much quieter (and closer) Sandy Point State Park on the Chesapeake Bay for a quick day trip.



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