Help me be a cool older cousin in DC!
August 7, 2007 11:04 AM   Subscribe

What should I do with my 17 year old cousin in Washington, DC this weekend?

My cousin (female, about to start her senior year in high school) is visiting me in DC this weekend. She's been here twice before with family and done most of the typical tourist things (Smithsonian, monuments). I didn't receive a lot of guidance from her when we chatted, so time to query the hive mind.

I remember visiting a young aunt when I was her age and having a ball because she came up with creative things to do and treated me like a grown up. DC specific advice would be welcome, but also advice in general on 17 year old girl-friendly activities!

More specifics: she's a history buff, probably not really in to shopping (or at least I wouldn't be very enthused!), she's athletic (I was thinking of going kayaking), she's starting to think harder about what college to go to, and the only place she specifcally mentioned is the Library of Congress.

Help me be a cool older cousin!
posted by xaire to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Some of the ideas in this thread could be cool...
posted by grateful at 11:06 AM on August 7, 2007

Response by poster: (to give you an idea of my chances of being both cool and older cousin, I'm a shade past 26).
posted by xaire at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2007

Take her around Georgetown and/or GWU if she's up for it, not as an official "college visit" but just sort of to get a vibe of what it might be like to go to school smack in the middle of a city, and more specifically, in D.C.
posted by jckll at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2007

I would probably (depending on how much walking you're both up for) start with the Zoo (because the Zoo is awesome), wander through Adams-Morgan, maybe up to the Cathedral, and then around Georgetown, and just plan to linger anywhere that catches her interest.
posted by occhiblu at 11:25 AM on August 7, 2007

Oh, and check out the exhibits at the National Archives on the Mall
posted by grateful at 11:54 AM on August 7, 2007

For a history buff who's done the standard Smithsonian/National Mall touristy stuff before, try Georgetown: Canal Boat Ride and Old Stone House.

Drop by Chinatown and check out the Asian restaurant Wok and Roll for a bite -- it's in Mary Surratt's old boarding house, as commemorated by a plaque out front.

Hike around Roosevelt Island and look for the blue heron that likes to hang out in the marsh.

Maybe a day trip to Mount Vernon or Harpers Ferry would work too if you're up for a drive.
posted by brownpau at 12:01 PM on August 7, 2007

Take her to Pizzeria Paradiso on P Street for lunch or dinner, and to Tony Cheng's in Chinatown for Dim Sum on Sunday morning

There's a paint your own pottery place in Cleveland Park near the zoo, might be a nice place to stop after visiting the pandas (I would go in the morning - they'll be sleeping in the afternoon and it will be more crowded)

Make a picnic and take her to jazz in the garden on Friday night

Could go up to Harper's Ferry and go tubing one day
posted by chickaboo at 12:05 PM on August 7, 2007

Could go bowling at Lucky Strike in Chinatown
posted by chickaboo at 12:08 PM on August 7, 2007

Oh, and you mentioned kayaking. You probably know that Thompson's boathouse is right by GWU and the Watergate. If she's easily amused/impressed like I am, you can drop by the CVS or Safeway at the Watergate just for the anachronism of picking up something mundane at a place like the OMG WATERGATE.
posted by brownpau at 12:08 PM on August 7, 2007

She might enjoy the festive scene at Sequoia for lunch or dinner on the waterfront (I think it's a nightmare but a 17 year old might love it)

Also could try taking her to (nonalcoholic) drinks on the roof of the Hotel Washington
posted by chickaboo at 12:11 PM on August 7, 2007

Beadazzled? I'd file it more under "crafts" than "shopping." I hope that doesn't sound too ditzy; I'm 99% sure my then-similar-aged, non-ditzy sister enjoyed the place when she came to visit me in DC.

I clearly remember that she did not enjoy the DC summer weather, so nix on anything that involves a lot of walking around during the day...

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café? It's a nice hangout of a sort you don't find in every town.
posted by kmennie at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2007

You say she's been there before, but did she see the National Museum of the American Indian on her previous visit? It's a manageable size with a very cool (I thought) way of organizing artifacts and collections thematically, and there's a great cafe, which is easily the best place on the Mall to grab a bite.

The Library of Congress is also gorgeous, as is the Supreme Court, which has very cool chambers and a sweet statue of John Marshall to pose next to in the visitor's area downstairs.
posted by mdonley at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2007

Ah - I also meant to say that each of those places is small enough (say, less than 2 hours at each) that you could do them all in a day and not feel insanely rushed. I was by myself, though, and it was a Thursday in May, so YMMV.
posted by mdonley at 12:18 PM on August 7, 2007

Oh and the international spy museum might be new since she last did the touristy stuff here. Seconding Beadazzled, great idea.
posted by chickaboo at 12:20 PM on August 7, 2007

I clearly remember that she did not enjoy the DC summer weather, so nix on anything that involves a lot of walking around during the day...

Eek. Sorry, you're right. I'm sitting here in 50-degree foggy SF and I forgot that this is not normal August weather for the rest of the country!

posted by occhiblu at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2007

You can always go for a nice morning sail out of Gangplank Marina, down past the naval war college, around Hains Point and the soon to be moved "Awakening" sculpture. DC Sail
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:45 PM on August 7, 2007

If you have a car, definitely consider Harper's Ferry--I'm also a history nerd, and I loved it. Plus there's hiking and tubing and it's just a lot less hot than the city. It's a nice day-trip--probably an hour from the city? 90 minutes? Map out your route so you're not driving the entire way on the freeway; the back roads are much prettier.

Given the heat, I'd do your walking in the city at night. Take her out to a nice dinner at Tenh Penh or Jaleo or any type of food she's not likely to get in her hometown, then grab an ice cream / sorbet and walk down to the mall. I still love walking up to the Washington Monument, Vietnam memorial, Korean memorial, and along the reflecting pool at 11PM or midnight even though I've done it before. Plus, that's the ideal location for the fantastic deep conversations about the meaning of life and hopes and dreams that I always wished my older siblings had had with me (I had to wait until college!).

Other thoughts--if she's from a smaller town, maybe catch an art-type flick at the E street cinema during the afternoon when it is the hottest outside?

Oh, and brunch. Do brunch. It's something that 17-year-old girls don't often get to do often with friends (or on family trips to DC while being dragged around to museums by your parents), and it's just the perfect thing for feeling a bit more grown-up with your older, cooler cousin. Don't go to a greasy diner; go to either a bit nicer of a place or someplace funky and cool (Georgia Brown's?).
posted by iminurmefi at 1:11 PM on August 7, 2007

Once you're done at the Library of Congress stop by the Folger Shakespeare Library next door. They have a terrific exhibit right now about Shakespeare in American Culture.

And the college visit is a great idea. If she's still getting a feel for colleges you can show her a variety of different campuses so she can get a feel for the difference between an urban school (GWU) and a more secluded campus (George Mason), and large school (U Maryland) vs. small (Trinity, I guess?).
posted by arco at 1:12 PM on August 7, 2007

Also check Craigslist and Social Capital for any events going on that weekend.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:21 PM on August 7, 2007

Response by poster: Wow. These ideas are excellent. I will be the most highly thought of cousin in the clan. I may have to ward off visits from 5 other cousins as a result. Thanks everyone for the wonderful ideas! I wish I had more time to do all of them with her.
posted by xaire at 1:22 PM on August 7, 2007

The Library of Congress' American Treasures exhibit sounds right up your alley. You'll need to come on Saturday, though. You could then have dinner at the classy Sonoma across the street.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:29 PM on August 7, 2007

If your weekend is long and includes either Thursday or Monday you could go to Fort Reno and see local bands play (for free)! metro - Tenleytown/AU
posted by citron at 1:31 PM on August 7, 2007

Is she going to be here during the day on Friday or Monday? If so, shoot me an email, and I can give you a tour of my office.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:34 PM on August 7, 2007

Personally I've been dying to see the Portuguese exploration exhibit thing at the Sackler Gallery - looks really neat and might be fun for a history buff.
posted by naoko at 1:53 PM on August 7, 2007

Go to Great Falls, it is lots of fun! You can have a nice walk on the trails if you're OK with the heat, and see some pretty scenery, also have a picnic (they've got a pretty good area with a bunch of tables and fire stands). The rock climbing there is also popular (if you know anyone who's experienced).
posted by anaelith at 2:23 PM on August 7, 2007

I got off on going to the National Archives in Northern Virginia (not the one off the mall). They had the Watergate tapes to listen to. Oh, hell, maybe they are all on the internet now.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:40 PM on August 7, 2007

Great Falls is great, and I agree with brunch. Go to Asylum in Adam's Morgan - if she's a 17 year old girl there's a pretty good chance she's vegetarian, and Asylum makes pretty good vegan food. It's also full of interesting people.
posted by borkingchikapa at 3:45 PM on August 7, 2007

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