DC/NoVa/Baltimore Nightlife
November 15, 2007 6:00 PM   Subscribe

I'll be spending January 1st-7th in Northern Virginia (Purcellville, specficially) with family. Looking for something fun to do in the DC, Northern VA, or Baltimore areas while there.

I'll be with two cousins, ages 20 and 18, so any adults-only entertainment will not work (though I am 22, if that makes a difference). We're looking for something on the upscale, classier side of things; possibilities would include some sort of off-Broadway show, concert in a nice venue (Trans-Siberian Orchestra is playing and would have been perfect, but one of the girls has already seen them), or something along those lines. Nothing too expensive ($40/person cap, or so), if possible.

Also, any restaurant suggestions for classy-ish restaurants in the area (no more than $20-25 entrees) that wouldn't break the bank?

Thanks all!
posted by charmston to Travel & Transportation around Virginia (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, DC's Shakespeare Theatre will be running Marlow's Edward II, which should be a fantastic show; however, it's a little outside your budget. Sadly, the Wooly Mammoth Theatre (my favorite theatre in DC) is between shows that week. The 9:30 club and the Black Cat are great venues to see music, although their schedules don't run into January yet. For classier shows, there's always the DAR Constitution Hall, but again, no schedule yet. For food, I can't speak highly enough of Zengo in the Chinatown area, it's a great pan-asian/latin fusion that will knock your socks off. And it's served as small plates for sharing, so you can all try the different dishes. Otherwise, you'll have no problem finding pretty good classy joints: Old Ebbitt Grill, right by the White House, is a great classic example.
posted by General Malaise at 6:39 PM on November 15, 2007

There are a number of upscale restaurants in Leesburg - about 10-15 minutes from Purcellville.Lightfoot and Tuscarora Mill are two that I remember off the top of my head.

Also, be aware that Purcellville is 45 miles or so from DC, so plan accordingly when thinking about headed into town. Assume 90 minutes for the trip to be safe. maybe more. Traffic around here is a bitch.
posted by COD at 6:48 PM on November 15, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions Gen. Malaise, and the heads up on transportation COD. Zengo looks like a winner, it seems very similar to my favorite Twin Cities joint. We'd probably be taking the train from Frederick, MD to make transportation earlier.

Keep the suggestions rolling everyone!
posted by charmston at 6:56 PM on November 15, 2007

Remember to park out in the burbs and Metro in, if you possibly can; you really don't want to park in the District if you can avoid it. $3/day parking at a Metro garage (Vienna has a big one) is a lot better than the $20-30 you might pay for a garage space downtown. Plus, the traffic will really ruin your mood.

If you want casual but very good traditional seafood, I recommend The Fish Market in Old Town Alexandria. It's right down near the water on King St (the main drag through Old Town). Actually that whole area is a cool place to hang out, and there's a lot of historical stuff in the area (including the Masonic Memorial, which has a great view). There are a ton of restaurants down there, ranging from the very casual (all you can eat pizza, 50ยข PBR drafts) to the seriously upscale. Not sure if it's still running, but sometimes they have a ferry running from there over to Georgetown, so you can get dinner and then go over to DC for drinks and nightlife afterwards if you want.

If it's a nice day, Mt Vernon is a lot of fun; it's south of Alexandria on the Virginia side of the Potomac. (Just drive south on the G.W. Expressway until the end, you can't miss it; it's where the parkway goes.)

I've had fun taking friends to the Building Museum, aka the "Pension Building" when we want something to see in the District. Try to take the tour if you go. Best for people interested in architecture/buildings/history, or who want to take some cool photos. It's right near a Metro stop.

Also, if it's a crappy day outside, the National Botanic Gardens right near the Capitol are fun and seem to be off the path of most tourists. I like just going in and hanging around in the "jungle" rooms during the winter, or in the "desert" room when it's raining. Again, a nice diversion if you're looking for something to do during the day.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:11 PM on November 15, 2007

The Kennedy Center does free performances every day at 6pm: http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium/schedule.html

Do you like jazz?
posted by jare2003 at 7:16 PM on November 15, 2007

Response by poster: Jazz is a wonderful idea, and I'm currently looking into a Mose Allison show at Blues Alley.
posted by charmston at 7:33 PM on November 15, 2007

Try HR-57 on 14th Street (http://www.hr57.org/)
posted by jare2003 at 7:54 PM on November 15, 2007

Loudoun County resident here: Purcellville is at least an hour and a half out of the City, even if you aren't going at rush hour. It'll take you at least 2 hours to get to Baltimore, assuming the Beltway isn't batshit (i.e. no precipitation, no accidents), and you have perfect driving karma.

The train from Frederick (or East Brunswick) is definitely a better choice to get to DC during the day, but be aware of it's schedule, because a taxi from downtown DC to Purcellville will be at least $100.

The Vienna Metro parking garage doesn't fill up as fast as it used to, but if you are skipping rush hour, pony up for the Ballston Mall parking garage. In DC, I love the National Portrait Museum, the Spy Museum, and the National Gallery.

If you are willing to go to DC for night entertainment, Alexandria is roughly the same time/distance away as parts of DC, so consider the Birchmere for music opportunities, too. Wolf Trap will pnly be an hour away from you, and is a nice venue, as well. Other local venues might be: The Patriot Center (GMU, about 75 minutes away), The State Theater in Falls Church, and The Nissan Pavillion, of course.

Closer to Purcellville: Consider the Udvar-Hazy branch of the Air and Space museum on the Loudoun/Fairfox border (Rte 28). It's about 45 minutes away from Purcellville, and worth a visit.

You'll be a half-hour away from the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley. Although Natural Bridge (about 2 hours south) is not nearly as impressive as you'd think from the relentless pimping of the bridge, the town is full of cheesy fabulous goodness, what with the wax museum and foamhenge and more. There are plenty of national parks nearby - Harper's Ferry (40 minutes), Antietem (75 minutes), Gettysburg (2 hours), and historical sites and monuments throughout the area.

Local restaurants: Leesburg also has the Blue Ridge Grill in what used to be a chain restaurant, but the food is significantly better than any chain. It's comfortable, and nice, without being necessarily dressy or pretentious. When we went to La Fleur De Lis in Lovettsville for Lunch, the folks were friendly, and the food was good (but it butts up against your price limitations). There's a good tapas place in Frederick, but it's not as good as Jaleo in Washington DC (which is great).

If either of your cousins are local, they'll know what is going on, what they want to do that their parents might be a wet blanket about without the presence of their reliable older cousin, etc.

Sorry about the wordiness, but I hope this helps.
posted by julen at 8:15 PM on November 15, 2007

Duckpin bowling in the MD suburbs - Silver Spring or College Park. It is surprisingly fun, so close to regular bowling as to be familiar, and I have yet to go and not have something completely bizarre and amusing happen.

Like the time my best friend got beaten by a group of 5-8 year old girls wearing monster teeth. Seriously. It was hands-down the funniest thing I have ever seen.
posted by averyoldworld at 6:30 AM on November 16, 2007

Alot of theater companies have student tickets for $10-15. So does the Kennedy Center. So check those out.

If you like Indian, at that I would suggest Rasika in Chinatown for you and your friends. Otherwise Corduroy has fantastic food.
posted by stratastar at 6:42 AM on November 16, 2007

Ooh! Actually many restaurants offer a pre-show 3 course price fixed meal (your going to have to google a bit to find out which ones).

Combine that with the student ticket theatre, and you should have enough money saved up to catch a show/ scene watch at the Black Cat, 9:30, or if you're feeling adventurous, head to the H street strip, to the Red and the Black or the Rock and Roll Hotel.
posted by stratastar at 7:34 AM on November 16, 2007

I grew up on the mountain above Purcellville. If you're looking for a good place to take a walk after stuffing your self with Turkey head up to Bear's Den. It's only about 15 minutes from P-ville and has a great cliff overlooking the Shenandoah Valley at Sunset. The Appalachian Trail runs through this property and the Hostel, which used to be a retreat for the Russian Consulate, houses hikers who need a shower and a bed to sleep in for a nominal fee.

In D.C. it's always fun to see a movie at the Uptown.
posted by trbrts at 8:13 AM on November 16, 2007

I would second the Shenandoah, except that I don't know what it's going to be like in January. (Old Rag was spectacular in the Summer.)

Lots of folks at work like Minerva, for Indian food, and so do I.
posted by Coventry at 8:16 AM on November 16, 2007

While you are in Purcellville, you should stop by Nichols hardware store, just for a look see. It is right near the main downtown intersection and is a great store. It is like walking into the hardware store the Walton's would have used. Old, a long service counter, great service, and everything you could ever need crammed in somewhere or other.
posted by juggler at 8:37 AM on November 16, 2007

Response by poster: Good suggestion trbrts; I visited these particular family members several years ago and we took a hike at Bear's Den. Beautiful area, I approve.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone, it's been a big help!
posted by charmston at 2:42 PM on November 16, 2007

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