Archive for the 'Things to Do' Category
In a long standing tradition, the City of Alexandria will celebrate it’s own birthday (262 years) and the nation’s birthday (235 years) this Saturday, June 9th.
We’re not exactly sure how this post Fourth of July celebration got started (or why) but it’s been going on for as long as we have lived in the area,
So, if you missed the Fourth or just didn’t want to fight the crowds downtown, make your way to Oronoco Bay Park along Alexandria’s waterfront between 4:00 and 10:00pm. The celebration includes children’s activities, community exhibits and birthday cake.
The highlight of the evening is a concert by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, topped off with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and fireworks. “Cannon support” will be supplied by the United States Marine Corps, Basic Training School, Quantico, VA at 9:30 p.m.
In the event of inclement weather, fireworks only will be rescheduled for Sunday, July 10 at 9:30 p.m.
Oronoco Bay Park has lawn seating, and visitors are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, shaved ice and kettle corn will be available for purchase or bring your own. (No is grilling allowed however.)
Visitors to the historic district are encouraged bike, walk or take the Metrorail Yellow or Blue lines to the King Street Station and take King Street Trolley to the unit block of King St., a short walk to Oronoco Bay Park. The King Street Trolley will operate until midnight for individuals wishing to return to the King Street Metro following the celebration.
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New to the Washington, D.C. area?
By now you’ve probably heard all about the grand Fourth of July celebration on the Mall – you know, the one that is televised every year, the one they call a “Capitol Fourth“.
The one that ends with the William Tell Overture and fireworks to beat the band. The one that attracts hundreds of thousands of folks to the mall.
But have you heard about the dress rehearsal on the Third of July? Same time, same music, same performers*, same security checkpoints but with much smaller crowds. The only thing missing is the fireworks – that is a one night only event.
It’s a great way to experience Washington. Give it a try.
***A caveat – some of the performers choose not to be present at the rehearsal and a staffer lip synchs instead. Jimmy Smits is always there though and pokes gentle fun at those artists who pass on this fun tradition.
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June 30th, 2011 Categories: Things to Do
With the Fourth of July rapidly approaching it’s time to start making plans for the weekend, especially if out-of-town guests are on hand.
Of course the concert and fireworks on the Mall is the big attraction but if you are looking for other venues in Northern Virginia, here is a check list of where to go and what to do:
Culpeper - A 5K race; historical reenactments; a battle of the bands; a parade and fireworks start at 9:15pm. (FREE)
McLean - Langley High School is the site for food, field games and blues/roots band “Last Train Home”. Fireworks at 9:15pm. (FREE)
Mount Vernon – Revolutionary War reenactments, a reading of the Declaration of Independence and daytime fireworks (12:45pm). Events run from 8am – 5pm. Admission $13, $6 for ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under.
And now for the big one – the Fourth of July on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Start your day with the Independence Day Parade at 11:45am, then take in the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, and special Fourth of July activities at the National Archives and the White House Visitors Center. Public access to the Mall begins at 10:00am with all visitors required to enter via a security checkpoint.
Choose one of two locations for your evening concert -
The U.S. Navy Band performs on the grounds of the Washington Monument starting at 6pm. The concert will feature the U.S. Navy Concert Band, the Sea Chanters chorus, and the Cruisers, a rock and top-40 ensemble. The Navy Band Commodores Jazz Ensemble takes the stage at 8pm and concludes at 9:10pm for the fireworks display.
The National Symphony Orchestra and several pop artists will perform patriotic music on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building starting at 8:00pm, (Admittance begins at 3:00pm)
Fireworks at approximately 9:15pm. Not sure you want to travel into the District for the fireworks?
Check out these local spots for viewing from the Virginia side:
- Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary
- Gravelly Point Park
- the Air Force Memorial
- Columbia Island Marina
- Lady Bird Johnson Park
- the Monroe Street Bridge.
So there you have it, The Fourth of July in Northern Virginia 2011 – Where to Go and What to Do.
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This is a “rerun” from last July but with the Fourth rapidly approaching and summer weekends in full swing, it seemed like a good time to offer this information again:
I don’t know about you but with these 100 degree days, I’m ready for a good old fashioned swimming hole. Clear, cold water, not many folks around, maybe even a waterfall or a few rapids and no chlorine. Doesn’t that sound good?
We did a bit of scouting around and came up with a great site for swimming holes created by someone right here in Alexandria, Virginia – Tom Hillegass.
Tom and his Website partner, Dave Hajdasz of Connecticut, focus on fresh water spots with moving water – creeks, rivers, springs and waterfalls. We’re happy to say that there are 80 swimming holes right here in Virginia.
There are also selected hot springs and lakes, quarries or bays with unique features that make them especially beautiful or fun for swimming.
I talked to Tom about how he got started on this project. After a childhood in Philadelphia where there were no ‘natural’ places to swim, Tom moved to Oregon and fell in love with swimming in local rivers. A final move brought him to Alexandria and it was then that he began collecting information about swimming holes in Virginia.
Sugar Hollow, VA
He and his daughter built the Web site in 1996 and listed 35 swimming holes. Now he has hundreds of listings, many of which have been sent by faithful fans of the site.
Tom tells me, “I get lots of emails . . . and the ones I especially like are from parents who took their kids (to a swimming hole) and opened them to a whole new/old world of delight. People used to know where the local swimming holes were, but today we travel all over the world yet don’t know what’s in our back yard. Young people, especially, have no idea but are discovering them as a result of my site.”
Tom’s site is utilitarian but includes important tips around water temperature, currents, underwater rocks and in some cases, very detailed instructions on how to find some of the more out of the way swimming holes.
Safety tips are another big part of Tom’s site and they are well worth reading.
There’s still some traveling time, and plenty of hot weather, before school starts so pull out your map and plan your next adventure – to a swimming hole in Virginia.
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June 24th, 2011 Categories: Things to Do
Looking for something to do on a beautiful summer day? Specifically on Saturday, June 25th?
Join the denizens of Del Ray for the 5th Annual Del Ray Music Festival on the grounds of the Mt. Vernon Recreation Center between Commonwealth and Mt. Vernon Avenues.
Scheduled from 10:00am to 10:00pm, the festival includes a wide variety of music and games for the little ones.
Food is available on site or in any of the dozens of restaurants on “the Avenue”.
Dogs and babies equally welcome!
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June 13th, 2011 Categories: Things to Do
Ever confused by all the different olive oils and vinegars on the shelf of your favorite grocery? Intrigued by flavors such as truffle or blood orange or even chocolate – but without a clue on how to use them and not willing to buy a large bottle?
Have we got just the store for you – Ah Love Oil and Vinegar in the Village at Shirlington.
Ah Love Oil and Vinegar is a boutique purveyor of artisanal olive oils and vinegars that can be sampled and then purchased individually in small or medium sizes.
Housed in gleaming stainless steel containers, the some 35 vats hold flavors like sharp chili oil, smooth basil, flavorful roasted garlic; aged balsamics; and classic Greek, Spanish and Italian olive oils.
The brain child of former leadership coach and association executive Cary Kelly, Ah Love Oil and Vinegar is one of a very small number of boutique oil and vinegar purveyors in the country.
Like all good entrepreneurs, Cary ‘caught the fever’ while visiting a similar store in South Carolina and knew immediately what her next career move would be.
In addition to the oils and vinegars, Cary offers a small selection of olive oil soaps and lotions, crackers, sauces and tortas, books on olive oil and antique oil and vinegar cruets.
For me though, the main attraction is the 4 or 6 pack “samplers”. Come into the store, sample every flavor you have never heard of and then pick out four or six flavors to take home. The oil and/or vinegar is decanted into 4 oz bottles, sealed and labeled and you’re on your way. It is the perfect way to experiment with new flavors and new recipes.
So far we have tried the Dark Chocolate Balsamic, the Greek Karomeiki Olive Oil, the Roasted Chili Olive Oil, the Roasted Garlic Olive Oil and the Basil Olive Oil. Our goal of course is to work our way through all the flavors before settling on our favorites.
In fact, these 4oz delights are so popular that Cary sold over a 1,000 bottles in her opening weekend! Recipes, pairings of oil and vinegar and information about the artisanal products are also available online at Ah Love Oil and Vinegar.
We just can’t say enough good things about this new shop – Ah Love Oil and Vinegar in the Village at Shirlington. Treat yourself to something very special. You’ll be glad you did.
And if you need a kitchen to go with all your new oils and vinegars, give me a call at 703.927.4554 and we’ll go house hunting – what a great combination!
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Top Chef Carla Hall was the guest judge today at the 2011 Taste of Del Ray sponsored by the Del Ray Business Association.
Families, couples, singles, babies in strollers and face painted toddlers all sampled delicious tidbits from fourteen local restaurants. Think sliders, ice cream, bruschetta, mini-chulupas and more, much more.
Chef Hall also had her own tent with samples of her bite size sweets and savories. Clearly a crowd favorite, she posed for pictures, signed cookbooks and talked to everyone.
Another crowd favorite was Pork Barrel Barbeque, sporting a recent first place trophy for their barbecue chicken. With the opening of their Del Ray flagship just weeks away, Brett and Heath have added something new to their product line - Que, Eau de Barbecue!
But maybe the biggest lines of all were at ACKC with their seemingly endless vats of Gifford’s Ice Cream. What’s not to love?
But hey, let’s get down to business. Who were the winners of the 2011 Taste of Del Ray?
The People’s Choice Awards went to:
- Taquerio Poblano
- Evening Star
- Pork Barrel Barbeque
Chef Carla Hall’s Judges Award went to:
- Evening Star Cafe
- Del Ray Pizzeria
- Pork Barrel Barbeque.
Winners all in my book.
Congrats to the Del Ray Business Association for another great day in the neighborhood!
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May 26th, 2011 Categories: Things to Do
This weekend marks the 52nd Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour. Country estates, stables, training facilities and gardens are open to the public in the bucolic Northern Virginia horse country that is Middleburg and Upperville.
Sponsored by Trinity Episcopal Church Upperville, the tour offers a look into a rarefied world of thoroughbred race horses. This is a self-driven trip and makes for a lovely, leisurely day. You can spend as much time at each location as you choose and, from past experience, the crowds are always manageable.
Rokeby Farms, the home of Paul Mellon, is a standout. The individual stables are as large as some one bedroom apartments and the setting is without peer. Altogether there are some 13 locations on the tour.
Lunch is available at Trinity Church or you can pack your own and snack along the way. Either way, it’s a great way to spend a holiday weekend.
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Now that we seem to be getting some real spring weather, it’s time to try the great biking and walking paths that crisscross Northern Virginia.
We love the Mt. Vernon Trail and have used it for years but an article in this morning’s Washington Post opened our eyes to a whole host of new trails:
Marvin Gaye Park Trail
No more excuses, let’s go!
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April 28th, 2011 Categories: Things to Do
The 86th running of the Virginia Gold Cup steeple chase will take place next Saturday, May 7, 2011, rain or shine.
Bottom line, the Virginia Gold Cup is as much a social rite of spring as it is a sporting event. Tickets went on sale in January and while many of the prime “see and be seen” spots are sold out there are still places available.
It’s an over the top experience and while you may only do it once (like I did), it will be a great conversation piece for months to come.
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