Five Favorites, The District, The Features

Bigtime Bentzen Ball Giveaway

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Today’s the first day of the 2013 Bentzen Ball, a collection of awesome comedy shows all over DC that feature some of the nation’s greatest comedic minds. This year’s set of shows is curated by the amazing Tig Notaro – she of the amazing set last year about cancer that broke all of comedy’s rules – and the slate is nothing short of masterful.  Tonight’s opening show at 9:30 Club headlines with Notaro, and she’s joined by Doug Benson (Last Comic Standing), Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show), Heather Lawless (Flight of the Conchords), and one of my favorite locals, Brandon Wetherbee to kick things off, and the rest of the weekend is just as awesome.

Of all the days of the festival, though, Saturday’s lineup is nothing short of astonishing. I don’t think DC will ever have been as funny to the world as it will be Saturday, with big shows at the Lincoln Theatre, Howard Theatre, and U Street Music Hall. There’s an Improv show, a comedy music revue and a straight up comedy battle, all with price tags under $25 a piece. These are shows featuring Rachel Dratch, Garfunkel & Oates, Christylez Bacon, Nancy & Beth (with Megan Mullally), Nick Kroll (The League), DC’s favorite Seaton Smith, and tons more. 

When I first saw the lineup, I couldn’t believe that they’d gotten all these folks to come, but more than that, where are you going to find such a diverse crowd of comedians? This isn’t some Andrew Dice Clay misogynist’s gallery, this is a group of amazing funny people in one place, so get your laugh on, folks.

We’re going to get one lucky winner a pair of all access passes to ALL of Saturday’s shows. Why?

Because we love you. And DC. And Laughing. Because we could all use a laugh about now. 

So, here’s how it works:

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Five Favorites

Five Favorites: Reasons to Bike to Work

Photo courtesy of
’15th St bike lane in use’
courtesy of ‘nevermindtheend’

Bike to Work Day registration is now open, so mark your calendar for Friday, May 20!  This awesome event, sponsored by WABA, is a great way to get your feet wet riding your bike around the city. At last year’s event, when I had just started out commuting by bike, I won a raffle for a fantastic messenger bag, got all sorts of great bike gear, and enjoyed free food all before 10 AM– all things that made it a bit easier to integrate biking into my daily commute. And no matter where you live or work you’ll probably be close to one pit stop, where you can pick up your free t-shirt and other bike-related goodies.  And best of all, it’s free!

If you need more reasons to dust off that bike and ride it to work, I’ve got ‘em.  The past year of riding my bike to work has been fantastic, so here are my five favorite reasons to bike to work:

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Five Favorites

Five Favorites: Popping Up About Town

Photo courtesy of
‘Treasury’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

While retail storefronts across the country are struggling to find full-time tenants, there is no decline in designers, curators, and vendors who want to sell their wares to the public. Many of them are opting to try pop-up stores either to promote an online business, test out the retail market, or gather together a collection of independent sellers.

Some might say the pop-up store concept is played-out at this point – having saturated other cities around the world in recent years to the point of boring shoppers – but much like the pop-up dining trend, pop-up retail is hitting DC hard right now and is supported, in part, by the city’s Temporary Urbanism Initiative. I prefer not to complain and instead get excited about the tremendous energy and entrepreneurship on display – as well as the terrific items for sale.

5. The Mt. Pleasant Temporium
The Mt. Pleasant Temporium opens on Friday and runs through March 18. Earlier this week, Rebecca wrote a preview of the Temporuim’s variety of crafty vendors and entertainment which you should check out for more details.

4. garmentDISTRICT
Housed at 1005 7th Street, NW until March 20th, garmentDISTRICT has converted a large unused space into a showcase for local art and fashion. Nineteen different local designers will be selling clothes and accessories, including Rachel Pfeffer’s whimsical jewelry, as well as twenty visual artists. The space will also host a variety of musical performances, beginning with an opening night party on Friday.
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Five Favorites

Five Favorites: Tools for Getting Around DC

Photo courtesy of
‘He matches the bus!!!’
courtesy of ‘fromcaliw/love’

We’ve come a long way from the days of highlighting a route on a paper map to get from Point A to Point B. And in a big city like Washington, there are so many ways to get around: walking, biking (your own or a shared bike), taking transit, driving, Segway-ing, etc.  But with so many options, it’s often difficult to figure out what the shortest/fastest/easiest way to get somewhere is.  Lucky for us, there are lots of great tools out there that make it a whole lot easier to get around the city.  Here are our picks for our favorite tools for getting around the District!

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Five Favorites

Five Favorites: Reasons to Leave the House

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‘masked’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

It’s easy to just want to hibernate this time of year– it’s dark when you get home, it’s too cold to be outside for more than 10 minutes, and well, not much can compete with a warm couch and a Snuggie.  And now that the holiday season is over, there aren’t as many fun winter events, like tree lightings or holiday parties, to distract you from the winter doldrums. But there area some great seasonal activities in DC that are definitely worth leaving the house for.  Here are our five favorite winter activities in the District!

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Five Favorites

Five Favorites: Staying Warm (and Bright)

Photo courtesy of
‘winter wonderland (February 2010 edition)’
courtesy of ‘mofo’

There is a lovely dusting of snow out there and, even if that sends you down a panic spiral, we can all agree that it is great to enjoy from the cozy comfort of the indoors, ideally with something to warm you from within.

5. Churros & Chocolate at Churreria Madrid
One of my best friends lives about a block from long-time Adams Morgan Spanish joint Churreria Madrid. The bad news for her though, is that, as a vegan, the chocolate is definitely off-limits and we have not quite confirmed the veg-stats of the oil that fries the churros. I choose not to ask too many questions and, instead, just dip my fried dough in the thick, hot chocolate sauce while I wonder how a place like Spain ever invited such a perfect snowy day snack.

Photo courtesy of
‘churros and chocolate’
courtesy of ‘timsnell’

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Five Favorites, The Features, Where We Live

Five Favorites: Neighborhood Elements

Photo courtesy of
‘Colors!’
courtesy of ‘kimberlyfaye’

For the past year and a half I wrote the Where We Live feature for We Love DC.  Every edition would take me to another neighborhood in the city, where I’d talk to residents and find out what makes that neighborhood a great place to live. And while every neighborhood was different, and there were some unique characteristics of particular neighborhoods (like the neighborhood rooster in Takoma), there were a lot of similarities too.  After a while, I’d hear the same things over and over again as the main things that people love about their neighborhoods.  Here are some of the elements common to our favorite neighborhoods in the District.

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Five Favorites, Media

Five Favorites: Bookshops

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‘browsing’
courtesy of ‘(afm)’

This may mark me as woefully out of touch with the kids today, but I do adore books – and charming little independent bookshops which sell them. I have no interest in a Kindle or what have you, and I just got back from a vacation where browsing beautiful bookstores was a major activity.

While the founders of Politics & Prose and Olsson’s have recently passed away, there remains a vibrant community of book retailing in the Washington area. It may help that we are a very educated, literate group of people, of course.

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Five Favorites, The Features

Five Favorites: Complete Streets

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‘Mount Pleasant and National Baptist Church, Bike lane in foreground’
courtesy of ‘tedeytan’

Just this week, DDOT adopted a complete streets policy that encourages streets that accommodate all users– motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users.  This marks a shift from the auto-centric planning that has long dominated transportation planning throughout the country.  Even though DC is slightly late with its policy (168 jurisdictions already have complete streets policies on record), there are already so many great streets in the District that are fantastic examples of complete streets.  So here’s a list of our five favorite complete streets in the District.

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Five Favorites, The Features

Five Favorites: Vantage Points

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‘DC’
courtesy of ‘alifayre’

Washington is a beautiful city, with its grand avenues and grid street system. But it’s hard to really absorb the beauty of the city from street level. Flying into Reagan National Airport offers great views of the city, and even the view from space is spectacular.  But there are plenty of other places around town that offer great views of the city too, so here are my picks for my five favorite views of the District.

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Five Favorites, The Features

Five Favorites: Swimming Pools

Photo courtesy of
‘Swim’
courtesy of ‘dansteeves68′

Here in DC, we’ve got a good thing going: all of the District’s swimming pools are free and open to DC residents. Other cities make you purchase pool passes or pay each time you go to a pool, but because of the “DC Free Swim” program sponsored by Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, we don’t have to. And not only do we get free pool access, there are also free swimming lessons available at many pools. And whether you’re a triathlete looking to get a good workout, or you just want to splash around and pretend that it’s summer, there’s a pool for you. So what are you waiting for? Head out to one of these year-round DC pools today! Here are my picks for the best pools in the District:

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Five Favorites, The Features

Five Favorites: Bike Routes

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‘Rounding the point’
courtesy of ‘randomduck’

Welcome to another edition of Five Favorites.  This week we’ll be checking out bike routes in the District.  Whether you’re a recreational weekend biker, a bike commuter, or a hard-core triathlete, DC’s bike routes have something to offer you.  Here are our picks for the top five bike routes in the city (including a map so you can check these out for yourself):

Number 5: Hains Point.  Hains Point in Southwest isn’t the most scenic bike route in the city, but it is nicely separated from traffic and offers some great straightaways to work up speed.  For that reason, it’s a favorite of serious competitive cyclists and triathletes in the city.  On weekday evenings and weekends, you’ll find cyclists doing ten or even twenty 5-mile loops.  The views of the Potomac River and the Washington Monument get old after the first couple laps, but you won’t find wide lanes with limited car access like these anywhere else.  If you’re looking to get in a flat but fast bike workout, Hains Point is for you.  Route stats: three or five mile loop, paved, plenty of room for passing, and limited car access.

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Five Favorites, The Features

Five Favorites: Circles, Triangles, and Squares

Photo courtesy of
‘Budding Tree’
courtesy of ‘FredoAlvarez’

DC has all sorts of weird land left over where the grid of street meets up with diagonal avenues. In many places, these intersections have been altered to create circles, triangles, and squares. Pierre L’Enfant originally envisioned these squares to be focal points of nearby neighborhoods, providing a place for residents of a particular state to set up shop in the Nation’s Capital. Today, many of these circles and squares fulfill L’Enfant’s vision of neighborhood focal points. Here are our five favorites:

Number 5: Stanton Park. Stanton Park is located in the Near Northeast part of town, at the intersection of Maryland Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue NE. It was another original L’Enfant creation and was originally called Reservation 5. The park was named after Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edward Stanton, after the Civil War (though interestingly, the statue in the center is not Stanton but Nathanael Greene, a Revolutionary War hero).
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Five Favorites, The District, The Features, WMATA

Five Favorites: Metro Stations

Photo courtesy of
‘Woodley Station’
courtesy of ‘Tyrannous’

Hi, and welcome to a new feature called Five Favorites.  Our reader Jay suggested ranking favorite places in DC, and I’m going to start with five favorite Metro stations.  These are stations that are the best examples of vibrant, walkable, urban, mixed-use places in the District.  These are the Metro stations that you could emerge from at any time, and there’d always be plenty of people around.  This list is a mix of subjective factors and measurable data, so feel free to disagree and tell me which of your favorites I missed.

Number 5: Woodley Park/Adams Morgan. Ok, we all know that it’s annoying to have to walk across the bridge to get from the Metro station to the heart of Adams Morgan, but still– this Metro station is always full of people emerging from the ridiculously long escalators.  The Connecticut Avenue strip where you emerge from the Metro station is full of some great restaurants, and the 10-minute walk across the bridge to 18th Street puts you in the middle of it all.

The Adams Morgan neighborhood itself is a diverse, multi-cultural neighborhood with restaurants, bars, shops, and corner stores, and cute rowhouses and apartments mixed in.  While this stop just barely made it into the top five because of the distance to Adams Morgan itself, the vibrant, constantly-moving atmosphere of the area and the busy-ness of the Metro itself (residents and commuters in the mornings, people out on dates in the evenings, college students in the late evenings) make it one of the best mixed-use Metro stations in the city.  Walk Score: 95.  The Woodley Park Metro station has an average daily ridership of 8,000.
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