What to do, what to do? No plans, no prospects, and every channel on cable seems to be participating in a "Movies I've Already Seen 10 Times" marathon. This list provides dozens of entertainment, dining and learning options for any day of the week, in and around town. Some entries are family-friendly, some are a great way to meet new people, and others are just annual rites of passage. Read on, and then get out and enjoy life.
Compiled by David Schultz, Louise Krafft and Rebecca Halik. Photos by Louise Krafft.
Flip a Switch, and say Happy Holidays!
Light Up Rosslyn
1100 Wilson Blvd.
Welcome the winter season with a bright and festive start during the “Light Up Rosslyn” celebration each December. The event features the Beltway Brass and Metropolitan Chorus as musical entertainment all leading up to the flipping of the ceremonial light switch. Call 703-522-6628.
Celebrate a Family-Friendly Mardi Gras
Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade
Along Wilson Blvd. in Clarendon
Go all out in the revelry that is the annual Mardi Gras Parade organized by the Clarendon Alliance. The boisterous event celebrates in a family-oriented style with beads, candy and balloon hats for children. The parade also features more than a dozen floats and a vibrant display of colorful costumes.
Expand Your Mind
George Mason Speakers Series
With George Mason University's campus right in the county's backyard, Arlingtonians have the opportunity to hear lecture's from some of the area's brightest minds. From January to April of this year, George Mason professors will be speaking on topics ranging from the ruins of Mount Vesuvius to the ethical implications of landmines. To find out more, contact the Mason Speakers Coordinator at 703-993-8761.
Hit The Pool
1300 North Quincy Street
To find fellow swimmers who are serious in the pool, look no further than the Arlington Masters Swimming Club. These local swimmers practice at the Washington-Lee High School pool Sundays through Thursdays. The group is open to swimmers of all ages and skill levels. Call 703-778-2009 or go to www.arlingtonmasters.com for more information.
Get In Touch With Nature
Potomac Overlook Regional Park
2845 North Marcey Road
Located just a few hundred yards from the Potomac River, Potomac Overlook Regional Park is a serene, 70-acre hideaway in the heavily urbanized Washington area. The park features live animal exhibits and its Naturalist staff conducts a variety of programs on the environment. New this year is a guided canoe tour through the park's marsh. To find out about upcoming events at Potomac Overlook, visit www.nvrpa.org/parks/potomacoverlook or call 703-528-5406.
Planet Of Sound
Planet Arlington Festival
The Planet Arlington arts series showcases arts from around the world right here in Arlington County. Every year in late summer, the series holds a world music festival on the Netherlands Carrillon in Rosslyn. In 2008, Congolese salsa star Ricardo Lemvo, the Celtic band Solas and Chinese jazz-fusion virtuoso Yang Ying graced the Planet Arlington stage. This year's festival hasn't been scheduled yet, but for more information visit Planet Arlington's Web site.
Fresh From The Farm
Ballston Farmer's Market
In the middle of a vast skyscraper canyon, the Ballston Farmer's Markets is an oasis of food and fun. The market typically begins in mid-spring and runs through the summer into early fall. This past year, it was operated out of Wellburn Square near the Ballston Metro Station. For more information, visit the Web site of the Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership.
Fishing Fever: Catch It!
Four Mile Run
>Each year in late winter, Arlington County stocks Four Mile Run and its tributaries with hundreds of fresh trout. Families are invited to come out to the stream and catch the fish. Anglers over the age of fifteen must have a Virginia State Fishing License. For more information, call the County's trout fishing hotline at 703-228-4400 or visit the Arlington County Parks and Recreation Web Site at www.arlingtonva.us.
Take a Sip, Watch a Flick
Arlington Cinema 'N Drafthouse
2903 Columbia Pike
The theater is old, the movies are second-run and there are always people walking up and down the aisles. Yet for some reason, watching a film at the Cinema 'N Drafthouse is better than watching one at the local megaplex. Food ranging from pizza to popcorn is available before and during the movies, as is a steady flow of beer in pitchers and glasses. Smoking is allowed in parts of the theater, which features tables, chairs, and some long counters for patrons to relax on when the lights go down. Movies run all week in the evening. Other events include stand-up comedy, live music and wine tastings. Call 703-486-2345 for more information.
Hang at Whitlow's
Whitlow's on Wilson
2854 Wilson Blvd.
Many bars boast a proud history; Whitlow's actually has one. It began on the corner of 11th and E Street in the District, opening in 1946 before closing in 1989 — the first time in 18 years the bar was closed outside of Christmas and for the filming of a scene for the Oscar-winning "Broadcast News." In 1995, Whitlow's reappeared in Arlington, featuring some souvenirs from the old location (a stove they used to cook turkey dinners) and from around the region (chairs from the old Arlington Courthouse building). Great cheap eats and an award-winning brunch highlight this popular spot, which also has frequent live music acts. Call 703-276-9693 for more.
Dance at the Ballroom
3185 Wilson Blvd.
This gorgeous art deco ballroom usually gets booked for special events, but it is also open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays. Check the Web site calendar to find out what style of music (club or swing) or type of music (live band or DJ) will be featured. But one of the real appeals of the club is its rooftop deck, which features some great views and its own bar. The deck, where smoking is permitted, is open 5 p.m. to midnight on Wednesdays and then concurrently with the ballroom on Thursdays and Fridays. Dress to impress. Call 703-469-2244.
Whoop It Up with Hooligans
Soccer at Summers
1520 N. Courthouse Rd.
Summers Restaurant has become famous as the home for international soccer fans eager to watch matches on the sports bar's multiple TVs. The bar is packed during major soccer events with fans sporting face paint and colorful patriotic garb. The atmosphere is casual dining. Call 703-528-8278.
Shoot Pool in an Old Garage
4000 Fairfax Drive
There are 12 pool tables in this Ballston bar, made up to resemble an old service station. Carpool has a great ambiance, a lively young crowd and a solid selection of beer on tap. Pool tables are on a first-come basis. The bar is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. from Monday to Friday, noon to 2 a.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 1 a.m. Sundays. Call 703-532 7665.
Explore the Galaxy
2711 Wilson Blvd.
"Cozy" is the word for Galaxy Hut, a club that features 20 brews on tap, 30 styles of beer in bottles and live music on Sunday and Monday nights. If the intimate setting of the club isn't your thing, grab a table on the patio outside. The club's booking policy brings in local stars and interesting bands from across the country and Canada. Recent bands include Yell County, The Shirks and Jeff Wells. Call 703-525-8646.
Listen to Ladies' A Cappella
Potomac Harmony Chorus
The Potomac Harmony Chorus is a four-part harmony, barbershop-style chorus. It performs at the Arlington County Fair in August and recently performed at Lubber Run Amphitheater in Arlington. Call chorus agent Linda Schwartz at 703-379-6470.
Jammin’ in the Woods
Potomac Overlook Regional Park
2845 N. Marcey Road
Every other Saturday night in the summer local musicians rock out on the outdoor stage at Potomac Overlook. Concerts are free, but donations are requested. The park also holds an annual open house and heritage festival on the first weekend in May with entertainment and food. Call 703-528-5406.
Enjoy Open-Air Jazz
Rosslyn Jazz Festival
N. Lynn St. and Lee Highway
Great jazz doesn't have to be confined to a dark, smokey bar room. This annual free event, held every September, features an afternoon of music from a variety of jazz influences. Last year’s event was rained out but it will be back again in 2009. Call 703-2-Rosslyn for more information.
Arrive Early at Iota
IOTA Club and Café
2832 Wilson Blvd.
Is the room small? Sure, but that's the point: IOTA offers a singular music experience in Arlington, with familiar names (Drive-By Truckers, Juliana Hatfield) punctuating the club's musical lineup of alt-country, roots rock, jam bands, indie and alt-rock local and national acts. Open Monday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. The club features a full bar and a bistro-style with American and International flavor. There is no advance ticketing to the club, which offers seating on a first-come basis. Call 703-522-8340.
Ring in Summer with Carillion Bells
Netherlands Carillion Concerts
Carillion, Route 50 and George Washington Memorial Parkway
Beginning in early June and through the summer on Saturdays, enjoy guest artists playing the 50-bell Carillion in free concerts. Concerts are held from 6-8 p.m. The Carillion, a keyboard instrument that uses a range of bells, was given to the United States during World War II, in appreciation for the liberation of Holland on May 5, 1945. Concerts are free. Call 703-289-2500.
Fun On Ice
Pentagon Row Ice Skating Rink.
Pentagon Row Plaza
1201 South Joyce Street
Shopping and ice skating. What else do you need? The ice skating rink at Pentagon Row is a yearly tradition in South Arlington, especially on snow days when schools close early. For more information call 703-418-6666.
Master Artistic Craft
Lee Arts Center
5722 Lee Highway
This fully equipped professional studio offers workshops every season in ceramics, printmaking, and other artistic forms. Earlier this year, the center offered classes on porcelain vase-making, silkscreen printing on clay, and non-toxic methods used in transferring text and photo imagery onto paper. These in-depth classes are a highlight for the center, which also includes a gallery that features regular exhibitions of the works of resident and national artists. Call 703-228-0560.
Catch an Off-Beat Flick
Cineplex Odeon Shirlington 7
2772 South Randolph Rd.
A perfect place for film buffs — bring a date to see one of the theater's mainstream movies, and then trick him or her into watching one of the indie films that fill out the cinema's schedule. And if the date needs a little "smoothing over" afterward, hit the various restaurants right down the street in the Shirlington Village area.
Get Silly at Slapsticon
A four-day festival that celebrates the pioneers of cinematic comedy, featuring tributes to such legends as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. But what makes Slapsticon a special event is its commitment to recognizing lesser-known artists from the development of film comedy as well as the stars. Every July, the festival features screenings of rarely seen comedies as well as memorabilia from the silent and early sound eras. There are also thematic workshops, like this year's "Stan or Ollie: The solo films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy." Keep an eye on www.slapsticon.org for details on the 2009 festival.
Appreciate the Arts at AAC
Arlington Arts Center
3550 Wilson Blvd.
"The goal is to increase awareness, appreciation, perception, and involvement for the public here in Arlington County and throughout the area," according to the Center’s Web site. Founded in 1976 and housed in the historic Maury School, the Center offers seven galleries with work from regional artists. It also has dozens of classes for different levels of artists and extensive children's workshops that offer everything from crafts to comic book art. Classes typically run between $60-$125 for multi-week sessions. Call 703-248-6800 or visit the Web site.
Appreciate Art, Al-Fresco Style
Arlington Arts Al Fresco
Various Locations in Arlington
This summer, arts celebration features performances at locations around the city from the genres of dance, music and theater. Schedules can be picked up at public libraries and local recreation centers or by calling 703-228-1850 and requesting one by mail. Or visit www.arlingtonarts.org for a complete schedule.
Study in the Studios
Thomas Jefferson Art Studios
3501 S. 2nd St.
These art studios offer classes in photography, woodworking, jewelry and ceramics. Classes can run as long as nine weeks — two-and-a-half hours each week — and cost around $60 and up. Call 703-228-5925.
Collect Some Art
The Art Market in Ballston
Artists from around the area offer original art, photography, quilts, giftware, clothing and jewelry at the Art Market and Ballston. The market is the second Saturday of each month between May and October. The artists rotate each session, making each market different from the next. Music and special promotions are also present. Call 703-228-0560.
Enjoy the County Fair
Arlington County Fair
Thomas Jefferson Community Center
3501 South 2nd St.
The Arlington County Fair is one of the biggest annual events in Arlington. The fair boasts such attractions as carnival rides, international cuisine, pony rides, pig races, a petting zoo and a rock-climbing wall. The creative talents of Arlington residents are also showcased at various booths, showing off ceramics, photography, food, creative writing and much more. In case transportation is an issue, the fair offers complimentary shuttles every 30 minutes that pick up at the Ballston Metro, Arlington Career Center, 816 South Walter Reed Dr., I-66 Parking Garage, and the corner of North Quincy and North 15th St.
Marine Corps Sunset Parade
Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial
The famous Silent Drill Corps performs with U.S. Marine Bugle and Drum Corps every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. in the summer at the Iwo Jima Memorial — weather permitting, of course. There is lawn seating, which means concert-goers can bring blankets and food. Parking is at Arlington Cemetery, and shuttles bring people to and from the memorial for the event. Call 202-433-6060.
Rediscover Classic Theater
American Century Theatre
Gunston Arts Center
2700 S. Lang St.
The American Century Theater (also known as TACT) is a non-profit professional theater company that performs in South Arlington. The group focuses on reviving productions of great-but-forgotten plays of the 20th century. TACT just finished showing “An American Century Christmas,” a Christmas theater revue. For more information call 703-998-4555.
Become Master of Puppets
4041 S. 28th St.
Inspired by a Russian traditional form of theatre, Classika puts on productions that utilize dance, pantomime and puppetry. The puppet shows, held on Saturdays and Sundays, are targeted at ages three and up. Currently on stage, a production of “The Penguin Story” by Lilia Slavova is running until Jan. 25. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For the Classika box office, call 1-800-494-8497.
Experience Classic Drama
Washington Shakespeare Company
Clark Street Playhouse
601 South Clark Street
Presenting both timeless classics and contemporary plays, the Washington Shakespeare Company performs "classic theatre with an edge." Run by a mix of promising newcomers and seasoned veterans, the WSC has been a starting point for lots of new talent towards a professional career. If money is a little tight, the WSC offers pay-what-you-can performances. Washington Shakespeare is putting on Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15 and Tennessee Williams’ “Small Craft Warnings” from Apr. 9 to May 10. Call 703-418-4808 for more information.
Theater for Children, by Children
Encore Stage and Studio
2515 N. Randolph St.
Encore Stage and Studio brings the theatre to children with a two-fold approach. It offers year-round educational programs in drama and performs four shows per year. These productions are for children and put together entirely by a cast and crew between the ages of 9 and 18. A fifth show for adults, always a musical, is offered as a summer program for ages 15 and older. Call 703-548-1154.
Celebrate Hispanic Theater
Teatro De La Luna
Gunston Arts Center
2700 S. Lang Street
Looking for Latin American theatre? Teatro de la Luna is a theatre group of professional actors frequently performing at the Gunston Arts Center, the Rosslyn Spectrum and other venues in the District and Maryland. The performances are in Spanish, but live English dubbing is offered during the main stage productions and large events, such as the International Festival of Hispanic Theater. This season features “Mujeres al Poder,” a play based on Jean Canolle’s “Lady Godiva,” and Gianfrancesco Guarnieri’s “Ellos No Usan Smoking,” Both at the Gunston Arts Center. Call 703-548-3092 for more.
Learn Some Theatre
Educational Theatre Company
1318 S. Pollard St.
ETC is a group of professional performers who seek to educate children in the art of theatre through interactive programs and classes. The Shakespeare in Schools program, for example, helps students to better understand classic drama by bringing professional actors into the classroom to perform and get the students to perform as well. They also offer extra-curricular after-school programs and a two-week summer camp in drama. Call 703-271-0222 to find out more information.
Catch Theater on the Run
Theatre on the Run
3700 South Four Mile Run Drive, www.arlingtonarts.org
When smaller theatre troupes in Arlington need a stage to perform on, Theater on the Run accommodates them. Theater on the Run is a small, government-operated theater. Over the next year, it is hosting productions by a number of the best theatre groups in the area, including two by Charter Theatre. Call 703-228-1850.
Run in the Marine Corps Marathon
Iwo Jima Memorial
Advance registration is required for this much-anticipated annual event. Runners make their way around Arlington and the District, passing many monuments, including Lincoln, FDR, and the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. The 2009 marathon will be held on Oct. 25. A large turnout is always expected. If running a whole marathon seems to be biting off more than you can chew, on the same day, the marathon offers a 10K as a more easy-going alternative. For more information, or to register, call 1-800-RUN-USMC.
Learn About Lee
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington House was the home of Robert E. Lee and his family for 30 years. The house is now a memorial to Lee and is open all year from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Robert E. Lee Museum and the grounds around the house are also open to the public. On the first Friday in October, the Arlington House opens its doors giving visitors a chance to see the Arlington House and National Cemetery at night. Call 703-235-1530.
Division 1 Baseball
Barcroft Park - Field #4
4200 South Four Mile Run Drive
Take in a Division 1 Baseball game in the heart of Arlington County. Since 1993, the George Washington University Colonials have played 15-20 opponents every year on their home field in South Arlington. The park seats 1,000 and admission is free. For scheduling information, call the GW athletic office at 202-994-7399 or visit http://gwsports.cstv.com.
East Basin Drive, S.W.
Soldiers marching and good music are all part of the annual Twilight Tattoo performance, a local tradition presented by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. Twilight Tattoo is an hour-long sunset military pageant on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. during May and June, held at the Jefferson Memorial. Participants include the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) troop units, The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, along with The U.S. Army Drill Team, and others.
Party in the Streets
Several blocks around Wilson Blvd.
Billed as "Arlington's biggest street party," this event is held every October and has something for everyone. There's food from local eateries and major chains like The Cheesecake Factory. There are live local bands on three different stages playing throughout the day. Also, there are local craft makers and artists peddling their wares at "Art Vendor Row." Activities are provided for children including a moon bounce and a climbing wall. The event is accessible by Metro. Happens in late September.
Party at Blocktoberfest
Ballston Entertainment Zone
Five city blocks. Five indoor bars. Four outdoor stages. Twenty bands playing rock, Bavarian, blues, retro and folk music. Twenty thousand free Souvenir Mega-Cups to the first 20,000 guests. Ten dollars for advance tickets, $15 at the gate. Children ages 13 and under get in free. One event: Blocktoberfest. Call 571-333-HiBall.
Select Veggies in Clarendon
Clarendon Farmer’s Market
Clarendon Metro Station
Modern day Clarendon doesn’t necessarily inspire visions of rolling fields of farmland. But a little bit of country flavor invades the area around the Metro station every Wednesday from late May to mid-October. It’s a producer-only market, meaning everything sold must be grown or produced by the seller. Farms represented at the market must be within a 125-mile radius of Washington. The market has produce, herbs, meat and a delicious assortment of baked goods.
Run To Rosslyn's Farmers' Market
Area near 1735 North Lynn Street (Adjacent to Metro Park)
This farmer’s market, featuring fruits, vegetables, herbs, baked goods, jams and jellies, as well as many artists' booths, is held every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from early May to early October. Call 703-522-6628.
Fleece the Flea Market
Georgetown Flea Market at Clarendon
Wilson and Clarendon Blvds. (at Veith Street)
Georgetown’s name is on it, but this flea market is an Arlington experience. Located only one-half block from the Courthouse Metro Station, the market features furniture, art, rare china, jewelry, books, vintage clothes, antiques and plenty of other hard-to-find treasures. On Sundays, the market boasts more than 100 vendors, while the Saturday crowd is smaller. There is free parking available at the county office garage at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
Discover Hidden Treasures
Arlington Community Garage Sale
N. 15th Street (Between N. Quincy and N. Stafford St.)
These one-day "flea market" events are held on the first Saturday of every month from April through November. The markets run in the morning until 1 p.m. The events are held on the I-66 parking deck of the Arlington County parking garage adjacent to Washington-Lee High School. Call 703-534-9268.
Taste of Arlington
This annual event - The 2009 version is scheduled for May 19 - brings the community together for a day of food, drink and local entertainment. There are also plenty of activities for children as well. Taste of Arlington benefits Community Residences Inc., a leading nonprofit provider of programs and services for individuals with mental retardation, mental illness, developmental and physical disabilities, as well as the homeless. Visit www.tasteofarlington.com for tickets.
Become a Mini-Nicklaus
Upton Hill Regional Park
Wilson Blvd. and Patrick Henry Drive
This 26-acre park features what is touted as "the world's longest miniature golf hole." It's open daily, from dawn to dusk, and along with the mini-golf course features swimming pools, batting cages for both softball and baseball, and a nature trail. Call 703-534-3437.
Explore a Roosevelt Island Resort
Located Near Rosslyn
This 88-acre island on the Potomac River offers 2 1/2 miles of wooded trails to hike, bike and relax. Located near Rosslyn, the island is dedicated to our 26th president and includes a memorial and statue. Call 703-285-2598
Move Knights around during Nights
Arlington Chess Club
Lyon Village Community House
1920 N. Highland St.
This club has more than 400 members. Players gather from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday nights at the above address. One does not have to be a member for at least the first night one plays. The club hosts tournaments. Annual membership is $50 for adults and $40 for those 18 and under. Call 703-534-9403. Or go to the Web site at http://members.cox.net/arlingtonchessclub
David M. Brown Planetarium
1426 N. Quincy St.
Want to spend a night under the stars without braving the elements? The David M. Brown Planetarium puts on weekly shows and programs throughout the year. Multimedia programs are offered on Friday and Saturday nights along with Sunday afternoons, including a holiday show called “’Tis the Season” in December. Call 703-228-6070.
Game, Set, Match
Arlington Table Tennis Club
Madison Community Center
Originally established in 1989, the Arlington Table Tennis Club changed its name in 2005 to the Northern Virginia Table Tennis Club and created an Arlington and Fairfax Chapter. The Arlington Chapter meets up to six days a week at Madison. Anyone can join for $25/year. The club provides most equipment, but you must provide your own paddle. Skill levels range from novice to advanced. Contact 703- 442-9633 for more information.
Live Like a Kingpin
DEA: Air, Land and Sea
The DEA Museum & Visitors Center
Check out some of the items DEA agents have seized from notorious drug traffickers, including a drag-racing car and a Jet Ski. There's also a history of drugs, including an advertisement pitching cocaine as a cure for toothaches. Call 202-307-3463.
Grind at Powhatan Springs Park
Skate Park at Powhatan Springs Park
6020 Wilson Blvd.
When it opened in 2004, this skate park — the first in Arlington — featured several enhancements over other parks, including a drainage system to remove excess water after storms. The park is close to 15,000 square feet large, with bowls and half-pipes for adventurous skaters. There are set times for free skate, managed sessions and BMX bike sessions. There is a small fee to use the facilities, although Arlington residents get a discount. Yearly passes are also available. The park also offers group skating classes for novice grinders. Call 703-533-2362.