Washington, DC Travel Guide
Secret Service workers can tell you how to get into a undisclosed Washington, D.C., museum, but then they'd have to kill you. At least that's what we're thinking will happen if we try to gain entry into the top-secret facility that is inside the Secret Service's headquarters.
Even the name of the museum seems to be classified, since we can't find one listed anywhere. Here's what we do know: The small museum is only a few hundred square feet; it's in a six-story tan brick building; it's located on H Street; and only the agency's 6,000 employees and a select number pre-approved visitors can visit it.
If you've found a place to rent in DC during inauguration, you've probably had to commit to a several-night stay, which means you'll be looking to fit in some museum time in between all the Obama-inspired eating and drinking.
Luckily, the Smithsonian Institute has jumped on this town's obsession with all things Barack, announcing 10 new exhibits tied into the inauguration. If you can't make it into an official Obama party, you can relive Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural ball with the new exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, while the National Portrait Gallery is showing off its vast collection of Lincoln images, and the National Museum of American History brings back its popular First Ladies exhibit.
All the museums plan to keep their regular hours on Inauguration Day itself, although details are still being worked out with the Secret Service and could change.
Most non-political types traveling to DC for the great Obamafest will probably have their fill of the town's stuffiness in about five minutes, so we're betting many will be looking for the quickest route away from downtown once the swearing-in ceremony is over.
For a decidedly downscale inauguration night, check out the Common Man's Inaugural Ball at Wonderland Ballroom, a former residential home in Columbia Heights now operating as the district's hippest dance party and 20-something hangout. Required attire is "funky eclectic formal," the open bar lasts 'til 4 am, and FUNK DC will be on the turntables.
Unfortunately, hip as it is, Wonderland isn't immune from inaugural price-gouging. The entry fee is a cheeky $69--but it includes a limited edition t-shirt and poster.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association wants to make attending the inauguration easy for people who'd rather ride their bikes than the metro. So the organization is setting up "bike valets" near the Mall so you can pedal to the festivities and stash your ride worry-free.
Volunteers will staff parking areas and hand out claim tickets so folks don't have to track down unsupervised bike racks and hope their transportation doesn't get stolen during the festivities. Political operatives should already be familiar with urban biking: They had the chance to try it out during the conventions this summer.
While WABA's official website says exact locations are still TBD--and the group asks bikers to RSVP so they can plan for crowds--a report on Fox News says McPherson Square and the Jefferson Memorial will have bike valets on January 20.
· WABA Inaugural Bike Valet [Official Site]
· Bicycle Group to Offer Valet Service on Inauguration [Fox News]
· Inauguration Travel coverage [Jaunted]
That's what it looks like from the elaborate (read: pricey) inaugural menus popping up at DC restaurants. The most lavish we've seen so far is the three-day extravaganza at the wine-centric Mediterranean spot Proof in Penn Quarter.
If you're in town early, Proof gets things going with a $120, four-course tasting menu and live jazz show on the evening before the inauguration. Cheapskates can view the show from the bar for just $40, but you don't get dinner, so we're not exactly sold on that idea.
On the afternoon of inauguration, Proof is offering a $75 buffet brunch, which includes tax, tip and unlimited Champagne, while the parade and swearing-in are broadcast on four flat-screen TVs.
Finally, for those who hoped to go to a swanky inaugural ball but didn't score an invite, Proof's Tuesday evening bash is a Cristal-and-caviar-until-3 am kind of deal, but it'll set you back $250 a head.
Ironic, isn't it, that rental prices for inauguration 2009 are being governed by the free-market principles championed by the Bush Administration? Nevertheless, we managed to ferret out some decent deals that don't involve $25,000 deposits or a chauffeur, a chef and a masseuse. Here are six of the best:
Just about every watering hole in the greater Washington area is offering some kind of Obama cocktail or presidential wine special during inauguration, but not too many places can offer a beer brewed especially for the occasion.
The Penn Quarter outpost of mini-chain District Chophouse will be celebrating inauguration with a special brew called Barack Bock a "hoppy, amber colored strong lager," specially crafted in honor of the 44th President.
The Chophouse may not be DC's most inventive restaurant, but the steak-and-seafood menu is full of solid standbys, and the Seventh Street location is about as close as most people are likely to get to the actual inauguration parade.
Break out the plastic, Obamaniacs! For just $20, the DC Metro will sell you $10 worth of subway rides on a special limited edition fare card featuring a photo of future President Barack Obama!
That's right: In honor of the 44th president--and all the tourists coming to town--the DC Metro is churning out souvenir tickets and making bank. You can pre-order online, and we recommend immediately listing your newly acquired pass on eBay where it will most likely fetch even more than 20 bucks by the time January 20 rolls around.
Meanwhile, try to forget that a one-day pass with unlimited rides usually costs just $7.80--or that a $10 fare card usually costs, you know, 10 bucks. But cheapskates be warned: During inauguration week, Metro is charging rush hour rates all day and your ordinary $7.80 day pass will only work after 9:30 am.
History: Worth paying for!
We've been telling you all about where to get your eating and drinking on in DC during next month's inaugur-ama, but in case you can't remember all that, here's a handy app to load onto your iPhone.
Developed by no less a group of Washington insiders than the lobbyists at Patton Boggs LLP, the 2009 Presidential Inauguration Guide gathers all your DC eating and drinking tips in one handy app and includes a Metro guide, tips about where to find free WiFi and even a feature that tells you exactly how far you are from Obama's swearing-in point at all times.
Our favorite feature is the guide to free restrooms throughout the District--sort of a digital version of this pamphlet--although we're a little taken aback by the crime-alert button, which gives you a head's up if you're wandering towards one of DC's not-so-great nabes. At least you'll know when it's time to put the iPhone away!
· 2009 Presidential Inauguration Guide [AppStore]
· New Inauguration iPhone App Helps Find Places to Eat [Obama Foodorama]
· Inauguration Travel coverage [Jaunted]
We're gonna go ahead and call this trend before it even really gets going. Cheesy tropical island-themed parties are totally making a comeback this winter. Yep, grass skirts, calypso music, drinks in coconuts and even the limbo are in.
The whole thing may sound a little 1970s-office party right now, but let's remember the only reason the Caribbean theme became cheesy is that actually going to the Caribbean became cheap. Now that none of us can afford to jet away for winter weekends anymore, we think we're gonna see an awful lot of cold, cold people starting to sing "the Banana Boat" come January.
DC gets a head start this weekend with a holiday party that we might have turned our nose up at in years past, but we think the fiesta at the Embassy of Barbados is the hot ticket tonight. Curried shrimp, tropical décor, and rum galore... what could be better? (Aside from actually flying to Barbados, that is.) So if your poor office canceled the holiday fun, this sounds like the party to check out. Dress is "smart casual," which we assume means throw on a grass skirt over your suit.
[Photo: teesha b]
Washington is getting so swept up in this inauguration mania that restaurants throughout the District are offering all kinds of special menus with cheeky political-minded offerings inspired by... Joe Biden?
Well, at least one eatery is. Nage Restaurant, which has one branch on the Delaware shore and another in the Marriott hotel on Embassy Road in DC, is getting hyped for their native son and VP-elect with "Biden Brunches" the first three Sundays in January.
The menu will be full of First State classics--yes, they exist--like Southern Delaware style chicken in a blanket and Northern Delaware scrapple. There will even be a Biden impersonator on hand, just for the ambiance. No doubt he'll be arriving by train.
Alright then, it's settled: Bars, clubs and restaurants in DC will be able to serve booze until 4 am, not 5 am, January 17-21, and can stay open 24 hours a day as long as they pay a relatively small "registration fee" for each night they plan to party.
In a District council meeting Tuesday, legislators agreed to roll back boozing by an hour and add the fees for places staying open late, but they also had choice words for senators who try to interfere in DC's business. Said councilman David Catania:
We have members of the United States Senate who have nothing better to do than lecture us. ... You wouldn't think that with a war, nuclear proliferation, an economic meltdown, they'd think, "Oh, we can do something about bars staying open from 3 to 5!"
Four of DC's council members still think all the extra drinking is a bad idea--as do some District residents--but we're sure inauguration watering holes are already scraping together the $100-a-night sin tax.
· DC Tells Congress to Butt Out [WaPo]
· Should DC Bars Stay Open Late For Obama's Inauguration? [Jaunted]
· TenPenh Has A Dream [Jaunted]