Upon first moving to Northern Virginia, my roommates at the time insisted they were going to spend every Sunday touring the wineries in the area. At first, I was a little leary, having often thought any winery worth visiting must certainly exist in Califorinia or Italy but not in Virginia.
After some manipulation, I jumped on the bandwagon only to realize I was completely wrong about Virginia wineries (well, most of them). Not long after a couple of Sunday drives out into the countryside, I discovered my favorite winery so far: Linden Vineyards. Linden is only a little over an hour from D.C. but it’s shocking the relief from the city life you feel as soon as you arrive. I simply cannot describe it! You must go!
Wine tastings are free. During most of my visits, we go through about 3 red and 3 white wines…each about a 1 ounce pour. Since you’re buying the wine on the premises, it’s much cheaper than it’d be in the store, somewhere in the neighborhood of $15. Select cheeses and meats are a little pricey ($6 for a small block of cheese) but you can bring your own picnic as long as you eat it on the tables in the grass.
From Linden’s site: “For those interested in greater depth, on the weekends we offer a special reserve cellar tasting ($12). You can sign up for it when you arrive. We taste our special single vineyard wines and older vintages. It happens every 45 minutes beginning at 12:15.”
There are plenty of great opportunities at Linden; they often offer seminars and such. Just start with the free wine tasting and lovely ambiance. The photo that accompanies this entry was taken by me when I brought visiting family to Linden. They loved the views.
Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant located on popular 18th Street in Adam’s Morgan, is a great steal. It was my first experience with Ethiopian food ever and one of the first places I ate out in D.C. Ethiopian is suitable for many tastes and offers sampler platters, tons of vegetarian options and large portions!
Many of the tasty entrees at at Meskerem are less than $10 and they also offer cheap Ethiopian wines by the glass. Often you have to pay for entertainment and atmosphere in D.C. restaurants but Meskerem includes that in their affordable price. Get to know the Ethiopian tradition while you eat on low stools surrounding a bowl-shaped table.
Drinking in D.C. can become an expensive habit unless you drink six packs alone in your house and in that case, you may have a problem.
Anyhow, occasionally in D.C. some student with a ton of time on their hands will circulate a large Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that lists happy hour (food and drink) by neighborhood and day of the week. That might sound obscure, but it’s true…keep an eye out. In the meantime, try this site to keep abreast of all the latest deals. While DC Happy Hour isn’t an extensive as this “mystery list,” it’ll do for now.
Virtually every neighborhood in the D.C. area has a few bars that offer food and drink specials, often with extras like free pool too! When I first moved here, I didn’t realize how much of a 9 to 5 city D.C. really was until I got my first 9 to 5 and started trying to commute in during rush hour and over lunch; happy hour in D.C. isn’t any different so skip out of work a half hour early and do yourself a favor: be there by 5!
D.C. is great for a variety of reason but one of the biggest selling points for this city is the “free museum” access. People fly in from all over the U.S., heck, the world, to see these museums and monuments and they’re in our backyards. Take advantage! Plus, save yourself some money by touring a few museums on Saturday afternoons. Check out the full list of museums from the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.
Here are some I’ve been to and would recommend:
Grilled cheese sandwiches…ah…delicious and simple. Who doesn’t love one? Who doesn’t love one for $2.50 or TWO for $5? Take part in this cheapo delicacy at Toledo Lounge in Adam’s Morgan on Wednesday nights. Swig back a $2.50 draft beer as well till 7:30 p.m. on weeknights.
Adam’s Morgan is tons of fun. The infamous 18th Street is packed with bars of every sort and a night on the town in AM can set you back quite a few if you’re not careful. Toledo Lounge is one of those places you can just go to “have a beer,” no strings attached, and grab some cheap bar food while you’re at it. It’s been called “unpretentious,” “laid-back,” and more but whatever it may be: it’s cheap!
Adam’s Morgan is accesible via Metro, sort of. Don’t be fooled: It’s a good 10-15 minute walk from the Adam’s Morgan Metro stop.
Read the Washington Post review on the Toledo Lounge.
A lot of great artists can be seen at the 9:30 Club for less than $30. Though tickets to the best known acts usually sell out in a matter of hours, lesser known or niche artists can be enjoyed for less than $30.
The venue is small and somewhat prone to smokiness at certain shows but its size is an advantage if you get there early enough to get a good spot near the front by the stage or near the edge on the balcony. The 9:30 Club is one of the few venues in the area where big acts come through and perform in that personal manner not accesible for under $30 at others.
Check these other venues regularly for cheap tickets: The State Theater, The Black Cat, IOTA.
Read Bethesda Magazine’s article on live music in the Maryland area.
Harper’s Ferry, W.V. makes for a short, affordable day trip from the D.C. area. I consider it best in the fall (colorful leaves, mild weather) or summer (outdoor fun) but any time of year, cheap fun can be had in Harper’s Ferry.
Two less expensive things I’ve done in Harper’s Ferry that I’d do again: Took a free, walking, self-guided tour of the historic downtown area and the Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park and tubed my way down the Shenandoah River with a group of friends!
The walking tour of the HFNHP was great exercise to say the least. Bring your walking shoes for a 5-mile “learning hike” about the Civil War and John Brown’s Raid.
Harper’s Ferry is about 1.5 hours from D.C. Look at the Mapquest directions from D.C. to Harper’s Ferry.