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Campus Overload
Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 07/28/2011

#myTop5: Bluegrass, art exhibits and (lots of) coffee

Like many of the other interns around here, I’ve had my head down in my work all summer, trying to do my best and make a good impression (and maybe get hired?). But now, with the clock ticking down on the last few weeks of the season, I’ve decided it’s time to cut back on the all-nighters and start exploring a little more of what Washington has to offer. Since I'm trying to pack a lot into my time left, I'm really pumped to try some places that offer a combination of good music, good food and culture.

1. The Phillips Collection . I’m going to start the weekend off early by
The Phillips Collection showcases the abstract work of Kandinsky at this month's weekly Phillips After 5 events. (Wassily Kandinsky)
taking advantage of this art museum’s late Thursday hours. Normally open till 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, the gallery closes at 8:30 p.m. one day a week. And admission to the permanent collection is free! I may go back next week, too, to hit up their monthly Phillips After 5 event, featuring jazz and food.

2. Bluegrass. Sometimes I forget how close D.C. is to the South. Pop over into Virginia, though, and the bluegrass offerings will have you saying “y’all” before the end of the day. My favorite place for bluegrass (and I mean really good bluegrass, not the whiny kind) is Tiffany Tavern in Old Town Alexandria. The building clearly isn’t set up for a band (they play in the foyer), but that just makes it better. The tavern rotates local acts, so there’s always something fresh.

3. National Geographic Museum’s Race to the End of the Earth. This exhibit on the contest between Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen to be the first person to reach the South Pole has been open for a while (and will be until Aug. 21), and it’s spectacular. Re-creations of Scott’s and Amundsen’s facilities and some of the actual sledges they pulled across the snow are highlights. The display is set up like a race. If you’re a history buff, you won’t be surprised by the outcome. But those of us who recall high school history class as only a freakishly distant memory will be kept guessing about the winner until the end. Plus, if you’re not feeling cooler after spending a couple of hours reading about Antarctica, there’s no hope for you.

The National Cathedral at Wisconsin and Massachusetts avenues NW. (Donovan Marks)
4. A historic church. You don’t have to go for the Sunday sermon, though in some instances that’s can be a great cultural experience. Many houses of worship, including the National Cathedral, offer tours of their incredible buildings. National City Christian Church does pipe organ recitals Fridays at noon (though they’re on hiatus until Aug. 5). If you’ve never heard a pipe organ, you’re missing out. That thing will rattle your teeth!

5. Coffee! After all that, some caffeine sounds good. You can’t beat the Italian-style coffee from Dolcezza in Dupont Circle or Georgetown. (Seriously, the only time I’ve had better coffee was in Guatemala on a coffee plantation that roasted its own beans.) If it’s too hot for coffee, you can always beat the heat with the gelato. As we learned from Thundersnow Ice Cream Guy, there is never a bad time for ice cream.
Cappuccino can be an art. (Marvin Joseph - WASHINGTON POST)

 If Dolcezza is too crowded (it almost always is), then Peregrine Espresso in Eastern Market is a great alternative, with its spacious patio and amazing specials. Mid City Caffe near Logan Circle offers pretty good lattes (try the basil-mint or Nutella kind) and features a funky converted-garage interior. Lots of power outlets here for sitting and tapping out your great American novel, too.

Have an awesome weekend. Maybe I’ll see you around.

By Heather Billings  |  12:20 PM ET, 07/28/2011

Categories:  Campus Overload

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