A Saturday night concert on the Potomac, and other reader queries

August 1, 2013

We want to help you enjoy the Washington area to its fullest. That’s why we take reader questions every Thursday at 1 p.m. If you’re seeking a new happy hour spot, wondering which museums will entertain visiting relatives or trying to find a restaurant that can accommodate a crowd, we’ll try to help you out. (Submit a question now, or join us later today to offer your own advice.) Here’s one question we got this week:

Has anyone been to the Pops on the Potomac concerts at National Harbor? What are they like? Can you picnic, or is it better to go to dinner first either there or in Old Town and then take the water taxi?

National Harbor
National Harbor hosts free concerts on the waterfront every Saturday night. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

The Pops on the Potomac series brings the Chesapeake Orchestra to the big plaza on the National Harbor waterfront every Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. The group plays a mix of material, heavy on the popular classical favorites, though last week was a big band night. (This Saturday, it's Haydn's Symphony No. 85, "The Queen of France," and Schubert's Fifth Symphony.)

It can be a nice evening out, thanks to the river and the breeze and the fact it's free. There are a lot a families. Be warned that it's in public, next to National Harbor's Main Street, so it's not always a quiet atmosphere. There are benches for picnics, and you can grab takeout from the nearby restaurants, including Nando's and Elevation Burger, or Pinkberry if you're just snacking. You can also just BYO cooler, though they may check it for booze.

If it was me, I'd make a day of it and take the Potomac Riverboat Company water taxi from Alexandria. (I like the 30-minute ride across the Potomac, and I think the dining options are better in Old Town.) You could have a nice dinner at the Majestic or Vermilion, or keep it more casual at Jackson 20 or Pizzeria Paradiso. Since the concerts end at 9, and the last boat leaves National Harbor for Alexandria at 11:30, you don't have to worry about rushing back. (You could even get a drink on the waterfront patio at McLoone's Pier House while you wait.)

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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Michael O'Sullivan · August 1, 2013