Summer bucket list: 20 tips for a splendid season

It’s one thing to deliver on expectations at work and another to do so in your leisure time. We believe it’s important to be goal-oriented even when there’s no performance review to ace, which is why we’ve assembled this checklist of 20 things you should
aim to accomplish before Labor Day.

— Weekend staff

Scramble for foul balls at a minor league ballpark

You can pay big money for tickets to see the Nationals or Orioles this summer, but neither will offer the perks of minor league baseball. Promotions like Extreme Noise Night at the Bowie Baysox (Saturday, www.baysox.com), Superman Jersey Night at the Potomac Nationals (July 5, www.potomacnationals.com) and Cowboy Monkey Rodeo Night at the Frederick Keys (Aug. 17, www.frederickkeys.com) are part of the magic of the farm league. Tickets cost a fraction of big-league prices, the seats are right on top of the field (hence those foul balls) and the concessions are mostly gooey and deep fried. What’s not to love?

Float away on a lazy river

Tubing isn’t considered a Great American Pastime like some of its summertime peers; it’s not sprinkler-jumping or a cannonball competition. But for a cheap, hassle-free day on the water, nothing beats it. (Does your nearby swimming pool allow you to bring your own canned beverages? Didn’t think so.) Harpers Ferry is home to many tubing operators, including River Riders (www.riverriders.com), the Harpers Ferry Adventure Center (www.harpersferryadventurecenter.com) and River & Trail Outfitters (www.tubingharpersferry.com). Most outings cost about $30 a person.

Freeze your brain with this gelato sundae

Armed with a new soft-serve gelato maker, Dolcezza is upping the ante on the gluttonous ice-cream sundae, transforming it into a dessert worthy of even the haughtiest food snob. Beginning Monday, stack your cup high with dulce de leche soft-serve, homemade Valrhona chocolate brownies, jam made with local strawberries and flaky Maldon sea salt. Dolcezza, 1704 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-299-9116. www.dolcezzagelato.com. $8.

Sparkle on the Fourth of July

Traffic headaches. The sea of tourists. That unsightly sheath of scaffolding and lights on the Washington Monument. We don’t need to list all the reasons you should pack your picnic and playing cards and head somewhere off-the-Mall this Independence Day. Local celebrations provide worthy alternatives: Gaithersburg lights up the Montgomery County Fairgrounds with strolling entertainers and fireworks set to the “1812 Overture,” just like on the Mall; Vienna welcomes decked-out dogs and hosts a chili cookoff at the Vienna Community Center; and Mount Vernon serves cake and launches its fireworks at the very curious hour of 1 p.m. For more Fourth of July events, visit goingoutguide.com.

Cheer D.C.’s only undefeated team

We’re living in an age of tennis dominance. Serena Williams. Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic. The . . . Washington Kastles? That’s right: The District’s World Team Tennis outfit hasn’t lost a match since 2010, carrying a 32-match winning streak (and back-to-back WTT titles) into the 2013 season. See Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, Anastasia Rodionova, Leander Paes and others as they compete throughout the monthlong season (July 8-24). Kastles Stadium at the Wharf, 800 Water St. SW (Metro: Waterfront). 202-483-6647. www.washingtonkastles.com. Individual tickets, $10-$85.

Escape to the Eastern Shore

Summer isn’t complete without a trip to the Eastern Shore. Ocean City’s Fishing Pier, destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, is back in business. But the draws up and down the coast are new restaurants and bars. The new Shorebilly Brewing Company serves beers right on Ocean City’s Boardwalk, while De Lazy Lizard bar plans to open a brewpub later this month. Shorebilly Brewing Company, 913 Atlantic Ave., Ocean City. 443-373-1224. www.shorebillybeer.com. De Lazy Lizard, 302 N. First St., Ocean City. 410-289-1122. www.delazylizard.net.

Harmonize with your inner diva

It’s summer musical season, a time for ear candy and breathless dance numbers. The behemoth is “Book of Mormon,” the Tony Award-winning romp from the creators of “South Park” at the Kennedy Center (July 9-Aug. 18, www.kennedy-center.org). But local theaters will rock, too: Arena Stage revives the ’60s with the return of “One Night With Janis Joplin” (through Aug. 11, www.arena
stage.org
); Studio Theatre puts on a big, ribald production of “The Rocky Horror Show” (July 10-Aug. 4, www.studiotheatre.org); and Signature Theatre resurrects Cameron Mackintosh’s bombastic rock musical “Miss Saigon” (Aug. 15-Sept. 22, www.signature-theatre.org).

Jump the shark in Baltimore

“Live every week like it’s Shark Week” are the immortal words of Tracy Jordan from “30 Rock.” And when “Blacktip Reef” opens July 10 at the Baltimore Aquarium, you can take his advice. The $12.5 million exhibit contains a replica of an Indo-Pacific coral reef, featuring more than 60 kinds of fish and the namesake sharks, which have black tips on their fins. And if you’re not afraid of the toothy specimens, you can walk — or jump — on a specialized clear platform as sharks pass beneath your feet. 501 E. Pratt St., Baltimore. 410-576-3800. www.aqua.org. $34.95; $21.95 ages 3 to 11; $29.95 age 65 and older; free age 2 and younger.

Contemplate D.C.’s most eclectic plays

The freewheeling Capital Fringe Festival is a great equalizer: Shakespeare might share the stage with drag queens, and the dramatic monologues of one show might be followed by puppets and cabaret in the next hour. With more than 135 groups performing at venues across the city July 11-28, it can be overwhelming. But whether you go for the burlesque rendering of Stanley Kubrick films, the War of 1812 rock opera or the heartfelt one-man show about returning from war with PTSD, make sure to schedule some time to hang out at the festival’s Gypsy Tent Bar, drink prosecco and talk theater with some of D.C.’s most die-hard fans. Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave. NW. 866-811-4111. www.capitalfringe.org. $5-$7 for a Fringe admission button, then $17 a show.

Sing along with Sir Paul

On his “Out There” tour, which lands at Nationals Park on July 12, Paul McCartney has been wowing stadiums with nostalgia-stoking three-hour sets loaded with beloved Beatles tunes, including several he has never performed, and tales from his past. With one of history’s most powerful songbooks at his disposal, from “All My Loving” to “Yesterday,” it’s no wonder the 71-year-old legend seems ageless. 8 p.m. at Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol St. SE. 202-675-6287. www.tickets.com. $69.50-$255.

Set sail on the Potomac River

Sailing is best during the dog days of summer: You can spend an afternoon soaking up the sun while a cool breeze blows and water splashes. If you don’t know your starboard from port, it’s never too late to learn. The nonprofit group DC Sail (www.dcsail.org), based at the Gangplank Marina, and Sailing Club of Washington (www.scow.org), at Alexandria’s Washington Sailing Marina, offer beginner lessons as well as free weekly practice sessions. Once you have the basics down, both clubs will rent you boats on weekends. Gangplank Marina, 600 Water St. SW. 202-554-5000. www.gangplank.com. Washington Sailing Marina, 1 Marina Dr., Alexandria. 703-548-9027. www.washingtonsailingmarina.com.

Watch a movie at D.C.’s only drive-in

Outdoor film festivals are plentiful during the summer months, but we’re pretty sure this is the first time cars have replaced blankets in the movies-under-the-stars equation. Park it for free at Union Market’s D.C. Drive-In Fridays from July 12 to Aug. 2 for movies projected on the building’s three-story wall. The first film is Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove,” and in true drive-in style, food and drink from market vendors will be served by rollerskating car-hops. Car reservations are full, but standby space is available for the first 20 cars in line on Sixth Street NE at 8 p.m. There also is a no-reservations-required picnic area.

Taste what’s new on 14th Street

By the end of the summer, close to 20 restaurants will have opened on a mere seven-block stretch of 14th Street NW in about a year. Chances are, they will still be crowded. But some of the newest  bars and eateries are worth the wait: Your summer will not be complete without drinking a glass of bubbly on Le Diplomate’s broad patio (www.lediplomatedc.com); perching at the window seat of Ghibellina’s bar (www.ghibellina.com) for some fashionable people-watching; or devouring one of the delicious pizzas at Etto (www.ettodc.com).

Go under the big top in the ’burbs

The spectacle of Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam” comes to Fairfax in July with a cast of 52 high-flying acrobats and musicians. The show, which debuted in Montreal in 1996, follows a little girl who escapes into an imaginary world of colorful characters. Although, let’s be honest, you aren’t going for the plot. Patriot Center, 4500 Patriot Cir., Fairfax. 800-745-3000. www.cirquedusoleil.com. $40-$115; $36-$99 seniors and students; $32-$93 age 12 and younger.

Eat a deep-fried something during fair season

Sure, there are rides and attractions and petting zoos and concerts, but the best thing about spending summer on the midway is that society won’t judge you for eating anything (everything?) that’s deep-fried. If it can be submerged in hot oil, it can be found sometime between the opening of the Fauquier County Fair (July 18-21, www.fauquierfair.org) and the Calvert County Fair (Sept. 25-29, www.calvertcountyfair.com). Fingers crossed for deep-fried cronut this year. Visit goingoutguide.com for more fair listings.

Pick your way through bushels of steamed crabs

Imagine steamed crabs, redolent of Old Bay, piled on a table with corn and hushpuppies, mallets and pitchers of beer at the ready. For those of us who grew up in Maryland, that’s summer. Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn (www.cantlers.com) and Mike’s Crab House (www.mikescrabhouse.com) are the go-to spots near Annapolis, which hosts the “World’s Largest Crab Feast” (www.annapolisrotary.org/crabfeast) on Aug. 2 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Don’t want to leave the confines of the Beltway? The Bethesda Crab House (www.bethesdacrabhouse.com) and Arlington’s Quarterdeck (www.quarterdeckarlington.com) offer all-you-can-eat feasts of Chesapeake crabs for less than $40 a person.

Stumble through a three-mile obstacle course

Running a 5K is a great way to get in shape. Running a 5K that includes a wrecking ball, moon bounce, rope swings and an inflatable slide? That’s a recipe for “Most Extreme Elimination Challenge”-style mayhem. The Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge 5K comes to the RFK Stadium grounds Aug. 10. Don’t worry about posting a personal best: The event, which is open to anyone 13 and older, is untimed. Register at www.rocrace.com/dc. 2400 East Capitol St. SE. 858-273-7223. $70-$75.

Toast to craft beer from across the country

It’s easier than ever to find a great pint of craft beer at local bars, but the annual D.C. Beer Week is an eight-day celebration of hops and malt (Aug. 11-18). Previous years have featured dozens of events: tap takeovers loaded with rare brews, food-and-beer pairing classes, meet-the-brewer parties and beer dinners. Participating breweries for the fifth official D.C. Beer Week haven’t been announced, but it should be the biggest one yet. Now that’s worth toasting. Visit www.dcbeerweek.net for details as they’re announced.

Score free theater tickets

“Guantanamera” and the cha-cha are two of the Latin twists theatergoers can expect from the production of “Much Ado About Nothing” that the Shakespeare Theatre Company has selected for its annual free show. The direction has changed hands, from Ethan McSweeney, who dreamed up the 2011 production, to Jenny Lord, but the setting remains the same: The battle of wits between Beatrice and Benedick takes place in 1930s Cuba. Free-for-All fans can try for tickets through an online lottery or head to the box office, where 200 tickets will be released daily on a first-come, first-served basis Aug. 20-Sept. 1. Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. 202-547-1122. www.shakespearetheatre.org.

Feel the whoosh of an IndyCar

D.C. has enough trouble accommodating bicycles on Pennsylvania Avenue, so it’s hard to imagine open-wheeled IndyCars tearing through downtown at upwards of 180 mph. But Baltimore has no such reservations about hosting a high-speed rally through city streets, which makes the Grand Prix of Baltimore’s two-mile, 12-turn course near the Inner Harbor so appealing to onlookers. The weekend, which includes an American Le Mans Series race in addition to the IndyCar events, begins Aug. 30 with the main event Sept. 1. www.grandprixofbaltimore.com.

 
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