Summertime Do's

Percy "Vola" Francis, King of Junkanoo, dances down Georgia Avenue at last year's Caribbean Carnival. (Katherine Frey for The Washington Post)
By Emily Heil and Rachel Machacek
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 18, 2006

As of Wednesday, summer officially is here: Daylight eeks its way past 9 p.m., school's out so traffic is (kind of) bearable and ruddy cheeks from Memorial Day's inaugural sunburns settle into a bronze glow. Even those suffocating Code Red days heading our way have a perk: free bus rides for Maryland and Virginia commuters.

All year long, you've planned and pined for these precious few weeks, and you probably started working on your summer to-do list months ago: book beach house (check), work out every day to get in bare-able shape (um, check), stockpile essential warm-weather reads (check, check and check).

But settle on those planning laurels, and you'll miss out on the bounty of cool this grand city has to offer when it's hot. We're in the nation's capital after all, and the District and its neighboring 'hoods are ripe with activities so quintessentially summer, we practically don't have to say them out loud: parades, biking, live music, sightseeing -- even eating ice cream.

But even old standbys need a new, unexpected twist. So we dug up a hodgepodge of not-so-standard standards, threw in some newfangled to-dos and topped it all off with a few zesty possibilities that were just too darn entertaining to pass up. These warm-weather treats will keep you active, outdoors (with a few exceptions -- sometimes you just need that old AC) and seeing and doing things you might never have thought of in a million "there's nothing to do" moments. The result: A roster of summer fun that'll keep you busy until the leaves start their turn from vibrant greens to rusty reds.

SLEEP WITH THE LIONS. When most parks close down at dusk, the party is just getting started at the National Zoo, where courageous campers can pitch a tent under the stars on Lion-Tiger Hill, a grassy knoll just below the Great Cats exhibit. The zoo's Snore & Roar program is more than just a slumber party in the wild, though. You'll also take a two-hour guided tour of an animal house (choose which one when you register) and a chaperoned hour-long flashlight hike to see the animals come out at night in true "Where the Wild Things Are" form. Four-person tents, water and a light bite of Rice Krispies treats or granola bars are provided for family overnights, which run $45 per person (kids must be at least 6 years old, and one adult for every three children is required). The zoo also hosts a few adults-only evenings, but they're full for this summer ($50 each, includes wine and cheese). A roar from the kings of the jungle and their striped cousins will drown out the warbles and whoops of the white-cheeked gibbons to wake you just in time for your morning coffee, juice and pastry -- plus a family scavenger hunt or walking tour for the grown-up group.

Fridays and Saturdays June-September. Setup starts at 6 p.m. and sleepovers end at 9 a.m. FONZ membership required ($40-$55). 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-633-3026. . .

PLAY BALL, VINTAGE STYLE. The area's vintage baseball teams, Easton's Fair Plays, the Eclipse Base Ball Club of Elkton and the just-formed regional Chesapeake and Potomac Base Ball Club, have revived the rules and styles of baseball circa 1860 -- think umpires in starchy suits, no gloves and 25-cent fines for throwing curveballs. The teams, comprised of players sporting traditional uniforms and using replica bats (which are heavier and thicker than modern mass-produced gear), play in a July 15 tournament in Elkton, along with the Brooklyn Atlantics. Eclipse plans to take on other vintage teams like the New York Mutuals at home games, and the other teams are still firming up their summer schedules (check their Web sites for updates). The events are worth a road trip, if only for the chance to shout oh-so-proper vintage cheers like "Well fielded, sir!" and to re-create the days before steroids and salary insanity came to dominate the gentlemanly game. The teams are also looking for players and volunteers.

July 15 tournament: Games start at 11 a.m., 1:15 and 3:15 p.m., with the championship at 5 p.m. Elk Landing, 590 Landing Lane, Elkton. $5, student $1. 410-620-6400. Individual teams' locations and prices vary. Fair Play: , Eclipse: , Chesapeake and Potomac: .

BIKE TO BREWS. Biking is always a summer favorite, but when the destination is Ashburn's Old Dominion Brewing Company -- currently ranked one of the top 50 breweries in the world by -- that's something to gear up for. Hop on your Cannondale or Specialized and hit the 45-mile Washington and Old Dominion Trail from any one of the 14 access points with parking from Arlington to Purcellville, and pedal until you see the brewery sign at about mile 25. While there, take a free 60- to 90-minute tour (Saturdays at 2 or 4 p.m.), or downshift to the pub to fuel up on a burger for $6.95 and a $4.25 pint of lager before pumping the pedals home. (If you plan on swilling brewskis all afternoon, be sure to designate a driver and a car to take you and your bike home.) If beer is really your thing, don't miss the Old Dominion Beer Festival Friday to June 25.

Open Sunday, noon-7 p.m.; Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. 44633 Guilford Dr., Ashburn. 703-724-9100, . For trail information, visit .

SIT IN ON THE SUPREMES. Anna Nicole Smith sat before the Supreme Court -- and actually elicited sympathy -- and so can you. On Mondays through the end of June (subsequent days are added as necessary), observe the wise nine in action announcing opinions for cases heard since October. During these end-of-term sessions that average about 20 minutes, you'll be privy to all the traditional pomp and circumstance, including the crier's chant, "Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!" at 10 a.m., when the black-robed justices, headed up by new Chief Justice Roberts, file into the burgundy and gold tribunal (Hint: A minimum of 50 first-come, first-serve seats are for the public. The queue usually starts forming around 8:30 a.m. on the front plaza.) Once decisions are final and summer break is full on, you can still tour the (air-conditioned!) neoclassical marble building on your own, sit in on a free lecture in the courtroom every hour on the half hour, check out special exhibits, including a film on the workings of justice, and have lunch at the cafeteria, which we hear is quite good.

Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 1 First St. NE. Free. Call the public information office on Friday for the following week's schedule: 202-479-3211. .

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