Enjoying a drink outdoors is a simple ask that can turn into a headache — way before the next morning. With summer winding down, it’s time for a change of pace from the usual pricey rooftop cocktail bars and packed beer gardens: Check out these three unexpected spots that mix a bit of entertainment with cheap drinks away from the bar crowds.
East Potomac Golf Course
The driving range at East Potomac Golf Course is not fancy. But in a city where everything from bowling to shuffleboard is glamorized, there’s something freeing about launching balls into the air in a come-as-you-are environment with a tallboy of cold, cheap beer.
The price of admission is light: An $8 token dispenses a bucket of 68 balls, enough for an hour or so of leisurely hitting. A pint of canned domestic beer (think PBR or Coors Light) runs $5 all day long, with such craft options as Goose Island IPA and canned cocktails fetching a few dollars more. Deals are prime on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m., when a happy hour bucket of balls and a beer start at $11. The range provides complimentary practice clubs, so there’s no need to schlep your own gear.
One thing to note: Taking public transportation to Hains Point can be a challenge — it’s about a 30-minute walk from either the Smithsonian or L’Enfant Plaza Metro stops. But there’s ample free parking, and you could also seek out the free six-passenger shuttle boat that makes regular crossings from the Wharf.
972 Ohio Dr. SW. golfdc.com.
Pavilion Cafe at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
This European-ish cafe offers a relaxing stop along the Mall for an afternoon glass of sparkling rosé. The Pavilion Cafe doesn’t have a dedicated happy hour, but its usual prices are happy hour-esque: Tall boy cans of Bud and Bud Light are $5 and seasonal craft bottles run $7; bottles of wine run between $25 and $28, and pitchers of Stella Artois and sangria are priced under $20.
Drinks are fair game for sipping in the adjacent sculpture garden, so stroll through the alcove housing Marc Chagall’s “Orpheé” mural or take a rest at Scott Burton’s “Six-Part Seating.” The fountain is a popular hang on summer Friday evenings, when the weekly Jazz in the Garden music performances provide free entertainment from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This week, the Dixie Power Trio (New Orleans jazz) performs; Funky Dawgz Brass Band closes the season on Aug. 23.
The cafe’s summer hours (open until 6 p.m. daily and until 8:30 p.m. on Fridays) run through Aug. 25, after which it’ll be open until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Extended hours pick back up again for ice rink season in mid-November (expect hot and boozy drinks, too).
Seventh St. and Constitution Ave. NW. nga.gov.
Heurich House Museum
The brown brick Heurich House, also known as the Brewmaster’s Castle, is an icon of Dupont Circle architecture and a monument to Washington’s original brewing legacy. Despite the history, it’s not the most obvious destination for gathering over a pint. That began to change earlier this year, when the museum launched a weekly happy hour to draw awareness to its story.
Happy hour runs from roughly 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday in the mansion’s secluded courtyard. Grab a seat on a bench or at a table or sprawl out on the grass; guests are also welcome inside the building to browse the small beer history exhibit.
Beers ($7) are always local and rotating — past evenings have featured D.C.’s Sankofa Beer Company, Alexandria’s Port City and Sterling’s Solace. Wine is available as well. The museum foundation continues to delve into the castle’s history, and previous events have included tastes of revived old recipes from the brewery. Follow the happy hour on Instagram (@1921sun) for full details.
1921 Sunderland Pl. NW. heurichhouse.org.