Every summer, we make resolutions. We promise ourselves that this will be the year we call in sick on a gorgeous July morning and go on a killer road trip instead. We swear that we’re going to sneak out of the office a little early on Friday so we can make it to the rooftop bar before a line forms. We look longingly at a friend’s Instagram selfie in a field of sunflowers and think, “I’m going to do that, too.”
And then we never quite get around to doing things before Labor Day.
This year, keep your promises. Here’s a list of easy summer adventures: road trips that lead to amazing ice cream, orchards and retro dinosaurs; a visit to breezy farm breweries; and pool parties and outdoor movies in outstanding settings. Just make sure you put them on your calendar. Now.
For 50 years, an outdoor stage in Fort Reno Park has hosted some of the city’s finest punk and alternative bands, including Fugazi, Unrest, Priests, and Q and Not U. To celebrate the Fort Reno Concert Series’ 50th anniversary, organizers launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than three times its $4,000 goal, allowing them to extend the twice-weekly performances into August. Highlights include Messthetics, which features jazzy guitarist Anthony Pirog over Fugazi’s rhythm section, on July 12, and a reunion of ’90s metal-funk trio Branch Manager on Aug. 2. Pick up a picnic at the neighboring Tenleytown Whole Foods or grab a treat from the ever-present ice cream man.
Mondays and Thursdays from 7 to 9:30 p.m., July 2 through August. 4000 Chesapeake St. NW. fortreno.com. Free.
You will gasp at some point during the Marine Corps Sunset Parade, probably when a member of the Silent Drill Team begins spinning a 10-pound M1 rifle through the air like it’s a mere baton, despite the razor-sharp bayonet at the tip, and executes precision flips and tosses with another Marine. Unsurprisingly, everything moves like clockwork. Units from the Marine Barracks have been hosting weekly sunset parades, featuring music by “the Commandant’s Own” (the nickname of the Drum and Bugle Corps), at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Rosslyn since 1956, but construction has relocated this year’s parades to the plaza in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a more enjoyable and accessible place to watch this patriotic and dramatic ceremony. For the best views, be as close to the base of the steps as possible: Crowds make it harder to see as you go closer to the memorial.
Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m., through Aug. 14. 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle NW. barracks.marines.mil. Free.
When the sun is shining on a Saturday afternoon, where would you rather be: a brewery tucked away in an industrial park, or one set among rolling hills and adjacent to a horse farm? Thankfully, Montgomery County is home to one of the region’s most scenic brewery crawls. Start your tour at Brookeville Beer Farm: Find a seat on the shady patio and grab a sampler of beers (5 for $11) — make sure you include the crisp Goldenrod kolsch or the easy-drinking Yellow Finch summer ale. When you’ve finished your beers, cross the parking lot and take a look at the hop vines and beehives.
Head north on Georgia Avenue and make a pit stop at the cash-only Sunshine General Store, which looks like an abandoned gas station but holds an old-school lunch counter where you’ll find some of the biggest and best burgers in the area, cooked to order on a flat-top grill and topped with handfuls of bacon. Get yours to go and bring them to Waredaca, a horse farm that opened a brewery in 2015.
Waredaca’s beers incorporate ingredients including farm-grown hops, honey and local malt. The 3-2-1 Gose, with local strawberries, is the seasonal standout, although the hoppy Haymaker rye ale matches well with the burger. Beers are sold in half pints ($4) and flights (5 for $10) to encourage sampling. Settle in at a picnic table with a view of the horse pasture and a lake, and you might not want to go home. As a bonus, both breweries have plenty of space for kids to play.
Brookeville Beer Farm: 20315 Georgia Ave., Brookeville, Md. brookevillebeerfarm.com.
Sunshine General Store: 22300 Georgia Ave, Brookeville, Md.
Waredaca Brewing Co.: 4017 Damascus Rd., Laytonsville, Md. waredacabrewing.com.
If you’re not a member of the Penthouse Pool Club, or friends with someone who is, the weekly Twilight Tuesdays pool party is your best chance to experience the rooftop pool atop U Street’s Vida Fitness. Take a dip in the heated water or just join the throngs sipping cocktails, lazing on lounge beds or grooving to DJs. Admission to this nine-year-old LGBTQ party is free, but reservations are required, and spaces can fill up well in advance. (Slightly annoying: Each member of a group has to RSVP individually.)
Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to midnight. 1612 U St. NW. facebook.com/Twilight
In an era when every new museum features touch screens, animatronics and interactive experiences, there’s something refreshing about Dinosaur Land. Visiting the 55-year-old attraction is like entering the land that time forgot — or the tourist attraction that time forgot. No sound effects, no lifelike animation of a velociraptor trying to rip off your face. Just 50 fiberglass sculptures, frequently in dramatic poses: a giganotosaurus snatching a flying pteranodon from the air the way a golden retriever grabs a Frisbee, or a group of triceratopses battling a Tyrannosaurus rex. If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, there’s also a rearing king cobra, an enormous praying mantis, a shark the size of a school bus and a King Kong with an outstretched paw that’s perfect for photo ops. The gift shop is also worth exploring, especially if you need old-fashioned striped candy sticks, moccasins, jams or, of course, dinosaur toys and models.
3848 Stonewall Jackson Hwy., White Post, Va. dinosaurland.com. $8; $6 ages 2 to 10.
Of all the dining options at MGM National Harbor, Fish by José Andrés stands out for the seafood on your plate and the expansive patio that looks out toward the Potomac River. And for the giant wooden barrel that shoots streams of cider. Known as a txotx (pronounced “choach”), this is a popular method of serving cider in Basque Country: Order a glass of Trabanco, and the bartender will ask whether you want to pour it yourself. (Say yes.) Stand five or six feet from the barrel and try to fill your glass from the spray of cider, which feels like playing a game on the boardwalk. But DIY cider-pouring isn’t the only attraction at Fish: Friday happy hour includes a half-dozen fresh Rappahannock oysters and a glass of beer, cider or wine for $17, and Saturdays and Sundays bring afternoon seafood boils and crab feasts.
101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill.
No outdoor film series in Washington can boast a setting like this one: the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building on your left, the Supreme Court on your right, and the Capitol Dome just behind the large movie screen. The Library of Congress began showing movies on its lawn last summer, picking titles that have been added to the august National Film Registry. This year’s selections include “The Goonies” (July 19) and “Back to the Future” (Aug. 2) before ending with “The Wizard of Oz” (Aug. 16). Picnics and blankets are welcome, so arrive before sunset to stake out a space.
July 12-Aug. 16. Films screened every Thursday at sundown. 101 Independence Ave. SE. loc.gov. Free.
State and county fair aficionados will notice that the Arlington County Fair lacks 4-H competitions and demolition derbies. But the annual celebration offers something far more important to carless city-dwellers: accessibility. Take Metro to Ballston or Pentagon City, and the midway of rides and deep-fried Oreos is a mere shuttle bus or ride-share trip away. The adorable racing goats and piglets remain the stars of the five-day fair at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, but save time for chain-saw artists, live music, pony rides and competitions that award ribbons to the best jams and jellies, quilts and flower arrangements.
Aug. 15-19. 3501 Second St. South, Arlington. arlingtoncountyfair.us. Free admission; rides require tickets.
Enjoy summer’s bounty at its best: picked straight from the source. Come late July and August, Mackintosh Fruit Farm’s lush green fields give way to rows of ripe, juicy peaches — one of the Berryville farm’s main attractions. (Berries are ready for picking now.) An on-site market serves prepared foods, such as panini, soups, pie and ice cream, so you can take in a leisurely meal after a day in the sun. Mackintosh also hosts monthly family-style farm dinners, where they serve a variety of plates that feature their fresh produce.
Open Wednesday through Sunday. 1608 Russell Rd., Berryville, Va. mackintoshfruitfarm.com. Free; produce is priced per pound.
Get your camera ready for the photo op of the season: Acres of towering sunflowers bloom in mid-July at the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, illuminating the green expanse with lemon-yellow petals. You’ll want to frolic among them and post a dozen pictures to Instagram. The best times to visit are at sunrise or at dusk, when the lighting is better for photography and you avoid the heat of the day. Wear comfortable shoes, because the grounds can be soft and uneven after a summer thunderstorm, and bring bug spray — the boggy Potomac wetlands attract mosquitoes. Parking is located off River Road; the GPS coordinates for designated spots can be found on the area’s website.
Open daily. Off River Road in Poolesville, Md. dnr.maryland.gov. Free.
In the summer, is there a better way to enjoy an ice cream cone than standing outside an old-timey, mom-and-pop dairy bar? Jimmie Cone in Damascus, Md., hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1962, dishing densely creamy, almost custardlike soft serve. The most popular order is the simple vanilla twist topped with rainbow sprinkles, also known as jimmies. (The shop goes through hundreds of pounds of sprinkles weekly.) On a recent weeknight, children ran around with butterscotch and chocolate syrup still sticky on their cheeks, while older couples sat quietly in front of a group of teenagers gossiping over cones in the back of their pickup truck.
In Virginia, Nathan’s Dairy Bar, which opened in Manassas in 2001, has lines out the door rain or shine. But it’s worth the wait to try their dipped cones, brownie sundaes, sherbet, milkshakes and soft serve. The shop’s owners, who are dog lovers, welcome furry visitors, and they even serve “pup cups,” a free ice cream cup for dogs with a bone-shaped treat as a spoon.
Jimmie Cone: 26420 Ridge Rd., Damascus, Md. jimmiecone.com.
Nathan’s Dairy Bar: 8948 Mathis Ave., Manassas, Va. nathansdairybar.com.
In western Maryland, nature serves as the perfect backdrop at Sky Stage . The open-air theater, housed in a fire-damaged, pre-Revolutionary War building in Frederick , has the sky and the stars as its literal ceiling. A cascade of plants envelope the space, creating an intimate and organic-inspired venue. Artist Heather Theresa Clark said she set out to create a “dreamy living sculpture” and reinvent the once-abandoned space for patrons and performers to conceive of new ways to use it. In the summer, Sky Stage hosts drum circles, Tennessee Williams plays, salsa lessons and pop-up art galleries, among other programming organized by the county’s arts council. The venue is open through late fall.
Sky Stage, 59 S. Carroll St., Frederick, Md. skystagefrederick.com.