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How to celebrate the return of playoff baseball in D.C.

The Nationals hope they'll have a lot to celebrate this fall. (Photo by Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

For the third time in five seasons, playoff baseball is coming to Nationals Park. Yes, we remember what happened in 2012 and 2014, but this year could be different.

Whether you're fortunate enough to have tickets to one of the National League Division Series games against the Los Angeles Dodgers (Friday at 5:38 p.m. and Saturday at 4:08 p.m.) or just want to soak in the glorious October atmosphere while watching the games with fellow Nats fans, we can help you make the most of this weekend (and, perhaps, beyond).

And if you're one of those baseball fans hoping another team wins the pennant, well, we have a few suggestions for you, too.

Jump to: I'm going to the game | I'm not going to the game, but I want to be near the action | I want to watch at a bar | I'm not a Nats fan

I'm going to the game

If you have some time before first pitch, try one of these spots.

Agua 301: Happy hour at this sleek, modern Mexican spot in Yards Park runs from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. and includes two tacos for $5, $4 draft beers and $6 margaritas or sangria. Be sure to grab a basket of fried yucca sticks with an addictive blend of chimichurri and a garlic lime aioli for $5. 301 Water St. SE. agua301.com.

Bluejacket: Offering up to 20 rotating beers and five cask ales, this brewery is a nice place for a pregame drink — although you should be prepared to elbow your way to a spot at the crowded bar. House-made tater tots are a crunchy accompaniment for whatever beer you choose. 300 Tingey St. SE. bluejacketdc.com.

Cantina Marina: The waterfront bar offers $1 off Shiner Bock and Shiner Oktoberfest all day Friday, $1 off Miller Lite all day Saturday, and complimentary shuttle bus service to Nationals Park, which is about a mile away. 600 Water St. SW. cantinamarina.com.

Due South: There are two game day options at this Southern joint in Yards Park. Head inside the restaurant for a curated version of the regular menu, draft beer and cocktails (all games will be shown with sound). Or stop at the outdoor bar and grill for drink specials (such as a beer and a shot for $13) and grab-and-go sandwiches. 301 Water St. SE. duesouthdc.com.

Il Parco: If you're bringing the kids, head to this Neapolitan pizza joint next to Canal Park. There's plenty of room to run around, and the kids menu features spaghetti and a cheese pizza topped with french fries. 202 M St. SE. ilparcodc.com.

The Ugly Mug: Buy a drink at this Barracks Row sports bar, show your receipt and hitch a ride to Nationals Park in the Mug Bug, a street-legal golf cart that seats up to 11 people. The shuttle runs from an hour before game time until the third inning, with return service beginning in the eighth. 723 Eighth St. SE. uglymugdc.com.

I'm not going to the game, but I want to be near the action

Soak in the playoff atmosphere by heading to the area around the stadium.

Yards Park: The Capitol Riverfront BID is hosting a postseason pep rally in Yards Park starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday, with music, lawn games, food trucks and a Bluejacket beer bar. 355 Water St. SE. facebook.com/capitolriverfront.

The Fairgrounds: The huge outdoor venue will open three hours before home playoff games, making it a prime destination for fans on their way to the park. The Fairgrounds is encouraging folks without tickets to hang around and watch, by showing the action on large screens and offering $5 drinks from the beginning of the third inning through the end of the seventh. 1201 Half St. SE. fairgroundsdc.com.

Budweiser Pregame Tailgate: Budweiser dominates the bars inside the park, and it's adding even more taps outside before all first-round playoff games. A 2,000-square-foot bar, adjacent to the Home Plate Gate on the south side of the park, will open three hours before the first pitch with music by local DJs, $5 Bud and Bud Light beers, and a menu of peanuts and cracker jacks. First Street and Potomac Avenue SE.

Top of the Yard: This bar atop the Hampton Inn enjoys a distinct advantage over other neighborhood joints: It offers a direct view into the ballpark, albeit one that's distant and slightly obstructed. The hotel is hosting rooftop parties during all playoff games: Tickets, which include unlimited draft beer, house wine, rail drinks and bar snacks, start at $75 for general admission and go up to $180 per person (in groups of two to six) for the closest seats to the stadium with an upgraded beverage package. 1265 First St. SE. totydc.com.

I want to watch at a bar

Head to one of these spots for food and drink specials during the games.

Duffy's Irish Pub: The city's best Nationals bar is bringing back former owner Andy Duffy to bartend during the playoffs. He'll be pouring $5 Scherzer Shooters (a Nats-red-colored rum-based shooter with Jaegermeister). Other deals include $18 pitchers of Miller Lite, $3 Bud cans and $6 alcoholic iced coffees. The bar is also introducing a new flavor of chicken wings: peanut butter and jelly. 2106 Vermont Ave. NW. dcduffys.com.

First Down Sports Bar: The smallest of 30 televisions here is 40 inches, and every Nationals home run gets you a $4 shot of Fireball. Other game day specials include Ballston Boss beers — $5.99 drafts (22 oz.) of Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light or Blue Moon — and classic or fruity New Amsterdam Mules for $6.99. 4213 Fairfax Dr., Arlington. firstdownsportsbar.com.

Penn Quarter Sports Tavern: The two-story bar has 32 televisions and offers beer buckets with six bottles for the price of five during Nats games. In the postseason, the bucket special expands to drafts with discounted pitchers of Miller Lite ($12), Yuengling ($14) and Blue Moon ($16). 639 Indiana Ave. NW. pennquartersportstavern.com.

Stoney's: The P Street bar with the “Let's Go Nats” sign outside offers $2.50 drafts of Bud and Bud Light — which pair nicely with a buttery grilled cheese sandwich — during games. Other food specials include: $7 “totchos” (tater tots loaded with cheese, jalapeño and sour cream); $8 nachos; $10 two-topping pizzas, and 10 wings for $10. 1433 P St. NW. stoneys-dc.com.

I'm not a Nats fan

Here's where you can find fans rooting for other teams.

Boston Red Sox: Rhino Bar and Stetson's have closed, robbing Sawx fans of two Big Papi-friendly spots. Two replacements worth considering: Ireland's Four Courts (2051 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; irelandsfourcourts.com), a comfy pub that bills itself as “the proud home of Red Sox Nation,” and Clarendon's Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd.; madrosetavern.com), a frequent gathering spot for the local Red Sox Nation Meetup group.

Chicago Cubs: Ivy & Coney, which flies the Cubs Win flag on the front of its building and has a mural of Harry Caray at the entrance to the bar, plans to offer its dragged-through-the-garden Chicago Dogs for $3 during the National League Division Series and $2 during the NL Championship Series. (The owners wouldn't speculate on subsequent specials, fearing they'll jinx the team.) 1537 Seventh St. NW. ivyandconey.com.

The only Billy Goat Tavern outside of the Chicago area is in Washington, near Judiciary Square. It serves a similar menu — cheezborgers, domestic drafts — as the original, opened by William “Billy Goat” Sianis in 1934. 500 New Jersey Ave. NW. billygoattavern.com.

Cleveland Indians: Buckeye + Bear owner Ryan Seelbach is a Cleveland native, and he's supporting his home team during the playoffs by showing games on large screens. Specials include $6 Great Lakes drafts and $5 mixed drinks. Bud Light and Miller Lite cost $4 per pint or $14 per pitcher. 1730 M St. NW. buckeyebear.com.

San Francisco Giants: Since 2010, Town Tavern has been a refuge for fans of San Francisco's 49ers and Giants. Everyone wearing their black-and-orange gear at the Adams Morgan bar receives food and drink specials, including $5 Anchor Steam, $6 burger baskets and $12 Bud Light pitchers. Just get there early, because it can fill up fast. 2323 18th St. NW. towntaverndc.com.

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