Down in the District

When you’re not busy attending GW graduation events, make use of your time in D.C. visiting the places you never had enough time to see and the places you could just never see enough. With a perfect combination of novelty, nostalgia and good food, The Hatchet’s plans for parents, graduates and families can help map out each day of Commencement weekend.

Friday

5:30-10pm

IMAX & Jazz Cafe

Atrium Cafe & Johnson IMAX Theater (Enter Constitution Avenue at 10th St., N.W.)

You might not be too keen on visiting yet another museum. But as part of its regularly scheduled Friday evening entertainment, the National Museum of Natural History offers music by Washington’s top jazz musicians, screenings of several IMAX films and an elegant dinner ? la carte. The evening’s music features the Fred Yonnet Group (harmonica) and the following IMAX films:

-Walt Disney Pictures Presents Young Black Stallion (Showtime –

6:00 p.m.)

-Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man 3D (Showtime – 8:00 p.m.)

-Everest (Showtime – 7:00 p.m.)

You can catch parts of this event all night long:

5:30-10 p.m.: Cash bar

5:45-8:45 p.m.: Films, $8 single, $13 double for adults

6-9 p.m.: Dinner from $15

6-10 p.m.: Music, $5 cover charge.

9pm

Shear Madness, The Kennedy Center

2700 F St., N.W.

Each night, this living memorial to President John F. Kennedy casts an illustrious glow over the surface of the Potomac River. The majestic venue features a wide variety of classical and contemporary performances from all over the world.

After approximately 6,500 performances in the Kennedy Center’s Theatre Lab, Shear Madness is the third longest-running play in the history of American theater. Set close to home, the improv comedy-whodunit takes place in present-day Georgetown. And with a good amount of audience participation, slapstick comedy and double entendres, the show is great for audiences of all ages.

Tickets range from $34 to $45. Parking is available, but GW provides a free shuttle service to the center from 23rd Street between H and I streets, right near the Foggy Bottom Metro stop.

All Night Long

McFadden’s

2401 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

What do you get when you pile a majority of GW’s senior class into a building with two floors of alcohol? Well, I don’t really know. Spending one last night at this rowdy Irish pub is the only way to find out. It’s sure to be a night full of memories and old faces you lost track of. Throw McFadden’s Friday night $2 drink specials into the mix and start the celebration off right.

Saturday

All Day

World War II Memorial

The National Mall

The brand new memorial has yet to be dedicated to the 16 million Americans who served in the armed forces during World War II, but less than two weeks ago, it was unveiled and opened to visitors. Prominently located between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, planners ordered the three sites to represent successive events that defined three centuries of American history. Today, it stands as the only 20th century event commemorated on the Mall’s central axis.

The memorial has a largely organic feel, emphasizing grass, gardens and water. Its main plaza is a large oval with two 43-foot arches and surrounding fountains. Fifty-six pillars border the plaza’s perimeter, representing the states, territories and District of Columbia at the time of the war. Inside the plaza is a wall surrounded by a waterfall that bears 4,000 gold stars, each representing 100 U.S. deaths in the war. The original Rainbow Pool has been refurbished with a series of jets, producing a spray that looks like a rainbow when sunlight hits it at certain angles.

Enter through either the north or south entrances on the National Mall or the ceremonial entrance on 17th Street. The nearest Metro stop is located just a few blocks away at Smithsonian (blue/orange lines).

10am-4pm

Brunch at Sign of the Whale and Madhatter

1825 & 1831 M St. N.W.

If you don’t have to wake up at 8 a.m. to meet your parents, take some friends down to M Street for brunch – drinks included. Although their nighttime bar scenes are usually associated with the underage, fake I.D. crowd, consider a daytime visit with your legitimate identification and grab some good food.

Sign of the Whale starts its weekend brunch at 10 a.m. with breakfast specials that include steak and eggs, omelets, eggs benedict and waffle and pancake meals. The food is ? la carte, but for $9.95 you can enjoy the unlimited Bloody Mary, mimosa or champagne bar. If you order the Bloody Mary, they’ll serve you a tall glass of ice with a shot of vodka, then you can fix it to your liking with a selection of tomato juices, Tabasco sauce, horse radish and celery. If you’re not into breakfast or drinks, you can still grab a Coke and one of their specialty burgers. Brunch specials end at 4 p.m.

Next door, Madhatter serves a breakfast buffet for $11.95. All-you-can-drink mimosas are also included in the deal. If you’re used to only going there at night, you might not recognize the place when it’s filled with tables covered by white linens and adorned with flower vases. In the light of day, you might even notice the “Alice in Wonderland” Mad Hatter decor on the walls. The country buffet goes from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., serving ham, roast beef, bacon, eggs and waffles.

8am-6pm

National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

Although it’s somewhat removed from other D.C. tourist attractions, after taking a walk through this scenic locale, the Woodley Park area does not feel like your typical D.C. urban adventure.

The 163-acre zoo rests amid Rock Creek National Park and houses more than 2,700 individual animals, including the famed giant pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. Several of the animals roam free throughout the zoo grounds, and enclosed animal houses are open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Also, unlike many D.C. adventures, it’s free.

If you can’t make it during the day Saturday, visit the zoo Friday night for a special event from 6-8:30 p.m. called the Guppy Gala, which features food, strolling musicians, clowns, jugglers, dancers, games and all your favorite animals. General admission is $28 and free for children under two. Proceeds benefit zoo education programs.

Since you’ll want to walk around once you get there, the zoo is best reached by the Woodley Park Metro stop (red line).

4pm

Pesto Ristorante

2915 Connecticut Ave. N.W.

This unpretentious restaurant near the Cleveland Park Metro serves simple Italian cuisine at a moderate price. It’s kid-friendly, casual and not far from the zoo. It’s a good place to catch an early dinner before returning to Foggy Bottom to get ready for Monumental Celebration.

The traditional Italian dishes range in price from $10 to $12, and you can certainly get a two-course meal for under $20. Dishes are well portioned, and most of the food is prepared in a more authentic Italian fashion – light, without overdoing the heavy creamy sauces.

Aside from the rigatoni, ravioli and gnocchi dishes, Pesto also serves fish and a 10-oz. steak meal.

Pesto’s dining rooms are simply decorated making it a cozy, homey atmosphere suitable for groups, families and children.

6:30pm

Charlie Palmer Steak D.C.

101 Constitution Ave., N.W.

Recommended in the Washington Post’s entertainment guide, C.P. Steak D.C. offers a stunning view of the Capitol and serves only the finest cuts of meats, game and fish. If you’re planning on heading to Monumental Celebration, then you’ll fit right in wearing your formal attire, and it’s near Union Station.

Charlie Palmer, the owner and renowned New York City restaurateur, has several restaurants around the country from New York to Vegas. At C.P. Steak D.C., expect to pay $30 to $50 per person. Although beef is the specialty, the menu puts a spin on American cuisine and offers pasta dishes, lobster, bass, chicken and duck.

C.P. Steak D.C. also boasts a collection of 10,000 American wines from more than 25 states. It’s a modern, sophisticated atmosphere featuring a lounge, three private dining rooms and a rooftop terrace for events and banquets.

Lindy’s Red Lion

2040 I St., N.W.

If you don’t feel like getting all dressed up, come chill out at this neighborhood classic. As Foggy Bottom locals know, it’s the ideal spot to grab a burger and beer with your friends. Relax, hang out on the outdoor patios and reminisce while you enjoy $3 pitchers of Sam Adams and $2 pitchers of Lindy’s famous “mystery beer.” With $2-$3 pint specials all night long, you can recapture the unique satisfaction of happy hour after finals one last time.

8:30pm

Monumental Celebration

Union Station

Monumental Celebration is GW’s annual black tie event held at Union Station, where graduating seniors, their families and members of the GW community come together on the eve of Commencement.

Tickets must be purchased in advance through the University. Students get a reduced $60 admission; $70 for guests; and kids under 10 years old get in free. Dinner is not served at the event, but hors d’oeuvres and desserts are offered. A cash bar is also set up in the main room.

There will also be plenty of entertainment for families, children and students. Caricature artists, fortune tellers and magicians will be at the event throughout the evening. Dancing opportunities will abound with a DJ spinning music in the River Horse Lounge as well as two other rooms with live music, including a swing band.

Midnight

Visions Cinema

1927 Florida Ave., N.W. (Dupont Metro – Q Street stop)

Considering the $60 ticket, Monumental Celebration may not be your bag. To better fit you and your wallet, why not go out for a midnight movie? .

You’ve probably already seen the cult classic film “Donnie Darko,” but see it one last time with your friends at Visions Cinema where you can also help kick their keg. For $10, get your movie ticket and a cup and enjoy the beer until the keg is tapped. Be sure to bring identification – Saturday keg and midnight movies are for the 21-and-over crowd only.

The Bar Noir lounge at Visions also is a great place to grab a cocktail or cup of coffee and sit on one of their comfy tables. DJs spin music regularly on the weekends, and Visions also hosts monthly theme parties. On more relaxed evenings, the theater shows D.C. United games and screens television shows like “The Sopranos” and the series finale of “Friends.” It’s also a great spot in the city to catch independent and foreign films or documentaries.

Sunday

9:30-11am

Commencement

The Ellipse

Noon

Old Ebbitt Grill

675 15th Street, N.W.

It’s more than just a name. Old Ebbitt Grill really is the Oldest Saloon in D.C. Founded in 1856, the interior still resembles the traditional Victorian saloon with mahogany d?cor and mounted animals supposedly bagged by Teddy Roosevelt himself. Centrally located in the heart of Downtown D.C., the restaurant’s history rivals other popular tourist sites. If you still haven’t tried this place after four years, now’s the time.

Old Ebbitt Grill is within walking distance from the Ellipse, but it you have your car, they offer complementary valet parking all day starting at 8:30 a.m. on Sundays.

6-9pm

Mount Vernon Wine Festival and Sunset Tour

George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

3200 George Washington Memorial Parkway

What better way to end the busy weekend than with this wildly popular event? Celebrate graduation and the history of the wine endeavors of our Founding Fathers with reds and whites from some of Virginia’s best wineries. Bring a blanket and relax on the east lawn of George Washington’s mansion while you sip samples from 16 popular Virginia wineries. Historic interpreters and colonial-attired 18th-century “friends” of the Washingtons will conduct special tours of the mansion, discussing Washington’s attempts at creating a vineyard and various wine-related items inside. Visitors can tour an area of the mansion not open to the public at any other time of the year – the basement’s brick vaults, where Washington stored his wine.

This elegant evening also features live jazz, local celebrity toastmasters and 18th-century craft demonstrations. A variety of hot and cold food and desserts, including baguettes, gourmet sandwiches and specialty sweets, will be available on site from the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant and Firehook Bakery Concessions.

Mount Vernon is located about 15 miles out on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, past Old Town Alexandria. Take a cab or drive. Cost: $25

Dinner on You

Safeway and your Dorm/Apartment

C’mon don’t be lazy. Get your friends and families together to cook a great big meal. Sample the vast array of food options at your local Safeway and stay in! There’s nothing better than enjoying the fruits of your labor or being able to laugh at a four-course meal gone horribly awry. If it gets really bad, remember, D.C. is also known for its great take-out.

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