Shuffling from graduation ceremony to graduation ceremony should not be the highlight of your Commencement weekend. Resist the urge to tour the monuments and Smithsonians like every other Parent’s Weekend visit. Mix some art, history, dining and outdoor activities to take full advantage of your last D.C. weekend with the people who probably helped pay for your four years at GW.
11 a.m. – District History
2715 Q St. NW
$5 for adults, free for college students with school I.D. and children
The Dumbarton House is a time capsule of the post-Revolutionary period, and a veritable architectural museum itself. The former home of Joseph Nourse, the nation’s first Register of the Treasury, the Dumbarton House and museum features over 1,000 Federal period pieces, including traditional furniture, paintings and early documents of the Nourse family history. Even cooler? The building was a sanctuary for former First Lady Dolley Madison when British troops stampeded the District in the War of 1812.
1 p.m. – Local Lunch
3421 M St. NW
Grab lunch at a local haunt. Located right before the shops in Georgetown, this cozy cafe offers modern Mediterranean cuisine on the cheap. It specializes in wraps and paninis, but features a substantial breakfast menu, a breadth of coffees and tea and specialized desserts like homemade baklava. While limited outdoor seating is available, the cafe’s real charm is in its decor and internal set-up, with a back-room patio where cushioned seats, pillows and decorative heat lamps welcome patrons.
3 p.m. – Art in the City
1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Steps from the White House, the Renwick Gallery is an artistic splendor. Although the gallery didn’t open until 1972, the building itself was completed in 1859, and features both contemporary and 19th century craftwork from national artists. Current exhibits feature the furniture work of African-American carpenter Thomas Day before the Civil War, the patent creations of 19th century innovators and a celebration of the late Korean-American artist Nam June Paik.
6 p.m. – A Waterfront Dinner
Farmers Fishers Bakers
3000 K Street NW
You’ve done Foggy Bottom’s staple Founding Farmers. Now check out its Georgetown waterfront counterpart, Farmers Fishers Bakers. Located right on Washington Harbor, the restaurant features a more seafood-oriented menu, with items like Shrimp Louie salad and Spaghetti and Clams. If seafood isn’t your taste, you can still enjoy lunch and dinner classics like Bacon Burgers or Steak Frites with the restaurant’s rustic decor. Once you’re done, a stroll down the harbor or downtown Georgetown’s shops is a mere few steps away.
1 p.m. – Skip the Smithsonians
International Spy Museum
800 F St. NW
$20 for adults, $15 for ages 11 and under
Cue the James Bond theme song: Visitors to the International Spy Museum adopt secret identities as they peruse through more than 100 years of spy equipment. The latest exhibit, “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains,” features props and footage from all of the Bond films. Perfect for a family outing with kids, visitors can also test your spy skills with interactive games and gadgets to find out if you have what it takes to be a master of espionage.
6 p.m. – Dine in DuPont
1500 New Hampshire Avenue
Cafe Dupont brings the best of French cuisine without ever having to leave the District. Located inside the DuPont Circle Hotel, the French style bistro is both elegant and inviting, the ideal place for parents to treat starving students to dinner. This DuPont favorite offers mussels, steak and frites, as well as an extensive wine list to help celebrate graduation. To round out the night be sure to try the Chocolate Soup, a thick, creamy hot chocolate-like dish – it’s the stuff of dreams.
8 p.m. – DuPont Dessert
1829 M St. NW
Capitalizing on both frozen yogurt and cupcakes, Yocake may have the monopoly on the trendiest of desserts. Its expansive menu of both traditional and eclectic cupcake flavors – mimosa and maple raisin cupcakes, anyone? – is enticing enough, but the dessert shop’s signature item is its Yocake, a cupcake encased in frozen yogurt and fruit on top. Patrons can pick from more conventional combinations like strawberry and cheesecake or create their own concoction, enjoying two dessert staples in one.
1 p.m. – Food and Trinkets
7th and C streets
With its stalls of fresh produce and quaint cafes, Eastern Market is a food lover’s dream. Just a quick walk from the Capitol, the up-and-coming neighborhood oozes charm at its bustling outdoor market. Meander through the stalls in the in shade of the Historic North Hall, and shop for handmade jewelry, art and clothes. It’s the perfect place to grab a quick crepe or coffee and experience D.C. like a local .
4 p.m. – Outdoor Afternoon
Tidal Basin Paddle Boats
1501 Maine Ave SW
$12 per hour
Are your folks city-shy? Rent a paddle boat at the Tidal Basin to trade the crowds for a close-up view of the glittering water of the Potomac. Snap pictures of the Jefferson Monument and Martin Luther King Memorial unburdened by the droves of tourists, or just take a nap. Just try not to end up overboard.