One of our favorite quintessential DC “date nights” involves bicycles; lots of wine, bread, cheese, and assorted pig products; and a sunset.
Specifically, we like to bike from our house to the steps on the west side of the Lincoln Memorial (the back side, if you will). These steps are a hidden gem. You have a great view of the Potomac, Arlington Cemetery, the flight path for DCA-bound flights, and the Arlington and Georgetown skylines.
Even better, the steps are virtually empty save for some serious and aspiring athletes running the steps while jealously eyeing our calorific feast. The Europeans would never waste a good set of steps on such things. But I digress.
We knew we had to do this at least one more time before we left DC for good, and I’ve always wanted to check out “Jazz in the Garden” at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. We decided to kill two birds with one stone: hit up jazz and then head to the steps for sunset.
As usual, the sunset on the steps did not disappoint, but the jazz experience was another story. First off, you cannot bring in your own alcohol – COMPLETE DEAL BREAKER (see Wolftrap for a local place that does it right). And of course, the “in-house” prices for alcohol are ridiculous.
The good news is that you can sit right across the street from the garden without having your wine confiscated. [I should note here that you face a different set of challenges outside the gates. Namely, it is illegal under DC law for anyone to drink an alcoholic beverage or possess an open container in any public street, park, or parking lot. The penalty for the latter offense is imprisonment for up to 90 days and/or a fine of up to $500 … land of the free, home of the brave, baby! That said, stop by any softball, kickball, or bocce game on the Mall, and I challenge you to find a team not drinking beer. Generally, the police look the other way if you are discreet. Govern yourself accordingly.]
You can guess where we decided to set up shop. And it was probably the decision we would have made anyway after seeing how insanely crowded it was inside the garden.
After setting out the goodies (bread, manchengo, fresh cherries, homemade marinated olives, my special pork rillettes, and pickled apricots), we sat back and enjoyed the soothing sounds of … a cringe-inducing cover of “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, replete with clapping and exhortations to “get on up and dance.” Oh I’m sorry … I thought this was JAZZ in the garden.
Needless to say, we lasted about five minutes before deciding to hightail it to our steps. I prefer my celebrations a little more low key.