(This post was created at the time of a potential government furlough, during one of the budget/debt ceiling showdowns. It’s therefore got some date-specific, but there are plenty of evergreen items in it, so I’m leaving it up for your enjoyment).
So you’re looking at a (potential) furlough. Plenty of places, like the Washington Post, have info on what will be open, but I had more important questions in mind: what to do!
I asked readers and coworkers for your ideas on how to spend some time, but not a lot of money, and you delivered. Here are some of your many suggestions— thanks to all who contributed, and keep the suggestions coming!
Tomorrow Morning’s Events:
- According to organizers, the Cherry Blossom Parade will be a go, although if NPS is shut down, MPD will be supporting the parade, and the route may have some changes. The parade is scheduled to run 10:00 to Noon.
- If you’re in more of a mood to give back, take part in tomorrow’s “Extreme” Rock Creek Cleanup 9:00-Noon. There are several sites for the cleanup, from the edge of the Potomac all the way up past Rockville, and you can find all the sites here.
Ideas for the indeterminate future:
Many of the usual free opportunities won’t be available, as the Smithsonian, Zoo, and National Gallery will go dark in the event of a furlough. But here are some other options that people have brought up:
- Ride a BikeShare Bike: If you haven’t gotten onto one of these red and gold bikes, Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) a great way to get around the District, or Pentagon/Crystal City, or soon, the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. CaBi has recently launched a $15 5-day membership, which could be perfect for the temporarily available, and right now, Living Social is offering a coupon for a $37 Annual Membership (more than ½ off the regular price). The deal is only good until Sunday, though, so now’s your chance!
- Start (or step up) your own Spring Fitness Challenge. See how many miles you can run, or how many pushups you can complete, before coming back to work.
Play in a Park: The National Parks are out, but this is a great time to check out the regional and state parks available in Maryland and Virginia:
- Wheaton Regional Park - the inexpensive carousel and train are open on weekends in April, and also during the week of April 18 -22 (MCPS spring break). However, a major part of the playground is undergoing renovations, so don’t go there just for the playgrounds (which normally are great)
- Brookside Gardens (flower gardens, japanese tea garden, beautiful landscaping) adjacent to Wheaton Regional Park — beautiful and free!
- Watch the planes take off and land from DCA at Gravelly Point, just off the George Washington Parkway
Check out some new museums: The Smithsonians and the Gallery may be closed, but that’s a great excuse to visit some of DC’s other great collections.
- The Corcoran Gallery will be expanding its tours, and offering free admission to federal employees with ID.
- The National Geographic Museum, the Phillips Collection, the Spy Museum, and the Newseum will all be open.
- Hillwood Estate is another excellent way to spend an afternoon, as is Dumbarton Oaks (either the building or the gardens, or both!)
- Not a museum, but the National Cathedral is also good for a tour, and a mile-high view of empty federal buildings across the city.
Give Back! Check out http://www.shutdownstartup.org/, a volunteer movement of federal employees and others who pledge to give back to the community during any time off.
Go see a show: I’m not sure how the Kennedy Center will be affected, if at all, but
- Several other area galleries and theaters will be open, including Arena Stage, the Shakespeare Theater Co, and the events at the new Artisphere in Rosslyn.
- Filmfest DC is ongoing, with dozens (hundreds?) of independent and foreign films being shown across the city.
- If the arts are not your thing, the Nationals will be playing at home on Tuesday through Sunday of next week, hosting the Phillies and the Brewers.
Grab a bite: several restaurants in the DC area have already announced furlough specials for government employees, and DiningInDC.net has the scoop, including this promising nugget:
Although there are no specific details, apparently, Jose Andres’ restaurants, including, Zaytinya, Jaleo and Oyamel will offer deals to diners if the government shuts down. In addition, Masa 14, Agora, AGAINN, Hank’s Oyster Bar, 701, Legal Sea Foods and Redwood will all be offering discounts on both food and drink for everyone, not just those who might be deemed nonessential.
Around the house: it’s spring, so it’s a great time for starting new projects, or finishing the ones on your perpetual to-do list.
- Switch out the storm windows for screens
- Replant your garden, or start a new one. For apartment dwellers, all you need is a windowsill, soil and seedlings.
- Start a new painting project, hang some photos, or sort through your closet for spring
- Go the the public library and rent a movie (good for VA/MD residents, though not DC)
Finally, you could get out of town, but make sure you don’t go too far, as notice of the shutdown’s end could come quickly!