Sometimes you want to get away, but life conspires against you — work, finances, whatever — and you find yourself having to opt for a staycation. No swim-up pool bar, no hula lessons, no cabana boys. Sigh.
Buck up, loves, because there’s still a way to get a glimpse of the good life right here in D.C., with tasty daily diversions that can help remind you that there’s a reason why tourists come to our fair city in droves. Grab your Panama hat and that day-glo Hawaiian shirt in the back of the closet — here are five ways to vacay each weekday, D.C.-style.
Monday: Start your staycation off at Bar Charley, midway between Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan, which boasts an all-night happy hour on Mondays, featuring $5 “tiki taps” like the Suffering Bastard (gin, bourbon, housemade ginger beer, bitters and lime) and a particularly good classic Mai Tai, that may go down just a tad too easily. Chill out on the back patio with Catalan Fries, topped with romesco, manchego, ramps and a fried egg, or the spicy Thai Mussels in coconut milk, lemongrass and chili peppers. (1825 18th St., NW; barcharley.com)
Tuesday: Wander on down to the Georgetown Harbor to Orange Anchor for a cool preppy vibe with the motto “Where everyone is treated like a captain.” In fact, diners are immediately provided with a glass of champagne, compliments of the “captain,” upon arrival — always a nice way to start any meal. $1 oysters are on the menu every weekday from 5-6 p.m. and drink specials from 4-7 p.m., including the Orange Crush, a blend of Stoli Oranj vodka, triple sec, orange juice and Sprite. You may also want to check out the Champagne Oysters — fresh Chincoteague oysters on the half shell filled with champagne — and the Frozen Dark and Stormy dessert, a concoction of frozen whipped eggs and cream mixed with rum, ginger and lime. (3050 K St., NW; orangeanchordc.com)
Wednesday: After you’ve been kayaking on the Anacostia (yes, people do that — check out Ballpark Boathouse at boatingindc.com), there’s nothing like a margarita at Agua 301, which boasts not just one, but two, happy hours each day, from 3:30-7 p.m. and again from 9 p.m.-closing. The trick here is that sometimes the happy hour prices are only available inside the restaurant — which has a nice bar and tables by the window, so it’s not exactly a hardship — but the place to be is on the outdoor patio, fronting onto Yards Park and its beautiful river views. The classic margaritas are very good, not too sweet with just a squirt of agave nectar, fresh lime juice and a splash of orange juice for good measure, and the sangria is made with a summery tempranillo, fresh fruit and Licor 43, a citrus-forward Spanish liqueur with notes of vanilla and honey. The guacamole is simple and plentiful and there are several good light bites on the happy hour menu, including a Mexican-style flatbread topped with spicy pineapple and roasted corn. (301 Water St., SE; agua301.com)
Thursday: Satisfy your tiki bar lust at Cantina Marina down at the Southwest Waterfront, where you can sit out over the water watching the boats sailing by, listen to an ‘80s playlist and relive all those spring break memories. This really is the place to get away from it all, as D.C.’s marina community provides a certain Key West spirit — where else can you listen to Coronarita-swilling customers banter about bilge pumps and Senate budget committee deals all in one breath? If you’ve never had a Coronarita (a margarita with a chilled Corona added to the glass), now’s your chance, or you can opt for the housemade Michelada mixer, which can be added to the beer of your choice. There’s also plenty of fried seafood in baskets and sunsets galore. (600 Water St., SW. cantinamarina.com)
Friday: Vacay’s almost over, so finish it waterside back at Yards Park with an old-fashioned picnic at the Friday Night Concert Series (yardspark.org), which includes music for every taste, from country to pop to indie folk rock. The Navy Yard area offers plenty of places to pick up sandwiches, but Cornercopia (1000 3rd St., SE) may have some of the best, although they do close at 7 p.m., so plan accordingly; try the Green Line (homemade pesto, avocado, smoked gouda cheese, tomato, onion and cranberries on a wheat roll) or Mom’s chicken or egg salad. Stop at Bluejacket (300 Tingey St., SE; bluejacketdc.com) to grab a bottle of freshly brewed and bottled beer out of the cooler near the host stand, then top things off on your way home with a scoop — or three — of the city’s best ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee (301 Water St., SE; icecreamjubilee.com).
Kristen Hartke is a D.C.-based food and beverage writer who has staycationed many times. Follow her kitchen adventures on Twitter: @khartke.