The DC Arts Center Where Talented Artists Get Their Start

When the phrase up and coming artists is used, it is usually meant Picture 6for musicians, but the DC Arts Center, or DCAC, is dedicated to upcoming artists in all forms of art. One part theater, one part art gallery, the DCAC was built as an alternative center for local artists and has turned into a stepping stone for young talent to get noticed in the naton’s capital.

Over 100 visual art exhibitions and 500 performances have taken place at the DC Arts Center.The center has been reviewed on the local, national, and international level, making this an important venue for both the art world and the artists showcasing their work.

Where SNL Stars are Born: Upright Citizens Brigade

uprightcitizensBefore Amy Poehler was Baby Mama and a SNL star, she was one of the four founders of Upright Citizens Brigade, one of the premiere improvisation theaters in the country.  UCB is known for its long form improvisation and the 152-seat, intimate basement theater. It is so intimate that you can literally see the sweat on the performers’ faces during the scenes. The talent ranges from familiar faces you may have seen on Madtv and 30 Rock to advanced students showing off their comedic timing on stage.

Make sure to book tickets in advance and if you plan on going to the famously free Sunday show, be prepared for a long wait. This is a casual affair with fold up chairs and an intermission filled with cheaply priced beer and wine, but that’s the way comedy should be: gritty and real.

Discover the Woman Behind the Flag and Star-Spangled Banner

Ever wonder Picture 31how the American flag came to be? At the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, discover the woman behind the most powerful symbol in the world. Located in the former house of Mary Pickersgill, who sewed the national flag that also inspired our national anthem, this museum recreates the world that Mary would have lived in.

At the museum, visitors can learn about the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, during which the flag and anthem were created. There are various artifacts from the era, including a fragment of the Star-Spangled Banner flag and a drum used by an American soldier during the battle. There is also a discovery gallery for kids, where they can design their own flags and fly it on the gallery’s flagpole.

The house is filled with original early 19th century objects. In fact, many of them were actual possessions of the Pickersgill family. There are also various live characters around the house that really make the experience feel authentic, from the African American apprentice Grace Wisher to Mary Pickersgill herself. If that’s not enough to recreate 19th century life for you, there are also touchable objects and various interactive activities, as well as a professionally guided tour.

Disney Meets History at Kid-Friendly Port Discovery

Who doesn’t love a little Disney? With the exhibits designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, Port Discovery ranks as one of the Top 5 Children’s Museums in the U.S. by Child Magazine and has about 250,000 visitors a year. It is home to fifteen distinct environments and exhibits, providing a very educational and interactive experience a.k.a. if you’ve got a kid, this is the place to go.

Picture 29Using the philosophy that children learn best through experiences, Port Discovery’s exhibits are very hands on and range from a Sensation Station for toddlers to a mystery house where kids try to solve a mystery using clues and evidence of an Egyptian pharaoh’s “lost” tomb. The museum also offers diverse programs, such as Healthy First Saturdays, which focuses on healthy living, and Discovery Days, which is designed for children with special needs.

This museum is only a short walk from the Inner Harbor and is definitely worth checking out.

Aptly Named Mr. Yum Brings Asia to Little Havana

This Thai/Japanese restaurant certainly doesn’t suffer for its unconventional location in the heart of Little Havana. With a chic interior- stark white tables against crimson walls- and a buzzing, hip clientele, Mr. Yum is known for providing great service and delicious food. Every meal begins with a fancy amuse bouche and highlights include a special Pad Thai, Panang Curry and an incredible, creative sushi bar that’s as beautiful to look at as it is to eat.

Wild Times at the National Zoo

Picture 10Tired of people watching all day? Come to the National Zoo and animal watch instead. Open 364 days a year, this 163-acre zoo is set in the heart of D.C. With 2,000 animals of nearly 400 different species, this zoo is huge.

The National Zoo is most known for its famous residents: giant pandas Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. There are plenty of other interesting animals as well, from seals and sea lions to Asian elephants. There are also various programs happening everyday, whether it’s meeting zebras or watching a crazy octopus feeding. The zoo also offers various education programs, from the Wildlife Studies Certificate Program to children’s classes for ages two and older.

The zoo requires at least a few hours to go through all the exhibits and is exciting whether there’s snow on the ground or on a beautiful summer day. And hey, it’s not every day that you get to see an animal roaming around in Washington D.C.

Spooky, Yet Serene Cheeseman Park

Cheeseman Park is a great place to relax, take a stroll, play with the dog, or sit in the sun and enjoy the view, but beware of the restless spirits! Yes, Cheeseman Park is one of the most haunted places in Denver. Built on a cemetery, it seems the workers forgot to move some of the graves that were still buried in the historic ground when it was converted to a park. The workers then began to disrupt the bodies in such a way that the undertaker proclaimed it was the “Work of Ghouls!” to a local paper.  Since then it’s been known as one of the haunted places in Denver.

But if ghosts are not you’re thing, head over to the eastern border where the picturesque Denver Botanic Gardens has made a home.

Beers & Steers at Denver Chophouse & Brewery

Set within of the historic Union PacificDenver Chophouse Brewery railstation complex, this link in a small national chain hearkens back to Denver’s cowtown past, when beer and beef were what was for dinner most every night.

Handsomely high-ceilinged and woody, Denver Chophouse & Brewery is a decent place to dine (tip for filet fiends: order yours one shade pinker than usual). But it’s a better place to imbibe, with a good-sized selection of wines by the glass, generous cocktails, nearly ten housebrews on tap—including an oatmeal stout conditioned in Wild Turkey barrels—and bottomless bloody marys and mimosas for weekend brunch.

Strathmore’s Elegant Acoustics and Diverse Artists

Picture 23Rolling hills in an intimate, park-like setting. If this sounds like the description of an outdoor concert, you’re wrong. This is actually what the architects of the new Strathmore Music Center tried to recreate, and they have succeeded in creating an artistic haven for musicians, dancers and every other kind of artist.

With 1,976 seats wrapping around the stage under the undulating roof and curving balconies, the concert hall is beautiful and elegant. It’s not just about looks either. There are 43 individually controlled acoustical reflector panels as well as a ceiling that slopes upward from the stage, allowing for rich and full acoustics for any kind of performance. And these aren’t just any kind of performances.

Having hosted many famous artists, from Yo-Yo Ma to Wilco, the Music Center is also home to the famous Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The Strathmore presents affordable and accessible artistic performances all year-round. There are also more intimate performances, as well as art exhibits and lectures, at the 100-seat Strathmore Mansion (located next to the Music Center), which can be rented for weddings and other events.

It may be in Maryland, but the Strathmore Theatre is just minutes from the Beltway. For an amazing artistic experience, this is the place to go.

The Empire Observatory’s Secret

EmpireStateBuildingAs the tallest building in New York City, you can’t help but be entranced by the Empire State Building. Yet waiting in the sometimes hours long line to see its famous view can ruin any source of awe one was expecting to feel.

We’ve got the solution to your tourist problems.

Go at night.

The ESB Observatory has hours fit for the City That Never Sleeps. It’s open until 2am.

Once the sun sets, it’s like a whole new world up there. Instead of families and tourists clamoring to get the best skyline shot (is there even one?), the crowd turns to New Yorkers and couples. The wait to get up to the top is slim to none and it’s quiet and spacious enough to feel like you’re on top of the world- alone.

Yes, the ESB Observatory is as incredible and romantic as it sounds.

Rita Hazan: Color Knows No Better

RitaHazanWhen Oprah features you- twice- and Jessica Simpson cheats on the colorist she made famous to be in your hands, you must be someone of high quality. You must be colorist Rita Hazan.

By her humble personality and youthful appearance, one would never know they were in the hands of a beauty master. So our correspondent was shocked to see that when Rita Hazan starts to foil it’s as if a kung-fu ninja has emerged. Rita uses a special folding technique, almost like the FlipFold, that allows the time-consuming process to go remarkably fast with each foil being of the same size.

While this may seem like an accomplishment in itself, it’s the mixture she uses in the back that is true genius. Rita takes time to listen to her clients and hear what they cannot express themselves, ending with results that near perfection. And the color lasts nearly forever in hair terms; the only reason to touch one’s hair after emerging from the salon is to touch up the roots, but never the color.

To add to the experience, make sure to get the special protein hair treatment that leaves even the most butchered of blondes absolutely shiny.

So, sure, stylists get all the credit for the “perfect” cut, but anyone who dyes their hair knows that finding the “perfect” color is nearly impossible. From personal experience, we know Rita Hazan makes the impossible perfectly possible.

Take it Slow at Theodore Roosevelt Island

Whether you’d like to take a run or enjoy the picturesque scenery and touching memorial, the Theodore Roosevelt Island is a beautiful place to visit. Located in the middle of the Potomac River, the island was re-named and made a national memorial to commemorate the heroic 26th U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Enjoy the scenic beauty of this island, but make sure to bring your walking shoes. The only way to access the island is through a footbridge from Arlington, Virginia and no cars or bicycles are allowed.

New Saigon: An Old Standby

Picture 36Loyal locals have been thronging New Saigon for nearly 25 years—but even the most avid among them have yet to explore every inch of the menu: it’s that big. Denver’s first and foremost Vietnamese restaurant offers literally hundreds of options, from the obvious—pho, noodle bowls, and fresh spring rolls—to the obscure, be it frog’s legs stir-fried with grape leaves, goat cooked and served in a firepot with lotus and taro, or salad with squid, snails, chicken feet and pork ear. And if all that’s not adventurous enough for you, ask about the untranslated items (your server will try to dissuade you, so some persistence is required). Cheap and casual, it’s ever-popular, so go in the off-hours to ensure immediate seating.

Insider’s tip: For a take-home treat, buy a bag of the spicy sesame-cashew beef jerky from the large jars lining the back wall.

Legends Live On at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Picture 19As star-studded as Hollywood itself, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery has been the final resting place for the stars of the silver screen since the beginning of the movie era. Thousands come each year to see pin-up Jayne Mansfield, Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer and legendary film director Cecil B. DeMille’s tombstones. As the “resting place of Hollywood’s immortals,” this is a unique mix of both the living and the not soon to be forgotten: the cemetery is a historic landmark that shares half of its lot with Paramount Studios.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery offers a myriad of walking tours.  The Hidden Hollywood Tour uncover the lost stars’ resting places, like Birth of Nation’s Henry B. Walthall; The Jewish Heritage Tour explores the lives and contributions of many of its Jewish persons; the tours would not be complete without The Cemetery of the Stars Tour that shows the A-list of the interred people.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is also host to many events year round, like the “Dia De Los Muertos” festival, that is one of the biggest of its kind. Sure, it may be a little morbid, but they don’t call it Hollywierd for nothing!

Anna Wintour’s Secret Street

anna-wintourOne would expect fashion legend Anna Wintour’s favorite New York street to be as glamorous as Vogue’s cover pages, but it is a street so small and hidden it’s only a lane.

Minetta Lane is one of the most tranquil and charming streets in the City. Boasting only a block of real estate, it doesn’t even house one store. Instead it has the beautiful Minetta Lane Theater complete with a balcony that shows off-Broadway plays.

Minetta Lane is in the heart of Greenwich Village, with bustling Sixth Avenue to its west and NYU bar-ridden MacDougal Street to its east. But you would never know how populated the area is when walking down this street, and that’s why New Yorkers love it. Walking down this lane is like going back in time, with some of the original 1800 buildings still standing proudly. The peace and quiet is an amazing escape from the hustle and bustle of New York without every leaving its heart.

***Anna Wintour is the legendary editor-in-chief and fashion icon of American Vogue Magazine. Ms. Wintour is widely regarded as one of the most powerful people in fashion by heavily influencing trends and emerging designers’ careers. Beyond the pages, Anna Wintour has been the muse of major motion pictures including starring in “The September Issue” and has been named “The Mayoress of New York” by The Guardian publication.

Isaac Mizrahi’s Radio City Inspiration

Issac Mizrahi is a fashion designer with a fabulously loud personality, but his “most inspiring place” in New York is a traditional staple of New York culture: Radio City Music Hall.  Thousands will flock to its doors in the upcoming months for the world famous Rockettes and the Christmas Spectacular show, but Mizrahi thinks the architecture says it all. Mirazhi says Radio City, not some other famous New York skyscraper, epitomizes the 1930’s art deco architecture and its beauty is truly inspiring. But Mizrahi does love a good Rockette show like the rest of us, having once been in talks to design their costumes!

** Isaac Mizrahi the Chief Director of Liz Claiborne and television host of Bravo’s “The Fashion Show.” Mizrahi has been awarded 4 prestigious CFDA fashion awards and is credited for revolutionizing the fashion industry with his partnership with Target. Beyond fashion, Mizrahi is an accomplished author, performed in a one-man, off-Broadway production, and has appeared in motion pictures and television shows including “Sex & the City.” Mirazhi was born in Brooklyn and resides near Washington Square Park.

Eric Fischl & The New Gen of Odeon Artists

It makes perfect sense that artist Eric Fischl’s favorite restaurant is The Odeon Restaurant. The Odeon is the grandfather of the hot culinary scene that is TriBeCa today. It was the first to arrive on the scene, before TriBeCa got its moniker for being the Triangle-Below-Canal, and attractedPicture 8 the who’s who of the art world, including Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The Odeon is known for its brasserie fare including the country frisee salad, trouffled poached eggs and sautéed cod.

At night, especially on warm summer evenings, the restaurant’s terrace sports the beautiful and fabulous of New York sipping martinis and cocktails.  And Eric Fischl’s keeps the Odeon’s artist attraction alive today with his frequent visits to this American brasserie pioneer.

** Eric Fischl is an artist and sculptor and native New Yorker. Fischl’s works have been featured at The Whitney Museum and sculptures in Rockefeller Center.

Mizuo Peck is INA Love

Film star and native New Yorker Mizuo Peck loves to shop at one of New York’s coolest insider stores, INA.

INA describes itself as “New York’s best and most established designer consignment store,”Picture 13 and it’s very hard to prove them wrong.

Opening their flagship in 1994, they are now five stores strong in some of Manhattan’s most prized shopping real estate: NoHo, SoHo, Nolita, and Uptown.

INA is not your average consignment store where one most purge through racks of outdated and moth-ball smelling clothes to find the designer gem in the pile, it instead chooses the best of the best in fashion of yesterday and today. INA consistently fills its racks with beautiful, well-maintained, and luxurious items at discounted prices that make both fashionistas and recessionistas come back for more. They have everything from barely used Chanel wallets to Christian Louboutin heels to Tory Burch skirts. Some items are truly vintage while others are simply last season’s castaways, but all are absolutely devine.

And if this store doesn’t seem like it could get any better, it also has an amazing blog that keeps you up to date on new inventory, sale items, and INA employee’s picks for all its stores.

INA consignment stores are a shopper’s dream and unlike most “chains”, every INA store is completely unique from each other and from each day.

**Mizuo Peck is most famous for her role as Sacajawea in both “Night at the Museum” films starring Ben Stiller. Peck has worked closely with respected photographer Bruce Weber for the cover of L’uomo Vogue and appeared with Angelina Jolie in the Rolling Stones’ music video, “Anybody Seen My Baby?” Peck, a native New Yorker, still lives a block from her childhood TriBeCa home.

It’s Easy to Get Lost in Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is where you go to hike, bike, blade, boat, float, jog—or just simply walk around, but this is no ordinary park. Being the world’s largest municipal park, this park encompasses 92,00 acres and includes 62 neighborhoods!!! This extraordinary park is home to a number of museums, stables, mansions, boathouses, and historical buildings such as the Bellaire Manor with its floor to ceiling wood paneling that would make any art historian’s mouth water. Grown by John Bartram in the 1700’s, America’s oldest living botanic garden can also be found here. At Fairmount Park, quantity means quality as well.