You can see a lot of the nation’s capital before a Nationals game in Washington D.C. With eight hours before game time and $100 to spend, you’ll catch a little history, culture, food and the iconic D.C sights.
Start your day at the International Spy Museum.The collection of spy tools and gadgets is a tech geek’s dream. There’s wireless bugging equipment, spy cameras … even the Aston Martin DB5 from the 1964 James Bond movie “Goldfinger.”
A huge part of spy history centers around cryptography and coding; the museum’s enigma codemaking machine was a big part of that throughout World War II. You can also check out exhibits on celebrity spies, including baseball start Moe Berg, the famous catcher for the White Sox, the Red Sox and former local team, the Washington Senators. Don’t leave without a few minutes of evil in the 50 Years of Bond Villains exhibit—you can even reenact your James Bond moment.
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From the Spy Museum, head to U Street, a popular dining and entertainment district. Here you’ll find Ben’s Chili bowl, the most famous chili in town. Ben’s was founded in 1958 by Ben Ali and his wife Virginia. Photos of Bill Cosby line the walls; he started coming here before he was famous, and proposed to his wife Camille at the restaurant. Follow Cosby’s lead and order the Original Half Smoke. President Obama’s a fan, too.
After lunch, travel down to the National Mall and check out the National Air and Space Museum. In 1946 when this place opened it was just the “National Air Museum,” but then we conquered space so they had to buy a new sign. In a city full of museums, the Air and Space Museum is the most popular one—it gets the most visitors every year.
Right across the Mall is another top D.C. museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. They’ve got it all: mummies, meteorites, gems, a T-Rex and the Hope Diamond. But you have a limited amount of time before the game, so skip straight to the insects. Walk through the butterfly pavilion at the O. Orkin Insect Zoo to have butterflies from all over the world flit around you. Some might come and land right on your head. Scorpions and spiders are also on display in the inset zoo— time it right and you can catch the daily tarantula feeding.
From here, cross the Mall (you can walk past the White House and Washington Monument on your way) and meander over to the Tidal Basin, the body of water in front of the Jefferson Memorial What better way to memorialize Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the United States than by paddling a paddleboat out into the Tidal Basin and checking out his memorial? It’s a great way to burn a few calories and see a one of the city’s top monuments.
It’s almost game time, but you’ve got time for a few beers before the first pitch. The Fairgrounds on Half Street is the place to pregame before a Nationals Game in D.C. It’s all built out of shipping containers around the original Bullpen bar, and there’s a party-like atmosphere with lawn games, music and food trucks.
When you’re ready, Nationals Park is a block away; it’s a beautiful ballpark and home to some great local food and drink offerings. For a glimpse at where you were earlier today, head to the right field upper deck, where you’ll get a view of the Capitol building and the D.C. skyline.