FYIDC: Beat the Heat

Get the 411 on how to survive Washington’s sweltering summer days.

By Halle Kaplan-Allen

Photo courtesy of Front Royal Canoe & Kayak.

In the 1930s and ’40s Washington residents avoided the summer heat by fleeing to their houses along the Eastern shore. But these days, many of us are forced to stay in town because of work, despite the regular hyperthermia warnings and a heat index of well over 100. For those of you who are running out of ideas about how to keep cool when the mercury rises, look no further. Here’s a list of all the coolest (pun intended) things to do in Washington this summer.

It’s no secret that the best way to stay cool during the summer is water, water, water — in any form. Front Royal Canoe & Kayak makes it easy to cool off and relax with tours and self-guided Shenandoah River Trips. Visitors can rent canoes, kayaks, rafts and tubes between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the week and 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on the weekends. Rent a tube — the perfect summer activity, as it requires virtually no movement — for $20 and float down the river on a three-mile course, which lasts about three to four hours. The rental includes both shuttle service to and from the launch spot and a cooler rental.

If the river isn’t enough to cool you down, wait until later in the day and sign up for the Guided Sunset Canoe Paddle trip, which covers a three-mile section of the Shenandoah River, and watch the sun change colors against a backdrop of the breathtaking Shenandoah Mountains. Sunset Trips are $38 per person, and are scheduled for July 3rd, August 1st and August 31st.

For the less outdoorsy crowd, Washington has much to offer in the way of public pools. The city’s many rooftop pools provide plenty of opportunities to relax in the shade, especially those hosted by the in-the-know creators of Brightest Young Things. On July 4, BYT is set to take over the pool on the roof of the Capitol Skyline Hotel from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tickets are $15, and give guests access to waterslides, music by Fatback DJs, pool games, contests and more.

Guests partake in a water balloon fight at the most recent Brightest Young Things pool party (Photo by Dakota Fine).

When it’s too hot to venture outside, head over to the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center to enjoy a classic like The Princess Bride or a more recent flick like Moonrise Kingdom. You can also rent the theater for private events. For more information, including show times, visit www.afi.com/silver

Those more interested in the fine arts are sure to find something of interest at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located on the Potomac River waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. The factory was used to manufacture torpedoes from 1918 until 1945, when it was temporarily used as an art storage space for the Smithsonian. In the 1970s, the building was converted into art studios. It now features the work of over 165 different artists, and is home to 82 studios, six galleries and two workshops, as well as the Alexandria Archaeology Museum.

The Center’s Art League School offers classes and camps for adults and children in drawing, painting, photography, sculpture and jewelry making. Visitors can even purchase original pieces from artists, or simply observe their creative processes. On the second Thursday of every month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Torpedo Factory hosts a free Art Night, during which visitors can browse open studios, interact with artists, and enjoy complimentary refreshments. Upcoming Art Nights are scheduled for July 12 and August 9. Guided tours of the building are also offered every Friday at 1 p.m.

Finally, what summer day is complete without a cold treat? To get your sweet fix check out Washington’s tastiest, trendiest popsicles: Pleasant Pops. Based on the paleta, a traditional Mexican ice pop, Pleasant Pops are made with local agriculture and sustainability in mind. The company offers their pops in over 100 different flavors, which are all made using local ingredients. Pleasant Pops went mobile in October of 2010 with their food truck Big Poppa.

Pleasant Pops are made using fresh local ingredients (Photo by David K. Cooper).

This summer, Pleasant Pops is featuring flavors such as Strawberry Ginger Lemonade, Cucumber Chile, and Pineapple Basil. Other popular flavors include Watermelon Mint, Mexican Chocolate, and the Guac Pop, which is made with avocado and lime.

Pleasant Pops is also opening a year-round Farmhouse Market this summer, funded by Kickstarter, in Adams Morgan, where they will sell their paletas as well as a slew of other local goods, including seasonal produce, dairy products, jams and jellies and homemade bread. The Farmhouse will also have free wi-fi and will serve coffee and ready-made salads and sandwiches.

For other cold, sweet refreshments on the go, check out Sweetgreen’s Sweetflow Mobile, Sinplicity Ice Cream, Froyotogo, Scoops2U, Chipwich, Street Cream, Goodies Frozen Custard and Dippin Dots, all of which can be tracked using foodtruckfiesta.com

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