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Weekend in D.C.: Playing Spy and Flying to Mars

Summer weekends provide the best opportunity for Washingtonians to try something just a few steps beyond their usual routine. Here are a few suggestions that range from traveling to Mars to watching dancers with scissors. It’s all so D.C.


“Towering Ambition”

You can view New York City’s Empire State Building, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch or Frank Lloyd Wright’s elaborately designed Fallingwater home — all without going beyond the Beltway. This LEGO exhibit, which runs until Sept. 5, showcases models of 15 world-famous buildings, created by one of the world’s 11 professional LEGO builders.

Where: National Building Museum,

401 F St. NW

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $5

Mars Day!

Test your robot-control skills by directing a robot arm, view 3-D videos of the red planet’s surface and study Martian meteorites. Numerous planetary scientists will talk about their Mars research and a NASA director will discuss ongoing and upcoming missions to the planet.

Where: National Air and Space Museum

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cost: Free

Spy at Night

Solve an international crisis and complete a spy mission at the International Spy Museum. In addition to learning how to use audio and video surveillance and decode secret messages, you can learn basic ninja kicks and jabs from instructors and speak with former spy agents.

Where: International Spy Museum,
800 F St. NW

When: 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Cost: $20, which includes a free cocktail


Starry Night Project

Art gurus might appreciate this Boston-based band’s concert. With the self-proclaimed hope of connecting “the ear to the eye and the eye to the ear,” the musicians — including a violinist, a cellist and a pianist — will play harmonies that depict the emotions of famous art pieces, including works by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh.

Where: Corcoran Gallery of Art,
500 17th St. NW

When: 2 p.m.

Cost: Free

“The Red Badge of Courage”

Despite writing the classic Civil War novel “The Red Badge of Courage,” Stephen Crane never actually lived through the war — nor did he get to see the 1951 film that was based on his book. National Archives visitors, however, can see the film in the William G. McGowan Theater as part of the exhibit “Discovering the Civil War, Part One: Beginnings,” which runs through Sept. 6.

Where: National Archives

When: Noon

Cost: Free

Community Heroes

Secret Service agents protecting top officials wear their suits unbuttoned to easily access their weaponry and other equipment in emergencies. Children can learn more about agents from Andrew Hsieh, a White House lawn security guard, in the “Community Heroes” series, which connects kids with local service members.

Where: National Children’s Museum,
112 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.

When: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Cost: Free


An American Playlist

The three-day festival celebrates music, dance and prose on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. The series includes performances by John Mayer, Smokey Robinson, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet and the Roots. Though no more tickets are available, patrons may view the performances on screens in the Grand Foyer. Access to the Grand Foyer viewing areas will be on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached.

Where: Kennedy Center,
2700 F St. NW

When: 6 p.m.

Cost: Free


This word means “from our hands” in an indigenous Peruvian language and is the name of a weeklong arts festival celebrating Peru. The event features workshops and performances, including scissors dancers, who dance with scissors to harp and violin music, and Peruvian band Inca Son. There will also be discussions on the Peruvian mummy Señora de Cao and the country’s rural lifestyle.

Where: National Museum of the American Indian

When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

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