Presidents Day weekend is upon us and if you’re new to town or have visitors to entertain, you might be seeking some ideas for things to do around Arlington.
There’s no shortage of tourism and restaurant guides out there, but we decided to pose the question to ChatGPT, the AI chatbot, and request a daily itinerary.
The ideas were pretty solid, if conventional, though there was some out-of-date and questionable information included, as we notated in brackets and with strike-throughs. In ChatGPT’s partial defense, its data set ends at 2021.
The full conversation is below.
ARLnow: If you were planning three-day weekend in Arlington, Virginia, which activities would you do and which restaurants would you go to?
ChatGPT: Arlington, Virginia is a great destination for a weekend getaway with many attractions and great food options. Here’s an itinerary for a three-day weekend in Arlington:
- Start the day by visiting Arlington National Cemetery, where you can pay your respects to the fallen heroes of the United States. Be sure to catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which happens every hour on the hour.
- Afterward, head to the nearby United States Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) for a stunning view of the D.C. skyline.
- For lunch, try a local favorite like the Italian Store or
Ray’s Hell Burger[closed in 2017].
- Spend the afternoon exploring the National Mall in Washington, D.C., just a short Metro ride away. Visit the Smithsonian museums and monuments, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
- For dinner, head back to Arlington and try some modern American cuisine at Ambar Clarendon or Barley Mac.
- Start the day by exploring the trendy Clarendon neighborhood, known for its unique shops and restaurants.
- Visit the nearby Gravelly Point Park to watch planes take off and land at Reagan National Airport.
- For lunch, try some authentic Vietnamese food at the iconic Pho 75 or try some tacos at District Taco.
- Spend the afternoon at the Arlington Arts Center [now known as the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington], a hub for contemporary art in the D.C. area.
- For dinner, head to
the iconic Ray’s the Steaks for some classic steakhouse fare[closed in 2019] or try some Middle Eastern cuisine at the Lebanese Taverna.
- Start the day by exploring the historic neighborhood of Old Town Alexandria, just a short Metro ride away. Visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center and stroll along the waterfront.
- For lunch, try some fresh seafood at the legendary Fish Market [in Alexandria] or enjoy some New Orleans-style cuisine at Bayou Bakery [in Arlington].
- Spend the afternoon at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, paying tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks.
- For dinner, head to the lively neighborhood of Ballston and try some Korean BBQ at Yechon [in Annandale] or some Latin American cuisine at SER Restaurant.
These are just some suggestions, but there are many other great things to do and places to eat in Arlington. I hope you have a great weekend!
ARLnow: If you wanted to go out for drinks after dinner one of those nights, what are some popular options? Also, are there any off-the-beaten-path options to consider?
ChatGPT: Arlington, Virginia has a vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of options for a post-dinner drink. Here are some popular options and some off-the-beaten-path alternatives to consider:
A $10,000 state tourism grant will revamp how Arlington promotes its Black history to tourists.
Currently, the county’s tourism webpage outlines some of the important historic moments and existing landmarks. The landing page links to blog posts featuring Black businesses and artwork celebrating Arlington’s Black culture and history.
Travelers who want more can download a 68-page online tour guide last updated in 2016.
Arlington Convention and Visitors Service — the tourism division of Arlington Economic Development — wants to give the branding for these resources a facelift. And on Saturday, the Arlington County Board accepted a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation to fund these upgrades.
“The Black Arlington experience is an incredibly representative one of American history and we are really excited to welcome in more tourists to learn about those landmarks and narratives,” Board Chair Katie Cristol said during the Saturday meeting.
The changes would make it easier to plan a trip engaging with Arlington’s Black history and support its Black-owned businesses.
“One idea is to create a customized map that highlights sites and experiences that honor and commemorate Arlington’s Black history across the County as well as showcase Black-owned business locations,” said ACVS director Emily Cassell. “We’re also considering adding suggested itineraries for visitors.”
The grant will pay for fresh photos, a professional video of major sights and digital assets for social media.
How Arlington celebrates its Black history has changed since the last reprinting of the tour guide.
Nauck — a historically Black neighborhood named for a Confederate soldier — was renamed Green Valley in 2020. The Nauck Town Square was dubbed the John Robinson Jr. Town Square and construction there on a new plaza and sculpture wrapped up this spring.
Last summer, Lee Highway was renamed Langston Blvd and Arlington Public Schools unveiled panels at Dorothy Hamm Middle School honoring the four students who integrated the building — formerly Stratford Junior High School — six decades ago.
On Friday, the Black Heritage Museum celebrated its grand reopening in a new space at 3045B Columbia Pike.
Eventually, visitors will be able to see more historical reminders of Arlington’s Jim Crow era. The new Fire Station No. 8 (4845 Langston Blvd) will pay tribute to the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department, which served the historically Black neighborhood, and the forthcoming restaurant in the former Green Valley Pharmacy space will pay homage to the only lunch counter and pharmacy that served Black people during segregation.
Information like this is expected to migrate to a new tourism website that will go live next year.
“We are well into plans for a new website launching in 2023, and are actively working on improved and expanded tourism content across the board,” Cassell said. “We are very pleased that this new [funding] will help us enhance visitor experiences and better tell the story of Arlington’s African American heritage. We’re also thrilled with today’s ribbon cutting at The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington and look forward to our continued partnership.”
The grant will facilitate collaboration with other groups, too, including Arlington’s business improvement districts, neighborhood groups, libraries, the county’s Historic Preservation Program, Walk Arlington and Bike Arlington, according to the county report.
ACVS applied for the grant early this year as part of an effort to conduct strategic tourism planning as travel recovers from the pandemic, according to a county report. From February through May, ACVS heard from nearly 40 “local hospitality stakeholders” on ideas they thought could boost local tourism.
“Of numerous ideas considered, participants expressed enthusiasm for promoting visitor sites and experiences that showcase Arlington’s African American heritage,” the report said.
Other ideas for improving tourism, discussed in the report, include a more up-to-date calendar of events, more live music venues, and water taxi routes to Reagan National Airport, the Pentagon and Rosslyn.
Guilty Plea in 1998 Murder — “The case of Andrea Cincotta, a librarian and single mother who was found dead in her Arlington apartment, remained an unsolved mystery for nearly 24 years… On Wednesday, [Bobby Joe Leonard] pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge, admitting that he strangled Cincotta to death more than two decades ago. And he claimed he did so hoping to be paid by a man he believed to be Cincotta’s boyfriend.” [Washington Post]
Metro Upping Rail Service on Local Lines — “Welcome news for customers who ride the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. As of Aug 1, trains will arrive every 15 minutes on weekdays, matching service on the Green and Yellow lines. For most customers, the wait for a train will be no longer than 5-8 minutes, as most stations are served by at least two if not all three lines.” [WMATA]
Meteor Over Arlington — “Bright meteor from west Arlington, looking WNW tonight!” [Twitter]
Prohibition Tour of Arlington — “Arlington’s wholesome present hides some scandals of the past. You don’t even want to think of the vice – gambling, prostitution, you name it – that raged unchecked in Rosslyn… Park historian John McNair will lead a short walking tour on the Clarendon area on Aug. 12 at 3 p.m., detailing stories of local bootleggers and the government agents who attempted to stop them.” [Sun Gazette]
Fall Rec Class Catalog Released — “Special Delivery – ENJOY Arlington. We are excited to provide you with recreation, nature and history programs this fall.” [Dept. of Parks and Recreation]
F.C. Is Wealthiest Place in Va. — “According to a study from SmartAsset released this week, Falls Church residents rank the wealthiest in Virginia. The study assessed wealth by comparing counties across three categories: the amount of investment income residents receive, total per capita income and the median home value… After Falls Church, Arlington County and Fairfax County follow in second and third place for the top 10 wealthiest localities in Virginia.” [Falls Church News-Press]
It’s Friday — Rain and storms — some potentially severe — in the afternoon, evening and overnight. High of 85 and low of 73. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:24 pm. [Weather.gov]
Photo courtesy Dave Statter
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
During the pandemic, Erik Neighbour wanted a fun way to get his friends together where they could stay socially distanced.
So, the Clarendon area resident created a scavenger hunt of sorts, using riddles to explore D.C. monuments. He put the riddles and challenges into an online form so they could use their phones to play.
“They liked it so much that I thought maybe there’s something more here,” he said.
He continued to refine and develop the game into its own app, called Capital Clues, using coding skills that he first learned creating a financial literacy app. About 100 users downloaded it during a six-month beta testing period and it launched for the public to use two weeks ago, he said.
The app provides riddles that guide users from one monument to the next. At each location, there are a series of questions that challenge the user to use observational skills to discover things about the monument. If you don’t get the question, there are hints, but it also can be skipped.
The answer page for each series of questions gives additional insights about what they found. The app has two courses, one from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, and another that goes around the Tidal Basin, from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
When he first created the game for his friends, Neighbour used a third party service, but when he started to actually develop an app for the game, functionality around scoring and timing were important to him.
“People are motivated by certain things in games,” he said. “Some people really like the adventure of finding things, other people like myself are really competitive and I’m really motivated by score and want to know how I did on a leaderboard. And so with this app, we’re able to cater to multiple gaming personas and doing so in a branded experience, which has a seamless user experience.”
During the beta period, he said he was also focused on making sure the questions were challenging but still fun. He said he spent almost every other weekend watching people he recruited to play the game, which also led to an adjustment in how users were timed.
And while Neighbour said there are other competitors for scavenger hunt apps, including one called Let’s Roam, Capital Clues has questions that make you think outside of the box, sort of like an escape room experience, which inspired him.
Over the next year, he said he’ll evaluate how the app performs and how people react to it. If there is enough interest, he would consider expanding it, he said.
Arlington County is set to receive more than $3 million to entice tourists to visit Arlington and help the hard-hit tourism industry recover from the pandemic.
The county’s tourism division, Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS), would use the $3.25 million grant for advertising, media outreach, marketing research, promotional events and tourism development to support the travel and hospitality industry, according to a county report.
The Arlington County Board is set to consider the grant during its meeting this Saturday. The Virginia Tourism Corporation awarded ACVS the money through the American Rescue Plan Act Tourism Recovery program, but the County Board must approve the funding.
In November, the Board cited this grant as the reason it did not consider direct financial support to hotels in its allocation of about $9 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds, which went toward housing assistance, expanding critical behavioral health services, meal distribution for senior citizens and more affordable child care options, among other initiatives.
Board members said the ACVS grant will instead help hospitality workers through training and job search support.
“Unfortunately, unlike the ARPA funds Arlington County received earlier from the Commonwealth, [the ACVS] funds can’t be used for grants or other direct financial support to our hotels, which is what we continue to hear would be the most impactful for their recovery and for maintaining sustainable, predictable compensation for their employees,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kate Bates told ARLnow.
In Arlington Economic Development’s survey of local hotels, employee pay and benefits was the top spending priority across hotels of all sizes, Bates said.
“Moreover, employment data show that Arlington has lost about half of its hotel workforce during the pandemic,” she said.
ACVS has gathered input on how to use the grant funding from representatives of Arlington hotels, the Chamber of Commerce, local Business Improvement Districts, the Clarendon, Columbia Pike and Langston Boulevard neighborhood partnerships, Arlington Economic Development and the Department of Parks and Recreation, the report said.
The conversations are expected to continue over the 30 months the grant will be distributed.
“The funds are designated specifically for marketing Arlington as a destination to generate visitor spending, and I’m confident that Emily Cassell and the great team at ACVS will develop a plan to successfully do that, with continued feedback from the hotels along the way,” Bates said.
Police Called for Man Spitting on Bus Passengers — An incident on a bus prompted a police response Thursday afternoon. Per ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage: “At approximately 1:38 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly subject on a Metro bus in the area of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street. The suspect left the area prior to police arrival and a search by responding officers returned with negative results… The call for service alleged the subject was acting disorderly and spitting on individuals on the bus.”
Arlington Company Is Among Fastest-Growing — Ballston-based Hungry is the fastest-growing technology firm in the D.C. area and the 18th fastest growing tech company in the nation, according to a new list from Deloitte. Another Ballston tech company, Evolent Health, ranked No. 402 in the U.S. [Deloitte]
NAACP Statement on H-B Incident — “We are pleased that the principal took swift action to notify families and meet with affected students and that the Superintendent followed up with a letter to APS families with an honest depiction that did not minimize the significance or harm it caused. This act of racial violence is the latest and most egregious in a progressive pattern of racist incidents occurring within our schools.” [Press Release]
Grant to Help Local Tourism Recover — “Arlington Convention and Visitors Service has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program, designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of state grant funds.” [Arlington County]
ACFD Hosting Kids’ Bedtime Stories — “We are extremely excited to host our 4th Virtual Bedtime Story/ Fire Engine Tour! Spots are limited and previous events have maxed out quickly. If you are interested in joining please email [email protected] Can’t wait to see you Monday night.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]
More County Website Problems — Arlington County’s website again suffered technical difficulties yesterday afternoon. The issues were resolved within a few hours. [@ArlingtonVA/Twitter]
Gondolas Gaining in Popularity — “Air gondolas — ski-lift-type conveyances that have become common sights in South American cities like Medellín, Mexico City and La Paz — could one day dot the U.S. urban landscape, some transportation planners say.” [Axios]
Nearby: Car Plows Into CD Cellar — The CD Cellar store in Falls Church was damaged after a car came crashing through one of the front windows earlier this week. “Someone thought we were a drive-thru record store,” CD Cellar quipped on social media. [Facebook]
Shooting Near Arlington Border — An early Sunday morning shooting that could be heard in parts of south Arlington “happened along the 3800 block of South George Mason Drive at approximately 1:19 a.m., according to Fairfax County police. Police said when they arrived at the scene, they discovered bullet casings but no victims. Shortly after, Arlington County police stopped a vehicle along I-395 and found a victim who had been shot in the abdomen and was trying to drive to a hospital.” [WTOP]
Purple Lounge Loses Liquor License Again — “The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has temporarily suspended the alcohol licenses of the Purple Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge, LLC after finding the establishment in violation of the terms imposed… on September 16, 2020. As a result of this action, the alcohol licenses of the Purple Lounge will remain suspended for a minimum of 10 days with reinstatement dependent upon approval by Virginia ABC.” [Arlington County]
Local Tourism Boomed in 2019 — “After a record-breaking 2018, tourism spending in Arlington rose to $3.6 billion in 2019, according to data released today by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Arlington has led Virginia counties in visitor spending for 12 consecutive years, with local tourism in 2019 generating $97.8 million in local tax receipts… [but] early numbers for 2020 project a sharp decrease in tourism spending.” [Arlington County]
Those Darn Kids Are At It Again — “Certain mountain bikers have blazed new unauthorized trails down the historic hillock known for 300 years as Brandymore Castle. They’ve angered tree stewards and parks protectors who bemoan damage to plant life on that secluded tree-lined formation in Madison Manor Park… The problem, Allen said, is not that mountain biking is inherently bad, but that a few practitioners lack education in the environmental impact of their behavior.” [Falls Church News-Press]
National Landing = Copenhagen on the Potomac? — From a local cycling advocate, regarding the possibility of adding more cycling infrastructure around Crystal City and Pentagon City: “We can turn @NationalLanding into Copenhagen in one fell swoop if we want to.” [@CarFreeHQ2/Twitter]
Today’s a Holiday — As a reminder, ARLnow is on a limited publishing schedule today due to the federal holiday. Arlington County offices and facilities, however, are open. Trash and recycling are being collected, though metered parking is not being enforced.
County Board to Consider Bridge Pact — “The Arlington and Alexandria governments are planning to formalize their long-shared responsibilities for maintenance of five bridges that span Four Mile Run between the two communities. The new agreement sets out the share of funding for future short-term and long-term rehabilitation of the five bridges – at West Glebe Road, Arlington Ridge Road, Shirlington Road, Route 1 and Potomac Avenue – as well as maintenance costs.” [InsideNova]
Meal Donation to Hospital — Per a spokeswoman: “At 12:45 p.m., roughly 1,500 meals from local restaurants will be delivered to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington as part of a 9/11 Day and World Central Kitchen initiative to support first responders and frontline healthcare workers on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The local restaurants participating in the delivery to Virginia Hospital Center are Arepa Zone, La Ceiba and Bistro Bis.”
Board to Vote on ART Facility Contract — “The Arlington County government is moving forward with planning for reconstruction of its Arlington Transit (ART) operations and maintenance facility, located on Shirlington Road in the Four Mile Run/Green Valley area. County Board members have been asked to approve a contract of roughly $3.9 million for planning, design and construction-administration services for the $81 million project. Stantec Architecture is receiving the contract.” [InsideNova]
Local Bars Welcome NFL Season — “‘We’re delighted to have live sports back,’ said Dave Cahill, general manager of Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington, Virginia. ‘We’re fortunate here at the Four Courts; we have three different rooms, and we have a large outdoor area. So we have 18 televisions inside and three TVs outside. Having three rooms, it’s going to allow us to spread people out all over the rooms, 6 feet apart and still enjoy the football,’ he said.” [WTOP]
GOP Senate Candidate Addresses Civ Fed — “His longshot candidacy notwithstanding, Daniel Gade received a polite reception from delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation. ‘I’m the sort of person who will always tell you the truth,’ the Republican U.S. Senate nominee said at the Sept. 8 event. His opponent, incumbent Democrat Mark Warner, was invited but did not attend the forum, convened online due to the public-health pandemic.” [InsideNova]
County Encourages Local Hotel Bookings — “For most of us with out-of-town family and friends, it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to get together. And with safety being everyone’s top priority, you may not be comfortable yet hosting guests in your Arlington house, condo or apartment. With plenty of space, great fall deals and packages, and an array of enhanced health and safety programs, Arlington’s 44 hotels can offer the ‘spare bedroom’ for your visitors this fall.” [Arlington County]
County Getting $10K Tourism Grant — “‘Arlington will use [state tourism] grant funds to showcase outdoor adventures in an urban setting to East Coast road trippers,’ said [Arlington Convention and Visitors Service] Director Emily Cassell. In addition… ACVS will commission a photography and video shoot to expand its collection of images reflecting the County’s cultural diversity.” [Arlington County]
Marymount Signs Mutual Aid Agreement — “Marymount University has become a member of the National Intercollegiate Mutual Aid Agreement (NIMAA), one of more than 100 signatory institutions across the nation that pledge to support each other in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency.” [InsideNova]
USA Today Editor Recalls Racism in Arlington — A top former USA Today editor recalls, in an opinion column, how he was pulled over multiple times by an Arlington police officer in the mid-1980s. The traffic stops appeared to be the result of racial discrimination and intimidation. “I stopped going into Arlington proper,” the editor says of the impact of the incidents on him. “It was a small sacrifice, but it’s one of those things that you sometimes have to do when you’re black in America.” [Hot Springs Sentinel-Record]
Flickr pool photo by Vincent
Coronavirus Case in Falls Church — “On Mar. 9, a U.S. Navy civilian employee at the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) in Falls Church, Virginia, tested ‘presumptive positive’ for the coronavirus (COVID-19)… The individual is currently at a hospital in Northern Virginia.” [U.S. Navy]
Northam Signs Arlington Tourism Tax Bill — “The governor’s signature on March 2 made it official – Arlington will now be able to impose a surtax on hotel stays, with the proceeds going to tourism promotion, in perpetuity. Gov. Northam signed legislation patroned by state Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax-Arlington) removing the ‘sunset clause’ from existing legislation allowing Arlington to tack on an additional 0.25 percent to the 5-percent transient-occupancy tax imposed by the county government on those staying in hotels and motels.” [InsideNova]
Lawmakers Support Long Bridge Project — Virginia’s delegation to Congress “sent a letter to Secretary Chao in support of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s (DRPT) application for an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant for the Long Bridge Project.” [Press Release]
No Arlington Rep on Metro Board — “For the first time in recent memory, Arlington will have no representation on the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which operates the Metro system… The shifts came about due to the resignation from the WMATA board of Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey, due to issues over reporting of campaign contributions during his 2019 re-election bid.” [InsideNova]
Beyer Gains a GOP Challenger — “On Friday, Mark Ellmore officially filed to seek the Republican nomination for Congress from Virginia’s Eighth District in 2020…. It is currently represented in Congress by Democratic Rep. Don Beyer.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Biden Wins Virginia — “Virginia voters have overwhelmingly given former Vice President Joe Biden a sizable win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election. According to unofficial state election returns, Biden has been called the winner of the state with 53.3 percent of what was a record primary turnout, and will capture the largest share of its 99 delegates.” [Patch, Washington Post]
Bernie Underperforms 2016 — In the two-way race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in 2016, Sanders captured 33% of the vote in Arlington. Yesterday, he received 19% of the vote, a close third to Elizabeth Warren at 20%.
FAA Taking Comments on DCA Noise — “After changing the routes for planes taking off from Reagan National Airport, in Arlington, Virginia, the Federal Aviation Administration is holding a public comment period. The comment period closes March 30. In an email, Libby Garvey, chair of the Arlington County Board, said that even if people in the community submitted earlier complaints, the FAA will not be officially considering them.” [WTOP]
Tafti Defends Changes at Prosecutor’s Office — “There’s this false critique that these reforms are making our communities less safe. We’ve been fed a story for decades that we have to incarcerate and have zero tolerance in order to be safe. More and more we are finding that harm reduction — for drug use, mental illness treatment, restorative justice — is more effective.” [Arlington Magazine]
Police: Two Arrested in Stolen Vehicle — “At approximately 2:40 p.m. on March 1, officers [in Pentagon City] were alerted to a license plate reader hit on a vehicle previously reported stolen out of Washington D.C. Officers observed two subjects walking away from the parked vehicle and conducted surveillance in the area. The subjects were taken into custody without incident as they returned to the vehicle… A search of the vehicle located suspected narcotics.” [Arlington County]
Chamber Cheers Tourism Tax Bill — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce celebrates the General Assembly’s establishment of permanent funding for tourism promotion in Arlington. This 0.25 percent Transient Occupancy Tax surcharge on hotel rooms is used exclusively by Arlington Convention and Visitors Service… to grow travel and tourism in Arlington. Previously, the tax surcharge was enacted with a July 1, 2021 sunset” provision. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Bill Could Boost N. Va. Metro Funding — “Northern Virginia localities could soon have the ability to spend more money on Metro service increases after state lawmakers approved a bill that tinkers with the dedicated funding agreement for the transit agency… Virginia’s total financial contribution to Metro can’t increase by more than 3% each year, a condition designed to impose fiscal discipline on the agency. The bill from Del. Vivian Watts, D-Annandale would exempt any costs associated with service increases from that cap.” [Washington Business Journal]