If you’re not an immediate member of the Obama clan or planning to sit in front of a television, you will probably need to choose between attending the United States presidential inauguration—the parade (on Pennsylvania Avenue) and the actual inaugural address (at the Capitol).
The Newseum, the world’s most interactive museum, is conveniently located on the parade route and will offer a sweeping view of the festivities on January 20. Advance tickets for the parade viewing here are no longer available, but there are some walk-up tickets remaining if you’d like to watch the address indoors.
Tickets for the official inaugural balls were hard to come by. And by now, most of the unofficial balls are even sold out. But we’ve found two VIP parties with tickets for sale. Jay-Z’s Inaugural Gala at Love or the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball at The Harmon Center for the Arts are black-tie affairs that still have availability—for now.
Guarantee yourself a good photo op with future President Obama by heading to Madame Tussauds’s Wax Museum, which is offering inauguration packages ranging from $32-$50. This includes the price of admission and a professional photo with the incoming President.
The Park at Fourteenth is an upscale place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing and shopping. You can relax with a cocktail or if you still have the energy, dance with a drink. “If you’re really hungry, try their steak and potatoes or the crab cake platter with mac and cheese,” recommends Joi-Marie McKenzie, editor of TheFabEmpire.com, which chronicles the District’s Black nightlife.
If you score a last-minute ticket to a black-tie ball, D.C. has you covered—in style. Visit the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, a mammoth-size, multitiered shopping mall where you’ll find Macy’s, Nordstrom, BCBG and much more. If you need a one-of-kind frock to look picture-perfect, head to Georgetown, which is filled with boutique shops. McKenzie recommends Cusp, a spin-off retailer of Neiman Marcus that carries dresses, shoes, and accessories by high-end designers.
If you typically start your day with hip-hop & R&B, tune in to 93.9 WKYS or 95.5 WPGC. You can get your groove on plus hear updates on events that interest the 18-35 crowd. However, if your taste is more Frankie Beverly than 50 Cent, head over to 102.3 WMMJ, where you can hear music and event updates for a more mature audience. If, come Sunday, you’re missing your morning helping of The Good Word, tune in to 96.3 WHUR for “Sunday Afternoon Gospel with Jacquie Gales Webb.”
If you sweat out your tresses on the dance floor, don’t worry. You can splurge at Andre Cherky, a full-service luxurious salon-spa that serves champagne while you and your strands get pampered. 1201 Salon will also straighten out your frizzies just so (ask for Christine). Chemical-free ladies can head to Natural Kinks for braids or Bill Lawrence for VIP service on their unrelaxed locks.
Call Bill Lawrence at 202-387-8310 for more information.
“You can’t come to D.C. and not visit the Smithsonian,” warns McKenzie. The Smithsonian Museums include 19 different buildings and the National Zoo. When you’re not partying or prepping for an evening out, McKenzie recommends checking out the Hope Diamond and the National Museum of History, or the inaugural ball gowns of past First Ladies on display in the National Museum of American History.
After a night of partying, head to Ben’s Chili Bowl. This local jewel is great for that late night greasy snack and doesn’t close till 4 A.M. President-elect Barack Obama stopped by on Saturday with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty for a half-smoke and fries.
The Metro, Washington, D.C.’s convenient and generally uncomplicated public rail system, is likely the best way to get around this weekend. It will shuttle you around Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas at least until midnight, most days. The hours have been extended for Saturday, January 17, and Tuesday, January 20 (Inauguration Day), to accommodate the tremendous crowds. McKenzie also recommends D.C. Yellow Cab, which is known for prompt and reliable service.