Pay attention flamenco fans: The Gala has been making rich Hispanic traditions accessible to the public through performing arts for nearly four decades. While known for classical performances by its in-house company and visiting international artists, the theatre also features kid-specific programming throughout the year. The Tivoli Theatre, built in 1924 as one of the grandest movie theaters at the time, was restored and became the Gala's home in 2005. Make an appointment to view rotating art exhibits in the historic building during performance seasons and check out the Italian Renaissance style dome over the main stage. While advance purchase tickets are recommended to ensure a seat, the theater makes a limited number of rush tickets available the day of a performance at a discount.
There are several bikeshare locations within a few blocks of the Columbia Heights metro station for easy access to major landmarks around town. To rent one, which you can dock and return to any station in the city, simply purchase a membership, which costs $7 for 24 hours; $15 for three days, and then rent by the hour. The most peaceful place to launch your two-wheeled tour is at Holmstead Place across from Heller's Bakery and away from the neighborhood's hustle and bustle. Head northwest to the edge of Rock Creek Park, south to Meridian Hill Park and around Howard University, or east for a quiet ride along neighborhood streets.
This educational institution pays homage to the traditions and heritage of our southern neighbor, with artistic flair to match. Pay special attention to the three story, colorful mural by Mexican artist Roberto Cueva del Rio, which winds up the original grand staircase of this stately mansion built in 1912. Formerly the official guesthouse for visiting dignitaries and Mexican embassy, the Italian-style mansion is now an educational center with historical exhibits, concerts and talks. Free guided tours are available anytime for individuals, who must ring the doorbell to enter the building, but groups should call for reservations. Don't miss highly coveted, quarterly Mexican Table events with chef and PBS personality Pati Jinich for a chance to munch on authentic cuisine in the 100-seat mansion dining room, which features intricate, gold ceiling moldings and a stunning mosaic tile annex. Viva la Mexico!
Call this place fitness central. You'll likely catch joggers, dog walkers and trainers drilling clients in the mornings and early evenings, but tossing frisbees on the lawn or sitting with a book can be an equally introspective within the park's stone enclosure. Walk a couple of blocks south from the Mexican Cultural Institute to enter on 16th Street, and make your way past park benches to the south end. Cyclists and hikers often rest at this overlook of cascading water, ponds and greenery behind Howard University. Walk down the steps and through the garden for a breathtaking view of the cascade from the farthest pool.
Book a destination wedding or corporate function in this Italian Renaissance revival mansion originally built in 1927 with the intention of being the vice president's home. By doing so, you'll be supporting a steward of the community: all revenues go toward improving DC parks and community programming like job skills training. The ballroom seats up to 150 people and there's even a parking lot – a rarity in this part of the District. The Parks Center can also help with obtaining necessary permits for events in Meridian Hill Park next door.