Monday, October 27, 2008

Visiting NARA: Maps and restaurant reviews

I recently made my first visit to the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). This is one in a series of articles inspired by that visit to help you make your first visit to the National Archives. Earlier, I talked about lodging and transportation to the National Archives. This time, I'll review some resources available to help you prepare for your visit.

Maps and restaurant reviews

One thing I forgot to suggest last time was to pick up some maps along the way. Our rental car agency didn't offer much, but you'll want to get one anyway because it may contain driving directions for returning the car. You can also pick up a Metro System-MD/DC Route Map when you get to the Metro station. This is a large, good map and includes several bus systems. It includes a nice map of downtown D.C.

You'll probably stop at your lodging before you get to the Metro station, so avail yourself of the free area map offered at your hotel. Like ours, it probably shows central D.C., a metro map and a road map of the area surrounding your hotel. (If it doesn't show how to get to the Metro station, ask.) It will likely suggest area restaurants that paid to be listed. We tried and liked several of those suggested by ours in the Greenbelt/College Park area.

  • I love milkshakes and breakfast food served all day, so the Silver Diner located on Greenbelt Road got 4 of 4 stars from me. Your table jukebox doesn't require money, although a quarter slot beckons for it.
  • I like McDonalds for breakfast on the go and they were not disappointing; also 4 stars. Also on Greenbelt, plan on circling the building twice to navigate the drive through.
  • We love Outback Steakhouse so drove down to Hyattsville where it is located opposite the Prince George Plaza Metro Station (also on the Green Line). And while It took a bit of navigating to get there, we were not disappointed. We gave it 4 stars. There's also an Olive Garden in that same area that we didn't get a chance to try.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill, back on Greenbelt Road, is my sister-in-law's favorite fast food so we tried it out. I give it 3 stars for the loud, modern music. I'm not hip enough I suppose.
  • www_the94thaerosquadron_com_CollegePark_index_html Google reviewers highly suggested another place that paid for an ad on our area map: the 94th Aero Squadron restaurant in College Park. This one also took a bit of navigating, and we almost didn't find it because it was dusk and their sign on the parkway was not lit. We took a chance driving down the little lane and parking in the dark. We shuffled around and found what we thought was the entrance. When we left we saw strings of hundreds of little, white lights hanging about the trees. Had they been on to greet us, we might have had a better experience.

    This is the kind of mood restaurant where you pay a little more for the atmosphere, the kind of place where your company holds their holiday party. The airfield part of the atmosphere was lost to us, entering in the dark as we did and sitting next to an expansive window looking out onto... not onto the College Park airport runway, but... well,... blackness. We were disappointed. Eventually they turned two outside spots on, illuminating some old farm equipment, in keeping with their World War I era French farm home motif.

    The decor was pleasant, although they made no effort to dress the servers according to their theme. The food was marginally above average, but not enough to justify the price in the absence of the proper mood. We don't drink, so I have no idea if the wines offered were worthy of their French farmhouse theme. Still, when we left and saw two large aircraft sitting inches away on the lawn, now illuminated in the soft light of the trees, the sight was awesome. 2 and 1/2 stars.
  • Also on Greenbelt Road, KFC was old and the service slow. The employees constantly bickered, mostly in another language. And the drinking water was brown; 1 star.

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