Ultrazone Laser Tag might be familiar to fans of The Real World, whose cast members—fed up with drama—blew off steam by ducking colorful laser beams in the sprawling multilevel arena's fog-filled maze. There's enough space for 45 vest-clad players to face off at one time, and plasma monitors let the next wave watch the game as they eagerly await their turn. The expansive recreation center also hosts sleepover parties that grant exclusive overnight use of the laser-tag facilities, the plasma-screen theater, and the room that's inexplicably full of doorknobs. Outside the arena, an arcade keeps synapses ablaze with video games, air hockey, and golf simulators, supplemented with slices of Papa John's pizza from the cafe.
A nonprofit community arts center, VisArts fills its studios with amateur artists learning techniques of creative expression, and acts as an exhibition opportunity for seasoned creators. Classes span a wide artistic spectrum, including concentrations such as ceramics and glass, many of which can be specifically tailored for the educational needs of children or resurrected Renaissance men in need of a new hobby. VisArts also enriches the community with a trifecta of galleries—the Kaplan, Gibbs Street, and Common Ground—and a thriving resident-artist program.
The artisans behind K.H. Art & Framing understand that the best kind of preservation combines traditional techniques with modern technology. Each day, they draw on more than 20 years of experience as they craft museum-quality frames with 200 moulding options and conservation-grade glass and matting. Inside their photo lab, staffers look to the future, printing passport photos and canvas prints or digitally restoring images before storing them safely on CDs. While framers and technicians preserve memories, curators stay busy filling the studio's gallery with artwork—such as oil paintings, lithographs, and silk-screens—from both local and international artists. They also sell posters that can turn a house into a home or a bathroom stall into a personal workspace.
The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, running 2,180 miles over mountains, rocky slopes, and deep valleys. Since it was established in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has cared for the trail, maintaining 250,000 acres of public land. The organization educates hikers on Leave No Trace camping and why it's not a good idea to challenge a bear to a hugging contest.
Volunteers and trail crews build and repair shelters along the footpath and engage youth and community members in outdoor activities. In addition to these human-oriented services, the ATC works to protect endangered species living along the trail and to preserve the land's watershed streams and migratory corridor.
Ford's Theatre, the site of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, preserves Lincoln's legacy by hosting dramatic and historical plays on its legendary stage and educational experiences throughout its halls. The theater presents dramatic works such as Big River and 1776, and the museum displays artifacts from Lincoln's White House and the Civil War, along with the swallows that nested in his distinctive stovepipe hat. Those toting Player memberships are showered with benefits including service-charge-free ticket purchases, gift-shop discounts, and a biannual newsletter subscription. With four complimentary passes in tow, members can take in performances of One Destiny, a theatrical eyewitness account of Lincoln's assassination, as well as educational events throughout the year, such as a lectures by National Parks Service interpreters, who recount tales of the fateful evening.
Recently featured in the Washington Times, Gertrude's is a salt-stained bastion of coastal cuisine, with a menu chock-full of Chesapeake classics. Chef and owner John Shields, a nationally acclaimed coastal-fare innovator, author, and crab whisperer, named the restaurant for his grandmother, Gertrude Cleary. Grandma Gertrude's traditional Baltimore crab cake recipe lives on at her namesake restaurant with a dinner order of Gertie's crab cakes ($20), which arrives dressed with a choice of eight sauces, including the Creole or three-mustard. It's served with a choice of sides such as apple and fennel coleslaw, hush puppies, or grilled rosemary potatoes. Other maritime entrees, such as the citrus barbecue shrimp ($24) and the Chesapeake rockfish imperial ($30), recognize each other from the Shark Week extras' green room and happily provide diners fishing for Bay fare authenticity with transcendent catches for immediate consumption. Also available are Gertie's seafood Creole ($24) and locally raised beef burgers ($10).