7 Record Stores for Vinyl Lovers in the DC Metro Area

Shopping for vinyl is a big deal. It would be easy for me to simply hop on the Ebay and just buy exactly what I want, but 90% of the fun is flipping through the endless racks and searching for the one you want. The thrill in finding your own white whales is the best. If you’re like me you go to different record stores for different things. One might have a huge stock of rotating new arrivals, one might have a killer bargain section and one might be the one that has all the good jazz. After living here in the DC Metro Area for seven years I’ve found my rotation of record stores that I like to visit regularly. And while I do occasionally check out the local thrift stores, those are mostly good for classical and jazz records. Side note – I had a recent experience at a thrift store nearby where I actually think that someone just took a stack of their parent’s records and just dumped them at the thrift store. The records that were in this pile were insane! Blood, Sweat and Tears Greatest Hits, Best of Cream and the very first US Beatles record. Almost a week later and my brain is still trying to process it.

{click the image to get my record player and speakers!}

Anyway…on to the list!

R&R Records and Rarities ~ Springfield Town Center, Springfield

This place has a really large collection of records and this is where I’ve been able to score some of my white whales, and their pricing is fairly decent. They really make sure to rate the records well and I’ve never had an issue. The staff is extremely helpful, and because of their system, they can actually look up a record for you! If you aren’t in the mood to spend forever flipping through the records then that is an option for you. You would have thought such a great place would be in a shopping mall?

Mobius Records ~ 10409 Main Street, Fairfax

Located in the old town portion of Fairfax is Mobius Records, a smaller and funkier record shop. Mobius says that they specialize in new releases and reissues. I would absolutely agree. They have a great section of these types of records, and I would say that if you are going to look for your typical used vinyl you might not find it here. The staff is really amazing and will help you with anything. One time I walked in and was looking around and whatever was playing on the speakers I was like “I don’t know what this is, but I need this right now!” They walked over to the rack, found one for me and told me all about it. I love that. They interact with their customers which I think is another fun part of record shopping. They clearly love records as much as I do so we can talk about them while I shop around. My very favorite part about this store is their bargain section. While the shop might not have your typical selection of used vinyl, this section is where it’s at. I’ve found a lot of good jazz and more random rock n roll stuff in there for only a couple of dollars. IT is probably one of the better bargain sections in this whole list.

Record and Tape Exchange ~ 9448 Main St, Fairfax

Record and Tape Exchange is the very first record store I went to in this area. It is has been around since 1976! Not only can you find vinyl here, but i’ve also been known to pick up a few movies and CDs as well. When I shop here I painstakingly go through the New Arrivals section. Unlike other stores in the area the stuff in here moves fast! I’ve gone within a week of each visit and have seen over half of the new arrival section be completely brand new. Their regular section is small, so very few records make it past New Arrival. They also have a crazy collection of 45s, which I have never seen anywhere else! You can also get Laser Disks here, which cracks me up! Since these guys have been around for so long they know what they are doing. Their pricing is decent and they have amassed quite a collection of really collectible records, which are neat to look at. R&T also repairs records, xbox discs and cds! I know, how cool is that? I don’t know of anywhere else that does that as they do. As a result of that, you can trust that the vinyl they sell is going to be in really great condition. This is a great place to add to your shopping rotation.

McKay Used Books ~ 8345 Sudley Rd, Manassas 

Not exactly the place you would like of for records, but McKay does have some, and is worth being added to my regular rotation. The benefit of going here is that they have a killer used Book collection (which is their main bread and butter) as well as used DVDs for as low as 25cents! The vinyl section is small and doesn’t rotate quite as often as the other stores in the area, but I have stored three of my most recent random Chicago finds at this place, as well as my most recent Rhapsody in Blue vinyl. So, you can’t count it out for sure!

Dragon Song Records ~ 8767 Mathis Ave, Manassas

One of the more random record stores I’ve been in is Dragon Song Records in Manassas. Located out of the way, and little hard to find, its near McKays so I can easily add it in when I visit there. It is small, and therefore has a really small collection of vinyl AND  a super weird one! The other thing about this place is that the records are more expensive here, priced at Collector pricing that you might find online. The flip side of that is that I think is that you will find some really cool stuff here that you won’t. I found Chameleon by Maynard Ferguson here, which I figured I would eventually have to search for online. There isn’t an obvious listening station but the owner is super nice and very cool. Just let him know you want to check the records out. He’ll probably insist that you do when you bring them up to the record. Be prepared as this shop also sells incense (it’s such a weird little place) and I usually get a headache by the time I leave. I’m kind of a pansy though. For a serious collector who is willing to pay higher prices to find that one hard to find place its worth checking this place out.

Red Onion Records ~ 1628 U St NW, Washington, DC

Moving into our first DC record store we have Red Onion Records. It is a small record store, so there is not a huge inventory. They do have a lot of rare and strange records, which are cool to look at. I also believe that they have a lot of regular turnover in records, so going back often is recommended. The pricing is also very good, and you can get a decent record without breaking the bank. They also have a lot of vinyl in the bargain area, but that’s not sorted in the best way, so make sure you have some time to check it out. Their Jazz section is probably the best out of all the sections. They also have listening stations right by the front window.

Smash Records ~ 2314 18th St NW, Washington, DC

Smash is one of my top ones in this list, and a part of that is the vibe inside. I can’t actually explain it, so you’re just gonna have to go in and check it out for yourself. They have a very large collection of records. It might be the largest on this list, up against Record and Tape Exchange. They also carry a lot of new, or more modern vinyl which is nice for a lot of collectors. Pricing is great and the selection is also wide. I’ve found several white whales here as well, including the Best of Cream that I’d been searching for!

 

               do you have a favorite DC Metro Area record store that didn’t make the list?

I’d love to hear from you!

 

If you’re looking for a record player, you can visit my Amazon Storefront

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10 Things Your Kids Will Love in Washington, DC

As I’ve been writing about my travels and sharing some of my favorite places in my own backyard I decided it was time I asked the kids what their favorite places in our city are. Kids can have such unique and wonderful perspectives that should be listened to. What the kids think is exciting or special might not be the same to me or an adult. And when you’re planning a trip with kids, getting a kid’s perspective could be helpful. Some of these are seasonal events, but they were part of their Top 10, and believe me this was quite a discussion.

 

Artechouse {1238 Maryland Ave SW}

You may have seen my post about the Artechouse – their current exhibit is up until March 10th, but I’m sure that whatever comes next for this place will be equally as wonderful. My kids loved this place and have asked to go back. That tells me that this is a hit with all three of them.

See my Artechouse post here

 

Smithsonian Natural History Museum (specifically the rock/gemstones) {10th Street NE & Constitution Ave NE}

One of our favorite museums in the Smithsonian system is the Natural History Museum. There is a lot of cool stuff to see, but the kids’ favorite part is the rocks and gemstones portion. You can touch a piece of Mars, find your birthstone and see the Hope Diamond.

Washington Monument {National Mall}

When my oldest was in Kindergarten he was given a project at school. He had to make a poster about him and include his favorite place. He chose the Washington Monument. Before all the kids were in school I would pack a lunch and take the kids down to the Mall and spend the afternoon walking around, running and playing in the dirt. It was such a wonderful time, and I truly believe it is then that they fell in love with our little city. Note, there is more construction going on at the Monument now and you can’t go up. It doesn’t look like the construction in the picture (that’s from when we first moved here after the earthquake damage), but there is construction going on.

Lincoln Memorial {National Mall}

This is one of my favorite places to go but was the top of the list for my daughter. For me, it has a little something to do with Lincoln being one of my very favorite Presidents. When asked to put it into words why she liked it, it was a little difficult for her. “It’s just a really special place to go, mom,” was the response I got.  I remember going for the first time and being in awe of the site of it. The fact that I was actually standing in front of something that I had seen in pictures and movies, and read about, was so cool.

 

DC fourth of July Parade and the fireworks

This item on the list is obviously something that only occurs once a year, but if you’re planning a trip to DC over the holiday or you live here, I would highly recommend giving this a shot. We chose to get a hotel for two nights in the city so that we could be there the day before, and then not have to drive back home after the events. The very thought of fighting that traffic makes me want to cry, so that was a big nope. The crowds that gathered to watch were not as bad as I thought they would be, and the kids had a blast with ZERO technology. Hanging out right by the Washington Monument was also a good choice, and getting through security wasn’t an issue at all. Look for a “Fourth of July in DC” post to come soon!

Christmas White House tour and/or National Christmas Trees

Another seasonal item and one you need to get tickets for is the White House Christmas Tour. We were blessed to be able to do it very soon after we got here and I took the two bigs with me. Standing in line and waiting would have been difficult for Phillip, as I believe he was only two when we went. We had lots of fun and the did a great job. The two oldest were five and seven when we went. But, if you can’t get tickets the kids highly recommend checking out the National Christmas Tree and all of the state trees. Find YOUR state and see how each one is decorated.

Great Falls Park {9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean VA}

While not in DC, it is just a short drive and a great way to spend the day. Pick up or pack and lunch, bring a football or a frisbee, and spend the day outdoors. There are different levels of hikes that you can go on, a great Junior Ranger program. The falls are truly breathtaking and definitely something you should see. They have a great open green space for eating or throwing a ball around. Pack the insect repellent because our east coast bugs are no joke!

Cherry Blossoms

If you’re traveling to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival I’m going to warn you now that you could show up and there will be no Cherry Blossoms. There have been several years where ran has come, promptly knocking all the blossoms off the trees. But sometimes it all works out so beautifully and you get some great shots. Prepare yourself for the crazy, especially if you are going to go during the festival. Lines for the metro are crazy, and it will be crowded. We like to go a day or two before the festival depending on when the blossoms actually bloom.

Just Walking Around DC

I included this one because this is something that all three of them mentioned to me. They truly do like being downtown, checking out the buildings and all the history around. They don’t tire of it and that makes me one happy mama! Spending time down there, despite the traffic and despite the crowds is such a good idea. My kids are comfortable navigating on the metro and are slowly getting an understanding of where things are when they are down there. Walking around and checking out all the memorials and monuments is a great way to spend your day.

National Harbor (Ferris Wheel)

The National Harbor is a fun place to go in general, but we recently went up in the Ferris Wheel for the first time. It’s not really my favorite thing at all and I spent the majority of the time with my eyes closed, but the kids absolutely loved it! Get breathtaking views of DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Ones that are hard to replicate because we just don’t have skyscrapers here. Keeps our skyline nice and pretty.

 

what would your kids add to the list?

Check out more of our DC/NoVA Adventures here!

 

 

 

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2019 Washington, DC Bucket List

Since we moved here seven years ago I have wanted to take in every piece of this amazing place that we live. When you move somewhere it doesn’t take long for that “home” feeling to set in. You know the one where you suddenly blink and you’re like “We have museums here?” Now granted that might be a little harder to do in Washington, DC because every year countless schools and tourists in general pile into our city. It’s tourism all the time! They stand on the wrong side of the metro escalator during the weekdays and take our parking spots on the weekends. We explore our city and the surrounding DC Metro area regularly and there is still a huge list of things that we haven’t done.

Since 2019 is a year that I have really dedicated to travel and exploring, in general, I’ve decided to make a list of some of the top things that I want to see and do this year in the Washington, DC and general DC Metro Area. Check out the list for yourself or leave me your recommendations! Whose to say this list can’t keep growing all year long!

~ 2019 DC/NoVA Bucket List ~

 

The Sun Building

On the National Register of Historic Places, it is noted as the first skyscraper in DC. Completed in the late 1800s it was the home of the Washington Bureau for the Baltimore Sun. The inside and outside have been kept their historical accuracy and maintain their original beauty.

Watergate Hotel Complex

So much history at the Watergate, plus the giant complex has a fantastic rooftop bar and view. You can visit the location of the Watergate Scandal, and even stay the night if really want to transport yourself back in history.

Folder Shakespeare Library Reading Room

Built in 1932 and housing the world’s largest Shakespeare collection is the Folder Libary in Washington, DC. The film As You Like It featured the stained glass window that you can find in the Reading Room. Tours are available!

Drinks at the Williard Hotel 

The current facade was built in 1901, converted from a connected grouping of row homes. It was completely restored, after falling in disrepair, in the 1980s. The inside is gorgeous and a delight for those of us that love architecture and beautifully detailed old buildings.  Visit and walk the ground where Lincoln, Grant, Coolidge and other famous Washingtonians walked.

Hecht Company Warehouse

Straight out of the Art Deco-influenced 1930s – and looking like the set of a black and white sci-fi movie, the Hecht Company is a must-see for those looking for the weirder side of Washington, DC!

Congressional Cemetary

Until the mid-1830s, the Congressional Cemetary was the burial place for all Congressman. It was the first truly National Cemetary and is now a National Landmark. Take a tour and visit the graves of J. Edgar Hoover, John Phillip Sousa and David Herold (an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth).

Blind Whino

Located in the Historic Friendship Baptist Church built in 1886, Blind Whino is an art collective housing and community experience hosting unique art and events, a community guardian and specialty pop-up exhibits throughout the year. Currently, you can see the pop-up museum of Hip Hop!

National Building Museum

I have been to most of the main, Smithsonian type, museums in Washington, DC. While the Building Museum is not part of the Smithsonian complex it is a unique and must-see building in the DC area. The history behind the museum is also unique, as it used to house the history Bureau of Pensions when it was built in the 1800s. You will find architectural toys, drawings, photography, decorative plaster (which I know doesn’t sound exciting) and the history behind the Manhattan Project.

Tudor Place

Tudor Place is one of America’s first Historic Landmarks, and was built by a Granddaughter of Martha Washington in 1816.  It is one of the few urban estates that sits on almost all of its original space.

Bureau of Printing and Engraving – US Mint

Heurich House Museum {aka – The Brewmasters Castle}

The mansion is the most intact remaining Dupont area mansions. It was built by a German immigrant, a philanthropist, and brewer Christian Heurich.

George Washington Masonic Memorial

The Department of Interior

O Street Mansion

The Mansion is a series of five interconnected row houses which include over 100 rooms and 70 secret doors. You can find almost anything in the Mansion, including concerts, classes, Espionage tours, art and photography exhibits and food tours. The events at the Mansion are just as unique as the Mansion itself.

National Arboretum

Visit some of the original columns of the Capitol Building on display at the Arboretum.

Dupont Underground Tunnels

Opening in 1949, the underground tunnels once were a trolley station. They were closed in the early 60s after spending a brief time as an offical fall out shelter. Now the area offers tours and showcases art and cultural events, as well as displaying some of the cities coolest murals and street-art.

Looking for more Washington, DC adventures? Check here!

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Add the Artechouse to Your Visit DC List

If you are heading to DC anytime soon, or live here, then you need to be heading over to the Artechouse! Artechhouse is a digital art experience, heavy on the experience. I kept hearing about it all over social media but had never made the time to visit. Today I packed up the kids and headed over. From now until March 10th you can see the current installation by Fuse* – Everything in Existence. It was one of the most incredible things that I have experienced recently, and my kids loved it!

Combing art and technology, the purpose of this current exhibition is to push the boundaries of what you believe our existence truly is. Stretching your senses and overloading you totally. It was such a hypnotizing experience, both soothing and over-stimulating. How that was accomplished I have no idea, but in the midst of the sound and sites, I found my children laying down on bean bags just taking it all in. Make sure to download the Artechouse app before going in!

You can visit the Artechouse during the daytime, or come back in the evening for a 21+ experience. There is a bar located inside Artechouse that includes the drinks in the visual arts experience through their app. Artechouse also offers military and student discounts, so take advantage of that.

 

 

Add Artechouse to your list, and check out our

DC/NoVA Adventures here!!!

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Visit Christmas Village at the Gaylord National Harbor!

One of the very first things we did to celebrate our first Christmas in Washington, DC was visit “Christmas on the Potomac”. I can’t even remember how we heard about it, but the indoor display with lights and music sounded like something really amazing. Plus, it snowed inside! Can’t beat that now, can you?  The Gaylord is beautiful even when it’s not decorated for Christmas, but truly it is a beautiful thing during the holidays. Things have changed a little bit since that first time we visited. Christmas Villiage is now in a separate area with a carousel and an indoor ice rink. It keeps growing every year! You can still do your favorite things – Gingerbread House/Cooking making and visit Santa. Visit the ICE exhibit (which is Peanuts themed this year, which just makes me so darn happy), then come inside and grab yourself some hot chocolate and warm up! Christmas at the Gaylord is a great way to spend the holiday season and a really fun place to take any family that is visiting from out of town. Kids of all ages will enjoy it! It even got two thumbs up from the 12-year-old, so you know that’s saying something.

Things to do at the Gaylord National

Cirque Dreams Unwrapped 

If you’ve ever seen a Cirque show you know that they are always amazing! This adorable show is Christmas themed and takes place in the atrium in the middle of the hotel. With brightly colored sets and costumes combined with the amazing acrobatics that Cirque is known for, Dreams Unwrapped is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season. You can get seated tickets to one of the two shows, but you are also able to stand and watch it from different locations inside as it their large open atrium area.

Gaylord Hotel’s Christmas Villiage

Now we get to the heart of Gaylord’s Christmas experience. Shopping, Build-a-Bear, Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread House making, carousel, train and ice skating!

It is quite magical inside and they have done a good job with organizing the layout so there is area to move around. Be prepared that the carousel and train are meant for younger children – my seven-year-old was a bit big for those two rides.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed the hot chocolate (two thumbs up from all three), as well as decorating the gingerbread cookies. It was a fun experience and definitely got the Christmas magic going in our house.

And of course, THE main attraction of Gaylord Christmas is ICE! We have been to ICE twice now and its always a super cool experience for the kids. Now I’m not going to give any spoilers, except to say you HAVE to go. This year is Peanuts theme which makes it THE most perfect thing ever. ICE is such a unique and one of a kind experience. Something you should do at least once while living here (for my military readers). Don’t forget to snag that military discount as well!!

Stay for the day at the National Harbor and visit the Christmas tree, check out the Peeps store, and eat at one of the many restaurants they have there. Rosa Mexicano out in the Harbor and National Pastime, inside the Gaylord, are our two favorites!

Cap it all off with a ride on the National Harbor Giant Wheel! I was actually proud of myself for going on and not freaking out! Heights like that are not my favorite thing in all the world, but the kids loved it!

Do you have a favorite thing to do at National Harbor or place to eat? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for having us Gaylord National!!!! We had such a great time!

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