The Best Things To Do In Washington, D.C., According To Cirque Du Soleil Cast

Now through Oct. 22, 2023, you can catch Cirque du Soleil ECHO in the Big Top tent at Lerner Town Square at Tysons II, just a 30-minute drive or Metro ride from Washington, D.C. in Tysons, Virginia.

The 125-minute show features impressive performances by acrobats, gymnasts and teeterboard artists, colorful costumes and all manner of musical, poetic and technological highlights Cirque du Soleil shows around the world are known for.

ECHO’s story centers around the main character, Future, as she grapples with the idea of how an individual’s choices can affect the world around us, especially the sacred bond between humans, animals, and nature. Following a brief stint in Northern Virginia, the show will move on to Atlanta (Nov. 5, 2023 to Jan. 21, 2024), Miami (Feb. 22 to Apr. 7, 2024) and Toronto (May 8 to July 21, 2024).

So, what do the talented members of the Cirque du Soleil ECHO cast like to do on their days off? Visit museums, check out nearby national parks and see touring Broadway shows, it turns out. Below are their top recommendations for places to check out on your next trip to the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia area.

The Best Art Galleries and Coffee Shops

Ethan Lottman, an aerial pole artist who has been working with Cirque du Soleil for three years, enjoys getting to know each locale he’s spending time in, especially when it comes to checking out the local art and coffee scenes.

“I love fine art and galleries, so on my days off, I try to explore as much as possible. Some of my recent visits have included the National Gallery of Art [in D.C.] and the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia,” Lottman said. “I also really love coffee, so I make it a point to find cute and quaint coffee shops in the areas I’m visiting. La Coop Coffee [with locations in Arlington, Virginia, and D.C.’s Brightwood Park neighborhood] has been a recent favorite.”

The Best Places to Unwind

For Campbell Clark, a teeterboard artist performing with Cirque du Soleil for the first time, it’s all about being active.

“To unwind after a busy week at the tent, I love to spend some time in nature. Very close to us is Great Falls Park, where there are lots of great hikes,” Clark said. “My castmates and I also love to go bowling. Bowlero in Tysons Corner has been our go-to.”

The Best Theaters and Restaurants

Lead male vocalist Jonathan Stombres, who began his first Cirque du Soleil show this season, is a fan of musical theater and makes an effort to see shows while on the road.

“I try to immerse myself in the local arts and culture scene by attending performances at The Kennedy Center and Signature Theatre [in Arlington, Virginia],” Stombres said. “I saw Moulin Rouge there and it was fantastic!”

As for favorite places to eat, Stombres said his partner went to school in the area and had recommended Founding Farmers and Taco Bamba—he’s now a fan of both.

Tips for First-Time Visitors

Of the three cast members, Stombres is the only one who had previously visited Washington, D.C., but not since he was 13. “My greatest highlight has been the National Museum of African American History and Culture,” Stombres said. “It’s beautifully done.”

Lottman recommends branching out to nearby cities on a trip to D.C., even if it’s just for a day trip. “A day around Alexandria has been a highlight, and I think it’s essential to visit the iconic D.C. museums and monuments as well,” Lottman said. “[There’s] so much history to discover.”

It was Clarke’s first time to the region, and he already has a favorite museum. “A great surprise for me has been the International Spy Museum,” Clarke said. “Lots of great history and also some fun interactive exhibits.”

Where to Stay

If you’re planning a trip to Northern Virginia to see the show, consider staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, which is located closest to the venue. Otherwise, choose from any number of hotels in Washington, D.C. proper, just a 30-minute Metro or car ride from Tysons, or elsewhere in Northern Virginia. Hotel Indigo Old Town Alexandria, part of the IHG One Rewards loyalty program, puts you right on the Potomac River, while Morrison House and The Alexandrian are great options for Marriott Bonvoy fans who’d prefer to stay in the heart of Old Town.

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