I've been to Nationals Park several times, but I do what most fans do: I walk straight from the Metro station to the ballpark. I don't even hit The Fairgrounds on the way, though it has tempted me a couple of times. Along the fencing protecting an about-to-be-developed property, I've seen advertisements for The Yards, which I've never really paid attention to.
However, the other day--well before a Nationals game started--I found myself in the area and decided to explore a bit, and I'm glad I did. The Yards is a nascent neighborhood with a bunch of good dining and shopping options that will no doubt get better. I do have to highlight two places.
First is Ice Cream Jubilee, which was recently named best in Washington by Washingtonian magazine. I have a major weakness for ice cream, so I was already in. That the place features some very wacky and cool flavors makes me a fan. I tried caramel popcorn, but was seriously tempted by Snickerdoodle. The place was a little crowded, but no wonder: I can see how this place won best in town.
The second place was where I enjoyed my ice cream, the nearby Yards Park. There is obviously more to the place than a fountain, but I am a sucker for a fountain, so that's what I snapped. Below the fountain there's a wading pool that kids were enjoying. There are also great views of the river and plenty of places nearby to sit and just relax. During the summer, they have concerts every Friday night, which is pretty cool. It is a great public space, and one that I hope to return to soon--perhaps even when the Nats aren't playing.