Apr 03, 2015 07:30PM
● By Dia
Washington, D.C. FESTIVAL SEASON IN FULL SWING
Standing in the middle of a busy street in our nation’s capital, you cannot help but swell with pride. Everywhere you turn, monuments honoring former presidents, stunning historic architecture and buildings housing our government at work surround you. There is no better time to visit D.C. than in April, when the city is overrun with cherry blossoms and the weather is finally nice enough to walk outside.
History at your fingertips
In D.C., springtime is celebrated with the arrival of blooming cherry blossoms and the National
Cherry Blossom Festival. The cherry blossom trees were a gift from Japan in the early 1900's signifying an international friendship. The fun, three-week festival—lasting through April 12—brings together people from all over the country to celebrate spring and the beautiful cherry blossoms. During the festival, enjoy the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks show—eight hours of live music, delicious food options and a spectacular fireworks show. The festival ends with a fantastic parade down Constitution Avenue, which features celebrity entertainers, marching bands and larger-than-life helium balloons.
After you kick off your visit with the cherry blossoms, head over to Ford’s Theatre to be a part of history in the making. History buffs will know that this year, April 15 marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. This infamous day is remembered with the Lincoln Tribute, an all-night event beginning April 14 and stretching into the wee hours. You will learn about Lincoln through panel discussions and ranger talks. The Ford’s Theatre campus will be open all night for tours, and you can catch actors stationed throughout who will tell you their characters’ first-hand accounts of the assassination. Church bells will toll across the city at exactly 7:22 a.m., the time of Lincoln’s death, complete with a wreath-laying ceremony to honor our 16th president.
A visit to D.C. would not be complete without checking out the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. At first, it can be a little overwhelming, with 19 museums to choose from, so you have to narrow down what you want to see. Many of the buildings may make you feel like you are walking into a castle. Visit the National Air and Space Museum to view the Wright Brothers’ planes, real aircrafts that flew during World War II and the space vehicles from the Apollo missions. Art enthusiasts can visit the American Art Museum to see the largest collection of American works in the world, representing more than 7,000 talents. For animal lovers, you must visit the National Zoological Park, which holds about 1,600 animals, including giant pandas, Asian elephants, North Island brown kiwis and western lowland gorillas. NationalCherryBlossom- Festival.org, FordsTheatre.org, SI.edu
Where to dine
You cannot go to Washington, D.C., without dining on good ol’ fashioned American cuisine. The Blue Duck Tavern is the go-to place for upscale American food with rustic charm. The seasonal menu changes based on the chef’s preferences. Next to every item on the menu, you’ll find the city from where the ingredients are sourced—so you know you are eating something local and fresh. From roasted bison hanger steak to lemon-brined organic chicken, most of their simple, wholesome menu is cooked in the large wood-burning oven.
P.J. Clarke’s is the perfect place for a patio lunch near the White House. Entering through the Walt Disney solarium, you can dine in the sidecar dining room, surrounded by portraits of former presidents, or you can go upstairs to the main dining room. There, you can enjoy oysters and clams from the raw bar, which was originally an ice cream counter back when the building opened in the 1800s. Whether you are in the mood for steaks or seafood, there is something for everyone. BlueDuckTavern.com, PJClarkes.com
Stay close to it all
With all there is to see and do in the district, you may need a week or more to check off
everything on your to-do list. The AKA White House is perfect for travelers looking for longer stays. The apartment- style accommodations act as your home away from home, as each unit includes a living room, full-size kitchen and even washer and dryer. If you have not gotten enough exercise from walking, you can visit the 24-hour fitness center. Guests needing to relax will enjoy the cocktail lounge and spacious rooftop terrace. Blocks away from the White House and the National Mall, this hotel is near all kinds of entertainment and tourist destinations. AKA’s team will help you plan a tour itinerary to make sure you experience everything D.C. has to offer. If you want to be pampered while feeling like you are at home, then this is the place for you.
If you are looking for a place centrally located, you can also stay at the Melrose Georgetown Hotel. This Georgetown boutique is right next to the Foggy Bottom Metro Station, which will take you anywhere you want to go in D.C. There are decorations in every room that reflect the history of Washington, D.C., and America. This hotel also includes a 24-hour fitness facility, a cocktail lounge and the Jardenea restaurant, which serves fresh, organic food brought in from local farms. The Melrose is a great place to stay if you want to feel refreshed. StayAKA.com, Melrose- HotelDC.com