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National Cherry Blossom Festival

Photography by Reuters

Each year, in March and April, millions of people flock to Washington, DC, to experience the beauty of the National Cherry Blossom Festival when thousands of cherry blossom trees bloom along the Tidal Basin.

Today marks the average peak bloom date for the cherry blossom trees, and while the actual bloom date is difficult to predict, the National Park Service predicts that this spring’s peak bloom period is between April 8 and 12.

If you’re planning a visit, a stroll along the Tidal Basin is a must, but here are some other ways you can also celebrate the festival in the nation’s capital: READ MORE

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

On February 9, 1964, the Fab Four indulged the States with a 4-song set on the Ed Sullivan Show. But with all the hype surrounding the Beatles 50th anniversary show this past Sunday commemorating that event, people tend to forget about their first live performance that sparked a musical revolution.

Just 2 days after the iconic Ed Sullivan appearance, the Beatles hit the road for Washington, DC, ready to take the stage with a performance that would propel the Beatlemania phenomenon. On February 11, 4 lovable lads from Liverpool, England, walked into the Washington Coliseum for their first-ever live performance in America, and delivered an unbelievable, 12-song set that started off with a cover of the Chuck Berry classic, “Roll Over Beethoven.” READ MORE

Courtesy of Getty Images

Travelers visiting Washington, DC, will notice something different about the city’s skyline. Although it’s closed for repairs, the Washington Monument is now lighting up the night sky. The National Park Service has installed 488 lamps on the scaffold surrounding the monument.

The rehabilitation is part of a welcome change. On Aug. 23, 2011, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the 555-foot-tall monument, cracking and chipping stones near the top and shaking the mortar loose. The lights are expected to stay on until the popular tourist attraction reopens in spring 2014.

The Big Apple more your style? If you’re heading to NYC, there’s exciting news for tourists who want to check out Lady Liberty. Yep, after being hit by Superstorm Sandy last fall, the Statue of Liberty has once again opened to the public after a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 4th.

You may recall that the National Park Service closed Liberty Island following Hurricane Sandy; however, the Statue of Liberty’s crown reopened after a year of renovations. Last October’s storm flooded and damaged New York Harbor docks and Liberty Island’s walkways, buildings and electrical systems, but the 126-year-old iron statue made it through the storm unscathed.

Looking for more sightseeing recommendations for these cities? Check out our list of Washington DC Attractions and Top 10 Attractions in NYC.

It’s a huge weekend in DC, with over 100 different events happening throughout the city and the Metro system preparing for the over 800,000 people estimated to visit. If you’re one of the brave ones visiting DC this weekend – or any other weekend, for that matter — then let us help you get to know the nation’s capital, chockfull of sights, history and amazing food!

1. While you’re touring DC, solve a mystery at The International Spy Museum, which has the largest collection of international spy-related artifacts and immersive activities to enthrall children, as well as adults.

2. Why not stay in style while visiting the city of our country’s power players? Check out our picks for luxury accommodations.

3. Explore the beautifully historic neighborhood of Georgetown, and tour the favorite hangouts of former presidents — such as Bill Clinton, who graduated from Georgetown University in 1968.

4. Go sightseeing at one of the many monuments. Trust us, there are plenty of them – and they’re free!

5. Sip a coffee at Busboys and Poets, near the famous U Street, named for poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the nearby Wardman Park Hotel.

6. Since you’ve traveled to DC to support the president, find out a little more about how the president, himself, travels.

7. Of course you need to eat! Find out what makes DC a great town for foodies with these top restaurants.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that the Eastern Seaboard of the US is still reeling from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. Powerful wind gusts, up to 80 mph, have left more than 7 million people without power. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of evacuees have been rushed to emergency shelters; to help with disaster relief, consider a donation to the American Red Cross.

And unfortunately travelers haven’t been able to escape Sandy’s stormy grip. Airports in NYC and Philadelphia remain closed, and more than 13,000 flights were cancelled at airports in some states near the Great Lakes, where heavy snow is expected. And according to The New York Times, flooding in some areas has forced subways from Boston to Washington, DC, to shut down.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we’ve put together a few helpful tips just in case you’re stranded or you need to reschedule your travel plans. Cut through the clutter and get your travels back on track with our hurricane safety tips — what travelers should do before, during and after stormy weather strikes.

Looking for more travel tips and warm weather getaways?

READ MORE

Lace up your dancin’ shoes and head down to the National Mall tomorrow from 1-4 p.m. for National Dance Day. Is the idea of bustin’ a move in front of the Washington Monument not enough to get you there? What if we told you there’d be appearances by So You Think You Can Dance celebrity guests? And Redskins cheerleaders? Yeah, we thought so. If you’re nowhere near Washington, DC, there are also a few other celebrations going on nationwide. Check out the Dizzy Feet Foundation’s upcoming events to find one near you!

Today’s Daily Escape is from Washington, DC. Learn more »

Ward War I Memorial

Photograph by Thinkstock

Rendering of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the 19th Smithsonian  museum,  is set to open in Washington, DC, in 2015. At Wednesday’s ground-breaking ceremony on the National Mall, President Obama said the museum will rose on ground where “lives were once traded, where hundreds of thousands once marched for jobs and for freedom. It was here that the pillars of democracy were built often by black hands.”

The museum, a 7-level structure with much of its exhibit space below ground, will sit between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History. According to the new museum’s director, Lonnie Bunch, it will be the new home for more than 30,000 artifacts, including Harriet Tubman’s shawl, a Jim Crow-era segregated railroad car and Emmett Till’s casket, as well as galleries devoted to military, sports and entertainment history.

READ MORE

MLK Memorial

As our country’s history of racial inequality and segregation recedes slowly into the past, generations of future Washington, DC visitors will find it hard to fathom a time when African-Americans did not have the same rights as white Americans. But the civil rights movement isn’t just history. It’s part of the recent past, especially for those who can still recall a time when they had to move to the back of the bus, attend different schools and drink from separate water fountains.

We all learn about Lincoln and Jefferson in school, but none of us were alive to witness their accomplishments. That’s what makes the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial so unique. For many visitors, the struggle for racial equality is an all-too-recent memory. It’s deeply personal, especially for those who lived through the marches and heard the speeches of the civil rights movement.

Jim Abercrombie, a DC resident who has visited the memorial many times since it officially opened this past August, says, “[The memorial] means more to us because of the struggle we saw [MLK] go through to try to bring people together and have peace, and he finally got recognized for it.”

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MLK Memorial
Photo: Reuters

Hundreds of people lined up today to be the first to visit MLK Memorial, a national landmark dedicated Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. King is the first non-president and first African-American to be memorialized on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The Memorial includes a 30-foot statue of the civil rights leader, and 14 quotes from his speeches hand-carved into a 450-foot granite wall.

President Obama is scheduled to speak at the memorial’s formal dedication on Sunday, Aug. 28. Organizers believe more than a half million people will attend the dedication ceremony this weekend.

Plan your next vacation to see other historic sites in the US. Check out Travel Channel’s History USA travel ideas.

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