Posts Tagged ‘Washington D.C.’


Punxsutawney Phil may have seen his shadow this Groundhog Day, but six more weeks of winter will give you more time to plan your (hopefully warm) spring break getaway. Here are TravelMuse’s top five picks for families:

1. Los Angeles
The City of Angels has something for everyone. Beaches? You bet, from Santa Monica State Beach to Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Amusement parks? From Disneyland to Universal Studios to Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Shopping? Try the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica for a collection of boutiques in an open air mall or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Eating? For the best burger known to man, visit The Apple Pan in West Los Angeles. Sports? Depending on the timing of your spring break, the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Clippers, Kings or Galaxy could have a game. And yes, you might see a movie star.

Check out our L.A. articles, or visit for deals and discounts.

Plan a trip to Los Angeles on TravelMus and find places to stay in Los Angeles.

Visit Hollywood Boulevard to look for your favorite celebrities' stars on the Walk of Fame.

Visit Hollywood Boulevard to look for your favorite celebrities' stars on the Walk of Fame. Photo: Average Jane.

2. New York City
Though there are beaches in Brooklyn and Queens, the weather is a tad cool in spring to be on the sand, and the city offers much more to keep all ages happy. Iconic landmarks abound, like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. Check out museums from the American Museum of Natural History to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Central Park alone offers 843 acres of possibility, from an afternoon picnic to a visit to the zoo.

Before you go, check out our numerous NYC articles, or Web sites like for special offers and discounts for museums, tours, shows and shops.

Plan a trip to New York City on TravelMuse and find places to stay in New York City.

3. San Diego
If the kids love animals, San Diego has plenty for them. SeaWorld San Diego features Shamu in the “Believe” killer whale show. The San Diego Zoo has five endangered giant pandas who call the zoo’s Giant Panda Research Station home. In the zoo’s 1,800-acre Wild Animal Park, you can see more than 3,500 animals.

Find many other attractions and activities, even non-animal related, recommended by in our San Diego overview and at

Plan a trip to San Diego on TravelMuse and find places to stay in San Diego.

4. Washington, D.C.
With a new president who has inspired millions of kids and teenagers to get involved in service and the political process, now’s the time to visit our nation’s capital. Wander the National Mall from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial and go up the Washington Monument. Get lost among the treasures of the world’s largest museum complex at the Smithsonian museums, from the National Portrait Gallery to the National Air and Space Museum.

Get more capital ideas with our D.C. coverage and by visiting

Plan a trip to Washington, D.C., on TravelMuse and find places to stay in Washington D.C.

The ruins at Riviera Maya. Photo: joiseyshowaa

The ruins near Riviera Maya. Photo: joiseyshowaa

5. Riviera Maya, Mexico
College Spring Breakers may enjoy going crazy in Mexico, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for families. To go with the spectacular beaches and clear waters, a trip to the Riviera Maya can include snorkeling amidst the jungle in the largest “natural aquarium” in the world, Xel-Ha; a visit to the picturesque Mayan ruins situated along the sea at Tulum; an excursion to La Quinta Avenida (Firth Avenue) in Playa del Carmen for shopping and dining. All-inclusive resorts line the shore, but for those seeking something different, beachfront boutique hotels and cabins on the jungle’s edge are also available.

Read our Riviera Maya articles, or visit for more information.

Plan a trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico on TravelMuse and find places to stay in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

* Post adapted from “10 Top Spring Break Spots” by Andrew Weiss.

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TravelMuse Shares Top Insider Tips to the Obama Inauguration

Here at TravelMuse, we’re raring to go now that 2009 has arrived and we have high hopes for our new President, Barack Obama. Nowhere is the inauguration excitement more prominent than in Washington, D.C., itself. That’s why we’ve released a special inauguration feature to help visitors make the most of their time in D.C. !


We invited Debbie K. Hardin, former White House staffer, to share some of her top tips.  Working for the Clinton administration as the director of presidential messages in the communications department, she attended a number of inaugural parades and balls. She was even in attendance for the first swearing in of President Clinton, so is well positioned to give us valuable insights from the best viewing venues and culinary creations, to historic experiences and affordable fun.

In addition to Hardin’s great insight, we also include the best places to eat, sleep and explore in and around Washington, D.C. Lastly, tell us where you plan to celebrate Inauguration Day in our  poll, or elaborate in a comment below. Here at TravelMuse, we’re planning a team huddle in our conference room to stream and project the footage from 8:30 a.m. (PST)!

If you’re lucky enough to attend the inaugural events or are planning a future trip to our nation’s capital, TravelMuse will help you to research, organize and build the best trip possible. The inauguration feature can be found at and includes insights such as:

•    Inauguration Day Planning Tips—Whether you plan to join or avoid the crowds on January 20, this section helps you navigate the nation’s Inauguration Day offerings.

•    5 D.C. Hot Spots With Obama-Inspired Menu Items—Check out the culinary creations of chefs throughout the nation’s capital who salute the inauguration with special drinks and dishes ranging from the Obama Roll to vodka-and-fruit shakes.

•    7 Top Presidential Attractions in Washington, D.C.—Beyond the White House, these historic options get you and your family closer to the Chief Executive.

•   44 Free Things to Do in D.C.—Make your trip even more memorable with this list of affordable experiences.

For full details on our press release, click here.

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44 Free Things to Do in D.C. for the 44 Days Until the Inauguration of U.S.’s 44th President

Today, Dec. 7 is typically remembered as the anniversary date of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, which marked the U.S. entrance into World War II. This year it also happens to be the 44th day until the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, on Jan. 20, 2009.

Those of you planning to attend the inauguration in Washington, D.C., should check out our Inauguration Day Tips article written by one of TravelMuse’s contributing writers, Debbie K. Hardin, who used to head up the communications department at the White House.

We’ll be featuring additional articles from Debbie on what to do in D.C. during inauguration week later this month, but the folks at Destination DC, the city’s tourism and marketing bureau, have pulled together a list of 44 free or affordable experiences to kick off the countdown starting today.

1. Stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and where Marian Anderson performed her historic 1939 Easter concert.

2. Catch a free concert featuring Aretha Franklin on Jan. 19 at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.

3. Explore famous and infamous moments in history by following the “Civil War to Civil Rights” heritage trail through downtown D.C.

4. Visit the newly remodeled National Museum of American History, where you can view a copy of the Gettysburg Address on loan from the White House. The theme of Obama’s inauguration, “A New Birth of Freedom,” is taken from the Gettysburg Address. Look for Obama’s name in the “American Presidents” exhibition.

5. See poignant images from the Civil Rights era on display in the Road to Freedom exhibition of more than 200 powerful photographs at the Smithsonian Institution’s Ripley Center, on display through March 9.

6. Make your way to Capitol Hill’s newest attraction, the state-of-the-art Capitol Visitor Center.

7. Live Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by joining a volunteer program through Serve D.C.

8. Check out the presidential portraits on display at the National Portrait Gallery.

9. Tour the magnificent Library of Congress and test out its new interactive exhibits, like the re-creation of Thomas Jefferson’s original library.

10. Only Bill Cosby and the Obama Family can eat for free at D.C.’s legendary Ben’s Chili Bowl — but visitors can soak in the local flavor and chow down on the cheap with their signature half-smokes for just $5 or a chili dog for $3.60.

11. Cheer on the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue on Jan, 20.

12. Watch a peaceful sunset at the Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima Statue).

13. Read the headlines from newspapers from around the world outside the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Read our Newseum article from opening day.].]

14. Learn what it was like to be a guest at a past presidential inauguration through The Honor of Your Company is Requested: President Lincoln’s Inaugural Ball, a special exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

15. Admire great works at the National Gallery of Art.

16. Say “inauguration” at The Phillips Collection admissions desk during the entire month of January and receive two-for-one admission. Take a picture of the Gandhi statue at the Indian Embassy, located just a few feet away.

17. Be a part of history on the National Mall and witness Obama’s swearing-in on Jan. 20. The entire length of the Mall will be open to the public.

18. Watch the changing of the guards at Arlington National Cemetery.

19. Stop by the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac for some quiet reflection.

20. Follow the Greater U Street Heritage Trail and discover Duke Ellington’s home and other greats along what was once known as “Black Broadway.”

21. Walk the grounds of Howard University, one of the country’s historically black colleges, and duck into the Howard University Gallery of Art. Admission is free and it boasts one of the most comprehensive representations of black artists in existence.

22. Stroll the cobblestone streets of historic Georgetown, once the stomping grounds of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Jackie Kennedy. Locate the booth at Billy Martin’s Tavern where he proposed to Jackie.

23. Stop for a photo op in front of the White House, the new home for the new First Family.

24. Visit the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum that explores American history, society, and creative expression from an African-American perspective.

25. Take a stroll through grand Union Station. What was once the Presidential Suite, where presidents waited to board trains and greeted foreign dignitaries, is now B. Smith’s Restaurant.

26. See breathtaking photos and fascinating exhibitions at the National Geographic Museum.

27. Explore the diverse cultures of Africa at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

28. Pay respect to those who served at home and abroad at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and National World War II Memorial.

29. Listen in on native folktales or catch a cultural performance at the National Museum of the American Indian.

30. Visit D.C.’s newest memorials, the Pentagon Memorial and the U.S. Air Force Memorial.

31. Get to know a Lincoln contemporary by touring Frederick Douglass’s historic home, Cedar Hill (advance reservations: $1.50). While there, you’ll enjoy one of the best views of the Washington cityscape.

32. Take a hike on Theodore Roosevelt Island and Memorial and find inspiration in the quotes from the environmentalist president, engraved on the memorial plaza.

33. Browse local art and sample fresh fare at Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market (Saturday and Sunday).

34. See a public mural featuring Barack Obama outside neighborhood hotspot Marvin (at 14th & U), named for D.C.’s own Marvin Gaye.

35. All those visitors coming in for inauguration? You can watch their many, many airplanes take off and land at Reagan National Airport from popular park Gravelly Point, located on the Potomac River.

36. Watch skaters glide on the ice (or join in the fun—adults $7 for 2 hours) as you take in the outdoor art at the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden and ice skating rink.

37. See the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights at the National Archives, then stick around to research your own family’s immigration records.

38. Brush elbows with a genius with a visit to the Albert Einstein Memorial.

39. Walk east of the Capitol to Lincoln Park to see the Emancipation Statue, the city’s first memorial to Honest Abe, along with a statue honoring African-American education pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune.

40. Stop by the African-American Civil War Memorial on U Street.

41. Experience one of the world’s most moving museums, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

42. Build your horticultural IQ inside the U.S. Botanic Garden.

43. Find literary inspiration for your own presidential address at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

44. Climb inside a cockpit and touch a moon rock at the National Air & Space Museum.

For more information, travel tips and advice, log on to Destination DC’s official inauguration Web site,

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Best Fourth of July Fireworks Shows in the United States

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I really love fireworks. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the Fourth of July with great anticipation. Sure the barbecues and pool time are great, but it’s the fireworks that really define the Fourth.

Big, small, ornate, booming, choreographed to music or just launched from the neighborhood cul-de-sac, nothing quite says Americana like Fourth of July pyrotechnics (and singed eyebrows).The sights, the sounds, the smells—all combine to create an exhilarating experience.

Following is a list of some of the best BIG shows in popular U.S. vacation destinations. So gather up the family, get the glow sticks ready for the kids, and head out for an evening of oohs and aahs.

10. Lights on the Lake—Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to watch fireworks over a picturesque mountain lake. The show is set to music and lasts more than 30 minutes.

9. Freedom Over Texas—Houston

An all day shindig with country performers and food and brew, culminating in a rockin’ aerial display.

8. Friendship Festival—Buffalo, New York

The Friendship Festival celebrates “nearly 200 years of peace” between the United States and Canada. It’s a week-long celebration that ends in a fireworks display on the Fourth, visible from both the U.S. and Ontario shores of Lake Erie.

7. Go Fourth on the River—New Orleans

Just when you thought New Orleans couldn’t get any better, it does. Live jazz and great food paired with “dueling fireworks barges” on the Mississippi. Yeah, that definitely sounds like fun.

6. Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration at Pier 39—San Francisco

A solid fireworks display to be sure, but what makes this one special is the music of Tainted Love—possibly the world’s greatest ‘80s cover band. Warning: potentially dangerous combination of hair spray and explosives.

5. WaMu Family Fourth at Lake Union—Seattle

Hailed by Time magazine as one of the “Top Five Fireworks Displays” in the country, this free admission, family-friendly celebration is in its 20th year of bringing together the local community for a unique day of commemoration.

4. Welcome America—Philadelphia

What better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than in Philly: the birthplace of our nation, Rocky Balboa and the cheese steak.

3. Central Pennsylvania Fourth Fest – State College, PA

This extravaganza bills itself as “the greatest volunteer fireworks show in the nation. ”Where do I sign up? Central Pennsylvania Fourth Fest combines live entertainment, the Firecracker 4K fun run, food and drink with thousands of pounds of high explosives launched by amateur pyros. Rock on!  []

2. Macy’s Fourth of July Fest—New York City

See one of theworld’s biggest fireworks displays in the greatest city in the world. ‘Nuf said.

1. Fireworks on the Mall—Washington D.C.

Yes, the crowd is insane, and you’ll want to claim your precious patch of real estate on the National Mall way early, but this is a show not to be missed. The fireworks are set against the backdrop of iconic U.S. landmarks and coupled with patriotic music performed by the National Symphony Orchestra. Having grown up in the D.C. suburbs, it’s one of those experiences I’ll always remember.

Happy Fourth of July!

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