Archive for June, 2010

A Capitol Fourth

June 21, 2010

Fourth of July FireworksI would put spending the Fourth of July in Washington DC on any  list of travel experiences not to be missed.

If you’re joining us this year (and we still have some rooms available including some special package deals if you haven’t made plans yet), here are a few of our favorite tips for having a great day.

Pace yourself

It’s generally hot in Washington and there’s a lot to see and do. Take a break, drink plenty of water, and be sure to get out of the sun for a while. If you’re at the Hamilton Crowne, you’ll be close enough to walk or metro back to the hotel without a lot of hassle.

Have a plan

If you are planning to take metro, remember to have enough on your card for a round trip. Remember that the hotel is located closest to McPherson Square Metro but is also a quick walk from Farragut West (also on the Orange & Blue lines) as well as Farragut North (on the Red line). Make sure everyone in your party knows the address of the hotel in case you get separated and you have a designated meeting point (we recommend the patio at 14K so you can enjoy a refreshing drink and a snack while you wait for the rest of your group to arrive).

Enjoy yourself

  • The National Archives – Enjoy a special Fourth of July celebration  with extended hours and activities all weekend where you can see the Charters of Freedom exhibit featuring the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. At 10 a.m. on the Fourth, there will be a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence by historical re-enactors.
  • 4th of July Parade – Stake our your viewing spot early along Constitution Avenue for the 4th of July parade to enjoy the bands and floats.
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival – This year’s festival centers around the themes of The Smithsonian Inside Out, Mexico, and Asian Pacific Americans. There’s a full schedule of events for the fourth of July as the entire weekend. See the full schedule.
  • Concert on the Mall – Jimmy Smits will be hosting the Capitol Fourth concert and will feature performances by Darius Rucker, Reba McEntire, the National Symphony Orchestra, the U.S. Army Ceremonial Band and the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
  • Fireworks – The Examiner offers a great review of where to get the best vantage point for viewing the fireworks.  If you’re planning to attend the Concert on the Mall or watch the fireworks, keep in mind that there may be restrictions as to what you can take through the security checkpoints (such as no furniture or alcohol).

Happy Fourth!


Washington DC – Off the Beaten Path

June 8, 2010

A common question we get from guests – especially repeat visitors –  at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza is where to find the “real” or “hidden” Washington DC. Here are a few of our secret treasures that most visitors to Washington never see.

Renwick Gallery

Home of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum’s craft and decorative arts program, the Renwick is located near the White House at 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue. A current exhibition features furniture, toys and games made in the Japanese American Internment Camps during World War II.

National Portrait Gallery

Located at Gallery Place Metro, the National Portrait Gallery is another Smithsonian Museum that is often overlooked. The Gallery housed in the old Patent Office Building and was completely restored in 2000. Visit the Kogod Courtyard for a moment of peace, a snack or free Wi-Fi access.

Old Stone House

In the middle of Georgetown on M Street, you’ll find the oldest standing building in Washington DC – Old Stone House. Built in 1765, the house is constructed of local granite and is open Wednesday – Sunday from noon – 5 p.m.

Phillips Collection

A private art collection in Dupont circle, the Phillips Collection offers nearly 3,000 works by Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin, van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Calder, Rothko and more including Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party.

On the first Thursday of each month, the Phillips hosts Phillips after 5, combining live jazz, gallery talks, art and a cash bar. Philips after 5 are popular events and reservations are encouraged.

Hillwood Museum

On a twenty-five acre estate of formal gardens, the Hillwood Museum is the former home of Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. She was also married to both E.F. Hutton and American Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph Davies. During her time in the Soviet Union, she acquired Russian imperial art including a large collection of Faberge eggs that are on display. Hillwood is located at 4155 Linnean Avenue, just off Tilden Street, about a 20 minute walk from Van Ness UDC Metro Station.

US National Arboretum

The National Arboretum offers a chance to feel like you’ve stepped out of the city. Visit the Asian collection – including a Korean Hillside – Fern Valley, the National Herb Garden, the National Grove of State Trees, holly and magnolia, dogwood, azaleas, bonsai,slow growing conifer collection, and much more. There’s a tram tour available to ensure you see the highlights

Take Metro to Stadium Armory and switch to the B2 Metrobus. Get off at Rand Street, just past the Arboretum sign on the right. It’s a 2 block walk to the Arboretum entrance.

Dumbarton Oaks

Given to Harvard by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Dumbarton Oaks Library, Museum and Garden offers a haven for Washingtonians, visitors and scholars. The highlights of the museum include both the Pre-Columbian and Byzantine collections including a large number of Byzantine coins and seals.

The gardens are open daily except Mondays from 2 – 6 pm and introductory tours are available at 2:10.


If you have a specific theme in mind, there are often walking or specialty tours available including:

Spy tours from the Spy Museum that depart from Union Station and focus on famous espionage stories in Washington DC.

Georgetown has a variety of free walking tours  focused on spies, ghosts, celebrities and more.

Lincoln’s Assassination walking tours follow in the footsteps of the president and his assassin.

The Washington Post offers several scandal tour options based on recent (and not so recent) events.

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