Posts Tagged ‘smithsonian’

Plan a trip to DC for National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15, 2011

This month marks the celebration of the National Hispanic Heritage Month, and this year’s theme is “Many Backgrounds, Many Stories…One American Spirit.” This is a great chance for Washington to focus on the contributions of the Latin, Central American, South American, and Caribbean communities – and many of the events are free, so you can spend your money enjoying the cuisine, or on souvenirs of your trip.

The Latin American spirit has a colorful vibe unlike any other. With an eclectic mix of cultures, foods, music and traditions, its difficult not to become absorbed into this vibrant community. Growing up in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I remember the colorful scenes of the Carnaval – the women dancing down the street in colorful dresses, the men lighting the fireworks, and the excitement of the children playing on the street. Although these tender memories stayed with me during my time in Washington DC, I am excited to celebrate this month with friends and family and experience the exciting events being hosted this month in the city.


The National Gallery of Art will be presenting a diverse display featuring concerts and films to honor the diverse culture, and offering guided tours in Spanish. On Sunday September 26th, Carlos Cesar Rodriguez, a renowned pianist and composer, will be playing in concert on the West Building in the West Garden Court in honor of this special month, alongside many other Latin American composers and musicians. A film series honoring the bicentennial independence of Mexico from Spain will feature various Mexican films to include Alamar, Lake Tahoe, and Presumed Guilty and will play in the East Building Auditorium of the Gallery.

The National Museum of American History will be featuring special displays, particularly focusing on the Mexican Revolution and the migration of Mexicans to the United States. Later this year the museum will be celebrating Diosa Costello, a prominent Latin performer, artist, producer, club owner, as well as the first Latina on Broadway. Costello donated 11 of her costumes to the Smithsonian for this exhibit.


The annual AFI Latin American Film Festival will be held September 22nd through October 12th at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center. The festival will focus on featuring various new films that will be premiering from 18 different Latin American regions.


On September 18th the National Zoo will be hosting a Fiesta Musical with animal demonstrations, Hispanic and Latin music, Latin dancers, and traditional foods and crafts.


Washington DC is also a great place to visit the monuments of various iconic Hispanic figures that have played an important role and contributed to many of the unique events in the history of the Americas. These important individuals include Jose Artigas, Simon Bolivar, Admiral David G. Farragut, Bernardo de Galvez, Benito Pablo Juarez, and General Jose de San Martin.

Also, the United Spanish War Veterans Memorial is located on Memorial Avenueon the west side of the Arlington Memorial Bridge outside Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.


In our own 14K Restaurant & Lounge, we will be honoring this special month with complimentary Seafood Tacos with the purchase of two dinner entrees. Chef’s special preparation of these delicious Seafood Tacos reminds me of Mazatlan in Mexico’s Golden Coast featuring fresh seafood served with tomato, shallots, jalapeños, fresh lime, and cilantro mayonnaise – a twist to the traditional Mexican ceviche with North American influence.

Discover some of the great restaurants in Washington serving Latin American and Caribbean food, just a short walk from the hotel.

Learn more about the events scheduled for the National Hispanic Heritage Month.

See our specials and book your room at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza now – be sure to book your table at 14K Restaurant as well.


Smithsonian Folklife Festival

June 10, 2011

Each year the Smithsonian chooses 3 nations, regions, states or themes to highlight and celebrate during the Folklife Festival.  The 2011 Festival, scheduled for June 30 – July 4 and July 7 – 11 on the National Mall in Washington DC will feature programs on

Colombia – The biological and environmental diversity of Colombia led to the development of distinct cultures. Six ecosystems and cultures will be highlighted during the festival, including Amazon Rainforest, Andes Mountains, Andean Savannah, Southeastern Plains, the coffee region of Caldas, and the urban centers of Bogota, Medellin and Cali.

The Peace Corps – The Peace Corps turns 50 in 2011, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrates 50 years of service and accomplishment by the volunteers. Started by President Kennedy, the Peace Corps was founded to “promote world peace and friendship.”  Learn more about the life of volunteers and the places they serve.

Rhythm & Blues Rhythm and Blues incorporates elements of blues, soul, funk and more – and is recognized around the world as an identifiably American style of music. Watch performances of music and hear the stories of performers, songwriters and producers.

Learn more about preparations for the Folklife Festival by following the Festival blog. For example, there will be filtered water stations available this year with special collectible water bottles available – or you can bring your own.

See the full schedule of events during the Folklife Festival. Be sure to check out our Specials and make your reservations for your stay.

Smithsonian Summer Highlights

May 7, 2010

Visitors to Washington DC are often overwhelmed to discover that the Smithsonian is actually 19 museums and 9 research centers. The most common mistake visitors make is trying to do too much, becoming overwhelmed by how much there is to see and missing out on some of the highlights. Here are a few of our must-see in the permanent collection as well as some special exhibits this summer:

No trip to Washington is complete with a visit to the National Zoo to see the Pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.  New favorites for Washington are the Clouded Leopards on the Asia Trail.

The Air & Space Museum houses the original Wright Brothers plane, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and a lunar rock sample. In addition the Lockheed Martin IMAX theater offers  movies including To Fly! And Hubble 3D.

The National Museum of American History is where you’ll find the First Ladies’ gowns, Julia Child’s kitchen, Kermit the Frog, Dorothy’s slippers from the Wizard of Oz, and Archie Bunker’s chair. You can even take part in a training session to join a sit in at a lunch counter during the Civil Rights movement.  This summer (through August 29) you can also see Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment which includes items from James Brown, Michael Jackson, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, LL Cool J and many more Apollo performers.

Everyone recognizes the Natural History Museum – “the one with the dinosaur out front” but there’s a lot more inside including the Hope Diamond and the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. This summer you can also see the Wittelsbach-Graff Dimaond for the first time in more than 50 years.

When you’re ready for a break, stop by the Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the National Museum of the American Indian and enjoy some of the best food options on the National Mall.  Be sure to check the schedule for the Indian Summer Showcase highlighting the music, art, culture, dance, film and food of Native groups from native communities in the US and Canada, including Hawaii as well as Argentine, Bolivia, Mexico and Peru.

If you can’t stand the idea of being inside on a beautiful day in Washington but still want to see some great art, take a walk through the Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden, open daily 7:30 am to dusk. If you’re near the Smithsonian Castle,  you can also visit the Enid A. Haupt Garden or the Folger Rose Garden.

If you’re bringing the family along, be sure to check out the Exhibitions for Children to see the kid-friendly exhibits and activities. Be sure to check at the Visitor’s Information desk – some museums have created scavenger hunts to help kids find the most interesting exhibits.

See a complete list of current Smithsonian exhibitions.

Celebrate Black History Month with Us

February 5, 2010

February is Black History Month and if you’re planning a trip to Washington, there are plenty of ways to celebrate. Some are special events while others are available all year long.

The National Archives is celebrating Black History month with special programs and document displays including a special display of the Emancipation Proclamation and a conversation with Henry Louis Gates.

Navy Memorial will be offering events highlighting African-American sailors through history, including the crew of the E.S. Newman, the only all-black lifesaving crew in American History; and screenings of “The Odyssey of Captain Healy.”

Visit the house of Frederick Douglass, now a National Park and historic site, to celebrate his birthday on February 14th.

No trip to Washington is complete without visiting U Street, NW. Once known as Black Broadway hosting the likes of Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey and Sarah Vaughn; U Street fell on hard times and is now experiencing a revival. You can find Duke Ellington’s birthplace in Shaw. Head to 13th & U Streets and follow the African American Heritage Trail – a self-guided walking tour of the area. Be sure to stop in some of the restaurants and shops including Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Near the same U Street Metro Station, you’ll find the African American Civil War Memorial – a celebration of the black soldiers that fought for freedom in the war.

If you need any suggestions for other activities, please visit the concierge. Unfortunately we can’t get you an invitation to the President’s concert with John Legend and Jennifer Hudson, but you can watch it on PBS or listen on NPR.

Follow the Lost Symbol

September 28, 2009

If you’re reading Dan Brown’s latest thriller Lost Symbol, you’re probably curious to trace Harvard Professor’s Robert Langdon’s route through Washington, DC.  Many of the locations in the book are easily reached from the Hamilton Crowne Plaza (and one is just steps away).

You can visit the new US Capitol Visitor’s Center, Statuary Hall and the Rotunda by taking the Metro. Explore the grandeur of the Library of Congress Reading Room. (Note: The Library of Congress stacks are closed to the general public.) There are free daily guided tours of the Library explaining the art & architecture and the highlights of the collection.   (Metro: Capitol South)

See the treasures housed at the Smithsonian Museums. Be sure to stop at the Castle first for a map and a tour. Don’t forget to stop and get your timed tickets for a trip to the top of the Washington Monument. (Metro: Smithsonian)

Visit Freedom Plaza and see the Washington DC street plan (Metro: Federal Triangle) before you head down to Alexandria to see the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. (Metro: King Street)

Take a short walk up 16th Street to the House of the Temple (weekday tours are available 10 am – 4 pm) where you can also explore the lovely residences of Embassy Row and Kalorama.  A little farther north, you will find Washington National Cathedral. (Metro: Tenleytown)  Check the calendar for tour times including the gargoyle tour.

Walk the four blocks to the White House, explore Franklin Square and see the Almas Shriner’s Temple next door to us.

Then when you’re done sightseeing and codebreaking, enjoy a drink and a snack on the patio of 14K where you can monitor all the action in the city at night.

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