The Fourth of July in the Nation’s Capital

What better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than in our nation’s capital? Washington, DC offers a number of patriotic activities to celebrate Independence Day.

In addition to the slew of predictable sightseeing activities along the National Mall, the new President’s gallery at Madame Tussauds wax museum, visits to the White House, Capitol building and strolls along the Georgetown waterfront, there are a number of patriotic activities happening just for the holiday.

Don’t miss:

A Capitol Fourth
It’s not just any fireworks display – it’s A Capitol Fourth, DC’s biggest annual fireworks show and PBS spectacular. This free event features performances by the National Symphony Orchestra, plus a star-studded lineup including Steve Martin, Matthew Morrison, Jordin Sparks, Josh Groban and Little Richard. Our tip? For a less crowded experience, check out the trial run (minus the fireworks) on July 3.

[Flickr via JoshuaDavisPhotography]

The Uncle Sam Jam
Party with your fellow patriots and kick off the holiday weekend at the second annual Uncle Sam Jam July 2, featuring bands including Blind Melon and Pat McGee along the National Harbor waterfront. The popular party will include DC’s most popular food trucks, a lumberjack log roll and National Harbor’s own fireworks show. Tickets start at $40.

National Freedom Fest
Love music? Love freedom? That’s all it will take to attend the two-day National Freedom Fest at Yards Park. More than 40 bands and DJs of all varieties will take the stage during the two-day event. Tickets are $35 for a two-day pass.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall, kicking off June 30, running through July 4 and again July 7-11. The 45th annual fest this year celebrates different themes each year. This year, expect exhibits dedicated to Colombia, Rhythm and Blues and the Peace Corps.

Boom With a View
It will cost you a pretty penny, but the W Hotel’s annual “Boom with a View” July 4th party lives up to expectations. The private rooftop overlooks the White House lawn. A $200 ticket (or $899 for an overnight and two tix) includes appetizers, an open bar from 6-9 PM, and a live DJ.

Five great cherry blossom hotel packages in Washington DC

The National Cherry Blossom Festival officially kicks off on March 26, with peak bloom days beginning on March 29. Want to make a road trip to Washington, DC? Here’s a list of five great hotels offering Cherry Blossom-themed packages. For more Cherry Blossom fun, stay tuned later this week for our suggestions on where to eat and play.

Mayflower Renaissance Hotel
We’re not talking hippies when we mention this famed hotel’s “Flower Power” package. From now until June 6, guests can enjoy special spring events like the White House Easter Egg Roll, Spring Garden Tours, Washington Nationals baseball games and the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a special offer that includes an overnight stay in one of the hotel’s most luxurious deluxe guestrooms, a round of flower-themed cocktails for two and complimentary breakfast for two in Café Promenade the next morning. As part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Cherry Picks Program, Café Promenade will also serve cherry-inspired cuisine throughout the festival. In town tomorrow? Check out the Festival’s annual Pink Tie Party on Wednesday, March 23. Room rates for the Flower Power package range from $219 to $279 per night (excluding taxes and fees).The W
Enjoy views without the crowds while enjoying hand-crafted cocktails at the trendy P.O.V rooftop lounge, overlooking the White House and the National Mall. The hotel’s Cherry Blossom Package includes overnight accommodations, a bottle of champagne upon arrival; two handcrafted cocktails at P.O.V and a Cracking Cherry Pie from Jean-George Vongerichten’s J&G Steakhouse at W, served for two on the rooftop. This package is available from Thursday – Sunday, March 17-April 30, with code LAPKG5. Rates start at $319.

The Willard Intercontinental
This historic hotel is one of our very favorites. Book their Very Cherry Willard Package and receive a special cherry amenity, $50 food and beverage credit, two tickets on the Tourmobile, and overnight valet parking. This package reflects savings of $150 and is available for $399 on weekends only. Can’t make it overnight? Enjoy the daily Cherry Blossom Tea in the hotel’s floral-laden Peacock Alley is offered daily from March 21 through April 10. Tea is accompanied by the soothing sounds of Koto with its player in traditional Japanese Kimono. The cost? $39 per person, or $49 including a glass of Champagne or Specialty Cherry Cocktail.

Liaison Capitol Hill

Stay in the heart of the nation’s most powerful city with this special cherry blossom package, offering overnight accommodations, two $10 metro passes, a live cherry branch to take home, artisan handmade chocolates and a bag of goodies from in-house restaurant Art and Soul to enjoy picnic-style, perhaps by the tidal basin? The package starts at $199 per night through April 30.

The Fairmont
You’re just a short stroll away from Georgetown when you stay at The Fairmont Washington. Book their special Cherry Blossom package for an overnight stay, a box of Cherry Blossom note cards by famed DC photographer Jake McGuire and complimentary valet parking. Rates start at $219 through April 15.

[Flickr via JoshBerglund19]

Stay like pardoned turkeys “Apple” and “Cider” at D.C.’s W Hotel

This may be a sad, sad day for most turkeys, but not Apple and Cider. President Obama chose these two birds for his annual pardon, a feat he compares to being on Dancing With The Stars, but “the stakes for the contestants was much higher…life.”

“They’ve been living it up on corn feed at the W Hotel,” said Obama. “That’s great advertising … makes me want to stay at the W.”

In case you didn’t know, the W Hotel (named one of our eight great places to stay in D.C. earlier this year) offers a chic rooftop lounge overlooking the White House Lawn.

See the video of Obama pardoning the turkeys, here:

Bliss spas discounting for college students

When I was in college, relaxation came from the best six-pack of beer I could find for under $5. But, it looks like times are changing. The W’s Bliss spa chain is kicking in 20 percent discounts on spa treatments for college kids this year. With fewer business travelers on the road, it looks like Bliss wants to get at least some cash from someone.

For Bliss, targeting the coed demographic is a first. The 21-location spa has typically stayed with a target market that can afford its luxury offering.

So, what’s it take to get your 20 percent discount? Well, you’ll be expected to bring your student ID with you. Wearing sweatpants and smelling like you haven’t showered in three days doesn’t constitute evidence of being a student … though it probably should.

[Photo by Design Packaging via Flickr]

W New York Downtown opens on Wall Street

Downtown New York has been slowly building up its reputation for years, but 2010 seems to be the year of openings. In June we showed you the exclusive images of the first hotel to be open in the Wall Street area with views of Ground Zero, and now more planned hotels are finally opening their doors to travelers in an effort to help rebuild the downtown New York area.

The W New York Downtown – the newest W Hotel in Starwood’s collection – finally opened the doors to the Downtown and The Residences at W New York, offering another hotel options for business travelers and leisure guests looking for a place to stay in the downtown Manhattan area. The hotel is located in New York City’s Financial District on the corner of Washington and Albany Streets.

The 58-floor, 217 guest room and 223 W-branded residences is placed perfectly to give guests city views of the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Hudson River and Battery Park. The hotel will offer the Living Room Bar & Terrace on the fifth floor with floor-to-ceiling window views of New York City, featuring specialty cocktails from resident mixologist Charlotte Voisey and light bites provided by BLT Bar & Grill, the hotel’s signature restaurant. The second floor dining room features a larger menu of fresh salads, grilled meats, market-driven pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and the signature sides and desserts.

The W New York Downtown will offer the same guest amenities typical in W hotels – W signature feather-top mattresses, 350 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, goose down comforters and pillows, state-of-the-art in-room entertainment and a fully stocked Munchie Box (the W brand’s take on the hotel mini bar).