Archive for the ‘DC’ Category

Christmas lights brighten the holiday

December 10, 2012

Having just put up my trademark Charlie-Brown Christmas lights on two azalea bushes and a camellia tree in the front yard, I’m in the mood to share this list I wrote for the Boston Globe travel section last Sunday. Here are five places that will make your holidays bright(er)!

The The 2008 National Christmas Tree lights up the Ellipse in front of the White House [foto Wikipedia]

The 2008 National Christmas Tree lights up the Ellipse in front of the White House


One unifying presence in Washington remains our nation’s holiday evergreen, a tradition since 1923. The 28-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce, standing in the northeast quadrant of the Ellipse in President’s Park South, is festooned with thousands of lights. Free. Through Jan. 1. (1100 Ohio Drive SW, 202-208-1631,

Hyatt Extreme Christmas in 2009

Hyatt Extreme Christmas in 2009


Just west of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is “Hyatt Extreme Christmas.” The Hyatt family treats visitors to almost 200,000 bulbs, ice-skating penguins, a miniature Ferris wheel and, debuting this year, the “Hyatt Extreme Ski Lift.” Free. Through Dec. 28. (11201 NW Fourth St., Plantation, Fla.,

The Holiday Cactus Garden at the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden

The Holiday Cactus Garden at the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden


The factory store at Ethel M Chocolates, southeast of Las Vegas, lights its 600,000 bulbs amid three acres of the state’s largest collection of living cacti. A rainbow of colors blaze from cholla, golden bears, and other spiny species as mesquite trees twinkle in the background. Free. Through Dec. 31. (2 Cactus Garden Drive, Henderson, Nev., 702- 435-2608,

Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort

Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort


About a quarter million visitors a year marvel at this brilliant display an hour northeast of Atlanta. For its 20th edition, the holiday-themed driving tour has added an ice-skating rink, live nativity show, and night-light canopy tours. $60 a car. Through Dec. 31. (7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford, Ga., 770-945-8787,

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree


New York deserves its spot as keeper of the most classic holiday emblem. The 80th Rockefeller Center tree radiates in the glow of 30,000 multicolored LED lights strung over five miles of cord and topped with a star made of 25,000 Swarovski crystals. After the tree comes down, its wood is donated to Habitat for Humanity. Free. Through Jan. 7. (30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, 212-588-8601,


Lincoln heads up new attractions in Washington

December 3, 2012

What’s new in DC? Funny you should ask.

201212_01c_Washington DC_Lincoln

The original pistol that John Wilkes Booth used to murder President Abraham Lincoln is on display in Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was shot (you can even see the gun!), has expanded just in time to keep up with the demand thanks to the new Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln.” The boringly named Center for Education and Leadership is actually an interesting exhibit across the street that covers the fallout after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. A highlight is the tower of tomes surrounded by a spiral staircase winding down to the gift shop.

Over at the Newseum, up through Jan. 27 is a fascinating exhibit called “Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press.” (And aren’t you glad ours is over for another four?) Highlights are the microphone from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” and Tina Fey’s “Sarah Palin” costume.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is the newest feature on the Mall

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is the newest feature on the Mall

Of course you know that the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is the newest feature on the Mall and our 395th national park. But you don’t have much longer to see the controversially truncated “I Was a Drum Major for Justice, Peace, and Righteousness” quote that remains in the stone. According to the park ranger I spoke with there, it’s due to be replaced with its unedited version by MLK Day 2013, which is Jan. 21.

At the National Zoo, “Elephant Trails,” is a breeding, education, and research program to help scientists care for elephants in zoos and save them in the wild that also is expanding visitors’ viewing opportunities.

In Columbia Heights,the renowned Howard Theatre reopened after a 32-year hiatus, featuring expanded seating, state-of-the-art acoustics,and a gleaming 1910 facade.

Civil rights beyond MLK weekend

January 18, 2008

If you’re interested in the Civil Rights movement, including information on visiting historic sites, there’s a wonderful book just out called “On the Road to Freedom: A Guide Tour of the Civil Rights Trail,” by Charles E. Cobb Jr. (Algonquin, $18.95). The sub-sub-title is: “The Marches, the Book cover On The Road To FreedomStruggles, the Triumphs, Speeches, Profiles, 150 Photos, Maps, Web Sites, and 400 Historic Sites.” Unfortunately, there’s no accompanying website, but the book is absolutely worth buying to learn about black history and civil rights sites in DC and the South.

Author Cobb will be touring in DC and the South almost daily through February and a bit beyond.

It’s funny. Folks talk about how racist the South is, but I’ve lived in the Tampa, Fla., and Boston areas, and now Durham, NC, and Durham is by far the most integrated place I’ve experienced. And it’s interesting, isn’t it, that the majority of Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Ten Best Cities for African Americans” are in the South. (None are in the north!) This makes me proud.

Absolutely, the South has had more than its share of atrocities. Like the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot, where riots broke out after blacks registered to vote and some 22 people were reported dead, all black. Only this year did our state leaders express “profound regret” about that awful chapter in history. Growing up in Raleigh in the ’60s, I remember how segregated we were. I was bussed to an “inner city” junior high school, which for me was an eye-opening experience.

After moving back to North Carolina in 2003, and especially since living in racially mixed Durham, I’ve been much more aware of the fight for black equality here, and have visited many sites, including the former Woolworth department store in Greensboro, where on Feb. 1, 1960, four students held one of the first sit-ins; and Parrish Street, aka “Black Wall Street,” the commercial strip in Durham that was home to many black-owned enterprises. There’s now an advocacy group working on the Parrish Sreet Project to commemorate its history and spur economic revitalization along a central downtown corridor. You can learn all about it during Preservation Durham’s free walking tours April through November.  So y’all come on over for a spell.

Circulating in DC

January 11, 2008

I drove to DC for a weekend last month, my first visit to our nation’s capital in a couple years. I had many stops to make on Monday before heading home to North Carolina. From my digs in Chevy Chase, DC (thanks, Markoes!), I was to start at the “soon-to-open” Newseum near the Mall for a sneak preview at 10 a.m., then go to the Washington Post at 15th between L and M for lunch with my former Boston Globe travel editor and the current Post food editor Joe Yonan (I also finally met my Post travel editor John Deiner), and next head over to Georgetown to see a relative. I hoped to accomplish all this before afternoon rush hour.

I asked my DC pals which transportation to use and everyone had the same advice: “Park in Georgetown and take the Circulator.”The DC Circulator bus service The what? The DC Circulator is a tourist-friendly two-year-old bus service in DC with three lines that bridge popular stops: Convention Center-Waterfront, Georgetown-Union Station, and Smithsonian-National Gallery of Art. It runs every 10 minutes, stops frequently, and costs $1 a ride. Day and mutli-day passes are available, too. (All-day parking in Georgetown was a reasonable $12. Or was it $15? Ooops, I forgot!) While I had to change lines once, the bus strategy worked well, thanks especially to the helpful passenger on my first ride. And the Circulators are right purty too. They’re bright red, with oversized windows and doors.

Amazingly, I was on the road by 3 p.m., though I didn’t really leave DC until 3:30 because I somehow managed to get onto 395 North instead of South and ended up back in the city. That’s the kind of circulating I don’t advise.