Travel Tips: Get away to wonderful Washington, D.C.

The Fairfax at Embassy Row.
The Fairfax at Embassy Row. (eDDIE aPPLEFELD/sUBMITTED PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

This month through mid-April is the ideal time to visit Washington, D.C. Mainly because of the lovely cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin and other locations across the city where they are blooming, including the Washington Monument. To this day, we can thank the government of Japan for giving us such a beautiful gift we can enjoy every year.

I suggest you make a getaway out of the trip, and I'm recommending a place to stay.

I made my first visit a few weeks ago to The Fairfax at Embassy Row, 2100 Massachusetts Ave. The first thing you'll notice when you arrive is the elegant location. Within about a two- to three-block walk you will find many international embassies. Actually, immediately after checking in, here's what you should do: Walk out of the hotel, turn left, stroll the avenue and stop in front of each embassy and read their informational sign. It's quite an interesting and educational jaunt.

Here's the second thing you should do: Take a five- to six-block walk to the Washington Hilton and look at the exact spot where President Reagan was shot. That may seem gruesome, but it's also interesting. The location looks a little different today, in the aftermath of the assassination attempt.

For example, there is now a covered shelter where important dignitaries can debark from their limos out of view of the public. I went into the hotel and sought out an employee who was there at that moment in time. He was not reluctant to share his memories.

He said he recalled how quickly the Secret Service had their guns out, and it seemed as if suddenly everyone traveling with Reagan was armed. He also recalled the moments of turmoil as the event unraveled.

You might be a little tired at this point, so let's head back to The Fairfax. The hotel opened in 1927, and if my history is correct, by someone related to Al Gore. His name was Col. H. Grady Gore, so I might be right. I do know that Al lived here for a few years.

There are 259 rooms, including 20 suites. The hotel is operated by the Pyramid Hotel group out of Boston, and part of the Starwood franchise.

Amenities include a business center, fitness center, 24-hour concierge, valet parking and a highly-trained international staff. That to me is one of the fun things about traveling. When you go to a cosmopolitan city like Washington, you are guaranteed to meet people from all over the world. Most are more than happy to tell you about their country. My aim is to learn the names of as many international capitol cities that I can.

When walking the halls be sure to stop and admire the artwork - many lovely painted scenes of Washington.

When you're ready to eat, the hotel offers the 2100 Prime as an elegant dining option, or the less formal Fairfax Lounge. Room rates vary so check the website or call the hotel.

I discovered The Fairfax at Embassy Row, when I was invited to a Wednesday Night Capitol Wine Festival dinner. The dinner includes four courses with different wines served with each. The dinners are quite popular and will be going on through the end of March. But don't fret if you miss it, I'm sure they will return next year.

The hotel is also ideally situated for walking trips and excursions a little farther afield. The Metro subway system, which is very good, will take you just about anywhere in D.C., including to the train station and airport. There's a station at Dupont Circle, only one block away from The Fairfax. And once on a train, the city is yours.

Popular attractions, such as the White House, The U.S. Capitol, the Smithsonian and the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials are just a short hop.

Washington, D.C. is such a vibrant city you really should make it a destination at least once a year. Go to washington.org to get information on the city.

Meanwhile, here's some recent travel news and tips:

Virgin, Delta, US Airways and Continental recently matched the fare increases of United and Continental. Higher fuel costs are blamed.

The newest attraction in Vegas is the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. It traces the history and tells the story of key organized crime figures.

In light of the cruise ship tragedy off the Italian coast, it's more important than ever when cruising not to miss the lifeboat drill. As a matter of fact, most lines now require the drill before the ship sails.

In other news, beginning in November, horseback riding will be permitted in Ocean City. It will be allowed from 27th Street to the south-end jetty.

And out west, the Grand Canyon Bridge has been selected by Travel & Leisure Magazine as the world's top new bridge.

Many travellers think they're out of luck if an airline drops a fare after they've booked a flight. But a recent survey shows quite a few airlines will refund the difference if asked.

And finally, the Four Seasons Hotel on International Drive in downtown Baltimore is now open. It has 18 floors, 256 rooms and many terrific features. One of which I had never seen - a TV in the bathroom mirror!

And on that note, I'm out of words. See you next time!

For more information call 202-293-2100, or go to http://www.fairfaxhoteldc.com.

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