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Summer is here—time for a vacation. Book one of these and you’ll get a deal just for Washingtonian readers. By Alice Shapin
At the adults-only Villa Buena Onda in Costa Rica, readers can save more than $600 off a four-night stay. Photo courtesy of Villa Buena Onda.

George Washington Slept Here

Where: Hotel Monaco Alexandria, 480 King St., Alexandria; 703-549-6080.

What’s special: This newly renovated luxury hotel reflects Alexandria’s historic character with its Colonial-inspired decor. Amenities include an indoor pool, a fitness center, free use of bikes, a complimentary nightly wine hour, a shuttle to Reagan National Airport, and a pet-friendly policy. Become a member of the free Kimpton Karma Rewards program and get a $10 Raid the Bar credit and free wi-fi. The hotel, in the heart of Old Town, is within walking distance of the waterfront, the Torpedo Factory Art Center, restaurants, and shops, as well as a short drive to George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

The deal: The Venture to Mount Vernon package includes accommodations, two round-trip tickets for the Potomac Riverboat Company cruise from the Alexandria waterfront to Mount Vernon, a pair of tickets for Mount Vernon, and two cocktails from Jackson 20, the restaurant adjacent to the hotel, upon return. Washingtonian readers also receive free parking for one vehicle per night. Rates start at $219. To book, click here and enter the rate code MOUNTV, or call 703-549-6080 and request the Mount Vernon Package. Mention Washingtonian at check-in to get the free parking.

When: Valid for stays through July 2015.

Mountains of Fun

Where: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, 1001 Lafayette Dr., Farmington, Pa.; 724-329-8555.

What’s special: Nemacolin recently underwent a $30-million renovation that spiffed up guest rooms at the elegant Chateau Lafayette as well as meeting rooms and public spaces. Guests can enjoy more than 70 outdoor and indoor diversions, including tennis and golf, a shooting academy, a climbing wall and a zipline, miniature golf, off-road driving in a Jeep Rubicon, bowling, a tour of the $45-million Hardy Family Art Collection, two outdoor and two indoor swimming pools, a 2,400-square-foot fitness center and a spa, and the Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, with nearly 600 slot machines and 28 table games.

The deal: The Three Night Summer Vacation Package includes accommodations and a $300-a-night resort credit for dining and activities. Rates start at $650 a day, a savings of up to 20 percent. Mention Washingtonian when booking to also get one Adventure Pass per person (a $25 value per pass), which gets you access to, among other things, the climbing wall, disc golf, miniature golf, and $5 bowling, plus $5, $10, or $20 off other resort activities.

When: Valid for stays Sunday through Thursday, through August 2015.

New York, New York

Where: 70 Park Avenue, 70 Park Ave., New York, N.Y.; 212-973-2400.

What’s special: This pet-friendly boutique hotel puts you in the middle of New York City but not in the middle of the tumult. It’s an easy walk from Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, and the Empire State building. The hotel has a fitness center, luxurious Frette linens, a free evening wine hour, and on-the-house morning coffee and tea service. Become a member of the free Kimpton Karma Rewards and receive a $10 Raid the Bar credit and complimentary wi-fi.

The deal: A Piece of Park Avenue, the package exclusive to Washingtonian readers, includes a guest-room upgrade (based on availability), welcome cocktails for two at the on-site Silverleaf Tavern, a $100 gift card toward lunch for two at Park Avenue Tavern, tickets for two to the Morgan Library & Museum, and complimentary bikes to explore the neighborhood (must be booked 24 hours in advance). Rates start at $310, a 15-percent savings. To book, e-mail packagesny@kimptonhotels.com and mention Washingtonian’s A Piece of Park Avenue package.

When: Valid for stays through September 7, 2015.

Down South

Where: Wild Dunes Resort, 1 Sundial Cir., Isle of Palms, S.C.; 866-359-5593.

What’s special: Wild Dunes Resort is on Isle of Palms, a lush barrier island off the South Carolina coast. The oceanfront property on 1,600 acres offers a wide array of activities including championship golf, tennis, spa services, two fitness centers, restaurants, biking, four swimming pools, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding. It’s just 30 minutes from historic Charleston and its great restaurants.

The deal: The Home Away From Home package offers 15 percent off vacation rental homes and starts at $800 a night for a five-bedroom. Readers also receive a free bottle of Champagne, a $20 value. To get this deal, call 844-391-5697 and use the promo code HOMEDC.

When: Valid for stays through August 31, 2015.

Florida Keys

Where: Casa Marina Resort, 1500 Reynolds St., Key West, Fla.; 305-296-3535.

What’s special: Opened in 1920, Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria resort on the National Register for Historic Places, combines the ambience of old Key West with modern luxury. Located along the southern edge of the island, the property features the largest private beach in Key West. You can swim in one of two oceanfront pools, scuba-dive, snorkel, sail, kayak, take a sunset cruise, jet-ski, bike, or ride a scooter to explore the area. The resort is three miles from the airport, a short drive to both the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum and the Harry S. Truman Little White House, and minutes from historic Old Town and nightlife.

The deal: The Best of Waldorf Astoria promotion includes a $100 resort credit, based on a two-night minimum stay, and a $50 credit for each additional night. Washingtonian readers also get two complimentary cocktails, a $30 value. Rates start at $304. For reservations, click here and use the booking code PBBWAS.

When: Valid for stays through August 31, 2015.

Kicking Back

Where: Las Terrazas Resort & Residences, Ambergris Caye, Belize; 800-447-1553.

What’s special: Enjoy the laid-back elegance of Belize’s Ambergris Caye at this exclusive and intimate luxury hotel with 37 private townhouses. Just steps from a private beach and the Caribbean Sea, the Preferred Boutique Hotel is on the pristine coastline of the world’s second-largest living barrier reef.

The deal: Readers receive a complimentary snorkel trip for two to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, a $140 value. For reservations, call 800-447-1553 and mention Washingtonian. Prices start at $279 a night.

When: Valid for stays through September 6, 2015.

Living the Life

Where: Villa Buena Onda, Guanacaste, Costa Rica; 800-414-0159.

What’s special: This adults-only (ages 16 and older) luxury boutique hotel on the Golden Coast of Guanacaste is perched on a hillside overlooking Playas del Coco. Enjoy cooking classes, yoga, a spa, and the two-tier, ocean-view saltwater swimming pool. The rate includes three meals each day featuring fresh, local ingredients. It’s 30 minutes from the airport, in an area where guests can sail, go sport-fishing, hike, horseback-ride, or venture out on a zipline or on a cruise to see crocodiles and monkeys.

The deal: Stay four nights and get a 50-minute couples massage as well as a cruise in a private boat to the Papagayo Gulf to visit secluded beaches and to fish, snorkel, swim, or relax. The trip includes a naturalist guide, lunch, and beer. Readers also receive a free bottle of wine, a $35 value. Prices start at $161 per person per night, a savings of $600. To book, call and mention Washingtonian and the Stay Four Night Deal, or book online and mention the magazine and the Stay Four Night Deal in the comment section.

When: Valid for stays through Labor Day 2015.

Posted at 03:30 PM/ET, 07/01/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Flickr user Patrick Nouhailler.

The Atlantic beaches may be home to “the nation’s summer capital,” but more visitors come from places other than Washington. Here’s a breakdown of the home bases of recent buyers in and around Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, according to data provided by local real-estate agent Leslie Kopp.

Nearly half of beach-goers call DC their home, while there are more vacationers from Philadelphia, Wilmington, and South Jersey, than from Baltimore. Nine percent of out-of-towners come from the Eastern Shore and a mere four percent hail from New York City.

This article appears in our July 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 07/01/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()

From their founding as Victorian-era church camps, our area’s seaside getaways have stripped Washington down to its essential parts, with Capitol Hill and Foggy Bottom types clubbing up in their bungalows for beery barbecues and political gossip while midlevel staffers—the elect have long retreated up the coast to Cape Cod and the Vineyard—pursued small-d democratic pleasures along the boardwalks.

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Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 06/30/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Found Image Press/Corbis.

From their founding as Victorian-era church camps, our area’s seaside getaways have stripped Washington down to its essential parts, with Capitol Hill and Foggy Bottom types clubbing up in their bungalows for beery barbecues and political gossip while midlevel staffers—the elect have long retreated up the coast to Cape Cod and the Vineyard—pursued small-d democratic pleasures along the boardwalks.

In other ways, beach culture forged ahead of our workaday world: Weekend traffic was born more than a decade before Beltway traffic, when the first span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was completed in 1952. The freedom afforded by distance and make-do housing arrangements gave gay Washington cover, and life in that community bloomed—if not sooner, then more ardently than it did back home in the capital.

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Posted at 08:35 AM/ET, 06/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Loudoun County artists are throwing open their studio doors this weekend, making a pretty drive even more interesting By Sherri Dalphonse
Jeff Hall, whose studio is on this weekend's Artists Studio Tour, works on a statue for the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Denver. Photo courtesy of Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour.

Drive around Loudoun County, Virginia, and you'll encounter gorgeous vistas—bucolic byways past fields and farms, and history-drenched communities such as Waterford and Leesburg. More proof that these surroundings are inspiring: The county is home to dozens of artists working away in ceramic, paint, metal, and other mediums.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21, more than 60 artists in Western Loudoun County are opening their studio doors to the public. On a self-guided tour, visitors can pop into any of the studios, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., to chat with the artists, and to see and possibly buy their works.

This is the 10th anniversary of the studio tour, which is free. For more information, click here; for a brochure with a description of each artist and a map of the studios, click on "View the full 2015 WLAST booklet online."

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 06/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Baltimore festival offers hair-raising fun this weekend By Sherri Dalphonse
There are summer festivals, and then there's Baltimore's Honfest. Photo courtesy of Visit Baltimore.

Baltimore's 36th Street this weekend will be a beehive of activity--literally--during Honfest 2015.

The unorthodox street fair, which started in 1994 as a beauty pageant of sorts behind Café Hon ("hon," short for honey, is a term of endearment), has grown to fill four blocks of the quirky Hampden neighborhood and to celebrate the working women of Bawlmer. It's a charming parade of cat-eye glasses, blue eye shadow, spandex, leopard print, and bouffants—most adorned with bows or flowers.

Visitors can get their very own beehive styled in the Glamour Lounge, listen to live music on multiple stages, watch contests like the Best Hon talent show or Best Mustache Contest, and check out work by local artists.

The festival runs Saturday, June 13, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (with hundreds of beehived hons gathering at 4 pm for a photo at Roland Avenue and 36th Street), and Sunday from noon to 6.

Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 06/12/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Three vacation-home locales for the not-so-super-rich. By Michelle Thomas
Beach-blanket bargain: Chesapeake Beach has marinas, a boardwalk, a water park, and—compared with other seaside towns—affordable property. Photograph by Angel Beil.

If you have a spare million or two to spend on a second home, you have your pick of destinations. But what if your budget is a bit more modest? Here are three up-and-coming vacation spots where you can buy a weekend retreat for less than $500,000.

Chesapeake Beach, Maryland

Travel time from DC: About 45 minutes.

Good for: Young families.

What your money buys: A one-bedroom waterfront condo for $309,995; a recently updated two-bedroom cottage along the water for $449,900; a townhouse with views and a private community beach for $369,900.

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Posted at 08:00 AM/ET, 06/11/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Whether you’re looking for a great staycation or want to get out of town, we’ve got exclusive deals By Alice Shapin
The Embassy Row Hotel's new rooftop pool deck feels like a getaway--but it's just in Dupont Circle. And now you can stay for less. Photo courtesy Destination Hotels & Resorts.

Staycation by the Pool

Where: Embassy Row Hotel, 2015 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-265-1600.

What’s special: This funky hotel recently underwent a $15-million renovation: The magnificent rooftop now features a cool saltwater pool and refreshing cocktails to go with the panoramic city views. If you can pull yourself away from the roof, you’ll see that the hotel’s location puts you near good eateries such as Glen’s Garden Market, Bub and Pop’s, and DGS Delicatessen, as well as the Phillips Collection, the National Geographic Museum, the Heurich House Museum (one of the most intact Victorian structures in the country), and Metro’s Red Line.

The deal: The Weekender all-inclusive package includes two nights’ accommodations, valet parking, a $50 food credit for Station Kitchen & Cocktails or the Rooftop, the hotel service fee, all taxes, and a late checkout based upon availability—all in all, a 20-percent savings. Washingtonian readers receive a room upgrade valued at up to $60; use the booking code STAYLOCAL. Rates start at $220.

When: Valid for stays through June 2015.

Staycation in Baltimore

Where: Kimpton Monaco Baltimore, 2 N. Charles St., Baltimore; 443-692-6170.

What’s special: Housed in the former B&O Railroad headquarters, the hotel marries contemporary style and design with historic architecture. Enjoy 300-thread-count Frette linens, a complimentary nightly wine hour from 5 to 6, the use of Kimpton bikes and selfie sticks, and free coffee and tea service every morning. The pet-friendly hotel is walking distance to the Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the Walters Art Museum, and the Hippodrome Theatre.

The deal: The National Aquarium Blacktip Reef Package includes accommodations, two adult tickets to the aquarium so guests can skip the long lines, 20-percent savings on additional tickets (discounted to $30 for adults, $20 for children), free continental breakfast for up to four guests, and a 10-percent discount at on-site B&O American Brasserie for lunch or dinner. The package price is just $50 more than the hotel’s best available rate. Mention Washingtonian at check-in to also get two free drinks at B&O American Brasserie, a $25 value. Rates start at $219. To book, click here and enter the rate code AQUA, or call 888-752-2363 and request the Blacktip Reef package.

When: Valid for stays in June 2015.

Theater Perfect

Where: Distrikt Hotel, 342 W. 40th St., New York, N.Y.; 212-706-6100.

What’s special: Every day during the hotel’s Social Hour, guests can enjoy free “aperitivo” snacks and great prices on drinks. Just steps from Broadway, this is a good base from which to see a weekend of shows. It’s also walking distance to the Empire State Building, restaurants, shops, and the subway.

The deal: The summer promotion offers Washingtonian guests 15 percent off the best available rate and a free bottle of Prosecco. Rates start at $199. The promotion can be accessed by clicking here.

When: Valid for stays through August 2015.

North Carolina Calling

Where: Sanderling Resort, 1461 Duck Rd., Duck, N.C.; 866-860-3979.

What’s special: The resort just unveiled 24 new waterview rooms and suites—some facing the Atlantic Ocean, others overlooking Currituck Sound—and new activities such as moonlight kayak tours, Cape Hatteras horseback riding, and cruises from Duck to Sanctuary Vineyards. You can relax at the spa or beach, do standup paddleboarding, take surfing and kiteboarding lessons, play tennis, swim at the three pools, or rent bikes ($35 for a half day).

The deal: The Buy 3, Get 1 Free package awards one free night for three paid. Washingtonian readers also get two free appetizers (one per person) at Kimball’s Kitchen or Lifesaving Station with a meal purchase (excluding the seafood tower), a $30 value. Rates start at $299 a night. To get this deal, mention Washingtonian when calling.

When: Valid for stays through June 30, 2015.

The Maine Event

Where: Meadowmere Resort, 74 Main St., Ogunquit, Maine; 800-633-8718.

What’s special: The Meadowmere Resort, on Maine’s southern coast, has been family-owned since 1983 and offers a relaxing atmosphere. Guests enjoy an indoor Roman bath, indoor and outdoor pools, an outdoor hot tub, and a health club and spa. The resort is in the heart of Ogunquit Village, a picturesque seaside spot with galleries, boutiques, and restaurants serving Maine lobster. Walk the Marginal Way, a scenic cliff walk that meanders along the ocean for more than a mile, learn how to trap lobsters, go to a summer-stock playhouse for a theater performance, or enjoy golf at one of five courses within a 15-minute drive.

The deal: The Tee & Sea Package includes two nights’ accommodations, 18 holes of golf at the Links at Outlook (one round per person), a dinner for two at Jonathan’s Ogunquit, parking for one vehicle, resort amenity access, and extended checkout at 1 PM, all for a 20-percent savings off regular rates. Washingtonian readers also receive free Maine-made chocolates in the room, two glasses of wine, and a cheese platter. Prices for the package start at $698 for two people. Mention Washingtonian at check-in to get this deal.

When: Valid for stays through June 30, 2015.

Posted at 01:00 AM/ET, 06/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Just say no to the extra pair of whatever. By Ali Follman
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

So you’re going away for the weekend and are forced to pack lightly to follow today’s airline rules. Unless you want to check your luggage, which usually requires a fee, you're limited to one carry-on and one personal item.

And with strict dimensions set for your carry-on—22 x 14 x 9 inches on American, United and Delta Airlines—you don’t have a lot to work with: You have to fold, stuff, and squeeze everything you need into a bag the size of a briefcase. You must be prepared to leave certain items behind.

Obviously you want to take only essentials—it's always a bummer to come back from a trip and realize you didn’t wear half of the clothes you packed, brought too many reading options for the flight, or packed a bulky hair dryer that you didn’t need.

Everyone has different things that they can’t live without on a trip. For some, toiletries take up the most space in a suitcase. For others, it is shoes. Yes, you think you want options, but they will weigh you down. It could force you to check your bag if it’s unable to fit or is too heavy to lift into the overhead bin.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here are some tips on how to efficiently pack what’s the most important to you in one carry-on suitcase:

  1. Put shoes on the bottom.

  2. Lay clothing flat to guarantee less wrinkles.

  3. Bring fewer cosmetics and toiletries than you need and in small sizes. You can always buy things at a drugstore, too.

  4. If you have a makeup routine, downsize it to the essentials (foundation, mascara, done). Or bring multi-functional makeup (BB cream, cream blush).

  5. Plan your outfits. If you don’t like planning ahead, limit yourself to three outfit choices for the two days. Pack neutral-colored clothing so you can mix and layer pieces.

  6. Wear your travel clothes on the way there and back. Make it comfy.

  7. Use your other plane-approved item (purse or backpack) as a last-resort place to put extra things.

Posted at 05:11 PM/ET, 05/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock

Cunningham Falls State Park

~65 miles from Washington, D.C.

Cunningham Falls offers two unique areas for campers: the William Houck Area centers around a 43-acre lake, with access to boat rentals and swimming. The Manor Area sits three miles out from an aviary and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace in Frederick County. This state park has tent, RV, and cabin sites available for Sunday and Monday night. Pets are allowed with proof of vaccinations, but alcohol isn't without a permit obtained in advance. Electricity and showers are available. 14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont, MD 21788; call (301)271-7574 or book reservations online.

Greenbelt Campground

~12 miles from Washington, D.C.

This Maryland campground doesn't offer water or electric hookups, but if you're seeking an escape from modern conveniences, that may be ideal. It does offer 10 miles of trails, as well as easy access to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens and the Goddard Space Flight Center. This campground has availability for RVs and tents from Thursday through Monday night, at $16 per night. Pets are allowed on a short leash. Showers are available. 6565 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770; call (301)344-3948 or book reservations online.

Little Bennett Campground

~29 miles from Washington, D.C.

This Maryland campground offers over 25 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, and is located nearby the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project and Splash Playground & Mini-Golf. About a dozen tent sites are still open for Friday night, although no electricity is available. Showers and water spigots are available. 23701 Frederick Road, Clarksburg, MD 20871; call (301) 528-3430 to book reservations.

Duncan's Family Campground

~23 miles from Washington, D.C.

This family campground is full of fun, offering everything from hayrides and pools to the basics like showers and laundry facilities. It's located only 12 miles from Six Flags America and 13 miles from Chesapeake Beach Water Park, which opens for the season this Saturday. Only tent sites are available for the weekend, but they have water access and pets are allowed. 5381 Sands Road, Lothian, Md. 20711; call (410) 741-9558 or book reservations online.

Pocomoke River State Park

~142 miles from Washington, D.C.

This Maryland campground offers two camping areas: Shad Landing and Milburn Landing. Shad Landing offers more amenities to campers, such as electric hookups and a centrally-located washhouse. Although the Milburn area has limited amenities, pets are allowed. Rowboats, electric boats, canoes and kayaks are available to rent, and fishing, hiking, and hunting are common outdoor activities here. Local attractions include the NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and the Delmarva Discovery Center. Both RV and tent sites are still available. Shad: 3461 Worcester Highway, Snow Hill, MD 21863; Milburn: 3036 Nassawango Road, Pocomoke City MD, 21851. Call (888) 432-2267 or book reservations online.

Oak Ridge Campground

~37 miles from Washington, D.C.

As part of the Prince William Forest Park, this campground offers access to 37 miles of foot trails, 21 miles of paved road (great for cyclists), and 18 miles of streams for fishing. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and the Manassas National Battlefield Park are nearby. Tent sites are available through the weekend. 6975 Oak Ridge Road, Triangle, VA 22172; call (703) 221-7181 or book reservations online.

Shenandoah National Park

~75 miles

This national park offers four campgrounds with walk-in availability for the holiday weekend, along with backcountry camping. Try an earthcache or view the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Skyline Drive. Pets are allowed on most nearby trails with a leash. Call (877) 444-6777 or book reservations online.

Posted at 10:25 AM/ET, 05/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()