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The nation's only wildlife refuge for research is right in Maryland.
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Bring your binoculars to Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel (10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop; 301-497-5763), where short trails through the forest and along the marshy edge of Cash Lake offer glimpses of herons, beavers, songbirds, and other wildlife.

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This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 12:04 PM/ET, 05/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Walk along the trails 19th-century mill workers used to get to the Maryland mill.
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Discover industrial history deep in the woods on the paved, wheelchair-and-stroller-accessible Grist Mill Trail in Maryland’s Patapsco Valley State Park. Past the midpoint of the easy 2.5 miles is a swinging bridge, a replica of one that 19th-century workers used to get to the flour mill—now in ruins—on the other side of the Patapsco River. (dnr.state.md.us; search for “Grist Mill”)

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This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 12:00 PM/ET, 05/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Hike one of the most popular trails and camping sites in Maryland.
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Get a taste of the Appalachian Trail on the 5.4-mile, out-and-back hike to a scenic overlook atop the white cliffs of Annapolis Rock. Despite the name, it’s near Boonsboro, in Maryland’s Washington County, not Annapolis. (hikingupward.com; search for "Annapolis Rocks")

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This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:48 AM/ET, 05/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Explore the park where the Confederate and Union armies clashed twice.
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Nine different loop trails make Manassas National Battlefield Park a place to visit not only for the Civil War history but for the open fields, dense forests, and abundance of bird life, including red-tailed hawks and barn owls. (6511 Sudley Rd.; 703-361-1339).

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This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:47 AM/ET, 05/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
You can be the judge of whether the trail is truly difficult.
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The five-mile Difficult Run loop hike starts outside Great Falls Park—so you can bypass the lines to get into the park on nice days—and follows Difficult Run down to the Potomac and north to the renowned waterfalls.

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This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:43 AM/ET, 05/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
These are not your average views of the Potomac River.
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Trekkers on the narrow, often muddy Potomac Heritage Trail, along George Washington Memorial Parkway, are treated to secluded vistas high on bluffs facing the Potomac. We particularly like the section between Chain Bridge and Arlington’s Potomac Overlook Regional Park.

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This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:42 AM/ET, 05/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Try a different, more secluded section of Rock Creek Park.
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Avoid the crowds along Rock Creek Park’s creek trail. The wooded Rock Creek Western Ridge Trail feels more like a hike, with lots of ups and downs.

Bonus: It passes the park’s horse center and planetarium.

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This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 05/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
And the secrets they hold that you've probably never noticed. By Harrison Smith
No walk packs in as much majesty and history as a stroll around the Mall, past sights such as the Korean War memorial. Photograph by Jess Escribano/Getty Images

It’s one of the area’s classic strolls: Walking the National Mall’s full length, from the US Capitol all the way west to the Lincoln Memorial. But time it wrong and for much of those two-plus miles you’ll be threading your way through tourists. Our advice? Follow this route, about 3½ miles long and all of it west of 14th Street, to take in the Mall’s monuments as well as secluded green spaces. (Think you’ve already been there, done that? We threw in some fun trivia that even the most longtime resident may not know.)

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Posted at 01:59 PM/ET, 05/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
You can do more than just walk the 2.9-mile river loop. By Melanie D.G. Kaplan
Bridging the divide: The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is a way to enjoy the once-neglected body of water. Photograph of Anacostia Riverwalk by Jon Hicks/Corbis.

The Anacostia River is cleaning up its act, and every year brings new ways to enjoy this once-neglected body of water. My favorite: an easy 2.9-mile river loop that takes you along a segment of the peaceful Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

For the simplest parking, start on the south side of the Anacostia, in the small lot on the riverbank below Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (also called South Capitol Street Bridge) or along Anacostia Drive. Walk east about a mile on the paved trail—keeping an eye out for ospreys, great blue herons, and beavers—then cross the new 11th Street Bridge, where you can take in the view from an observation platform. This is the future home of the elevated 11th Street Bridge Park, which will include fruit orchards, performance spaces, and playgrounds.

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Posted at 03:27 PM/ET, 05/04/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Spring is finally here—can summer be far behind? Time to plan a getaway with these great deals. By Alice Shapin
A special offer this month at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay includes $200 a day in resort credits. Photo courtesy of the Hyatt Chesapeake.

On a Dock by the Bay

Where: Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, 100 Heron Blvd., Cambridge, Md.; 410-901-1234.

What’s special: Enjoy serene Choptank River views and lots of activities—including outdoor pools, a heated indoor pool with “dive in” movies, golf, tennis, miniature golf, disc golf, jogging trails, boating, a fitness center, and an 18,000-square-foot spa and salon. At night, cozy up by the fire pit to roast s’mores or stop by Michener’s Library for a drink. Beyond the resort, you can explore the town of Cambridge, with its antiques shops and art galleries.

The deal: The “Take the Credit” package includes $200 in resort credits per night—40 percent off regular rates. Guests can use the credit at the property’s seven restaurants, the spa, the kids’ Camp Hyatt, and golf. Washingtonian readers who show a printout of this deal at check-in also receive a complimentary Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay fleece blanket, a $20 value. Prices start at $349 a night. A two-night minimum stay is required, and reservations must be made in advance. To book, call 800-633-7313 or click here and reference the code CRDT5.

When: Valid through December 30, 2015.

Blue Ridge Playground

Where: Wintergreen Resort, Route 664, Wintergreen, Va.; 434-325-2200.

What’s special: On 11,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this resort offers activities for everyone in the family—45 holes of championship golf, tennis, a zipline, summer tubing, kayaking, hiking, a climbing wall, indoor and outdoor swimming, children’s programs, a fitness center, and a spa. Choose from a variety of accommodations—guest rooms, condos, and houses.

The deal: Readers who book a getaway at Wintergreen's best available rate (prices start at $157.63), receive a resort voucher of $10 per adult per night to use during their stay. You must book online here.

When: Reserve by June 1 and stay before June 30, 2015. Not valid for stays May 22 through 24.

Mountains of Fun

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

What’s special: Nemacolin just underwent a $30-million renovation. Included were the guest rooms at elegant Chateau Lafayette, meeting rooms, and public spaces. Guests can enjoy more than 70 outdoor and indoor diversions—play tennis and golf, head to the shooting academy, tackle the climbing wall, enjoy miniature golf, go off-road driving in a Jeep Rubicon, take flight on a zipline, bowl, tour the $45-million Hardy Family Art Collection, swim, work out at the 2,400-square-foot fitness center, unwind at the Woodlands Spa, or hit Nemacolin’s Lady Luck Casino, with nearly 600 slot machines and 28 table games.

The deal: Three-, four-, and five-night Summer Vacation Packages include accommodations, and a $300-a-night spending credit for dining and activities. Savings are as high as 32 percent, with rates starting at $1,664 for the three-night package. Readers also get one Adventure Pass per person, a $25 value for each pass, which includes access to the following amenities: climbing wall, disc golf, miniature golf, nursery tour, Hardy Girls Gym, $3 in game tokens, $5 bowling, and $5, $10, and $20 off additional resort activities. To get this deal, mention Washingtonian when booking.

When: Valid for future bookings made during May for Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend 2015.

Southern Hospitality

Where: Wild Dunes Resort, 1 Sundial Cir., Isle of Palms, S.C.; 888-778-1876.

What’s special: Wild Dunes Resort is on the northern tip of the 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, fitness centers, restaurants, biking, four pools, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding. It’s just 30 minutes from historic Charleston and its great restaurants.

The deal: The Wild for Summer promotion offers 15 percent off rates in the Boardwalk Inn, the Village at Wild Dunes guest rooms and suites, and selected vacation homes and condos. Also included is a $50 dinner credit per room to experience the Lettered Olive Restaurant & Lounge, featuring family buffet-style dining. Washingtonian readers also receive a Wild Dunes Resort bucket filled with six assorted local beers, a bag of snack mix, and Charleston Trip popcorn, a $25 value. To get this deal, call 888-778-1876 and reference the promo code WILDDC.

When: Valid May 1 through June 30, 2015.

Florida Time

Where: Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, 200 Ponte Vedra Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; 904-285-1111.

What’s special: On a sprawling 300-acre beachfront site, the resort offers two picturesque golf courses, tennis, a fitness center, fishing, sailing, kayaking, biking, three oceanfront pools, a luxurious spa, pristine beaches, dining options, and children’s activities and programs.

The deal: The Bed & Breakfast package includes accommodations and daily breakfast, a 10-percent savings. Readers also get a $50-per-night resort credit that can be used toward the room rate or any activities. A two-night minimum is required. Rates start at $317. To book, call 888-839-9145 and mention Washingtonian, or click here.

When: Valid through September 7, 2015.

Caribbean Dreaming

Where: Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, Aruba; 800-554-9288.

What’s special: This beachfront resort is set against sugary white sand and the blue Caribbean Sea. Enjoy everything that being on the water’s edge gives you—sailing, scuba diving, kayaking, and relaxing on the beach or by the 8,000-square-foot pool complex. You can play golf at the only 18-hole championship course on Aruba, rejuvenate at the ZoiA Spa, enjoy any of 12 food-and-beverage dining options, try your hand at the casino, or turn your kids free at Camp Hyatt. Now celebrating its silver anniversary, the resort underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2013.

The deal: The “Enjoy Something Extra on Us” package gives guests who stay for a minimum of five days a $250 resort credit. Mention Washingtonian when booking to also receive two free cocktails, a $30 value. Rates start at $335 for travel between May and June 26. You can book here.

When: Valid through December 18, 2015.

Mexican Romance

Where: Casa Velas, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; 877-418-3011.

What’s special: Situated amid lush tropical gardens with koi ponds and along golf fairways, this ritzy resort is an adults-only, all-inclusive boutique retreat. Enjoy spectacular Pacific sunsets, swimming, championship golf, miles of pristine beaches, yoga, cocktail night, tequila tastings, gourmet meals, and dinner prepared tableside. Some of the exquisitely appointed suites have a plunge pool, and all boast luxurious bedding. The dining experience includes the Ocean Club, with vast bay views, and elegant Four Diamond-rated Emiliano.

The deal: The Romance Experience package includes accommodations, a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, a guaranteed suite upgrade, one 50-minute couples massage, and two tickets for the Rhythms of the Night tour to the secluded cove of Las Caletas. Rates start at $253 per person per night, a 53-percent savings. Washingtonian readers also get a $50 credit to the resort’s Handbag Bar or Rent a Rock program, which lets you wear an exotic piece of jewelry or carry a Tory Burch or Carolina Herrera bag for the night. To get this deal, use the promo code HMRMCV15.

When: Valid through December 19, 2015.

Posted at 03:03 PM/ET, 05/04/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()