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Marvel at six million years of human evolution at the Smithsonian, defy gravity with a weightless flight at Dulles, and lay your head down for 60 percent off downtown. By Eliot Stein
Photograph courtesy of Zero-G.
Comments () | Published March 19, 2010

On Wednesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History marked its 100th anniversary on the Mall by unveiling the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. The permanent exhibit explores the evolution of humans over the past 6 million years and encompasses more than 285 fossils and artifacts—including the only Neanderthal skeleton in the United States. Visitors to the 15,000-square-foot space are able to travel through a time tunnel showing how humans have adapted to the environment over millions of years as well as marvel at more than 75 skulls from our early ancestors.

Goodbye, “Free Meals at Mealtimes!” Continental Airlines, which had touted its complimentary in-flight food service last year, announced this week that it will no longer offer free food to economy passengers on domestic flights lasting less than six hours. The change, scheduled to start this fall, will save the airline roughly $35 million, according to the Associated Press. Delta, American, US Airways, and United already charge for food.

Does the dried-out deliciousness of astronaut food have you craving a career in the clouds? Well, you might not be the next Buzz Aldrin, but on April 3 you can defy the laws of gravity when Zero-G, the only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights, takes off from Dulles. Following in the free-floating footsteps of Martha Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, and Beatrice of York, passengers will receive pre-flight training, private transportation to and from the plane, and a post-flight “re-gravitation party.” The highlight, however, will be the same two-hour flight experience used by NASA to train astronauts, complete with 15 moments of weightlessness lasting 30 seconds each. Tickets cost $4,950.

Fans of Luray Caverns’s maze of stalactites, stalagmites, and mirrored pools should know that there’s a new attraction in town: the Luray Valley Museum, a museum dedicated to showcasing the culture of the Shenandoah Valley from the 1750s to the 1920s. Opening Easter weekend, it sits on seven acres of gardens and features several relocated and reconstructed historic buildings, including a former church turned Civil War barracks.

Those who can’t get enough of the National Cherry Blossom Festival or the many cherry blossom-inspired cocktails being poured throughout Washington will be pleased to know that the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel is rolling out the red (or rather, pink) carpet by slashing more than 60 percent off its regular rates, meaning rooms are going for $99. The deal at the recently renovated hotel is available starting March 26 and continues through June 20 on select dates (including the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day weekend). To cash in, click here and enter the promotional code TZPPC2.

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Posted at 09:58 AM/ET, 03/19/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs