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Travel News: Bad Environment Edition

Washington is grubby, and the oil spill is canceling weddings, but wizard wannabes have a treat coming to them.

Good news, Washingtonians: Our city is only the 13th dirtiest in America. A May Travel + Leisure survey of America’s favorite cities ranked us number 18 out of 30, which puts us ahead of New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, but way behind winners Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland, and Denver. In other categories, we got high marks for our tourist attractions and family-friendly fun, but were on bottom in terms of places to go for a “wild weekend,” and almost bottom for “attractive people.” We’re trying not to take it personally.

The never-ending oil spill in the gulf isn’t just hurting the fishing industry. According to a story on, the wedding industry has also been hit hard, with fleets of cancellations in the area. The gulf shores have always been a popular place to get married, offering beaches, balmy winter weather, and plenty of wedding planners to help facilitate beach marriages. But with brides not wanting sticky puddles of brown goo spoiling their special day, they’re looking elsewhere to tie the knot.

One standout vacation deal we noticed this week: Virgin is offering a six-night package to London that starts at $649 for return flights and a three-star hotel. Considering that we recently paid $750 for only a flight to London in September, this is a steal for anyone fancying a European trip in the fall. The favorable exchange rate (£1 is roughly equal to $1.50) should help keep costs down, too. The package is available from now through March, although the cheapest dates right now are in October, November, and early December—ideal for Christmas shopping. Check out a travel story featuring London in our June issue here.

A few other deals worth mentioning: has a sale on rooms nationwide over Fourth of July weekend. In Washington, the Westin Alexandria is offering rooms for $95 a night, and the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner for only $71. In DC, the Liaison Capitol Hill has cut its nightly rates from $200 to $140, and it’s walking distance from the Mall and the monuments. Travelzoo is also currently offering a 40 percent-discount on tickets to the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, so you can scare your kids into good behavior. Tickets should be booked before June 30 and are valid through December.

Finally, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter just opened at Universal Studios in Orlando, and it’s already getting great reviews from muggles and non-muggles alike. Here are three critiques, courtesy of Arthur Frommer, our very favorite travel blogger. Conveniently, Travelzoo is offering a super-cheap sale on flights to Orlando through September: $133, including tax and fees. It might be a little cooler by the fall, although we doubt it.