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Travel News: Chinese New Year Edition

Celebrate the year of the rabbit and whisk your loved ones off for Valentine’s Day with these deals

Happy Friday, travel junkies! We’re going to break with tradition this week by not mentioning the weather at all, in hopes that by ignoring winter it’ll give up and go away. Instead we’re going to focus on happier things, like Valentine’s Day and the advent of spring and . . . Elmo. Yes, Elmo, the fuzzy, squeaky, vermilion inhabitant of the world’s most famous imaginary street is coming to Washington in 2013, when the National Children’s Museum will team up with Sesame Workshop at the museum’s new location in National Harbor. This is the first time the late Jim Henson’s animation nonprofit has ever ventured into museum territory, so it promises to bring a fleet of tourists to Washington (and there will almost certainly be cookies in the cafeteria).

Yesterday marked the first day of the Chinese New Year, prompting celebrations, parades, and awkward pronunciations of “Gung Hay Fat Choy” across the globe. In China, the Year of the Rabbit was celebrated with fireworks, lanterns, and a host of creepy looking bunnies, while in Las Vegas, events included a dragon dance, a musical parade, and a 16-foot-tall rabbit replica in the lobby of the Palazzo Hotel. You can celebrate in DC’s Chinatown this Sunday at the annual parade and festival between 2 and 5, with dancing, music, and the lighting of a five-story firecracker.

Two Valentine’s-themed deals this week, just in case you’re thinking of whisking anyone away in the next week or so. LivingSocial Escapes is offering a night at the White Gate Inn & Cottage in Asheville, North Carolina, for $135, which includes accommodations, a three-course breakfast, Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, wine-and-hors d’oeuvres hour, and complimentary wi-fi and parking. Asheville has architecture dating to the 18th century and is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a short distance from Pisgah National Forest and the historic Biltmore Estate.

To inaugurate the newly opened Mondrian hotel in New York’s SoHo, Splendia Hotels is offering reduced rates until March 31 (the Mondrian doesn’t open until February 22, though, so it might have to be a late celebration). You can get a room in the four-star hotel for $229 a night, which includes a king-size bed, a marble spa, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an HDTV plasma screen. The Mondrian is on Crosby Street, conveniently located within walking distance of the East and West Villages, the Lower East Side, and all the SoHo shopping your wallet can stand.

Finally, we never thought we’d see a writer brave the buses of Los Angeles and come out smiling. But as Necee Regis proves in the Washington Post this week, you don’t necessarily have to have a car to travel around the City of Angels. All you need is a smile, a patient attitude, and a Zen-like approach to traffic. Maybe we’ll sit this one out for the time being.

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