The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates its Grand Opening this weekend with a series of events: “Homecoming” (Friday), “Celebration” (Saturday) and “Call and Response” (Sunday). The museum is on the Mall in DC, next door to the Washington Monument and the Museum of American History.
Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square in Washington, District of Columbia
Near White House
TheRealPlaces.com offers online reservations for 125 hotels in Washington, including Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square. The Sofitel is just one block north of the White House, making it an excellent choice the next time you have to meet with the POTUS. A 4.5-star hotel with all the high-end amenities you could want, it is located at 806 15th Street NW.
Last week we “visited” Maine’s beautiful coastal national park, this week we travel 3,000 miles west to Washington’s similarly-located, but significantly more mountainous Olympic National Park. The park (and the adjacent Olympic National Forest) take up most of the land on the Olympic Peninsula. And it’s all within a couple of hours of driving from Seattle.
The official web site for the park says that “Olympic is like three magical parks in one” and that’s not just a PR slogan. The park consists of several disconnected pieces, including a 73-mile stretch of coastline. While there’s plenty of sand on the beaches of the Olympic peninsula, there’s also plenty of rocky areas that help to make it yet another paradise for landscape photographers. The largest piece, at the center of the peninsula, comprises the majestic Olympic Mountains. And we’re not just talking beautiful snow-capped mountains – we’re talking glaciers, people! Then there’s the rain – lots and lots of rain – in the old rainforests on the western side of the park. At over 150 inches of precipitation annually, it may be the rainiest place in the continental United States.
The primary visitors center for Olympic National Park is at the northern end of the park, just outside the town of Port Angeles, Washington. From there it’s a memorable drive up to the Hurricane Ridge visitors center, where you’ll find great views of the park’s mountain areas. On the western side of the park you can venture up to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitors Center, from where you can trek further on trails that follow the Hoh River deeper into the rainforests. U.S. Route 101 goes completely around the park, with many more roads (some unpaved) that lead you toward the heart of the park. There are, however, no roads that completely cross the park.
Olympic National Park has plenty of opportunities for camping – the National Park Service operates 16 campgrounds here. Almost all of them operate on a “first come, first served” basis, so you’d better arrive early during peak seasons. The Kalaloch campground does have an online reservation system for the summer months.
If you’re looking for more comfortable accommodations, Port Angeles has most of the hotels closest to Olympic National Park. A short drive east of Port Angeles is the coastal Sequim Valley and you’ll find more places to stay in the town of Sequim. For a different way of arriving or departing the peninsula, there’s a ferry that makes 90-minute trips between Port Angeles and Victoria on Vancouver Island in Canada.
Today we unveiled the completely renovated TheRealWashington.com, a useful place for anyone planning a visit to Washington, DC. It’s now easier than ever to find the best places to stay near hundreds of buildings, landmarks, Metro stations and other attractions.
Depending upon your plans, sometimes the best place to stay is the Maryland or Virginia suburbs instead of within Washington, DC. So The Real Washington has been expanded to include hotels in the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.
There’s no doubt that the best way of getting around in DC is by using the Metro subway system. TheRealWashington.com now includes all of the Metro stations in DC, Maryland and Virginia – each with a list of the nearest hotels. Every hotel page has been updated to include a link to the Metro stop nearest that hotel.
TheRealWashington is all about making things more convenient, so we’ve added pages containing information about nearby hotels for hundreds of places in the Washington, DC area. Interested in the many museums in the area? We’ve got a guide to the closest hotels for over 40 DC museums. Coming to DC on business? We have over 600 pages devoted to hotels near buildings in DC – everything from embassies to government offices to office buildings.