Special Events, The Mall

Orchid Mystique at US Botanic Garden

Photo courtesy of Rukasu1
courtesy of Rukasu1

If seeing cherry blossom buds makes you impatient for late March, the US Botanic Garden has you (and your date…or camera…) covered with their annual display of orchids - Orchid Mystique: Nature’s Triumph.

I visited last weekend on an extremely affordable date (admission is always free), and decided that the Botanic Garden must have some of the best curators in the city.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japan’s cherry blossom gift to DC this year, the orchid show has a distinctly Japanese flair. Archways span the garden court’s fountains, which take on new character with steam and floating flowers. Orchids snake through the building and hang in all colors from bridges overhead. The East Gallery houses a Japanese rock garden with near-perfect bonzai. On a less crowded weekday visit, the quiet space would complement midday meditation.

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The Daily Feed

Not Quite Peak Bloom Yet?


I did a round of the Tidal Basin today, and it looks like moving Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom dates back a week might have been premature; still a lot more buds than blossoms. It’s already very picturesque, however, so you won’t regret going this early, but there is still lots of promise for next week.

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Food and Drink, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: The St. Regis Bar

Photo courtesy of
‘Adour 11′
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

Of all the venerable hotel bars that this city offers, the one that never really spoke to me was the St. Regis Library Lounge. With an air that screamed lobbyist power broker, it just never provided the quirky elegance that I find essential in a grand old hotel. That changed for me this past autumn when I popped in for a look before the most scrumptious Thanksgiving meal ever (if you have a serious special occasion coming up, go to Adour, it’s incredible). I knew the hotel had been renovated but I assumed it would be more of the same. Wrong.

The Bar at the St. Regis (its official name) is soothingly decorated now in shades of violet and grey, adding Art Deco touches like crazy 1960′s biomorphic light fixtures to a 40-seat room dominated by an intensely elaborate Italianate ceiling. Lacquered, metallic, mirrored surfaces abound. It’s simply gorgeous, but not overwhelming. You can easily tuck into a soft corner and broker your deal or impress your date. As for the drinks, they’ve undergone a change too. Sure, there’s the high-end madness one might expect (Remy Martin’s Black Pearl Magnum, anyone? $1,926 – the year the hotel opened – for a two ounce pour out of the only bottle in DC…).

But you can also have a little luxury for less, and enjoy some wacky molecular mixology too! Continue reading

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Blossom! A Design Challenge

Photo courtesy of
’09-3-31 – Cherry Blossoms – Pink and Yellow’
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

Who doesn’t love a good design challenge? Especially one that has to do with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Festival is seeking amateur designers from the metro-DC area to showcase their creativity through the design of an original graphic creation using the blossom for inspiration.  Entries will be judged by a distinguished panel of four, which will include Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation and Antonio Alcalá of Studio A – to name a few.  The winner will receive $5,000 in tuition prize, via Shiseido, to Westwood College School of Design. The “People’s Choice” winner will be awarded $250.00 in prize money too!

The winning design will be featured at the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Cherry Blast: A Night of Contemporary Art + Music on Friday, April 2.

The contest is running now through March 26, 2010.  Learn more about the challenge here.

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More Tourists, Not Much More Money


Tourist season is here: you can feel it on the sidewalk, on the Mall, around the Tidal Basin, and especially on the left sides of downtown Metro escalators. Washington Post reports that DC tourism is up, but that hasn’t necessarily translated to increased revenue for local retail and hospitality businesses. DC, after all, is Freebie Tourism Central: free monuments, museums, parks, even the zoo. Proximity day-trippers account for a large part of the influx of travelers: people driving in from nearby, not staying at hotels overnight, or opting to crash in local relatives’ guest rooms.
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Man in Kimono with Dog in Bunny Ears by Tidal Basin at Cherry Blossom Festival


Entertainment, Essential DC, Fun & Games, Penn Quarter, Special Events, The Features

Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Day


The Cherry Blossom Festival kicked off this past Saturday with a family day and the opening ceremony at the National Building Museum. The interior space of the National Building Museum is always pretty overwhelming, but you could see the stimulus overload on people’s faces the minute they stepped into the great hall. The fountain in the middle of the hall is drained and giant pink (and I mean pink, as you can see above) inflatable cherry blossoms are suspended above it, and all around are booths with activities and crafts for kids and people offering information and selling Cherry Blossom Festival-related wares. Continue reading