What’s Doing in Washington, D.C.

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PERFORMING ARTS

Washington is a city of the arts.  The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Opera, and the Washington Ballet.   Ford’s Theatre is not only where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated but it remains today a performance space as well as a museum.   The United States Marine Band, founded in 1798, is the nation’s oldest professional musical ensemble. It was led by John Philip Sousa from 1880 through 1892.

DINING

Washington’s cuisine represents its role as the capital of the United States as well as the gathering point for foreign diplomats and, not surprisingly, has hundreds of great dining establishments.

The Occidental, located adjacent to the Willard InterContinental Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, first opened in 1906 and, now at the base of the Occidental office tower, offers an opportunity to dine with Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, John Scali, and Alexander Fomin, thanks to the hundreds of historic photographs of past diners that completely cover the walls.  [Scali, an ABC News correspondent (pictured) and Fomin, a Russian agent, met at the Occidental in the early Sixties and exchanged papers that helped avert the Cuban Missile Crisis.] It’s a fresh reinterpretation of a traditional American steakhouse and well worth a visit.

Georgia Brown’s, which opened in 1993, offers home-style Southern “Low Country” cuisine (“Low Country” is defined on the Web site as an area running about 70 miles with Charleston at its center.).  Start off with the warm cornbread sticks and end with the rich red velvet cake.

The elegant ici Urban Bistro in the Sofitel offers refined French cuisine with impeccable service.  Don’t skip the rich French Onion Soup and leave room for dessert, especially if the deconstructed banana split is on the menu.

GETTING THERE

Union Station is the city’s main train station and is served by Amtrak with Acela Express routes to New York and Boston as well as by local commuter rail services, the Metro subway system, and local buses.

DC has three major airports, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, located conveniently across from the city in Arlington, Virginia (it is served by the Metro system, which crosses state lines); Washington Dulles International Airport, located 26 miles west of the city; and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, located 31 miles northeast of the city in Maryland.

Two shuttles, run by Delta Air Lines and US Airways, offer hourly flights from New York’s La Guardia  Airport to Reagan National; US Airways also runs a shuttle from Boston to Reagan National.

Dulles is served by almost 50 airlines offering air travel to worldwide destinations.  BWI is smaller but offers service to dozens of domestic and international destinations as well.

WHERE TO STAY

Washington, D.C. has dozens of hotels suitable for heads of state and their delegations as well as for the business traveler.  The historic Willard InterContinental on Pennsylvania Avenue boasts one of the best addresses in the city while the Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square on nearby Lafayette Square is the epitome of refined French elegance.

(Photos:  Jonathan Spira)

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