There is nothing more Americana than a visit to the “Federal City” and a trip back through colonial times to discover beautiful and historically rich Virginia.  Only about an hour outside of the Capital, you will find world-class wineries (Pippen Hill, Bluemont Vineyard and King Family Vineyards to name a few) offering tasty wine, excellent farm to table cuisine, stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an afternoon of polo matches (at King Family Vineyards).  Downtown Charlottesville is filled with upscale restaurants, charming boutiques, and live music on the main square each Friday evening.  Stay at The Clifton Inn for an Old World meets New World experience. The white clapboard Federal Style home in the heart of Jefferson County, feels as if you have stepped back in time and will shortly be joined by our Founding Fathers in the cozy bar.  Venture further into the Shenandoah Valley, into Natural Chimneys Park for rigorous hiking, mountain biking, and notable fly-fishing, along with the newly created Red Wing Roots Music Festival each July (this year July 11-13, 2014) for some downhome Bluegrass tunes.  On your return to Washington, leave plenty of time for a stop to explore George Washington’s Mount Vernon, enjoying their fireworks display over the Potomac River and a taste their newly finished bourbon from the renovated Distillery.

Back in DC, wander of the beaten path to discover Ethiopian food in the U Street neighborhood, sunrise paddle boarding on the river from Jack’s Boat House, and pretend you are a spy for day at the International Spy Museum.  If the children are with you, they will enjoy the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian (and of course the Air and Space Museum). The place to stay is The Jefferson Hotel.  Located just four blocks from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, but off the tourist route, this 99 guest room property evokes a European flair, drawn from Thomas Jefferson’s love for Paris. Extraordinary attention to detail (in the design and service to guests) creates a feeling of being a houseguest in a private home.

For more information please contact Lauren Maggard:

Map your trip with help from Lauren’s Guide:



A city once divided by a wall, surrounded with sorrow and heartache, has seemed to lift that dark cloud that was always there even on a sunny day. I first went to Berlin in 2005, so when I ventured back earlier this spring I was completely blown away with the change of the energy and the vibe of the city. I thought to myself, “Is this really the same city I visited eight years ago?”

Despite the late spring chill in the air, Berlin was warm, inviting, and full of life. From the hundreds of museums, art displays and beautiful gardens to the underground bar scene where only the hippest of crowds know the passwords to get in—this city is the new kid on the block for European travel.

With the increasing popularity of this city, luxury properties are going up left and right as travelers are coming from far and wide to rejoice with the people of Berlin in their newfound pulse.  While in the city, you’ll have numerous options for accommodations but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Hotel de Rome (a Rocco Forte property), is right across the street from the Opera building and within walking distance to all of the museums—perfect for families and history buffs!
  • The see and be seen crowd find it easy to stay a little longer with the expansive kitchen suites at Soho House Berlin.  The year round heated rooftop pool doesn’t hurt either.
  • Das Stue is the epitome of a design hotel. Perfectly placed in between the Tiergarten and the Berlin Zoo, each room has a unique design and decor but all of them have a beautiful view. You may want to surpass the elevator and take the stairs, as you will find secret lounges along the way! This is a perfect hotel for couples.

To top this off, Air Berlin is making this journey easier for Chicagoland with their new direct flight complete with lie flat business class seats.

If you would like to get to Berlin before this secret gem gets out to the masses, contact me at I will give you the passwords you will need to get into the underground hot spots!