National Cherry Blossom Festival

Washington, D.C.

March 27-April 11

Blooming cherry trees ringing the Tidal Basin signal the arrival of spring with an explosion of life and color. Perfect for a family vacation or a romantic getaway, with a family day of free activities, fireworks, a parade, a lantern-lighting ceremony, street festivals, and cultural performances. Deals: Partner hotels include the W Washington, D.C. (deluxe guest rooms starting at $289); the Dupont Hotel (deluxe guest rooms starting at $130.94); and the Mandarin Oriental Washington, D.C. (deluxe guest rooms starting at $235).

Spring Training


Through April 1

While most baseball fans in these parts are flocking to Florida to see the Phillies, the Pirates, and even the Yankees get in shape for the season, why not head out west for some Cactus League action? Half the Major League teams practice in the Phoenix-Scottsdale- Tucson area of Arizona, including the Cubs, Angels, and the two teams the Phillies beat in last year's playoffs - the Rockies and the Dodgers. After getting autographs and catching a game, hit the links for a round of golf, or explore the mountains or desert by Jeep, bike, or horseback.

Deal: W Scottsdale gives you two "Baseball Bucks" redeemable for a pre-party; transportation to and from Scottsdale Stadium; a box of Cracker Jack and a bag of peanuts; a second spring-training ticket free if you buy one; a W Scottsdale baseball hat; and a room, from $299. Through April 1., 480-970-2100.

New Orleans Jazz

& Heritage Festival

New Orleans

April 23-25, April 29-May 2

Simon & Garfunkel's only scheduled U.S. performance this year will be at the Fair Grounds Race Course, 10 minutes from the French Quarter. They'll be joined by Pearl Jam, Aretha Franklin, the Neville Brothers, and thousands of other musicians, cooks, and craftspeople who will entertain, feed, and share their artistry with 400,000 visitors.

Deal: Hotel Monteleone, a French Quarter icon at 214 Royal St., has a first-weekend rate of $259 per room per night (three-night minimum); the second weekend is sold out. 1-800-535-9595,

Information: www.nojazz, 504-410-4100.

St. Patrick's Day

Dublin, Ireland

March 12-17

You can be Irish for the day in Center City, the Big Apple, or Beantown, but why not celebrate the patron saint of Ireland in Dublin, where the festivities fill six days and draw 1.5 million revelers? About 4,000 performers provide music, street theater, family carnivals, comedy, dance, a treasure hunt, and a 1.5-mile parade.

Deal: Stay at the Gresham, a Dublin institution in the heart of the city, on March 16

and 17 for about $335. www., 011-353-1-874-6881.

Information: www.,,

Spring Skiing

Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Into May

Leave your parka home, grab the sunblock, and enjoy some of the best spring snow conditions anywhere. Balmy temperatures and a deep snowpack produce the Sierras' famous spring corn. Squaw Valley USA typically remains open for skiing and riding into May.

Deal: AAA four-diamond Resort at Squaw Creek's B&B package includes a deluxe guest room for up to two adults and two children (12 and under), with full breakfast, starting at $179 per night, per suite. April 4 to May 1, subject to availability. Promo code: sbreak. 1-800-401-9501,

Information: I

Contact travel editor Bill Reed at 215-854-2459 or