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Peter Cottontail will soon be hopping down his bunny trail, because Easter’s on its way. Whether you’re in the mood for historic parades or a good old-fashioned egg roll, TPG Contributor Jessica Spiegel suggests a few cities in the United States with Easter festivities worthy of a trip. (Note that listed room prices/award amounts are for Easter weekend, April 3-5, 2015.)
The long-standing tradition of the Easter Egg Roll at the White House dates back to sometime between Lincoln’s presidency and 1878, but remains eagerly anticipated to this day. Taking place each year on Easter Monday, the event involves an Easter egg hunt, an egg-rolling race, and a visit from the Easter Bunny (who is obviously not busy elsewhere, since his big day has already come and gone). There’s live music, storytelling, and cooking lessons on the South Lawn, too. Though tickets are free, participants are chosen by a lottery each year, and typically, more than 35,000 people attend.
The W Washington D.C. is located about as close to the White House as you can get, on the street that runs along the eastern side of the grounds. It was originally built in 1917 as the Hotel Washington, and has played host to Presidential Balls and a long list of celebrities. The hotel has 317 rooms, a chic lobby “Living Room” bar, a fitness center, a Bliss Spa, a Mediterranean restaurant, and a rooftop terrace bar and lounge. Rooms start at $315 or 12,000 Starpoints. (Check out TPG’s review of the W Washington D.C. from 2013.)
The JW Marriott Washington DC shares a Pennsylvania Avenue address with the White House, and is just a couple blocks from that landmark itself. The hotel has more than 770 rooms, two in-house restaurants, a Starbucks, a fitness center, and an indoor swimming pool. Room rates start at $329, but the hotel’s website lists no available points redemptions for Easter weekend.
For more on the Nation’s Capital—including points hotels—see our previous post, Destination of the Week: Washington D.C.
San Francisco’s Union Street runs all the way from the Presidio to Montgomery Street, a short distance from the Embarcadero and the piers, and it plays host to the annual Union Street Easter Parade & Spring Celebration. The event marks its 24th year in 2015, and includes music, an Easter Bonnet contest, loads of games and activities for the kids, and of course the parade itself. The whole thing takes place between Gough and Fillmore Streets on Union, and one of the best ways to check out the parade is by securing an outdoor table at one of the cafes or restaurants along the route. The festivities begin at 10am, and the parade starts at 2pm.
The Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel is a few blocks from the base of Union Street, near Pier 39 and the popular Fisherman’s Wharf area. There are more than 530 rooms in the hotel, as well as two casual cafes, a heated outdoor pool, a sun deck, and a fitness center. Rooms start at $189 or $12,000 Starpoints per night.
The Hilton San Francisco Financial District is centrally located in the city, roughly equidistant from the base of Union Street, Telegraph Hill, the piers, and Union Square, and quite close to Chinatown. This hotel has more than 540 rooms; a restaurant, a lounge, and a wine and beer bar; a fitness center and spa; and an Executive Lounge on the 26th floor. Rooms start at $152 or 50,000 HHonors points per night.
For more on what to do in San Francisco, see our previous posts like Destination of the Week: San Francisco or a hotel review of the St. Regis San Francisco Metropolitan
New York City
New York City offers both a sublime and a ridiculous version of Easter Sunday—and there’s no reason not to partake in both. You can begin your day with Mass at the gorgeous Neo-Gothic St. Patrick’s Cathedral (services run throughout the day starting at 7am, though some Masses require tickets). After that, it’s time to cut loose at the Easter Bonnet Parade, which—like the cathedral—dates from the 1870s. The parade starts at 10am and runs until about 4pm, stretching from 49th Street to 57th Street along Fifth Avenue. Conveniently, one of the best spots from which to view the elaborately-decorated bonnets is around St. Patrick’s Cathedral—unless, that is, you don your own holiday headdress and join the parade.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan is on Lexington Avenue at 51st Street, close to not only St. Patrick’s Cathedral but also Park Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and the Museum of Modern Art. There are more than 760 rooms in the hotel, which was renovated in 2012, and it has an in-house restaurant, a lounge bar just off the lobby, and a fitness center. Rooms start at $239 or 70,000 HHonors points per night.
The Hyatt Times Square is on 45th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, close to Times Square, Broadway theaters, and Radio City Music Hall. The hotel has just under 490 rooms spread out over 54 floors, a restaurant, a rooftop bar and lounge, a fitness center, and the Timeless Marilyn Monroe luxury spa. Rooms start at $329 or 25,000 Gold Passport points per night.
For more on what to do in New York City, see our previous posts like 10 Best Restaurants in New York for Broadway Dining or What to Do In NYC During The Summer
If you love a good parade, there’s no better place to be on Easter Sunday than New Orleans. This is, after all, a city that likes to have spur-of-the-moment parades on any day of the year—so you can imagine how they pull out all the stops for actual holidays.
The day kicks off at 10:30am with NOLA’s oldest Easter procession, the Historic French Quarter Parade, which started in 1956 and runs from Antoine’s Restaurant to Jackson Square and back, including a stop for mass at the St. Louis Cathedral, as well as fancy ladies in fetching (and often large) Easter hats throwing beads and candy from horse-drawn carriages. At 1pm, the Chris Owens Easter Parade—led by a French Quarter entertainer who serves as the parade’s Grand Duchess each year—starts at the corner of Canal and Bourbon Street and winds up at the Astor Crowne Hotel. In addition to horse-drawn carriages and handsomely-dressed marchers in period costumes, this parade also features floats and—yes—beads and goodies thrown into the crowds. The last parade of the day, the Gay Easter Parade starts at 4:30pm at the corner of North Rampart and St. Ann streets, marching down Bourbon Street and ending up back on Rampart at the end. Expect more horse-drawn carriages, trolleys, floats, and beads.
The Four Points French Quarter is located right on Bourbon Street at the corner of Toulouse Street, and occupies the site of a former opera house. There are 186 rooms in the hotel, which has the chic Café Opera and Puccini Bar on-site. Some rooms even overlook Bourbon Street, which is a good way to have a view of that street’s infamous action. Rooms start at $314 or 10,000 Starpoints per night.
The Crowne Plaza French Quarter is at the corner of Canal Street and Bourbon Street, an ideal location to catch the beginning of the Chris Owens Easter Parade. The hotel has nearly 700 rooms, an on-site restaurant and bar, a fitness center, and an outdoor swimming pool. Rooms start at $301.50 or 40,000 IHG Rewards points per night.
For more on what to do in New Orleans, see our previous posts like Destination of the Week: New Orleans or Feasting in New Orleans: Commander’s Palace, Johnny’s Po-Boys and Arnaud’s Restaurant
To combine the backdrop of a French country estate with the adorable foreground of children in their Sunday best foraging for eggs on a huge and impossibly green lawn, you’ve got to go to Asheville, North Carolina and the Biltmore House Easter Egg Hunt. Or, more accurately, hunts—there are three on Easter Sunday, starting at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. The hunt is open to children ages 2-9, who get into Biltmore free with a paying adult. In addition to the egg hunts, there is music, storytelling, a magic show, crafty activities, and a visit with the Easter Rabbit. (He’s not a bunny at Biltmore; he’s using his more formal surname there.) Meanwhile, Biltmore’s gardens are in bloom and Easter brunch is available in both the Biltmore Dining Room and the Deerpark Restaurant.
The Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville is in the center of Biltmore Village, roughly equidistant from downtown Asheville and Biltmore House itself, each a couple miles away. This Autograph Collection hotel is designed to be a European-style lodge, and has 100 rooms, a restaurant and lounge, a fitness center, and a spa. Rooms start at $269 or 45,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.
The DoubleTree Asheville-Biltmore is also in Biltmore Village, a couple blocks from the boundaries of the Biltmore Estate grounds. The hotel has nearly 200 rooms, a tea room serving breakfast daily, a TGI Friday’s connected to the hotel property, a fitness center, and an indoor swimming pool. Rooms start at $151 or 40,000 HHonors points per night.
Have you been to any of these cities for Easter—or are you headed elsewhere for the holiday? Please share in the comments below!