We visited Washington DC specifically for the 4th of July because I wanted my kids to experience the Nations Capitol at its most patriotic day of the year. The fireworks at the National Mall are so legendary that they are broadcast on PBS every year, so seeing them in person was a 'must do' event.

To be fair, I grew up in the DC area, and I know that the fireworks and other celebrations on the 4th draw enormous numbers of people, and it is a swarm of humanity once the grand finale is over.

And because I grew up in the DC area, the historic Willard Hotel has been one of the classic grand hotels of Washington. Beautifully restored, sumptuous and elegant, the Willard was the perfect spot for us to base our 4th of July home.

Part of the InterContinental Hotels, the Willard has high standards for guest experience, and I can't say enough good things about it. After leaving my car in the care of the parking valets for our stay, I entered the soaring lobby with comfortable, elegant furnishings and flowers to check in. Our room was immaculate, with upscale amenities, wonderful beds that were like sleeping on a dream, all in a good sized room.

As we exited the front door, the White House was a block to our right and the National Mall (with treasures such as the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian, National Gallery of Art, and Air and Space Museum only several blocks away). It was an easy walk to get to all these locations, so we could sightsee to our hearts' content. Right around the corner is the famous Old Ebbitt Grill, a Washington landmark eatery that shouldn't be missed on a trip to the nation's capitol.

To venture a little farther afield, right out from the hotel, we boarded double-decker sightseeing buses that whisked us around the city, so we got a break from walking while we saw a lot more of the national monuments. With easy on/off access, these buses were a great way to see a lot in a short time, and the tickets were good for two days of rides! We were able to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol, Union Station, all along the Smithsonian, and Ford's Theater.

When we were finished with sightseeing, it was time to go see fireworks, and we headed down to the Mall, found a prime spot, and enjoyed the biggest pyrotechnics show we'd ever seen. It was nothing short of amazing, and a tremendous experience for the kids. When the fireworks were done and hundreds of thousands of people were trying to get out of town, one of the sweetest moments was walking up the front steps of the Willard, showing our room card, and being admitted inside...where it was perfect peaceful and calm.