There's more going on in Washington than an economic meltdown and a change of presidents.
Among some of the new attractions are the charming Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which has reopened after two years of renovations. The new Capitol Visitor Center debuted with a flourish in December.
• The American History museum has had an $85-million renovation and its new look is highlighted by an interactive mounting of the Star-Spangled Banner flag. On Monday, a new exhibit, "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life," is to open. In addition, a traditional first ladies exhibit has reopened, featuring inaugural gowns. There's also an exhibit of Dorothy's red slippers from the Wizard of Oz.
• Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was shot, has undergone a fantastic $50-million renovation and reopens Feb. 11. Anyone visiting after that can see a host of celebrations of Lincoln's 200th birthday, plus plays and tours (free, www.fords.org, toll-free 1-800-899-2367).
New cruise ships in 2009
A large fleet of major new cruise ships is entering service this year. Most will debut and sail in Europe. Some will come to the United States in the fall.
MSC Splendida, MSC Cruises: 3,887 passengers, March.
AIDAluna, AIDA Cruises: 2,030 passengers, April.
Costa Luminosa, Costa: 2,260 passengers, April.
Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn: 450 passengers, June.
Costa Pacifica, Costa: 3,004 passengers, summer.
Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity: 2,850 passengers, August. Sister ship to the innovative Celebrity Solstice.
Carnival Dream, Carnival: 3,608 passengers, September. First of a new series of ships for the world's biggest cruise line.
Silver Spirit, Silversea: 540 passengers, autumn.
Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean: 5,400 passengers, autumn. This will be by far the biggest cruise ship in the world.
In addition, 18 new, smaller river cruisers are coming on line this year.
La-La Land slogan is so L.A.
Los Angeles has unveiled a new marketing campaign built around the slogan "That's So LA" to keep tourists coming despite the nation's economic turndown.
The campaign will feature ads spotlighting unique sites in the city, its major attractions and images of celebrities including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, basketball stars Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Baron Davis of the Clippers, soccer star David Beckham and Lauren Conrad of MTV's The Hills.
City officials say tourism is the second-largest industry in Los Angeles and supports more than a quarter-million jobs. In the past year, tourism brought in $14.2-billion and 26-million visitors, according to the mayor's office.
The campaign — online marketing and print and radio ads — will initially have a regional focus, trying to draw in visitors from the rest of Southern California and around San Francisco Bay, which is the city's largest feeder market. An online campaign will then target domestic and international markets.
Museum shows in Philly
Among Philadelphia's major museum shows this year are:
"Galileo, The Medici and The Age of Astronomy" will be held at the Franklin Institute Science Museum, April 4-Sept. 7, and "Cezanne and Beyond" is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Feb. 26-May 17. Philadelphia will be the sole venue for both shows.
The city also hosts the world debut of Tavis Smiley's "America I AM: The African American Imprint" at the National Constitution Center, through May 3, celebrating African and African-American contributions across nearly 500 years of American history.
Next fall, families will enjoy "Jim Henson's Fantastic World" at the James A. Michener Art Museum, Sept. 12-Nov. 29.
A show late this fall at the Academy of Natural Sciences explores the life and work of the visionary and educator George Washington Carver, Nov. 12-Feb. 28.
Compiled from Times staff and wires