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The 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show (March 6 to 13) will capture Paris in the spring. Credit: PHS.

By Richard Hammer

With the deluge of snow we’ve had in Philadelphia and elsewhere on the East Coast, it’s only natural to dream of roses, tulips and exotic plants. Even if we’re still battling ice and powder in March, at least we have this to look forward to: the 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show ($25 for adults, $20 for students and $15 for children), a tradition in the city since 1829. The annual event — the largest indoor flower show in the country with 10 acres of floral designs and lush plants — is held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from March 6 to 13. Consider it an excuse for an early spring break vacation to a Philadelphia hotel.

The theme of this year’s event couldn’t be more apropos: springtime in Paris. Featured displays evoke French grandeur, including OpulentParis, a time of Victorian glamour; Romantic Paris, tête-à-tête down the Seine; Gourmet Paris, amid rooftop and edible gardens;  Artists’ Paris, from canvas to landscape; Underground Paris, a catacomb of avant-garde art; and Timeless Paris, courtyards and cafes from a Parisian paradise.

Visitors will find a bounty of options for their Philadelphia vacation. My top pick: the Loews Philadelphia Hotel located just steps from the Convention Center and the Reading Terminal Market. The Hyatt at The Bellevue, which is currently offering an Awaken Package complete with breakfast for two, is a historical jewel with one of the best health clubs in the city. And finally, for lodging with a French accent, the Sofitel Philadelphia makes for a tempting treat. Brimming with European elegance and Philadelphia hospitality, the property sizzles with scene — especially at the newly renovated Liberte, a chic urban lounge. Sure, it might not be Paris, but it sure gets an ooh-la-la from me.

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Richard Hammer is a market manager for Orbitz Worldwide for Pennsylvania and Maryland.  He and his wife live in the Philadelphia area with their two young children and enjoy taking advantage of the endless opportunities to see live performances and art exhibits in Philadelphia.

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