Spring Forth Into Cherry Blossom Bliss

Spring revelry and exceptional exhibits await in our nation’s capital.
Photo courtesy Washington.Org

IN 1912, the Tokyo, Japan, mayor gave 3,020 cherry blossom trees to the United States in the spirit of friendship. Planted in Washington, D.C., to add a little greenery to all that towering granite, the now-3,800 white and pale pink beauties put on a dazzling early spring show. Find them in the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park (where the tightly clustered Yoshino cherry trees resemble clouds), at Hains Point in East Potomac Park, and on the Washington Monument grounds.

Through April 14, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrating the charm of the flowering trees, as well as Japanese culture. Sakura Matsuri, a Japanese street festival, is the largest in the country. A fireworks extravaganza set to music and a parade with helium balloons, floats, marching bands, and dancers are also big draws. Parking can be a hassle, but it’s easy to get to the blooms by Metro, or pedal to the petals with a Capital Bikeshare day pass.

Photo courtesy Alan Karchmer

April showers in the forecast? Those clouds have a silver lining: a chance to visit the city’s free museums displaying priceless treasures. Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture houses Harriet Tubman’s hymnal, a plantation cabin from South Carolina, and Michael Jackson’s fedora. The National Museum of American History is where you’ll find the Star-Spangled Banner, Washington’s uniform, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers. The highlight for many is the National Air and Space Museum on 6th Street and Independence Avenue, displaying the 1903 Wright Flyer, Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit, and the original filming model of the Starship Enterprise. And that’s just a smattering. The timed museum passes get snatched up early, though, so step lively.

Photo courtesy National Air And Space Museum. Baroque Photo courtesy MNHA/Tom Lucas

If You Go

STAY For political junkies, amateur historians, and true crime enthusiasts, there’s only one place: the Watergate Hotel.

EAT The food truck equivalent of the United Nations lines the edges of the National Mall. Or head to Ben’s Chili Bowl to chow down on a local favorite: the half-smoke, a peppery beef-and-pork sausage.

PLAN washington.org