Tag Archives: DC Cherry Blossoms

Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (2014)

Great photo ops abound during the cherry blossom peak

Great photo ops abound during the cherry blossom peak



[Note: This was originally posted in 2011 (hence, the now outdated Lost reference) and updated each year. And since the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again with a couple more minor updates.]

Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak is one of the best times to visit DC – the city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities — but viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda.

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it is hard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro—it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the blossoms. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot in Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take a shuttle ($1/person) to the Tidal Basin. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall.

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). If the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take the Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson a few years ago on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

blossom_today

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration. And while the Blossom Kite Festival was rained out this year and the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks took place before the peak, we’ve still got the National Cherry Blossom Parade, Sakura Matsuri – The Japanese Street Festival, and other fun programs for families to look forward to. All events take place close by the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. See the National Cherry Blossom Festival website for dates and details on the best events for families.

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity from the comfort of a pedicab or cruise on the Potomac. Uber is currently offering pedicab rides around the Tidal Basin and surrounding areas. And several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Capitol River Cruises, Potomac Riverboat Company, and Odyssey Cruises are a few to check out. Though before you go straight to the websites, look for a deal on Groupon, Goldstar, LivingSocial, or Certifikid. We’ve gotten great offers that way.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and I to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. For even more suggestions for cherry blossoms minus the crowds, check out this Washingtonian article from a few years ago.

7. Don’t forget your camera to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the monuments are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still – or even let them run and play for a fun candid – and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Festival, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend

The Peak is ON!

What a difference a couple of days makes.

On Sunday, we went down to the Tidal Basin, and it looked like this:

basin_sunday

And this:

basin_trees_sun

Today, it looked like this:

today_jefferson1

And this:

blossom_today

I think it’s safe to say that the cherry blossom peak is ON. And it’s probably going to get even better over the next couple of days. If you can swing it, get over to the Tidal Basin to take in the scene — it really is spectacular.

Yes, a lot of people are out to see the blooms, but the crowds are not so bad that you can’t easily navigate the paths on foot (biking is a slight challenge, which I found out the hard way today), and there aren’t nearly the hordes that swarmed the area this past weekend.

I went on a solo outing today, but already have plans to go back with kids — they will dig it, for sure. If you go, don’t forget to check out these tips for better blossom viewing first.

Here are some more shots from my jaunt around the Basin. It’s hard not to be snap happy there!

monument

blossoms_mlk

mlk

blossoms_picnic

blossom_canopy

blossom_sunlight

blossoms_basin

jefferson_close

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: April 8-12

Getting her climb on at Montrose Park

Getting her climb on at Montrose Park



*You’ll likely be spending a lot of time outdoors this week, but something to note, just in case: The PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit at the National Building Museum will be closed Monday – Wednesday, April 8-10.

Monday – It’s going to be a superb day for a hike at Great Falls. Whether you opt for the Maryland or Virginia side, you can’t go wrong. Enjoy spectacular views of the falls and rapids from several overlooks, hike easy trails along the river or through the woods, and stop in the visitor center (there’s one on each side) to learn more about the area’s history and wildlife.

Tuesday – Frolic on the playground and sprawling fields and do some light hiking at Montrose and Dumbarton Oaks Parks in Georgetown. Both are fun, easy places to enjoy a nice day with little ones (and big ones, for that matter). Admission at both locales is free. Plan to grab a bite at one of the many nearby eateries on M Street or Wisconsin Ave.

Wednesday – Head to the Tidal Basin and National Mall to see the cherry blossoms at their peak! I’m going out on a limb and predicting they’ll be in full bloom by mid-week. (But check the KFDC Facebook page for an update, as I’ll be on the lookout over the next few days.) And if you plan to go, be sure to check out these viewing tips first.

Thursday – Take a little trip back to the 18th century at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The living history farm recently re-opened for the season and welcomes visitors to explore the grounds — there is a tobacco barn, farm house, garden, orchard, and animals. Guests can also interact with a family portraying life as it was back then. Read more about it in this post (ignore the “autumn” part; it’s a great outing in the spring, too). Hours are Wednesday thru Saturday 10am – 4:30pm. Admission is $3/adults, $2/children ages 3 and up, free for 2 and under.

Friday – Catch a performance of The Young Spectaculars and the Front Yard Adventure at the Atlas. The show is part of the Performing Arts Center’s Theatre for the Very Young series and recommended for ages 1-5. Showtime is 10:30am. Tickets are $8. The show will run at the Atlas April 11 – 16.

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Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms

Cherry trees in bloom around the Supreme Court last year

Cherry trees in bloom around the Supreme Court last year

[Note: This was originally posted in 2011, then updated last year. But since the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again with a few more minor updates. Also, I’m not in DC at the moment, but I’ve heard the first inklings of blossoms have been sighted, so this post will hopefully come in handy very, very soon…]

Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak is one of the best times to visit DC – the city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities — but viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda.

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it is hard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro—it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the blossoms. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot in Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take a shuttle ($1/person) to the Tidal Basin. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall.

Weeknight Tidal Basin stroll a couple of springs ago

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). If the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. I’ve always thought the National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and I bet the blossoms are just as sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take the Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson a couple of years ago on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration, the Blossom Kite Festival, Southwest Waterfront Fireworks, and National Cherry Blossom Parade among them. There will also be events and programs for families at the Freer-Sackler Galleries and Yards Park. All events take place close by the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. See the National Cherry Blossom Festival website for dates and details on the best events for families.

5. Get a new view of the blossoms and enjoy a fun activity from the comfort of a cruise on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Capitol River Cruises, Potomac Riverboat Company, and Odyssey Cruises are a few to check out. Though before you go straight to the websites, look for a deal on Groupon, Goldstar, LivingSocial, or Certifikid. We got a great offer that way.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and I to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. For even more suggestions for cherry blossoms minus the crowds, check out this Washingtonian article from a few years ago.

7. Don’t forget your camera to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the monuments are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still – or even let them run and play for a fun candid – and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.

 

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: March 18-22

Some of the shadows at the National Gallery are just as cool as the art

Some of the shadows at the National Gallery are just as cool as the art



Monday – Spend the gray day in a colorful place: The National Gallery of Art. The East Building, full of modern art with bold colors and cool designs, is often most appealing to kids. After viewing art, take a walk/ride on the moving sidewalk for a dazzling light show, to boot.

Tuesday – Let the kids bounce, climb, swing, tumble, and slide at the PG Sports & Learning Complex Gymnastics Center. The hour-long open play session begins at 11:30am, and admission is $6/child. (This also takes place on Wednesday at the same time.)

Wednesday – Get a head start on your cherry blossom viewing at the U.S. National Arboretum. Among the plant collections are several varieties of cherry trees, including one that blooms earlier than others. According to this article, it’s nearly peaking now! While you’re there, play in the Washington Youth Garden and explore other lovely areas of the grounds.

Thursday – Catch a performance of The Puppet Co.’s latest production, Jack and the Beanstalk. Showtimes are 10am and 11:30am. Tickets are $10.

Friday – Rock out at a Jammin’ Java TotRock show! the grandsons, jr. will play their “upbeat mix of rock, swing, New Orleans R&B, country, latin music” for two performances, at 10:30am and 1pm. Tickets are $5 and available for purchase online or at the door.

DCU14720_family_300x250

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