Tag Archives: tidal basin


11 Mar

Team work!

The National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the gift of cherry trees—that now line the Tidal Basin—from Japan in 1912. Even if you don’t give a rat’s patootie about blooming cherry trees, you should very much care about the number of tourons that will soon be descending  upon DC. Been meaning to go see a new exhibit at a local museum? Do it immediately because it’s going to get substantially more crowded in another week or so, and then from there it’s class trips and then it’s summer and the crowds won’t cease until fall.

Despite the tourists, I actually enjoy going down to the Tidal Basin, I just have to mentally prepare myself for the crowds. Taking Metro in particular requires a good amount of patience. Not only are there long lines to board the train, the people in those lines are totally clueless. But let’s take a deep breath and embrace the season!

Currently the “peak bloom period” is anticipated to be March 29 to April 3 (though it can change with the weather). I’ve been to the Tidal Basin both during peak bloom and a few days after, and it really does make a difference. In addition to walking around the Tidal Basin to take photos, a variety of events are planned, including a parade and lantern walks. This year the popular Cherry Blossom Street Fair will charge a $5 admission, which will hopefully help with the crowds.

A popular way to see the cherry blossoms is to take a paddle boat tour. You can reserve a boat in advance for times between 10 am and 12 pm, but reservations fill super quickly. If you get to the Tidal Basin, the long line for paddle boats can be intimidating, but I’ve found that it only takes an hour at the absolute most. And if it’s a nice day out and you’re with people whose company you enjoy and you can ignore the children climbing on the trees around you even though there are signs that specifically ask that people not climb on trees, then it’s not bad at all.

Cherry Blossom Advice

  • DO NOT DRIVE. Trust me on this one. In fact, don’t drive anywhere near the Tidal Basin during the entire cherry blossom season.
  • Try to go on “off hours”, aka in the morning, during sunset and on weekdays.
  • Even if you’re not a photo person, bring your camera.
  • Tickets to events sell out, so plan accordingly.

Insider’s Tip: Can’t handle the idea of crowds? Then might I suggest going to the National Arboretum instead, which has cherry trees as well. There aren’t as many and they’re more spread out, but it’ll be less of a hassle and you’ll get to enjoy the other parts of the arboretum as well.

Anyone Who’s Anyone: Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

30 Nov

Cherry Blossoms! Get excited.

The cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin won’t bloom until the end of March. So why am I talking about it now? Because the annual Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk, which will be held April 3, 2011, is so popular that there’s a lottery system to participate. And that lottery starts tomorrow!

This will be the 39th year that the race has taken place. The event attracts athletes of all abilities, including international stars, and coincides with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The route will give you more than your fill of cherry trees. There’s a lottery system because the National Park Service limits the number of racers to 15,000. In 2009, before the lottery was implemented, spots filled up in less than three hours!

Not a runner? Consider volunteering! It’s a great way to experience the event while exerting minimal energy. Also, it’s worth noting that if you volunteer one year, you’re guaranteed a spot in the following year’s race.

The lottery closes on Friday, December 10, and the list of those selected will be available on December 14. There are separate lotteries for the Ten Mile Run and the 5K Run-Walk. And plan on taking Metro (Smithsonian stop, Orange Line) to get to the event, driving and parking will NOT be possible.