When the cherry blossoms are out, D.C. comes out to celebrate (Destination D.C.)
With the cherry blossoms now in bloom, it’s the perfect time for a spring fling in Washington, D.C. Through April 11, the nation’s capital is celebrating this fragrant and beautiful Japanese flower with the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Ninety-eight years ago, Tokyo gave the District of Columbia the gift of sakura, or cherry blossom, trees. You can appreciate their beauty at the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point) and on the Washington Monument grounds.
Here are a few cherry-picked highlights of the 16-day festival:
All festival long
- See the District’s cherry blossoms up close during a scenic two-hour Bike the Sites tour (bikethesites.com) past the Jefferson Memorial, Hains Point and more. Tours meet at the Bike and Roll Kiosk (1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, rear plaza on 12th Street) and operate weekdays at 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m. Reservations are recommended. The cost is $32 for adults and $22 for children 12 and under.
-Seventy D.C.-area restaurants are featuring creative, cherry-inspired dishes and cocktails. Visit washington.org/cherryblossom/restaurants for a full list of participating eateries.
The second annual Cherry Blast (Security Storage Warehouse at 1701 Florida Ave., NW; 9 p.m.-1 a.m.) is an eclectic night of art and music for adults 21 and older. Produced by the Pink Line Project culture Web site, the event is a mash-up of funk, soul, classical music, dance, performance art, film, and fashion. A $10 admission includes one drink. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for ticket info.
-Watch elaborate floats, marching bands and R&B diva Deborah Cox perform during the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade (10 a.m.), along the petal-blanketed stretch of Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets, NW.
-Spend the afternoon tasting savory treats and shopping at the 50th annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival (11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Pennsylvania Avenue between 10th and 14th streets; and 12th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues).
Where to eat
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, tenpenh.com This popular Asian eatery has a four-course $35 Cherry Blossom Tasting Menu ($55 with beverage pairings), including sea bass with XO-cherry chutney and a chocolate chip cookie bar with cherry vanilla ice cream and warm ginger cherries. A Sakura cocktail ($9.95) has sake, lime juice, bird’s-eye chili, simple syrup and sour cherries.
Where to stay
415 New Jersey Ave., NW, affinia.com
This boutique hotel, in walking distance of National Cherry Blossom Festival activities, has a Cherry Blossom Getaway package starting at $169 a night. The deal includes a cherry blossom branch, a bag of goodies from Art and Soul eatery (which also features a Cherry Blossom Festival menu for $55 a person) and two all-day Metro passes. Guest can book until April 29 (use code CHERRY).
-D.C. is a four- to six-hour bus trip away. With daily departures, free Wi-Fi and cheap fares, get a ticket to ride on either BoltBus (boltbus.com) or Megabus (us.megabus.com).
-A regional Amtrak train takes about 31⁄2 hours to D.C., and fares start at $74 each way.