With over 1.5 million visitors to Washington, D.C. during the Capital’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, the hustle around the 106 acres comprising the Tidal Basin can be rather overwhelming. Tourists snapping endless selfies mix in with wedding proposals being captured on video mix in with residents of D.C. looking to take family Easter portraits means the crowds remain strong regardless of the time of day. Still, despite the throngs of visitors, the abundant beauty of the blossoms each spring remains a huge draw.
Here are three tips if you want to come to visit Washington, D.C. during the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Number One: Where to Stay
There are no hotels within ready access to the Tidal Basin. The grounds of the National Mall are immediately abutted by federal departments, as well as the Potomac River, but if you are willing to stretch your legs a bit there are two phenomenally renovated hotels not too far from the grounds of the cherry blossoms. First is the Ritz Carlton West End. Having spent the better part of two years bringing the hotel to modernity, the gorgeously re-designed hotel looks like a West Elm furniture store come to hospitality-life, making the entire hotel Instagram worthy. Be sure to note in the rooms the lovely D.C.-centric artwork, as well as the lighting, and the conveniently situated plugs for all electronics right by the bed. Also, while D.C. continues to have a pulsating restaurant and cocktail scene, the Ritz-Carlton West End has a strong cocktail program at the nicely redesigned Quadrant.
Second is The Fairmont Washington, D.C. Also having recently completed a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovations, the Fairmont’s rooms have the same D.C.-centric architectural finishes with a quite comfortable king-sized bed. Be sure to stay at the Fairmont-Gold level where they have an expansive food-and-beverage program included in your stay – or if you prefer room service, the in-room dining is one of the best in the city.
Number Two: Where to Eat + Drink
Few places in D.C. have captured the spirit of the cherry blossoms as well as Derek Brown’s impeccable yet fun Cherry Blossom Pop-up at Mockingbird Hill/Southern Comfort, two of his three bars in D.C. The entire ceiling of the bar has been decorated with Cherry Blossoms and the cocktail menu is full of delicious drinks with cherry blossom-infused ideas. Note also that the wait to get into the Cherry Blossom pop-up is on average three-hours.
While not all of the great new restaurants in D.C. has cherry blossom focused menus, it may be worth it just to skip the fuss and enjoy a divine eating experience at Eric Ziebold’s KINSHIP or the price-fixed Metier. This Michelin award winning chef combines the details necessary to bring French food to life with a more accessible American touch. Be sure to try the best thing on the menu which is the Roasted Chicken for two.
Number Three: Transportation
Parking anywhere in Washington, D.C. is a near impossibility – and if you are even a minute late the parking police will give you a ticket, no joke. The best way to get to the Cherry Blossom Festival is to take public transportation. The Smithsonian metro stop is the closest one to the Tidal Basin but it is still a 15 minute walk to the heart of the cherry blossoms. Alternatives also include taking ride-shares like Uber and Lyft which will get you closer than the metro. If you are feeling really adventurous, D.C. does have a bike share program called CityBikes but there is not station to park the bikes near the Tidal Basin. The best really is to stay at one of the recommended hotels and do the two mile walk, taking in The White House, as well as the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, before capturing the cherry blossoms.