The man-made reservoir known as the Tidal Basin is ground zero during cherry blossom season. About 1,500 of DC’s 3,750 cherry trees stand planted around the basin’s 1.8 mile perimeter. Come springtime, ta-da! the cherry trees blossom in sweet pink and white profusion.
Although the blooms last for no more than 14 days, the National Cherry Blossom Festival a bit longer (the 2016 celebration lasted nearly four weeks). The rest of the year, the Tidal Basin is a perfect spot for sighting other famous capital landmarks:
The Jefferson Memorial is perched right there on the south lip of the Tidal Basin. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. memorials sit around the basin’s northwestern curve. The Washington Monument sticks up straight ahead of you on the Mall, impossible to miss.
You can stroll, bike, or take a guided ranger tour along the path that sidles the Tidal Basin, but the best view is from a rented paddleboat in the middle of the Tidal Basin, as you pedal your way across the water, taking it all in. Paddleboats operate seasonally, mid-March to October.
Good to know: You can reserve a paddleboat online or by phone ahead of time, and a parking spot, as well, if you’re driving. Find all details on the website.
Metro: Smithsonian on the Silver, Blue and Orange Lines. Independence Ave. exit.