Couples + Family

How to Do the D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival With the Kids Like a Pro

The Cherry Blossom Festival signals spring and draws families to Washington, D.C. (Photo: Robert Dodge/Thinkstock)

You’ve decided to join the thousands of families that flock to the Washington, D.C., area each spring to witness the spectacle of the blooming cherry trees. You won’t be disappointed. Aside from the gorgeous scenery, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of Japanese art, culture and heritage that will excite every member of your clan. Here are some insider tips on how to enjoy all the festivities, then get off the parade route to explore Washington, D.C. neighborhoods while you’re here.

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Go Blooming Mad

One of the biggest, D.C. events of the year, the Cherry Blossom Festival takes over the Nation’s Capital with lots of family-friendly ways to celebrate this spring ritual. If you’ve come for the blossoms, these are the things you have to do:

Tidal Basin Paddle Boats – Paddle your boat along the Tidal Basin and see the cherry blossoms from a different, and far less crowded, perspective.

Kite Festival – Kite makers and fliers from across the country hold special demonstrations and competitions at the Washington Monument grounds (Constitution Avenue & 17th Street NW).

Children’s Cherry Blossom Celebration – Held at the Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia, children can learn about the historical gift of the first cherry trees, see special Japanese art exhibits and even take part in a special “cherry tree hunt.”

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade – Hailed as one of Washington, D.C.’s largest spectator events, this parade runs along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets and is a spectacle of color, energy and culture that will surely be remembered and enjoyed by everyone.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival – Celebrate Japanese culture in the form of music, dance, art and food at this festival held just after the parade and take home jewelry and other unique crafts.

Stay and Wander Washington Neighborhoods

When you’ve ticked every cherry blossom event off your list, take the kids to explore popular nearby sites to suit their interests from art to sports and everything in between.

Dupont Circle — Home to many of the diplomatic embassies of the world, this cultural center is a tourist destination of its own. Dupont Circle hotels are close to the Metro’s red line.

Penn Quarter — This neighborhood is close to the parade route and offers many great museums including the National Portrait Gallery and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum as well as great local restaurants like Wolfgang Puck’s The Source and Penn Quarter Sports Tavern.

Foggy Bottom — Known as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., this district is home to many cultural meccas like the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and, right next door, the infamous Watergate.

Pennsylvania Avenue — This historic address boasts hotels, within walking distance of the White House, that overlook the picturesque National Mall and are incredibly close to all events in the downtown area.