DC Cherry Blossom Guide: 5 things you need to know to enjoy peak bloom!

Are you Cherry Blossom bound?  You should be! The National Cherry Blossom Festival is right in our backyard, and we've got all the details you need to know to make the final weekend (and peak bloom) your best visit yet.

Since peak bloom is expected on the last weekend of the festival, you can bet there will be big crowds in downtown D.C. and around the Tidal Basin. Here are 5 things to know to get you there and back as painlessly as possible-- while you thoroughly enjoy the blossoms!

1. The big events of the weekend. 
This is the last weekend of the festival, and it's also peak bloom, so there is PLENTY to do and see. Beware of the times of the big events, both because of crowds and so you don't miss them! Here are a few of the biggest happenings of the final weekend: 

2015 Cherry Blossom Parade (Saturday, 1 am to 1 pm)
The parade will travel along Constitution Avenue NW starting at 7th St. NW and ending west of 17th Street NW. Standing room along the parade route is free. Grandstand seating starts at $20. Click here for ticket info.

Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival (Saturday, 10:30 am to 6 pm)
The Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival is the largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in the U.S. with over 50 cultural groups, vendors and food booths, and over 30 hours of performances on 4 stages. Click here for ticket information.

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk (Sunday, 7:30 to 10:30 am)
It's the 43rd running of the annual race. Entries are closed to runners, but it's free for spectators to watch. Beware the race will mean street closures in the area of the Tidal Basin, in case you were planning to sneak down early on Sunday morning. Click here for more info.

2. Don't drive there (trust us). 
Amid the crowds, the train is definitely the best way to get to all of the National Cherry Blossom Festival events. There's no Metro stop that's super close to the Tidal Basin, but your best bets are the Smithsonian (Orange and Blue lines) or L'Enfant Plaza (Orange, Blue, Yellow and Green lines) stations.

Remember: If you're a tourist and you want to avoid the $1 per ride surcharge for using a paper fare card, spring for a plastic Metro card instead. They're now available in machines at all Metro stations. Click here to plan your trip.

Metrobus routes that stop within a ½ mile of the Tidal Basin include the 7Y, 11Y, 13F, 13G, 16F, H1, L1, N3, P1, V7, V9, X1 and 52. For more information about specific routes and fares, visit the WMATA website.

In addition to Metro, the D.C. Circulator bus also provides easy access to the Tidal Basin and National Mall (as well as other attractions). There are five routes that link different destinations around town. There's also a special shuttle between Hains Point (where you'll see more blossoms) and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial through April 12, and it's only $1 per person. That shuttle runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click here for a map of all shuttle bus stops.

Coming from Georgetown? Jump aboard a D.C. Water Taxi to the Tidal Basin and enjoy the view along the way. Tickets are $15 round trip, or $10 each way and MUST be purchased in advance. Click here for a link. 

Finally, Capital Bikeshare will also have you covered along the mall. Take one to or from Metro for the win! Click here for a map of all Bikeshare stations, which is great for knowing when and where bikes are available at busy times. 

3. If you simply must drive, reserve your parking in advance. 
It might require a long walk or a shuttle bus ride, but parking is extremely hard to come by during the festival. One solution (besides #2)? Reserve a space in advance. The festival website recommends ParkedIn. Click here for a link

As for getting there by car, the Tidal Basin is accessible by the following routes:
  • Interstate 395 from the South
  • Interstate 495, New York Avenue, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Cabin John Parkway from the North
  • Interstate 66, U.S. Routes 50 and 29 from the West
  • U.S. Routes 50, 1, and 4 provide access from the East
Handicapped parking is designated along West Basin Drive at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Additional handicapped parking is available along southbound Ohio Drive on the Washington Boundary Channel side of Hains Point, north of the intersection with Buckeye Drive.

During the festival, Ohio Drive will be one way going northbound between Inlet Bridge and 23rd St.

4. Pack your patience. 
The last weekend of the festival WILL BE CROWDED, from the sidewalks to the trains to the roads. Give yourself plenty of time, slow down, and enjoy the beautiful weather and, of course, the blossoms. 

5. Festival bound? There's an app for that.
Don't leave home without the Cherry Blossom Festival app. Available for iPhone and Android devices, it's free and gives you great info on events, how to get there, how to get around, dining options and so much more. Click here to find out more and how to download it!

PS. Perhaps the most important point of all: show us your pics! We want your cherry blossom photos to share on the air and online, so post them on our FOX 5 DC Facebook page, OR tweet them to us @fox5newsdc with the hashtag #fox5blossom. You can also tag us on Instagram @fox5dc. Show us the blossoms! 

Stay connected
Get the latest on the National Cherry Blossom Festival by connecting on social media!

Like the official National Cherry Blossom Festival Facebook page
Follow the Festival on Twitter: @CherryBlossFest

Official website: http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/

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