Enjoying the Cherry Blossoms on Land and Water

As the weather warms, the petals of Washington’s most famous trees – the gift of the Japanese people in 1912 – will begin to descend, decorating the sidewalks, lawns and roads around the Tidal Basin with cheery, cherry reminders of the renewal of spring.

One of the best locations to enjoy the blossoms is the historic Dumbarton Oaks estate, where the gardens are one of the major works of landscape architect Beatrix Farrand. The property was owned by Mildred Barnes Bliss and her husband, diplomat Robert Woods Bliss, who could not have had more appropriate last names to match this haven.

The estate, library and art collections were given to Harvard University in 1940, with 27 acres of the gardens given to the U.S. government to be made into a public park. The gardens are preserved as part of a Harvard initiative that supports garden and landscaping studies.

The Dumbarton Oaks Gardens are open to the public daily from 2 to 6 p.m. A brief docent-led garden tour takes place at 2:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. The tours begin across from the Garden Gate House, just inside the entrance to the gardens at R and 31st Streets.

March 15 marked the beginning of the gardens’ regular season, a few days before the start of the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival. However, because Mother Nature is not always as ready for spring as we are, the garden is subject to closure due to hazardous weather conditions.

For another unique perspective this spring, check out these opportunities to view the cherry blossoms from the water:
Potomac Riverboat Company offers a special cruise departing from Georgetown’s Washington Harbour through April 10. The narrated 50-minute tour features the Embassy of Sweden, the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for ages 2-11. Tickets may be purchased at the ticket booth or online at potomariverboatco.com.

Boomerang Boat Tours offers an hour-long cruise along the Potomac with beautiful views of the 3,750 cherry trees. The route also passes by the memorials and landmarks, along with the Memorial and 14 Street Bridges. Tickets may be purchased at georgetowndc.com.

Cherry Blossom Paddling Tours allows you to experience the cherry blossoms on a three-hour kayaking trip. An instructor is there to assist kayakers every step of the way. The trek begins at the docks at Key Bridge Boathouse and heads out to East Potomac Park. Cherry blossoms are sure to line the river. For more information, visit boatingindc.com.


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