Washington D.C.’s annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is world-renowned. Approximately 1.5 million people flock to witness its natural beauty and commemorate the cultural and diplomatic exchange that took place between Japan and the United States in 1912.
It’s common for Hopkins students to take a day trip to D.C. sometime during the three weeks while the cherry blossoms are in bloom. But D.C. is also full of other tourist attractions. Why not knock out a few things on your to-do list while down taking pictures with cherry trees?
Here’s my route from this past weekend, along with some other times I visited:
First I took the Metro from Union Station to the Tidal Basin reservoir where the Cherry Blossom Festival takes place. Take the Red Line to Metro Center and transit from there to the Smithsonian stop on the Orange, Silver or Blue Lines. From the station it’s a scenic 10-minute walk to the Tidal Basin.
All around the perimeter of the Basin are 3,000 cherry trees in full bloom. Needless to say there are more than enough opportunities to take pictures to beef up your Instagram. Be warned, though, that it will be crowded. Roads will be blocked off to accommodate for heavy foot traffic, so plan your route beforehand.
Scattered around the Basin are also various stands selling sakura-themed food and merchandise, local bands performing and more.
After taking dozens of aesthetic pictures, I walked to the Smithsonian national Museum of American History. It’s perfect for short visits (less than two hours).
The museum is small but full of history, important information and interesting displays. I spent some time looking at the Uniformed Women in the Great War exhibit which tells the stories and contributions of women during World War I. This display is being taken down on April 28th (after two years on exhibit), so make sure to visit while you still can!
Another museum you definitely have to visit is the Newseum, especially because it’ll relocate by the end of this year. The Newseum is an amazing place for any International Museum, Political Science and/or History major. Frankly it’s somewhere anyone mildly interested in any of these subjects should visit. I went once during my freshman year, and despite its sometimes heavy content, I loved it.
Here you can touch fragments of the Berlin Wall, see various devices terrorists (attempted) to use and learn about the great sacrifices journalists have made around the world to bring information to our tables.
I ended the evening by splurging on an authentic Chinese-Peruvian meal at China Chilcano, located near Union Station. This fusion food, commonly called chifa, was created when Chinese migrants arrived in Peru in the late 19th century. I tried the restaurant’s traditional ceviche and Concolón, a Cantonese-style rice pot dish with Peruvian toppings and spicy sauce. Be warned that although the ceviches come in small portions, they make up for it in quality. Meanwhile the rice pots are big enough to share amongst three people.
Another favorite restaurant of mine for the exotic foodie is Thip Khao. Thip Khao is a Laotian restaurant with authentic dishes such as fried pork ears and catfish soup tossed in fragrant herbs like lemongrass.
Growing up in southern California, I was accustomed to the ready availability of Southeast Asian restaurants. In my experience good Southeast Asian food has been few and far between outside my home state. Thip Khao is the only restaurant I’ve been to on the East Coast thus far that’s been able to compete with the mom-and-pop restaurants back home.
There are a myriad of ways to spend a day in D.C.; my itinerary is just a suggestion based on convenience.
However my golden rule of D.C. entails doing three things: one outdoor activity, one inside activity and one exquisite meal. In my opinion it’s the quickest, most efficient way to enjoy a day at the nation’s capital.