Best of Spring 2015 – Washington, DC

Now that winter is over, and the trees are in bloom, I am excited for Spring and eager to share my 2015 list of The Best of Spring – Washington, DC .

Cherry Blossoms – Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists descend on the Washington, DC region to revel in the beauty of Cherry Blossom trees and the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/.  The current forecast for peak bloom, according to the National Park Service, is April 11-14. Make a plan to see them in person before they are gone!

Cherry Blossoms at the Washington Monument

Cherry Blossoms at the Washington Monument

Washington Nationals baseball – The local team made a huge winter splash by signing 2013 Cy Young Award winning pitcher (American League, 2103) Max Scherzer. With current stars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper also leading the team, big things are expected from the Washington Nationals in 2015. We may never again openly say “World Series or Bust” but the expectations are certainly high for the Nats this year. Opening Day is April 6th. Check out the schedule and get your tickets. Play Ball!  http://atmlb.com/1FFMLHy

Nationals Opening Day 2015
Waterfront Dining – DC has an abundance of great waterfront views. Why not take advantage and enjoy it with your favorite meal or beverage. Find out more here: http://dcmetroplus.com/dining-category/incredible-waterfront-dining-in-dc/

Bicycle and running paths – Washington, DC and the surrounding neighborhoods are adorned with hundreds of miles of beautiful trails. Whether you walk, bike or run, find your favorite path and enjoy. http://bikewashington.org/trails/

National Zoo – Everyone knows that bears hibernate for winter, but come spring there is no place better to see lions, tigers, bears, and of course pandas, than at the National Zoo. Admission is free (parking extra). Metro accessible.  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/

Panda at Washington National Zoo

Great Falls and assorted hiking trails – In city adorned by brilliant man-made monuments, we often forget the wonder that Mother Nature created, with Great Falls being among the very best in the area. If you’ve never hiked the Billy Goat Trail, or have not done so in a very long time, you owe it to yourself to get out there this spring. http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/Billy_Goat_A_8872.asp. For more hiking trails http://dc.about.com/od/hiking/a/BestHiking.htm

Annapolis, Middleburg, Skyline Drive and more – There are many places to visit within an hour or so drive of DC. Whether it’s the quaint towns of Middleburg and Annapolis or the hiking trails and spectacular views of Skyline Drive (http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/waterfalls.htm) there is so much to see and do near Washington. Baltimore and the famed Inner Harbor is only an hour away http://baltimore.org/about-baltimore/inner-harbor (* plan accordingly for weekend and rush-hour traffic).  Photo below was taken in the Virginia countryside – part of the Shenandoah Mountains.

View from a moto ride 8.31.14

Celebrate Planet Earth – Celebrate the earth, music, and life in general, with a huge Earth Day concert. Earth Day on the Mall on April 18th with a mega-sized free concert, featuring No Doubt (w/ Gwen Stefani), Fall Out Boy, Mary J. Blige, Train, Usher, etc. http://bit.ly/1FdAxXQ

This is just a small sample of the wonderful outdoor activities available in and around our Nation’s Capitol.  So get outside and enjoy the Best of Spring – Washington, DC style!

*All photos were taken by Steve from 4Staff.

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Fall in Love with Autumn in Washington, DC

As Bob Dylan once sang, The Leaves They Are a Changin’.  OK, so that’s not right.  Bob D. didn’t really sing that, but fall is in the air, and the leaves really are changing.  Take advantage now, before the trees all shed their leaves for winter.  Here are just a few ideas to enjoy fall’s splendor in and around the Washington, DC area.

I’m sure nobody has forgotten about Skyline Drive, but remember to leave early.  Traffic is sure to be jam-packed this weekend.   For those of you who would rather avoid the schlep and the traffic, here are a few ideas closer to home.

Take a walk, run or bike ride in Rock Creek Park.  See the animals at the National Zoo and visit the bears and other animals before they hibernate for winter.  Check out the grounds and the National Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum (read these wonderful reviews from Trip Advisor – http://bit.ly/12ikfON).  It’s surely one of Washington’s best kept secrets.

U.S. National Arboretum

If sports is more your style, fall is the time when basketball and hockey season begin.  Both the Washington Capitals, and their star, Alex Ovechkin, and the Washington Wizards with John Wall, play at the Verizon Center in downtown, DC.  While the NFL season is half over, there is still plenty of time to go see the Washington Redskins, or venture 40 miles to the north to go see the neighboring Baltimore Ravens.

For those of you who prefer amateur sports, you won’t find a more awe-inspiring event than watching over 30,000 runners compete in the 39th running of the Marine Corps Marathon.   This year’s event is this Sunday, October 26th.  Be sure to take metro, as driving through the district and parts of Northern Virginia may prove very difficult this Sunday.

When looking to entertain the kids, what better place than the Boo at the Zoo.  Find details and tickets – http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ActivitiesAndEvents/Celebrations/Boo/.

boo-logo-square

More kid-friendly ideas include pumpkin patcheshttp://dc.about.com/od/childrensactivities/a/pumpkinpatches.htm and corn mazeshttp://dc.about.com/od/hoildaysseasonalevents/a/CornMazes.htm.

As November turns a bit colder, you might search for the indoors and great photography at DC Photo Week http://www.fotodc.org/ .  This year’s event is being held November 8th-16th.

Last but not least, no list of fall activities would be complete without mentioning Halloween.  As always, there are a cornucopia of events.  If you need a few ideas to help get you going, you can find them here – http://dc.about.com/od/fallfestivalsandevents/a/HalloweenAdults.htm.

So get out and enjoy.  Wishing you and yours a wonderful fall!

The Best of Spring – Washington, DC

English: Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gif...

English: Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gift from Japan in 1965, adorn the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Washington Monument is visible in the distance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here comes the sun! After what seems like the never-ending winter, everybody must be ultra-ready for Spring.

To quote/paraphrase George Harrison and The Beatles,

It’s been a long, cold lonely winter…
It feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

Here Comes the Sun” – written by George Harrison from the Beatles‘ 1969 album Abbey Road.

Now that winter is over, and the trees are in bloom, I am excited for Spring and eager to share my updated list of The Best of Spring -Washington, DC .

  • Cherry Blossoms – The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual celebration that showcases the gift of 3,000 cherry trees that the city of Tokyo gave to our nation’s capital. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/.   This year’s peak blossom season is later than normal, due to an unusually long winter.  The current forecast for peak bloom is April 11-13 (Friday to Sunday this week), so make a plan to get out  and  see them in person before they are gone!
  • National Zoo – Everyone knows that bears hibernate and the birds fly south for winter, but come spring there is no place better to see lions, tigers, bears and more than at the National Zoo.  Best of all, you may get lucky enough to see the baby panda, Bao Bao.  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas/default.cfm#BaoBao
  •  Annapolis, Middleburg, Skyline Drive and more – There are many places to visit within an hour or so drive of DC.  Whether it’s the quaint towns of Middleburg and Annapolis or the hiking trails and spectacular views of Skyline Drive, including several waterfalls http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/waterfalls.htm, there is so much to see and do near Washington.  Even Baltimore and the famed Inner Harbor is less than an hour away http://baltimore.org/about-baltimore/inner-harbor  (* plan accordingly for weekend and rush-hour traffic)

Get out and enjoy the Spring.  After a very long winter, we all deserve it!

Top 10 things to love about Washington, DC in the Spring

English: Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gif...

English: Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gift from Japan in 1965, adorn the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Washington Monument is visible in the distance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10. Outdoor cafes – Warm weather and outdoor dining…now that’s a combo meal!  Find out more here: http://dc.about.com/od/restaurants/a/Diningoutdoors.htm

 9. Bicycle and running paths – Washington, DC and the surrounding neighborhoods are adorned with hundreds of miles of beautiful trails.  Whether you walk, bike or run, find your favorite route and enjoy.  http://bikewashington.org/trails/ and http://www.commuterpage.com/biketrails.htm

8. National Zoo – Everyone knows that bears hibernate and the birds fly south for winter, but come spring there is no place better to see lions, tigers, bears and more than at the National Zoo.  Best of all, the National Zoo is run by the Smithsonian Museum and remains free (although parking is not).  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/

7. Tourists – You may ask, am I crazy…tourists???  Sure, some people are put-out by the overcrowded metro, and many are outraged when out-of-towners are not aware of the stand to stand to the right, pass on the left metro etiquette.  But let’s face it; tourists pump millions of dollars each year into the Washington metro area. The two-week National Cherry Blossom Festival alone brings in over $100 million in tourist dollars each year.  That’s a tremendous amount of money being pumped into our economy, and a boon for many local businesses.

6. Daylight Savings Time – I’m taking a little liberty with this one.  While DST is obviously not inherent to Washington, DC, it is something that we all enjoy once the short winter days end.  DC is well known to be a city of workaholics who put in long days at the office.  With extended daylight hours, it is ideal to be able to leave work and still have time to enjoy this beautiful city in the warmth of daylight.  One of my personal favorite things to after work is to go for a run on the Mall.  The monuments, while always special, seem all the more spectacular when adorned by the glow of sun-setting skies.

5. Great Falls – After the winter snow melts, the water rises high and flows free at Great Falls.  ….er, wait there really was no snow this winter, at least not here in DC.  However, Great Falls is still one of the area’s best attractions, and luckily for most “locals” is within a half hour drive of just about anybody who lives in the metro area.  In city adorned by incredible man-made monuments, we often forget the monuments that Mother Nature created, with Great Falls being among the very best in the area.  If you’ve never hiked the Billy Goat Trail, or have not done so in a very long time, you owe it to yourself to get out there this spring.  http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/Billy_Goat_A_8872.asp

4. Annapolis, Middleburg, Skyline Drive and more – There are many places to visit within an hour or so drive of DC.  Whether it’s the quaint towns of Middleburg and Annapolis or the hiking trails and spectacular views of Skyline Drive, there is so much to see and do near Washington.  Sure, we can go there any time of year, but if traffic is any indication, it is the arrival of spring when most are reminded to take a short road trip.   If you are not “most”, consider yourself reminded.

3. Washington Nationals baseball – Washington, DC was without a baseball team from the time the Senators left town after the 1971 season until the Nationals played their inaugural season in 2005.  Having loomed in last place for the better part of their existence, the Washington Nationals seem to be on the brink of being a very good team in the very near future.  Opening Day is April 12th.  Check out the schedule and get your tickets, because nothing says spring like the start of baseball season.  Play Ball!  www.nationals.com

2. There’s always something happening – Springtime choices are plentiful.  Whether you plan something festive like Gold Cup in The Plains, VA www.vagoldcup.com, or celebrate Earth Day on the Mall www.earthday.org/mall, there’s something for everyone in the Washington, DC area.  Choices range from the ever popular outdoor kite festival www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/2011/07/15/blossom-kite-festival to indoor events such as the DC Film Fest www.filmfestdc.org.

#1 – Cherry Blossoms – Ahhhh, the Cherry Blossoms!  So beautiful, delicate and fleeting, they are meant to be treasured during a very short blooming period.  In 2012, Washington DC celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  It’s an annual celebration that showcases the gift of 3,000 cherry trees that the city of Tokyo gave to our nation’s capital. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/.   This year’s peak bloom is earlier than normal March 20-23.  Photos from 3/20/12 can be found on my Pictures page.  Hurry up and  see them in person before they are gone!

So that’s my top 10.  I’m sure that a point can be made for many other ideas.  What are yours?