Ever since Japan gifted more than 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C., in 1912, the U.S. capital has been a place worth visiting each spring. The cherry blossoms typically hit peak bloom anywhere between the last week of March to the first week of April, but there’s plenty to do outside the short window when the flowers are at their best. From a cherry blossom-themed pop-up bar to a host of exhibits to explore at the Smithsonian museums across town, here’s what’s worth doing in Washington, D.C., this season.
Attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival
While it’s hard to predict exactly when peak bloom will happen, the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled to take place from March 20 to April 14, 2019. Over the nearly month-long celebration, there will plenty of free events including the Blossom Kite Festival at the Washington Monument and Petalpalooza, a day-long party with live music, art installations, and a fireworks show at The Wharf, the recently opened waterfront district in southwest D.C.
Over at Artechouse, you can explore In Peak Bloom, an immersive digital installation featuring cherry blossom-inspired art from a women-led collective that includes Lisa Park, Sachiko Yamashita, and Mikitype. March 20 through May 27, 2019; 1238 Maryland Avenue SW, $16, dc.artechouse.com
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Raise a glass to the season at the Cherry Blossom Pub
Before the weather warms up enough to enjoy D.C.’s best rooftop bars, you can stop by the third iteration of the Cherry Blossom Pub, a pop-up bar dedicated to celebrating the seasonal blooms. In addition to the main space, which is decorated with 100,000 faux cherry blossoms, the back room has been transformed into a larger-than-life ramen room with gigantic noodles made from pool toys and eight-foot-long chopsticks suspended from the ceiling, there is, of course, ramen on the menu. Chef Hiro Mitsui, from the Uzu ramen stall at Union Market, will serve ramen at the bar from Wednesday through Sunday. Through April 21; 1843 7th Street NW, popupbardc.com
If you’re looking for something just as aesthetically pleasing without the Instagram-happy crowd, head over to the Dupont Circle hotel to check out Doyle, its newly redone bar. Previously called Bar Dupont, the Doyle was designed in tandem by Swedish architect Martin Brudnizk and New York-based designer Clodagh with midcentury touches that call on the original 1950s architecture of the building. The craft cocktail menu has all the classics, plus a few originals by bar director Mehdi Bouzaki including the The Last Word (Green Hat gin, chartreuse, Luxardo, and lime) and the Avocolada (rum, coconut, avocado, and pineapple). 1500 New Hampshire Avenue NW, doyle.bar (Washington, D.C. is also home to several great rooftop bars.)
Now that the government shutdown is over, the Smithsonian has reopened all of its museums throughout the city. Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths—one of AFAR’s most exciting spring exhibitions—opens on April 17 at the National Museum of African Art and showcases how ironworking developed into an artform in Africa over the centuries. Through October 20, 2019; 950 Independence Avenue SW, free, africa.si.edu
Over at the National Museum of American History, All Work and No Pay: A History of Women’s Invisible Labor opens on March 4 and explores the history of women’s work in the home and how unpaid labor affects American society. Through February 2020; Constitution Avenue NW (between 12th and 14th Streets), free, americanhistory.si.edu
Check in to the newly renovated Rosewood Washington, D.C.
Last November, D.C. welcomed a Moxy hotel downtown and a Conrad hotel is expected to open any day now in the CityCenterDC complex. But those who prefer to stay in Georgetown will be excited to hear that the Rosewood located on the historic C&O Canal will reopen later this spring, after closing for renovations in October 2018.
Six neighboring townhouses will be added to the property, plus a new restaurant, CUT by Wolfgang Puck. With interiors by Thomas Pheasant, a D.C.-based designer, the townhouses will feature work by local artists and photographers and include 1,000 square feet of space with kitchens. They’re great for guests looking for something a little more residential than a typical hotel room. 1050 31st ST NW, rosewoodhotels.com
>> Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to Washington, D.C.