National Mall

National Mall

Cherry Blossom Festival Tips

April 1, 2010, 7:50 am

Officials say the cherry blossoms are at their peak (yes, the National Park Service moved up the date). Here are some tips from The Washington Post on getting around:

-- Tourists should avoid traveling by car or transit during the peak commuting times of 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. The worst time for crowding on the trains would be 4 to 6 p.m.

-- Drivers can park on the street around East Potomac Park and take a free shuttle bus to the Tidal Basin from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., but everyone knows that, so it's going to be crowded. Our map highlights some alternative pay parking.

-- Smithsonian is the closest rail station to the Tidal Basin, so it's very crowded. Consider other nearby stops -- L'Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle and Metro Center. The walk is longer, but the crowding might be less intense. L'Enfant Plaza, Gallery Place and Metro Center are transfer stations. Avoid the hassle of transferring and stick to one line, even if it means walking farther.

-- Allow extra travel time, whether driving or taking transit. The Roosevelt, Memorial and 14th Street bridges are likely to be slower than normal. Some Metro trains will suffer door problems, requiring that they be taken out of service. The odds for this increase when the trains are crowded, and when many of the riders don't know our train doors won't bounce back like elevator doors.

-- Watch for D.C. traffic control officers and U.S. Park Police at the intersections near the Tidal Basin. Message boards will show traffic information.

-- Metro doesn't plan any weekend track maintenance during the festival.

-- The District's Circulator, an easy-to-spot red, black and silver bus, has several routes helpful to visitors. The Smithsonian-National Gallery route has resumed service in a loop around the Mall from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. A north-south Convention Center-Southwest Waterfront route links tourist destinations and parking areas. It operates every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Union Station-Navy Yard route stops near Nationals Park. It normally operates from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays but extends service to cover Nats games. The Circulator fare is $1, and the buses are scheduled to arrive every 10 minutes.

-- Two free bike valet stations will operate on festival weekends, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. One will be on Independence Avenue between 14th and 15th streets SW, the other on the south side of the Jefferson Memorial.