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I think it was Charles Kuralt who said that Spring time in the Washington, DC area is one of the best time/place combinations in America and perhaps the world.
The most popular Spring time activity in Washington, DC is the National Cherry Blossom Festival. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of 3,000 cherry trees being given to the city by the Mayor of Tokyo, Japan. In fact, the first cherry trees were planted in Washington, DC exactly 100 years ago tomorrow, on 27 March 1912.
Seeing the blooming cherry trees is an incredible sight. If you are a bucket list person, add viewing the DC Cherry trees to it.
Most of the DC cherry trees are located around the Tidal Basin. On a gorgeous Spring day, the Tidal Basin area is absolutely packed with visitors. Adding to this year’s Tidal Basin Spring Break mob scene is the recently dedicated Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.
Since I live in the metro Washington DC area, I am fortunate to see cherry trees blooming in my neighborhood. There are a couple of nearby business parks lined with cherry trees, looking like a mini Tidal Basin scene.
Another neighborhood, however, rivals the Tidal Basin for quantity and quality of cherry trees. I love it as an alternative to the madhouse of visiting DC.
Kenwood is a neighborhood in Bethesda, Maryland, located near Chevy Chase Village and less than a mile from NW DC.
There are many old brick houses, some with converted carriage houses; others houses are reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel cottages. A few houses were for sale; asking price for one was almost $3 million.
Cherry trees are the main draw, of course.
Many of the Kenwood streets have a canopy of cherry trees.
Here is an obligatory close up cherry blossom photo.
In the below picture, the street discoloration is actually cherry petals. How cool is that?
The oldest Kenwood cherry tree is estimated to be 90 years old.
Many cherry trees are tempting to climb or hang on. Don’t!
Brightly colorful forsythia are also in bloom.
In the midst of Kenwood is a brookside park. Most people gather here. I saw picnickers, artists, tour groups, and an ice cream truck. Most of the tour groups were Japanese visitors, lending to the credibility of this alternative underground destination.
I visited Kenwood last week, on a brilliant Spring day with the temperature in the 70s and a clear blue sky. Although Kenwood is our little secret, somehow hundreds of other people were there. Still there was no trouble parking or dealing with massive crowds.
It is best to drive to Kenwood although there are guided tours. The nearest Metro stop is Friendship Heights.
Kenwood can also be easily biked to on the Capital Crescent Trail. Although I saw a couple of bicycles on the streets of Kenwood, almost everyone was walking.
Tip: Kenwood is a fantastic walking neighborhood any time of the year. There are a couple of bamboo patches (cool to see, especially if you never have) and some majestic magnolias.
By the way, all photos in this post were taken by me with an iPhone.
Do you know of any other alternatives to popular tourist destinations?