A Perfect Easter Weekend in Washington, D.C.
If you're looking for an amazing Easter Weekend option, consider the possibility of a trip to Washington, D.C. This family-friendly destination has more cultural, historical, literary, musical, and culinary happenings and sights to see than anyone can ever experience in a year, let alone a single holiday weekend.
Since there are so many options to choose from in your short weekend visit, planning ahead is key. First, decide where you would like to stay--this will depend largely upon your budget.
One of my favorite areas of the city to stay is on Pennsylvania Avenue, where you can easily walk to the National Mall, Smithsonians, the White House, the Capitol, National Theater, as well as China Town, Verizon Center, Spy Museum, Newseum, etc. But you obviously pay a bit more in hotel lodging for this convenience. I also highly recommend leaving your car in the suburbs--the DC metro system is the best way to get around as parking on-site at hotels is very expensive (approx $50 per night plus tips to the valet).
Easter Weekend Itinerary
Here's a sample weekend itinerary, which focuses on several unique opportunities to experience Washington, D.C. on Easter Weekend:
Friday, April 6th:
The National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 - April 27, 2012) is a phenomenal time to see the monuments around Washington, especially in the Tidal Basin area. Taking a walk, biking or cruising are perfect ways to accomplish this. http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/
In 1912, more than 3,000 cherry trees were donated in the name of the City of Tokyo to the Nation's Capital. This year marks the 100th anniversary of that gift. There are even National Park Service-led talks on cherry blossom topics. http://www.nps.gov/cherry/index.htm
You may also want to take a drive over to the U.S. National Arboretum and see their selection of cherry trees as well as many other beautiful plants, trees, and flowers. http://www.usna.usda.gov/
After you've spent some enjoying the blossoms and monuments, you can head over to the International Spy Museum. Before arriving, you can also try a special competition, compliments of the museum. Download SCVNGR on your smartphone and start completing challenges that combine cherry blossoms and the world of espionage. Fun for all ages. http://www.scvngr.com/places/1382747
Saturday, April 7th
Today is museum day! Take your pick from the plethora of choices: Air and Space Museum, Holocaust Museum, National Aquarium, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, National Geographic Museum, National Museum of African Art, National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Ford's Theatre, Freer Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum, Phillips Gallery, Renwick Gallery, Sackler Gallery, Shakespeare Theatre, Textile Museum, National Museum of Crime and Punishment, and the Newseum.
These are all wonderful places of discovery, learning, and personal enrichment--it's up to you to select at least two or three to browse and explore. Here are a few special exhibits going on that you might want to consider:
- Antico: The Golden Age of Renaissance Bronzes (National Gallery of Art)
- Big Cats: Vanishing Icons (National Geographic Museum)
- Constantino Nivola: 100 Years of Creativity (Embassy of Italy - by appt only)
- Japan's Noh Costumes: An American Appreciation (Textile Museum)
- Huichol VW: Art on Wheels (National Museum of the American Indian)
- Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird and Flower Paintings (National Gallery of Art)
- Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard (Phillips Collection)
- Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mine (National Museum of Natural History)
- Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of Quileute Wolves (National Museum of the American Indian)
- Shakespeare's Sisters: Voices of American and European Women, 1500-1700 (Shakespeare Folger Library)
- Unbuilt Washington (National Building Museum)
- Jefferson's Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (National Museum of American History)
- Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and other Collections (National Museum of Women in the Arts)
- Photo Finish: The Sports Photography of Neil Leifer (Newseum)
- African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond (Smithsonian American Art Museum)
- Arts of the Islamic World (Freer Gallery)
- The Hope Diamond (National Museum of Natural History)
- Ted Bundy's VW Beetle (National Museum of Crime and Punishment)
- Polar Exploration (National Archives)
- Fly Marines! The Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation (Air and Space Museum)
Sunday, April 8th (Easter)
Get out of bed early and find your way to the Arlington National Cemetery's Annual Easter Sunrise service at the Memorial Amphitheater at 6:30 a.m. Check their website for specific access details.
When you're done, you might want to enjoy a nice Easter brunch or breakfast at local hotel or restaurant. Be warned: you should probably have reservations.
After enjoying a little sustenance, spend the rest of the day walking the National Mall, visiting memorials. Here are a few not to be missed:
- Korean War Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- World War II Memorial
If you're ready for a change of scenery, hop on the metro to visit the National Zoo, especially if you have kids tagging along for this weekend trip. There are simply more exhibits to see at this zoo than you'll have time to enjoy.
Monday, April 9th - Easter Monday
Sleep in a little and then finish your weekend festivities at the National Cathedral. If you reserve tickets ahead of time, you can have a "Behind-the-Scenes Tour", which includes hidden stories of the cathedral. You will journey up stone stairways to get a closeup view of stained glass windows and heights from above. Stay for a mini-talk and organ demonstration of the Cathedral's 10,650-pipe organ.
Wishing you one of the most fun-filled weekends ever in Washington, D.C.!