Tag Archives: National Arboretum

A Quintessential DC Fall

3 Oct

Hosting a pumpkin carving party is a great way to start turning coworkers and acquaintances into friends.

With so many fun DC area events centered around fall, it’s just a shame that there’s only one month to take advantage of them.

Pumpkin Patches
People in DC, especially those with kids, love their pumpkin patches. And what’s not to love? Pumpkins, cider, corn mazes, hay rides, etc.

Cox Farms in Centreville, VA, is the most popular, so be prepared for crowds, especially if you go on a weekend. Also, they say that a pumpkin is included with the cost of admission, but it’ll be one that’s too small to carve, and those that are bigger are generally overpriced, so I suggest buying them elsewhere.

Other festivals include, but are not limited to Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, MD, Sharp’s at Waterford Farm in Howard County, MD, and Burke’s Nursery and Garden Centre in Burke, VA.

Enjoy Fall Colors
Many people head to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to enjoy fall colors. Hiking Old Rag is one of the most popular activities; it takes roughly four and six hours and reveals some gorgeous views. Make note, however, that it can get extremely crowded, so I suggest setting your alarm clock and heading there early. Last fall I had to wait in a line for 45 minutes (that’s not a typo) at the top of the trail to go through a narrow portion. Also, have some cash to pay a nominal parking fee. For those less active-inclined, cruising Skyline Drive is a nice alternative.

A closer and less crowded option is Brookside Botanical Gardens in Wheaton, MD. It’s gorgeous, peaceful and free. And, of course, there’s always the National Arboretum, which is a great place to explore by bike.

Scary Stuff
Nearby amusement parks create a shoulder season by offering Halloween-themed events. Six Flags in Maryland has Fright Fest and King’s Dominion in Virginia promotes its Halloween Haunt.

The National Zoo has its annual Boo at the Zoo, which is a trick-or-treating event. It costs $30 for non-FONZ members.

There’s plenty of haunted houses, hayrides and trails throughout the region. A couple options include Markoff’s Haunted Forest in Poolesville, MD, and Bennett’s Curse in Jessup, MD.

Celebrating Halloween
DC’s Halloween bar hop called Nightmare on M Street is really popular. A true rooky mistake is to go to M Street in Georgetown for this event, as it’s actually in Dupont. And be ready for some serious crowds and long lines at the bars.

Professionals in the City will also be hosting it’s annual Halloween party, Mayhem and Madness, at K Street Lounge.

CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME!!!!!!!!

11 Mar

Team work!

The National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the gift of cherry trees—that now line the Tidal Basin—from Japan in 1912. Even if you don’t give a rat’s patootie about blooming cherry trees, you should very much care about the number of tourons that will soon be descending  upon DC. Been meaning to go see a new exhibit at a local museum? Do it immediately because it’s going to get substantially more crowded in another week or so, and then from there it’s class trips and then it’s summer and the crowds won’t cease until fall.

Despite the tourists, I actually enjoy going down to the Tidal Basin, I just have to mentally prepare myself for the crowds. Taking Metro in particular requires a good amount of patience. Not only are there long lines to board the train, the people in those lines are totally clueless. But let’s take a deep breath and embrace the season!

Currently the “peak bloom period” is anticipated to be March 29 to April 3 (though it can change with the weather). I’ve been to the Tidal Basin both during peak bloom and a few days after, and it really does make a difference. In addition to walking around the Tidal Basin to take photos, a variety of events are planned, including a parade and lantern walks. This year the popular Cherry Blossom Street Fair will charge a $5 admission, which will hopefully help with the crowds.

A popular way to see the cherry blossoms is to take a paddle boat tour. You can reserve a boat in advance for times between 10 am and 12 pm, but reservations fill super quickly. If you get to the Tidal Basin, the long line for paddle boats can be intimidating, but I’ve found that it only takes an hour at the absolute most. And if it’s a nice day out and you’re with people whose company you enjoy and you can ignore the children climbing on the trees around you even though there are signs that specifically ask that people not climb on trees, then it’s not bad at all.

Cherry Blossom Advice

  • DO NOT DRIVE. Trust me on this one. In fact, don’t drive anywhere near the Tidal Basin during the entire cherry blossom season.
  • Try to go on “off hours”, aka in the morning, during sunset and on weekdays.
  • Even if you’re not a photo person, bring your camera.
  • Tickets to events sell out, so plan accordingly.

Insider’s Tip: Can’t handle the idea of crowds? Then might I suggest going to the National Arboretum instead, which has cherry trees as well. There aren’t as many and they’re more spread out, but it’ll be less of a hassle and you’ll get to enjoy the other parts of the arboretum as well.

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