Pandemic or not, cherry blossom season always gets crowded around the Tidal Basin. I mean, yes, they’re all elegantly hanging over the rippling basin in varying shades of pinks and whites and you get to glance across at the Jefferson Memorial–it’s whimsy.
If foot traffic isn’t your thing, you can always ride the ripples of the Potomac River for some equally beautiful blossom views — and dare I say on a calm day, about 100 times more relaxing.
BYOK (Bring Your Own Kayak)
If you’re going to make spending time on the water one of your things then it might be worth investing in a kayak. Not having a great storage situation in my city apartment I always get excited when I find good alternatives; therefore I’m going to suggest an inflatable kayak. You need to ask yourself where, how, and who you’re going to be kayaking to be able to make the best decision on the type of inflatable or folding kayak that suits your needs. I knew I wanted to be ocean-ready and have the option of going solo or with a friend (needed removable seats) so went with a SeaEagle. Oru Kayak is a nicely rated folding one, but might be better suited for rivers and as a single paddler.
Of course, with getting your own kayak comes needing some safety gear and other boating required items (especially if you’re going to the Bay or further away places). You can shop some of the equipment I have here.
You can find some details on water safety from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department here.
FINALLY, where do you drop in at? Luckily D.C. has some wonderful public water options. I personally use an app called ‘Go Paddling‘ to locate drop in spots that others have successfully used and rated.
As far as blossom-specifics go, I would suggest dropping in at the Columbia Island Marina or East Potomac Park.
Rentals at The Wharf
If you aren’t going all in on having your own kayak, there’s a nice resource called Boating in DC, where you’re able to rent kayaks and gear. They charge an hourly rate of $18 for a single kayak and $25 for a double kayak.
While there are boathouses all around D.C. (I know, how fun), the closest location to the cherry blossom action is The Wharf boathouse. Starting your adventure from The Wharf will put you in what is known as the Washington Channel and allow you beautiful views along the inner side of East Potomac Park.
REI’s Guided Cherry Blossom Paddle
If you want a little more guidance or aren’t apt to go alone, we have an awesome flagship REI store here in Northeast D.C. that has some pretty great classes, tours, and events in the area. That said, they DO offer a Cherry Blossom Kayak Tour of the DC Monuments. No surprise when the weather is nice these tours sell out fast.
The appealing side here is that REI has you more than covered with the gear and logistics. And will teach you a few paddling techniques along the way.