Spring In DC: Bucket List Adventures
Few places around the country can match the beauty of Washington DC in the spring. The city attracts thousands of tourists from all over the country, as well as the rest of the world, and it's easy to see why. As the weather warms up and the days become longer, an explosion of pinks and whites can be seen up and down the streets and all around the historic monuments.
But while the famous cherry blossoms might be the star of the season, there are plenty of amazing spring adventures to be had that will be just as beautiful (and maybe not quite as busy!). From tulip farms and strawberry festivals to hikes and historic tours, check out our DC bucket list items that are a must-see this spring!
Cherry Blossom Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is known throughout the world, so of course, it had to make the list! Each spring, the 3,770 cherry blossom trees sprinkled throughout the city can be seen in all their glory. Given as a gift by the mayor of Tokyo to the US in 1912, these trees are a sign of friendship between the two countries. And the best spot to view them? Right along the Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossoms line the entire area. Be sure to plan your visit out and book your hotel (and parking!) ahead of time. If you want an extra memorable experience, rent a paddleboat and take a leisurely trip out into the Tidal Basin to see the blossoms from a whole different vantage point!
This year the Cherry Blossom Festival will run from March 20th-April 17th.
Picnic Lunch at the National Arboretum or US Botanic Garden
One of the best things about spring in DC is the weather! It's absolutely gorgeous! Take advantage of these warm days and pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the many beautiful outdoor spots within the city. Our two favorites are the National Arboretum and the US Botanic Garden. As with most attractions in DC, both of these places are absolutely free and make for a stunning backdrop in the spring with everything in full bloom!
Great Falls Hikes
Looking to stretch those legs and work up a sweat? Head to the C&O canal for a fun and enjoyable hike. The entire canal actually runs 184.5 miles from Georgetown in DC to Cumberland, Maryland. And while we don't expect your family to be able to hike or bike it all (although that would be seriously impressive!), there are a couple of great spots to head to, especially with kids.
Our favorite trails are the Great Falls Overlook and the Billy Goat Trail. The Great Falls Overlook is a short walk for those with little legs (approximately a quarter of a mile) and is handicap and stroller-accessible. You will be rewarded with a gorgeous view of the Potomac River as it barrels through the Mather Gorge. Billy Goat Trail is longer and has three sections. If you are looking for a challenge and are headed out with older kids, section A is 1.75 miles and categorized as both strenuous and technical. Only attempt if you know what you are doing! Section B is still technical; however, it is a bit easier than section A and pets are allowed on this section. Currently, it is closed due to trail erosion. Section C is the easiest of the three sections and is a 1.6-mile-long loop. This is good for families with younger children; however, be aware that there will still be larger rocks you will need to scramble over.
Walk/Bike to Georgetown
Georgetown is a must while in DC, but it doesn't have to be a quick stop. Make an entire day out of it and enjoy the other sites along with it! Take a walk along the Potomac, past the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, ending at the Georgetown waterfront for lunch. Or alternatively, take a family bike ride from Bethesda along Capital Crescent Trail before stopping in Georgetown for a bite and a stroll around the charming neighborhood.
Don't forget to hit up one of the famous cupcake shops in Georgetown. Some people say that the best cupcakes in the country can actually be found here! Two of our favorite spots are Georgetown Cupcakes and Baked and Wired.
If you want even more Georgetown ideas, check out all of our neighborhood favorites.
Mount Vernon Tour
Did you know that George Washington was the only president to never live in the White House? During his presidency, he lived most of the time in Philadelphia at the President's House. The nation's capital was actually here for ten short years from 1790-1800! When not in Philadelphia, George Washington spent some of his time at his family's home, Mount Vernon. Built in 1734 by Washington's father, it was passed down where it grew from a 1.5 bedroom house to a mansion with a large estate and gardens surrounding it. These are just some of the interesting historical facts you will learn about on the Mount Vernon tour and is something not to be missed!
If you've got some extra energy and time, you can even bike from Alexandria to Mount Vernon on a fully paved path. The ride takes approximately one hour and is 10 miles one-way.
Take a Day trip to Hike Old Rag Mountain
Located in Shenandoah National Park, Old Rag Mountain is a popular hike with jaw-dropping views as your reward. To get to the top of the mountain is not for the faint of heart and can take anywhere from 5-7 hours, so plan your time (and hiking buddies) accordingly. Currently, you need a day pass to hike the mountain, so be sure to add this to your packing list along with lots of water and energy snacks! This is one you will want to leave your younger ones at home for, but if you have older kids and they are avid hikers, this would make for a great day out with them.
Head to the Farms
If you have a need to get out of the city and into the countryside, there are plenty of farms just outside the DC area that will have just what you are looking for. Great Country Farms has a strawberry fest every year in May with a parade, live music, pie-eating contest, and of course, strawberry picking! Head over for some good old-fashioned family fun while enjoying the beautiful spring weather.
Still looking for more? Be sure to check out the Spring Festival at Burnside Farms, where their flower fields turn into a rainbow of tulips for three weeks in April. Grab your camera and your little ones because this is one spot you are going to want to brag about after! Purchase tickets ahead of time because the nearly two million tulips and daffodils attract quite a few visitors!
Check out our Top Ten Orchards and Farms for even more outdoor fun!
What are your bucket list adventures in the Washington DC area? Any great spring spots you like to enjoy with your family? Let us know below and tag us in your photos on Instagram @gethappyly!
Our blog is also chock full of DC content, so be sure to check it out if you live in the area or are planning a trip to our nation's capital! We have everything from the Best Spring Break Road Trips to The DC Area Guide to Cozy Outdoor Dining. And if you want even more spring fun, be sure to read up on our Washington DC cherry blossom stroller runs, where you can get great views and a little exercise while you are at it!
For even more local activities and attractions at your fingertips, be sure to download the happyly app, the country's only mobile-first family activity planning app, for fast access to all of our frequent blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.