What a sight (and scent) to behold - it’s the National Cherry Blossom Festival happening March 26 - April 11, 2011 which showcases well over 3,000 cherry trees in its annual two-week, city wide even featuring more than 200 international cultural performances and over 90 other special events.

With so many activities, a great place to start is the area surrounding the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin which offers a multitude of things to do.

Start by simply walking around and prepare to be amazed at the
photography opportunities.

Rent a paddle boat ~ $10.00/hour for two; $18.00/hour for four from 10:00am to 6:00pm (last rental is at 5:00pm) http://www.tidalbasinpeddleboats.com/

Take a free tour and learn about the history - tours available are Cherry Talks/Walks, Junior Ranger Programs, and Lantern Tour. http://www.nps.gov/cherry/cherry-blossom-tours-and-programs.htm.

You can also enjoy the beauty by one of the many Cruises: http://www.dc-cruises.com/
http://www.capitalyacht.com/index.php; http://www.odysseycruises.com/;

Take a two-hour bike tour http://www.bikethesites.com/, visit the Jefferson Memorial (it’s free) and it‘s open daily 8:00 am to midnight http://www.nps.gov/thje

Enjoy more information on a Guided City Tours:
or a romantic journey with a Horse-Drawn Carriage http://www.carriagesofthecapital.com/

After seeing all the sights, one must eat, and Washington DC has plenty of options with many restaurants adding cherries to many of their recipes during festival time. 

For even more activities and events to see…

Daily Stage Performances:
Music, dance, song and martial arts demonstrations beginning at noon.
Location: Sylvan Theater (an outdoor amphitheater near the base of the Washington Monument
~ located on the northwest corner of 15th Street and Independence Avenue).

Sporting Events:
Cherry Blossom Soccer Tournament
April 2-3, 2011 ~ 8:00am - 6:00pm
JFK Hockey & Soccer Fields (Independence Avenue & 17th Street SW)

Cherry Blossoms and the Washington Nationals
April 2-3, 2011
1500 South Capitol Street, SE

Cherry Blossom Sailboat Regatta
April 2, 2011
Location: Washington Sailing Marina;
Washington parkway, Marina Drive, Alexandria, VA

Cherry Blossom Festival Rugby Tournament
April 2-3, 2011 ~ 8:00am - 5:00pm
Location: Rosecroft Raceway - 6338 Rosecroft Drive Ft Washington, MD http://www.washingtonrugbyclub.org/

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run , 5K Run-Walk, ½ Mile Kids’ Run
April 3, 2011
Location: Washington Monument Grounds (15th and Jefferson Drive, SW) http://www.cherryblossom.org/

Macy’s Cherry Blossom Show
Visit Macy’s Metro Center and see the transformation of retail to one-of-a-kind floral wonderland
complete with an array of events taking place.
Location: Macy’s Metro Center
1201 G. Street NW, Washington, DC

Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk
A cultural activity seeking to raise awareness about the Japanese American experience during World
War II.
April 2, 2011 (check-in begins at 9:00am. Opening ceremony begins at 10:00am)
Location: National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism
(Intersection of Louisiana and New Jersey Avenues and D Street NW, Washington, DC)
202.530.0015 http://www.ncbfreedomwalk.org/

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks
Activities, Musical Entertainment, Food and Drink
April 2, 2011 from 1:00 - 8:00pm
Location: 600 - 900 Water Street SW (between 6th and 9th Streets)

National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show
April 2, 2011 at 8:30pm
Location: 600 Water Street SW

Silver Spring Big Cherry Block Festival
The first official Maryland Celebration of the National Cherry Festival celebration.
Japanese art, cuisine, dance, fashion, flowers, music and much more.
April 2, 2011 from 10:30am - 6:30pm
Location: Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring MD (Silver Spring is accessible by the Metro on the Red line -
Silver Spring Station. Parking is free)

Cherry Blossom Festival Stage Performances at Woodrow Wilson Plaza
Free Performances of music, dance and storytelling
April 8 - 9, 2011 ~ Friday; Noon - 5pm; Saturday; Noon - 6pm
Location: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC

2011 Parade of the National Cherry Blossom Festival
April 9, 2011 at 10:00am - Noon
Location: Constitution Avenue, NW from 7th - 17th Streets

Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street Festival
Arts and Crafts, demonstrations, entertainment, food and drink
April 9, 2011 following the parade from 11:00am - 6:00pm
Location: 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW

National Harbor Celebrates Cherry Blossom Festival
Japanese musicians, dancers, Sumo wrestling, kite making, demonstrations, vendors, fireworks and more.
April 9 - 10, 2011
Saturday; 6:00 - 10:00pm and Sunday 11:00am - 8:00 pm
Location: National Harbor, Maryland
National Harbor is located in Prince George's County, Maryland on the Potomac River, just minutes from Washington, DC. The site is accessible from I-95/I-495, I-295, the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and by water taxi http://www.potomacriverboatco.com/ from Washington, DC, Old Town Alexandria, Mount Vernon, and Georgetown.

Parking: National Harbor has three public parking garages with convenient Pay-on-Foot machines.
Rates begin at $2 for the first hour and reach a daily maximum of $10.

Fleet Garage: Entrance located on Fleet Street
Mariner Garage: Entrance located on Mariner Passage
St. George Garage: Entrance located on St. George Blvd
Cherry Blossom Bike Rally and Ride
Sponsored by the America Diabetes Association, National Capital Area and National Cherry Blossom Festival
April 10, 2011 from 11:00am - 3:00pm
Location: Yards Park, 10 Water Street SE, Washington, DC

Now on to . . . Getting Around and Parking:

To get to the Tidal Basin take the Metrorail to the Smithsonian Station (be prepared for long lines and make sure you have enough fare value on your SmarTrip Card for your return http://www.wmata.com/.  From the Smithsonian Metro Station walk west on Independence Avenue to 15th Street. Turn Left and go south on 15th Street until you reach the Tidal Basin.

If you choose to drive be aware that public parking is very limited near the National Mall. On-street parking in Washington, DC is restricted during morning and evening rush hours. If you choose to park in a
parking garage or public parking lot in the downtown area, you should expect to walk a good distance to reach the cherry trees on the Tidal Basin. Tourmobile will run a shuttle service from the Haines Park
 parking area to the Tidal Basin at 20 to 30 minute intervals from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Shuttle rides cost $1 per person. This parking lot has 320 spaces and will fill up during peak times.

DC Circulator:
The DC Circulator provides inexpensive, frequent bus service around the National Mall, stopping at each of the Smithsonian museums as well as the two National Gallery buildings. From the Mall, passengers can connect to other Circulator routes that run between Union Station and Georgetown, and between the Convention Center and the Mall. http://dccirculator.com/

During the National Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the best ways to get around Washington, DC may be by bicycle. On weekends, FREE bike valet service is available at the Jefferson Memorial parking lot, south of the memorial. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. New this year, Capital Bikeshare offers a 5-day membership priced at $15 and will provide a staffed location at 12th Street and Independence Avenue from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the three Festival weekends. The National Park Service will also place extra bike racks at Independence Avenue & 15th Street, SW, near the Tidal Basin, which bikers with their own locks can utilize free of charge. http://captialbikeshare.com/ 

You can contact the National Cherry Blossom Festival Administration:
1250 H Street Northwest, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005

Sources: http://dc.about.com/cs/familyactivities/a/CherryBlossom.htmPhoto:  www.chus.net