Spring came early this year, and so did the Cherry Blossom Festival.
The celebration begins Tuesday, and AAA is urging residents and visitors to consider alternative ways of getting down to the Tidal Basin.
During last year's Cherry Blossom Festival, 68,000 parking tickets were issued between March 27 and April 10, according to Washingtonian magazine. The District warns that “No Parking” restrictions will be strictly enforced and residents and visitors should take the warning seriously; you will receive fines up to $100 and quite possibly, a towed car.
With an estimated one million tourists attending this year's festival and parade alone drawing 100,000 people downtown, biking, metro, or walking is definitely your best bet for getting around.
So whether you’re from the area or planning to visit for the festival, check out the following tips to make sure your plans run smoothly and ticket-free.
- Take the metro! The blue and orange lines stop at the Smithsonian, which is three blocks from the Tidal Basin
- Hop on the DC Circulator
- Take the express. The National Park Service has announced an express bus service that runs from Union Station, to the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Smithsonian Metro station and back. Hours of operation will be 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $8.75 per person.
- Get on a tour bus
- Walk to the Cherry Blossoms
- Bring your bike and park it at one of the extra bike racks that will be placed at Independence Avenue and 15 St southwest (don’t forget your lock!)
- Rent a bike from Capital Bikeshare.
If you absolutely have to drive, free parking is available all along East Potomac Park at Hains Point. However, there are only 320 spaces located there and they tend to fill up fast.
Early birds can park there and then jump on a free shuttle service to the Tidal Basin. The shuttles will run every 20-30 minutes, between 10am and 7pm during the festival.
Tourists and visitors should also remember that many city streets will have rush hour restrictions that take place between 7-9:30am and 4-6:30pm.