. . . stopped to see the blossoms. The Cherry Blossom Festival is Washington's signature event. Unfortunately, it comes with its share of the region's signature scourge: gridlock. Parking is scarce; the sidewalks are packed. The best way to beat the crowds: Get there early. Pack a picnic breakfast and watch the sky turn pink, too. Follow it up with a walk along the Tidal Basin's southwest edge. It isn't as easy to reach, but it's less crowded and buffered from traffic by the FDR Memorial. Better still, rent a paddle boat at the Tidal Basin Boathouse. The dock can get a little crowded, of course, but it's always easy to find an open patch of water.
Tidal Basin Boathouse
1501 Maine Ave. SW, 202-479-2426
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Prices: two-seat paddle boat, $8 per hour; four-seat paddle boat, $16 per hour.
Know of a uniquely Washington area experience, a place you always take out-of-towners or the thing you'd miss most about the region? email@example.com.