It’s often said that only death and taxes are certainties. Add to that short list the beauty of Washington’s National Cherry Blossom Festival in early April.
This year’s festival parade is April 10, which happens to be the third day of HM10 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., along the banks of the Potomac River outside the nation’s capital. This year’s two-week festival celebrates the 98th anniversary of Tokyo donating 3,000 cherry trees to the people of Washington.
“It gets a little bit crowded, but it’s definitely impressive,” says pediatric hospitalist Patrick Conway, MD, a chief medical officer at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington. “It’s pretty cool.”
HM10 is the perfect opportunity to get to know D.C., which offers a plethora of museums and attractions for those with time to explore. One of the most famous is the National Mall, which extends from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol. In between is a catalog of American history—the Washington Monument, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution.
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“The good thing about the National Mall is it’s pretty walkable,” says Dr. Conway, who also uses the city’s subway system, known as the Metro, to get around the city.
Closer to the host hotel, HM10 attendees can take a water taxi from the Potomac Riverboat Co. to visit Old Town Alexandria, George Washington’s Home at Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, and historic Georgetown. Arlington National Cemetery and its landmark Tomb of the Unknowns is also nearby. “It’s sort of a somber thought, but we took our family there,” Dr. Conway says. “We thought it was moving.”
The Gaylord offers an assortment of casual and upscale restaurants, along with the two-story Pose Ultra Lounge, an infusion bar with nightly entertainment. For those looking for a night on the town, Dr. Conway suggests Zaytinya, a Mediterranean tapas restaurant at the corner of 9th and G streets; BLT Steak off Farragut Square; and Vidalia, an eatery that specializes in Southern cuisine, at 1990 M Street NW (try the shrimp and grits). For a nightcap, get a drink at the Rooftop Sky Terrace at the Hotel Washington, which overlooks the White House.
“We love D.C.,” Dr. Conway says. “There’s a ton to do. It’s very metropolitan. It’s very easy to get around and doesn’t feel like a massive city.”
The average high temperature in April is 66 degrees, so plan to bring a jacket. For more information, visit www.washington.org or www.frommers.com (see “72 Hours in D.C.,” p. 10). For information about HM10’s Family Programs, visit www.hospitalmedicine.org/HM10family.
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.
IMAGES SOURCE: TDOES1/DREAMSTIME.COM