Free Family-Friendly Ways to Enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of spring. It also commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo made to the city of Washington, DC in 1912.

If you’re visiting the capital, this weekend, here are a few kid-friendly Cherry Blossom festival events to add to the already jam-packed day of fun your family can have running around earning UNICEF Kid Power points!

SAAM Cherry Blossom Festival This 11 – 3 pm celebration in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s glass covered Kogod Courtyard will give your kids more than a taste of Japanese culture! A taiko drumming performance kicks off the day, followed by Japanese music and dance performances, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Make your own tatebanko (a Japanese paper diorama) with our friends from the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Asian art museums. Take a scavenger hunt to find spring themed artwork, and more! Check out the full schedule here.

National Air and Space Museum’s Kites of Asia Heritage Family Day: Kites are flown in Japan to give thanks. Kite-flying is also believed to bring good luck. Thank your lucky stars that spring has sprung with a visit to the National Air and Space Museum, where kite experts will set up shop from 10 to 3 pm. See pan-Asian kite displays, marvel at indoor kite flying — don’t try this at home! — make your own kite — and maybe even take a dance lesson!

Heritage Family Day: Cherry trees aren’t the only way nations show friendship. Stop by the Boeing Learning Center on Saturday from 10 to 4 pm to learn more about the many other ways countries form alliances. Investigate treaties, learn about gifts countries have given, and participate in family activities.

College Park Aviation Museum: Rather than stand in line at the Air and Space Museum — which is an awesome museum — try the alternative. College Park Aviation, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate,  is not only state-of-the-art but it’s located in the grounds of the world’s oldest continuously operating airport. The aviation museum houses an incredible array of aircraft and tons of hands-on activities and interactive areas to explore, including a flight simulator!

Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Gardens: Boasting 10 acres of gardens – both formal and informal – in the heart of Georgetown, this place isn’t a museum. It’s an oasis! There aren’t many capital cities in the world offering such a beautiful, centrally located place where kids can run around on land that also houses a museum with inspiring works of art.

The Yards Park: Located just south of Capitol Hill, the Yards Place is designed as a series of outdoor “rooms,” where, once the warmer months kick in, kids can cool off at an  11-foot deep man-made canal created just for them. Scattered around are chaise lounges for anybody that needs to catch their breath, or some rays and if you keep your ears pricked, you can hear the sound of a baseball game in full swing at nearby National Park!

The Potomac: This treasure of a river runs right through this historic city! Upriver from the National Mall is the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial on Theodore Roosevelt Island. There’s loads of space to run around, explore, have picnics and watch the passing kayaks and boats. Head south, and you’ll discover the Potomac National Harbor with three great sites to explore with the kids: the beautiful nature walk, the “The Awakening” ( a huge sculpture of a giant attempting to emerge from the earth) and, of course, the paddle boats!