Spring is one of the best times of year in Washington, D.C. The snow is gone, flowers are blooming, and the summer heat and humidity have yet to descend on the region.
With that pleasant weather, which typically hovers somewhere between the high 60s and high 70s during April and May, it's a great time to be outside and enjoy what the area has to offer.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Run at the Tidal Basin
The annual Cherry Blossom Festival starts in late March and goes into the middle of April, and it's worth checking out. The cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. are breathtakingly beautiful, leaving the roads lining the 107-acre body of water a sea of white.
And while you're at it, bring your running shoes and go for a run. Park at Hains Point, and either run that 4-mile loop or head directly to the Tidal Basin, which is at the top of the man-made island that is Hains Point. Paved paths and sidewalks line the Basin, and the trees offer plenty of shade if it's warm.
2. Explore the nation's capital by bike
There are several bike-friendly routes to get in and out of Washington, D.C. From the west, the W&OD Trail snakes 45 miles from the western suburbs into Arlington, Va., where it hooks up with the Custis Trail . From there you can take any number of trails—the Mount Vernon Trail , for example—into the city. Then ride to the National Mall and see the monuments from a two-wheeled perspective.
3. Check out Great Falls | 16 Miles from Downtown
Breathtaking views and comfortable spring weather make Great Falls Park a perfect weekend destination. Bring your family (even your dogs). Hike one of the trails there—there are six on the Virginia side of the Potomac River and two main ones, plus several short trails, on the Maryland side. Bring stuff for a picnic and set up at one of the overlooks, watching kayakers navigate the rushing white water below.
4. Ride up Sugarloaf Mountain | 37 Miles from Downtown
Most road cyclists aren't in peak condition this time of year, so tackling Skyline Drive or Mount Weather isn't the best way to boost your confidence. Instead, head out to Frederick County, Maryland and test your legs on Sugarloaf Mountain . At 1.3 miles, the climb has a few switchbacks and an average gradient of around 6 percent.
5. Begin an adventure on the C&O Canal Towpath
If you don't have the time or fitness to run or hike the entire 184.5-mile trail all at once (and really, who does?), set a goal to complete this historic path in pieces. Whether you plan to go the entire length by the end of this season or maybe five years from now, it's a great goal to have. Start that journey now—what are you waiting for?
6. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail | 60 Miles from Downtown
Almost one quarter of the Appalachian Trail , which amounts to 550 miles, passes through Virginia. There are an endless number of places to jump on and off the trail, so check out a map and pick a spot—the closest one is roughly 60 miles from downtown Washington. Hike a few miles on a weekend or maybe try a multi-day hike. The trail has something for everyone, from advanced hikers to families with young children.
7. Go hiking and birdwatching | 12 Miles from Downtown
Huntley Meadows is 12 miles from the center of Washington and is home to more than 10 miles of maintained and informal trails, plus more than 200 species of birds. Enjoy nature—and definitely bring a camera—at this peaceful spot that's particularly vibrant and colorful in the spring.