Tidal Basin in Washington, DC

Tidal Basin
••• Tidal Basin. Photo © USDA

The Tidal Basin is a man-made inlet adjacent to the Potomac River in Washington, DC. It was created in the late 19th century as part of West Potomac Park to provide recreational space and as a means for draining the Washington Channel after high tide. The Jefferson Memorial, honoring our third President, sits on the south bank of the Tidal Basin. Visitors are drawn to the area because of its beauty, especially during cherry blossom season in late March and early April.

Each year people come from across the nation to welcome spring and celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Tidal Basin Paddle Boats are available to rent on the eastern shore. A small concession offers hotdogs, a few sandwich options, drinks and snacks. Walking paths surround the area and visitors are free to picnic along the shore.

Cherry Trees on the Tidal Basin

Approximately 3,750 cherry trees are situated on the Tidal Basin. Most of the trees are Yoshino Cherry. Other species include Kwanzan Cherry, Akebono Cherry, Takesimensis Cherry, Usuzumi Cherry, Weeping Japanese Cherry, Sargent Cherry, Autumn Flowering Cherry, Fugenzo Cherry, Afterglow Cherry, Shirofugen Cherry and Okame Cherry. For more information about the trees, see Frequently Asked Questions about Washington, DC’s Cherry Trees.

Getting to the Tidal Basin

The best way to get to the Tidal Basin is to take Metro to the Smithsonian Station on the Blue or Orange lines.

From the station, walk west on Independence Avenue to 15th Street. Turn left and head south along 15th Street. The Smithsonian station is about .40 mile from the Tidal Basin. See a map of the Tidal Basin

Parking: East Potomac Park has 320 FREE parking spaces. The Tidal Basin is just a short walk from the park.