This post is one in a series of Ten 3-Mile Walks Around Washington, DC. The pins in the map below show where I stopped to take pictures but also serve to outline the route!
I did this walk on an unseasonably warm day between Christmas and New Years. Temperatures nearly reached 60° and there were lots of people out taking advantage of it. The Tidal Basin is a man-made body of water between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel. It serves a functional purpose as a buffer between the river and channel slowing the current of the tidal flows. Without it, the channel would fill with sediment. It also serves as ground zero for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The basin is lined with cherry blossom trees and during the 2-3 weeks when they are in bloom the paths are crowded like the streets of Manhattan. The views are fantastic and it’s a great walk. One infamous event took place here in 1974 when Congressman Wilbur Mills was stopped by police near the Tidal Basin. Mills, a democrat from Arkansas was the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. In the car with him was a stripper known as the “Argentine Firecracker” who went by the stage name of Fanne Fox. As police stopped the vehicle she jumped out of the car and into the Tidal Basin! The incident sparked a typical Washington media firestorm and a short while later Mills was reelected with 60% of the vote. Same as it ever was.
As you stroll around the Tidal Basin you will enjoy dramatic views of monuments like the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The location also includes the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and the George Mason Memorial but I will leave those for another walk of West Potomac Park.
When I was a kid i had a toy called the View-Master. It was a sort of personal slide projector that you looked into like binoculars. Round slide sheets inserted into it and the user slid a lever to advance the slides. Because of the stereographic quality of putting one image in front of each eye, the experience created 3-D images with gorgeous colors.
One of the slide sheets showed scenes around Washington, DC including all the monuments, the cherry blossoms, and views around the Tidal Basin. I can still remember those images and now with the exception of some new monuments, little else has changed in this scene.
I parked in a free lot underneath the 14th St. Bridge in the zone where East Potomac Park transitions to West Potomac Park. From there the path around the Tidal Basin and back to the car was almost exactly three miles.