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Advice on coping with Cherry Blossom crowds in DC

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Without totally thinking it through, I planned a trip to DC in April with my husband and now I'm not so sure it wasn't a mistake. I tend to think of things the way they were 30 years ago, not like even my last DC visit 10 years ago - museums way more crowded, for instance. But not much I can do about it now except cancel (which we certainly will do if there's no budget to keep the museums open in early April).

We'll arrive in Alexandria the afternoon of Wed., April 6 and are leaving Mon., April 11. Will be parking the car, using the Metro. This schedule means we'll be there on the Sat. of the Cherry Blossom Festival parade. While it might be sort of fun to see it (and I think I read there's some sort of Japanese kite festival on the Mall), it probably wouldn't be fun enough to put up with the crowds. Since we were planning a day at the zoo followed by a meal at a favorite old restaurant on Calvert, maybe Saturday would be a good day to do that. But will the Metro be so mobbed that we'll have problems changing trains or something? (Will be coming in on yellow, need to change to red at Gallery Place.) Do things settle down a little after the parade? Assume all Smithsonian museums will be mobbed more than usual that afternoon.

If anyone who lives there or has visited in April in the past has any suggestions on coping with the crowds during that time, things to do that might be less crowded, I'd appreciate comments. As many times as I or my husband and I have been to DC over the years (and I lived in Rockville 40 years ago), we seem to get sidetracked in the Mall Smithsonian museums every trip. Have put other things on the agenda this time and vowed not to get trapped in Natural History, National Gallery, Air & Space or History this trip but am not sure how crowded these other things may be - Portrait & American Art, Ford's Theater, Newseum, Corcoran, for instance. My husband has never been to Archives and Library of Congress and I haven't been myself for 25 years. And what problems are we likely to have with restaurants, etc.?

Thanks.

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