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Color Me DC: 15 Ways to Embrace Color in Washington, DC This Spring
In honor of the new Yayoi Kusama exhibit, discover these colorful DC locales
Pink is perhaps the most popular color in DC come springtime, as the city’s famous cherry blossoms bloom. This spring, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has added even more color to DC’s slate with the incredible Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit, which incorporates bright colors, polka dots and mirrored rooms to form a kaleidoscopic experience.
Where else can you see an abundance of color in the District? Read on for an array of answers.
DC’s color palette is not confined to museums or its bounty of natural beauty. City murals such as the Watermelon House on Q Street, the Marvin Gaye mural at 710 S Street, Union Market’s Heart Wall, James Bullough’s mind-bending work at 905 U Street (commissioned by The Phillips Collection) and Cory L. Stowers’ Paul Robeson mural all showcase a variety of colors and ideas – and they’re all free to see.
Once winter turns to spring, cherry blossoms bloom at spots all over the District. You and your comrades will be awash in pink at gorgeous sites such as the Tidal Basin, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and even off-the-beaten path locales like Stanton Park. You can entertain your cherry blossom enthusiasm even further by attending these National Cherry Blossom Festival events.
Both the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals are well on their way to playoff appearances, so the Verizon Center will be at a fever pitch throughout the spring season. On April 3, the Washington Nationals begin their 2017 season against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park, looking to defend their 2016 National League East title. Each team features its share of stars, so get ready to rock the red and feel the noise.
From the decor to the plates, the restaurants of José Andrés (who you can see in our Chefs Dish DC video series) are eye-popping with color, matching the personality of their fun-loving owner. In Penn Quarter, the mainstay that is Jaleo features small plate sexiness in a stylish Spanish setting with big glass windows to see and be seen. Next door, China Chilcano's polychromatic designs match its true-to-Peru multicultural flavors, which incorporate Japanese and Chinese cuisine like sushi and dim sum. Both restaurants achieved Bib Gourmand status in DC’s first Michelin Guide.
Throughout its effervescent neighborhoods, DC offers restaurants with concepts and flavors from all over the world. There’s the velvet-tinged comfort and Greek cuisine of Kapnos; the Indian fare and Hindu-inspired environs of Rasika West End; the Mezcal-tinged menu and Oaxacan-focused décor of Espita Mezcaleria. The list goes on and on: view our Places to Eat page to start your colorful and delicious dining adventure in the District.
Patriotic colors are the focus of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Star-Spangled Banner exhibit, which showcases the flag that stood at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in 1814 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write our country’s national anthem. You can view the historic relic for free at one of the city’s most popular museums.
You will want to have a camera ready for your trip to northeast DC’s romantic oasis. The National Arboretum stays colorful nearly all year long, sporting a diversity of flora and fauna, including bonsai trees, azaleas and conifers. In spring, you can find flowering cherry blossom trees that are far away from the crowds of the National Mall. A can’t-miss: The National Capitol Columns that supported the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol from 1828-1958. They stand triumphantly in the Arboretum today.
Southwest Arts Club manages Blind Whino, a repurposed church that was built in 1886. The incredible façade sports a range of colors and shapes, making the building an Instagram favorite. Blind Whino is a multipurpose facility – check its events calendar and know that the space serves as an open gallery from 12-5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
Okay, you can’t literally feed Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock sculpture at the National Gallery of Art’s newly redesigned East Building, but admiration and nearby-posing are more than welcome. The stylish new wing of the museum (which is free to enter) also features paintings from artists of the Color Field movement, including Gene Davis and Mark Rothko (who also has an extensive showcase at The Phillips Collection).
Rock Creek Park is a 2,100-acre natural escape located in northwest DC. During the spring months, its 32 miles of trails are bedecked with lush green trees, creating a sanctuary that will have you feeling far from the city. Of course, Rock Creek is not the only park worth visiting in the area – read up on more as you plan your spring trip.
Nam June Paik’s jaw-dropping Electronic Superhighway installation is one of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s crown jewels. Closed-circuit televisions weave with neon lighting to create a piece that you can get lost in. From its multitude of colors, which indicate the individuality of states, to its screens, highlighting our obsession with film and television, Paik’s immense work leaves a lasting impact on the senses.
DC’s Chinatown neighborhood is home to one of the city’s grandest structures. The Friendship Archway stands as a 60-foot beacon at the intersection of 7th and H Streets NW, featuring detailed artwork that includes 7,000 tiles and 272 painted dragons. Its expanse and explosion of color makes the Archway a great photo-op – then you can continue exploring the neighborhood.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts goes all chromatic in showcasing artist Polly Apfelbaum, who uses an array of bright colors and abstraction to create prints that truly pop. The Chromatic Scale exhibit explores Apfelbaum’s process for making these woodblock prints, and how her work on those has influenced her renowned large-scale installations.
Located on the National Mall, the U.S. Botanic Garden is awash in colorful plants from around the world. Throughout its Conservatory, National Garden and Bartholdi Park, the Garden is a living plant museum, showcasing species rare and fascinating. Relax in the peaceful and scenic Garden Court after you have taken in the wonders of one of the country’s longest-running botanic gardens.
Looking for other ways to explore DC this spring? We’ve got you covered.