Potomac Park consists of East Potomac Park, accessed via I-395, and West Potomac Park, off Ohio Dr. via Independence Ave. S.W. West Potomac Park, the western extension of the National Mall, is where many of Washington's presidential and veterans memorials are concentrated. It also encompasses the Tidal Basin, a man-made inlet created in the late 19th century to drain the Washington Channel after high tide and also to provide the city with recreational space.
The Jefferson Memorial sits on the south bank of the Tidal Basin, which is exceptionally beautiful in late March or early April when the Japanese cherry trees are in bloom. Almost all of the trees lining the Tidal Basin are of the Yoshino variety, which has white or pale pink blossoms; when the trees are at peak bloom the masses of flowers resemble clouds. The most convenient way to get to the Tidal Basin is from the Smithsonian Metro station (a leisurely 20-minute walk).
Within West Potomac Park are the Lincoln; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Korean War Veterans; Vietnam Veterans; Thomas Jefferson; Franklin Delano Roosevelt; World War II; Commodore John Paul Jones; and George Mason memorials. Other points of interest include Constitution Gardens and the Reflecting Pool.
Ohio Drive follows the Potomac's east bank from the Lincoln Memorial to the southern tip of East Potomac Park, a skinny wedge of land created by the Washington Channel. The predominant cherry tree in this section of the park is the Kwanzan, which blooms approximately 2 weeks after the Yoshino trees and produces clusters of deep pink double blossoms.
Most of East Potomac Park is taken up by the East Potomac Golf Course, but there also are tennis courts, public swimming pools and picnic areas, and you can hike and bike. Hains Point, the southern tip of the peninsula, is a great spot to watch planes taking off from nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Paddle boats can be rented along the Tidal Basin's eastern shore.