Visiting the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. is a must-do. But if not done correctly, it can be the pits! If you’re planning to head to D.C. for the festival, we can help you with planning. Read on for the details and learn a few tips to make the most of the iconic annual event.
DC Cherry Blossoms Are Worth Celebrating
It’s Cherry Blossom season! Droves of tourists, many for the first time, attack the Tidal Basin in Washington DC. That’s the area that has the nearly 1,700 trees around the Jefferson Memorial. It’s too early to forecast the peak bloom time of the cherry blossoms yet. Expect that announcement in March.
The official dates for the National Cherry Blossom Festival have been announced. So if you’re planning to come to the see the DC cherry blossoms, plan on being in the nation’s capitol from March 20 through April 14, 2019. The four-week festival will feature a pink-tie party (invite only), a parade, auctions, street fairs and a petalpalooza!
As a 20-year veteran of the blossom wars, I have four tips that will save you from the rookie mistakes when attending the nation’s spring celebration.
1. Come Early. REALLY Early.
I mean dawn. Sunrise. You’ll find free two to three hour parking right on the Tidal Basin, even on the weekend, if you come first thing. By 8 a.m. all of the spots will be filled and the area will be teeming with tourists.
2. Expect to do a LOT of Walking.
The Tidal Basin is a half mile from the Metro, so the train may not help as much as expected. That always surprises folks on their first visit to the blossoms. I know, a half mile doesn’t seem long to you, but how long will it seem to your 3-year-old who is a “big girl” and refuses her stroller? The blossoms are the rare event in downtown D.C. for which I actually recommend driving if feasible. Once you’re there, you’re 100% on your feet.
3. The Tidal Basin Lacks Facilities You Might Expect.
The Tidal Basin is run by the National Parks, and the services are more what you might expect at a campground than at a world-class tourist attraction. Pack snacks and plenty of bottled water. Don’t expect a short hike to the bathroom from anywhere. Any time you see a potty, make your kids GO. Trust me on that one.
4. Don’t Fear the Weather…but DO Dress for It!
Some of my favorite cherry blossom pics are from cloudy or even rainy days. The area takes on a mystic quality that feels like you’ve walked into a Japanese scroll. That said, I’m always amazed by the folks I see in shorts and flip-flops. Yes, this is technically spring, but Washington DC can still be chilly and drizzly in March, especially if you’re going at dawn like I recommend.
After a long winter, I can’t wait to see the blossoms again. We’ll pile in the car before sun-up on a Sunday morning and head down and back before breakfast. Their emergence, as always, will be a sign that it’s FINALLY time to put winter away and celebrate the spring!
Learn about the woman who brought the cherry trees to Washington DC. And DC isn’t the only place that celebrates its cherry blossoms. Philadelphia has cherry blossoms too! Or head to the Big Apple and check out the cherry blossoms in NYC.