On your mark, get set, go! And that’s how I was able to catch the peak of cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.
Living in the metro area helped with my timing, as I easily could get to the 3,000-plus trees putting on the pink spectacle. Mother Nature is rather finicky and refuses to follow the man-made calendar, so the National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled for three weeks (!) to allow for the more than 1.5 million visitors to enjoy the arrival of spring.
The early bird catches the best blossoms
When is the best time to see the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.? Sorry, I can’t give you exact dates (and don’t believe anyone who says they can). I can give you the following.
Tip: If you want a close parking space to a premium photo spot, such as the tidal basin, be parked by 6 a.m. on a weekend.
When we arrived at 6:30 a.m. last weekend, all parking spots were taken. We ended up near the Smithsonian, which was not too far of a walk. By the time we reached the tidal basin, there was no leisure time to dawdle because you had to stake out your photo spots.
Not only does the early bird get the best photos, but the predawn lighting is so beautiful. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the wall to wall tourists. In order to get photos of just the cherry blossom blooms, you must be downtown no later than 6 a.m.
When I posted these images on Instagram, my followers thought I was in Japan. We are quite lucky to have this in the Washington, D.C. area, thanks to then Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki’s gift of cherry trees in 1912.
Mayor Ozaki’s original 1912 gift included 12 varieties of cherry trees, today the Yoshino and Kwanzan varieties overshadow the others.
After an hour of photo snapping, we took a break at a coffee shop. The warmth lifted spirits and cherry viewing. Believe me, just because it is spring doesn’t mean it is warm in D.C., especially in the early morning hours.
Tip: You also can see cherry blossoms throughout Maryland and Virginia. My favorite, though, has to be the National Cherry Blossoms.
Wait, there’s a lot more than cherry blossoms!
This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 through April 14. The festival commemorates the beauty and friendship of Japanese and American cultures. The Blossom Kite Festival is a fun, family-oriented part of the big celebration. I really enjoyed watching all the kites.
Tip: The kite festival typically is scheduled on the Cherry Blossom Festival’s first weekend.
If you love magnolias, you may want to visit the Enid A. Hauptmann Garden along with the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries of Asian art. You won’t be disappointed. If you would rather not deal with the crowds, you can visit right here.
Tip: Instead of worrying about driving or parking, Uber or Metro in.
I know that a lot of people from around the country come to D.C. to see the magical blossoms, love them, and return year after year. In case you missed the pink spectacle, because one can’t predict Mother Nature, you can try the outer Metro area.
As for me, I am heading for the first time to Breaux Vineyards, in Purcellville, VA to catch their cherry blossoms and taste their wines. What a perfect combo! According to the vineyard, their bloom is usually one week later than D.C.’s as they are located in a cooler, mountainous area.
Tip: Always call ahead for peak cherry blossom viewing, and try visiting on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Cherry Blossom Celebration
In case you did not catch the D.C. bloom, join the annual Cherry Blossom Celebration at Breaux Vineyards.
Date: 04/13/2019 Time: 11 am – 6 pm
Have a blooming good time!