Have you ever been to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.? If you haven’t gone to the tidal basin to see the cherry blossoms, it is a definite must see. But, your timing has to be just right. the cherry blossom trees only bloom for about a week and then it is all gone. The Nomads were fortunate enough to be within driving distance while they were in full bloom. And, oh what a beautiful site it was.
First, a little history before we get into the visual splendor. On March 27, 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki, Tokyo City, gave a gift of Japanese cherry trees to the city of Washington D.C. The trees were donated in an effort to enhance the friendship between the United States and Japan. the wife of the Japanese Ambassador, Viscountess Chinda, and First Lady, Helen Herron Taft, planted the first two cherry blossom trees. They are on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. These two trees still stand today, marked by a large plaque.
In the days leading up to the day we visited, Mama Nomad monitored a site that gives great updates about the Cherry Blossom Trees and their state of being in bloom. It is called HaveCameraWillTravel.com. We suggest that you check their site before you make the trip. They will let you know when the trees are in bloom and you will know you have about a week to get there and see them before the blooms blow away in the breeze.
Another tip I will give you is to use the Metro. If you are single, you will be money ahead. You can probably get parking for $15 or so in the area. And the cost to get from most Metro Stations outside the city to the area around the tidal basin is less than $10 per person, round trip. If you are a family of 5, like ours, the trip was actually about $40 round trip. However, when you consider paying $15 for parking, account for the fuel and then tack on the hours and hours of traffic, I still believe you come out money ahead. We went from the Fairfax/Vienna Station and got off at Federal Triangle. We walked for about 15 minutes and we were there.
On the way there, we encountered thousands of people. The area of the tidal basin closest to the Washington Monument was swarming with people. You could not take a picture without someone else being in it. It made me feel like we were at a famous amusement park on a sunny day on the weekend. Packed like sardines is putting it politely.
However, we continued on around the perimeter of the tidal basin until we came to the bridge on Independence Ave that crosses over the tidal basin. On the other side of the bridge, the swarming people count seemed to reduce by over 2/3. And, what was even more surprising is that this is the area where the first trees were planted and the plaque is stamped into a rock.
In case you have never been to the area, the tidal basin covers a lot of ground. Sufficed to say, there are a lot of cherry blossom trees. They surround the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial and the entire bank of the tidal basin. You can see these trees stretch away from the tidal basin towards the Washington Monument and down the bank of the Potomac River.
When you go, bring water, snacks, athletic shoes and a lot of patience. If you are able to tune people out and focus on the cherry blossom trees, you will feel like you are whisked away into an ancient Japanese movie filled with rows of Japanese Cherry Blossoms. All without the martial arts drama. I guess that actually depends upon your companions and the surrounding tourists. Regardless, this is an event worth traveling for. Safe Travels.
One side note that we thought was kind of cool, Marine One, the helicopter for the President, flew overhead while we were admiring the Cherry Blossoms. I guess the President wanted to check them out too.