When you visit DC during the spring, a major attraction are those stunning light pink cherry blossoms. They’re an iconic DC city scape that tourists flock to. As a local, I can’t blame them. The first thing I did when it was spring was head down to the Potomac and get some shots of the beautiful flowers. Even the most hardened DC locals will gaze up at the pretty blossoms lining their streets. If you want to really see the flowers in a way that won’t waste your time and drive you nuts… here are 6 tips from a local that will help you get the most out of a DC Cherry Blossom trip.
1. Get up Early!
If you’re not up early, you’ll be one of many many tourists. That’s ok, just know you’ll be fighting over the competition. Certain spots will require you to get there earlier (especially if you want a parking spot), but know that you will never be alone. If you can see the blossoms by 6-8am in the morning, you shouldn’t have to deal with too many people. If you get there around noon… good luck with all that traffic.
Pro Tip: Go on a weekday so you’re not dealing with weekend crowds. Most DC locals are not visiting the blossoms at all, but if they decide to venture down there, it’ll probably be when they’re not working. You will also get some day-trippers who come in on a weekend from Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland so again, Tuesday at 10am and you’ll find very few people!
2. Rent the right type of vehicle
I say this because certain vehicles offer better viewing. If you can find a vehicle where there is a roof window or even a jeep that will allow you to sit up on the roof rack, that is ideal! My coworker told me “why don’t you just ride around under the blossoms while sitting on the jeep?” and I have no idea why I didn’t think of this, but it was genius! We passed by some park service cops and although I don’t think the activity is legal, they didn’t seem to care. There was something special about sitting safari style on top of the jeep while being under the flowery trees above.
3. Go to Hains Point
If you want to see a relatively uninterrupted view of the flowers, all the locals go to Hains Point. There are definitely not as many cars (even on a weekend) and you can drive the East Potomac park in a loop seeing gorgeous lines of trees. This place is even quiet enough to have a picnic under the blossoms if you are so inclined. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be alone, but wait until you see the “touristy” part and you’ll see what I mean.
4. Go to the classic photography shots
Ok, so you want that classic Jefferson Memorial shot? You want the National monument in the background? You have to drive over to the other side and explore West Potomac Park. If you find parking along the side of the road, or you’d prefer to walk there, this is where you’ll find those iconic Tidal Basin cherry blossom photography. It is worth it, but man there are a lot of people! Just be prepared that walking might be easier than driving.
5. Just wander the streets of DC
If you really want to see the flowers but don’t want to deal with the crowds, DC has cherry blossoms EVERYWHERE! They also have really stunning crab apple trees that blossom at the same time in addition to other gorgeous blooms all over the city. DC in the Spring is a wonderful place to be. Wander around Rose Park Recreation center over near Georgetown, meander through Logan Circle and Adam’s Morgan to see the blossoms backdropped against classic DC row homes. Woodley Park (north of DC) and Old town (south of DC) are outer neighborhoods of the city that are home to numerous streets lined with blossomed trees.
6. Know when to come
Do your research before you come! Each year the blossoms arrive at different times, and they last for about 2-3 weeks. If you want to be smart about it, start checking instagram hashtags for DC cherry blossoms and you’ll start to notice when tourists and locals alike are posting the freshly blossomed trees. If you don’t have instagram and you’re not interested in booking a last minute trip, the parks service posts the dates they project the trees to be in bloom. They are usually accurate and if you pick a time slot in the middle of their projected dates, I can’t imagine you’d miss them!
If you have visited DC, during the Cherry Blossom festival and have additional tips to add, please comment below!
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