Having grown up in DC, I've been fortunate enough to enjoy the annual cherry blossom blooms along the Tidal Basin. By car, metro, and even bicycle, I've been able to take in the beauty and peacefulness of the lovely blooms, walking around, having lunch, and just hanging out. During the past ten years I've altered the routine to what friends and neighbors know as the erc blossom run (think Cannonball Run, although it's more like It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World). Here's how it goes from thirty miles out in the Va. suburbs in rush hour traffic in a market voted as America's most congested city;
The kids are adults and gone, so they pass (they wouldn't be able to handle it anyway); the Mrs. is a saint, so she's all in; and the neighbors sometimes join and once, actually sent their house guests (by themselves) to partake in the festivities, here's the schedule:
5:15 am - local Starbucks for some pre-sunrise caffeine boost
5:30 am - circle back for passengers, greet the paperboy, and we're on our way
5:30- 6:00 am - using the HOV lanes (dummies and inflatables are no longer acceptable) we travel down our nemesis I-66,
arriving at the Lincoln Memorial around 5:50am. We take Independence Ave. - this is where many go astray.
Car passengers are given a preview as we whisk (and I do mean whisk) by the Jefferson Memorial. Here's the
next major challenge - choose wrong and you head to Hains Point, a pretty drive by itself (w/blossoms), but
you'll never make it back thru growing traffic. Hugging the Jefferson Memorial we circle around to Ohio St., you
must stay to the right at all times or you'll find yourself on I-395 heading back into Va. and you might as well
kiss your day goodbye, you ain't gettin' back! On Ohio, parking opens at 6:00 am (it's closed from 1-6) although
5:55 on, it's fair game. Parallel park (one way traffic - you must park on the left, bypass inexperienced parkers and
move on to the next open spot - they'll won't land it in one try, trust me).
6:00 am - walk the quarter mile back to the Tidal Basin, advising guests to "Take it all in" ha-ha . Hit the Tidal Basin around 6:15,
the sun rises at 6:30. Walk the basin, see the sights, take photos to prove it, and be back in the car (walking along the
Potomac watching the rowing crews workout) by 7:15 am. Folks will be stalking you from the monuments until you get into
your car - you could easily sell your spot, paying for your next weekend breakfast at Marriott.
7:15 ish - Hop in the car, the challenge isn't over yet, DC is now a cross commute market with workers going into the burbs for tech
and beltway bandit jobs. Encourage passengers to exchange photos to maximize experience. Avoid the inevitable roadblocks
that are put up for the festival (or you'll end up on Rock Creek Parkway) and cross into Va, calling out monuments for the
out of towners.
7:45 am - Arrive home in time for Squawk Box - whew, that was fun, no really . Guests have lifetime memories ! (like an appendectomy)
Get there early, Washington Monument undergoing earthquake repairs
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines
Martin Luther King Memorial
This is around 6:35 am, all around the Tidal Basin. You snooze, you lose
The Potomac River, very peaceful, pleasant and also pretty blossoms
Architect (standing) of the blossom run. Passengers including filmmaker from
California and neighbor's friend from India opted out of photo, wanting to max time
Photo taken by saint (had to say or she wouldn't come next time)
I spent less time doing the Cherry Blossoms run than I did trying to post this crazy thing. 0 for 3 under destinations, it kept saying I needed to name a valid spot, I said Washington DC , but apparently it wasn't acceptable.
Finally got it up and captions don't line up with photos - sort of like the 'buffering' commercial where the guy asks if he has met his wife and the response, one off is,
"kind of bumpy". Oh well - off to breakfast.
Great details and photos, thanks for sharing! I walked around this weekend to see the cherry blossoms but none were out since it was still so chilly - beautiful aren't they!
Feel free to reformat your messages how you'd like, I tried to align the photos and captions. And an album would be great for more photos, Tutorial: Document your journeys with photos and a blog
Great trip idea and fabulous photos! I'm sitting here thinking 'wish I had been there'! Those cherry blossoms are just beautiful. One of these days (years I guess because they only come out in Spring, yes?) I'll have to get up there to see them. Maybe I'll crash your 'parade run' . Amazing how many folks seem to be 'up' so early for the viewing! I thought I was an early riser (5AM every day) but I guess I'm not alone in the world at that time with all the people out there so early (but down here in snoozeland I am alone).
This year I'll have to settle for my trip to DC in July. Just booked it. Some guy named McCartney is playing at Nationals Park July 12 and we're coming for the gig!
Thank you, Pluto
I was about to rattle off some 'local man's' stuff off of the top of my head, but then I realize you're out on the West Coast and so visiting is serious business; here's a pretty informative site, check it out to the level of your interest
Key points -
1) Few, if any can accurately predict the Peak Blossom (70% of the blossoms showing)
2) Next year's festival is scheduled for March 20th - April 13th 2014
3) Next year's parade is Saturday April 12th
4) The average peak date is April 4 but the weather gods peaked them early (hot) last year, late (cold) this year
5) One out of every 6 or 7 have a heartbreak season - Peak, then rainstorm (one year hail) and 24 hour wipeout
So in summary, like your average congressional leader: I feel strongly both ways.
The Rosslyn Residence Inn (Cat. 4 moving to Cat.5) or the Key Bridge Marriott (who knows,we may all be at Hyatt or Hilton by next year)
would be a decent location for catching the Orange line metro to Smithsonian and then a pleasant walk. The Pentagon City Residence Inn in Arlington Va is a Cat. 4. which as of today (but now reading this michellel is going to get me) and would be an excellent use of next years certificate, a bit more walking for your Yellow line metro, but quite do able if it's nice (so in effect, you're doubling down on the weather), same for the two Crystal City Marriott's, higher cats. and often (but not always) priced aggressively. And of course the Marriott Metro or JW DC properties work (although get up early and start walking).
Still plenty to do in DC in April even if you miss peak (you could visit your friendly IRS auditor), so you could still have a good time.
And if you do come, don't forget All Events in Washington, D.C. | Goldstar they have tours, cruises, all sorts of Cherry Blossom (and DC) events at true savings (my daughter and friends took a cruise and saved real money - especially to them, all starving artists, they like to draw/sketch/paint the blossoms). BTW, this link is at the end of the festival - they had 20-30 festival events discounted, so start looking in late Feb/early March.
You and tef give me a call and we'll 'whisk' on by! Best wishes, erc
erc, thanks for such an informative review and lovely pictures. Seeing the cherry blossoms has always been on my bucket list; however, since seeing them at peak time is a moving target (just like catching the fall foliage at peak), I haven't crossed this item off my list yet.
2014 Cherry Blossom Dates Announced - 3/20/14 - 4/13/14
From the looks at some of the $300+ rates of some downtown Marriott properties it looks like Intergalactic has already factored in the big spring push. I recommend looking at the Pentagon Crystal City, Va. Residence Inn (<$120 AAA on weekends) and crossing over on Metro. If you reserve (you can always cancel) before the next Category increase, you can actually use a Cat. 4 Certificate for what is a very nice property.
Ok - enjoy
Outstanding information. Thanks so much. I would love to see the cherries blossom (jk). I just booked Key Bridge Marriott for 4 nights, Thurs-Mon for $99/night, AAA Hot Deals. I'll book Tues. night with a Cat. 5 cert (currently showing availability).
Thanks, man!!!! (btw, is it cold at the end of March?)
Way to go, that's an excellent deal, well played pluto (Key Bridge, one of Gem's favorites, offers full breakfasts in the restaurant on the weekends for golds/plats). Between Georgetown and Rosslyn you'll have some terrific meals. You're right at the Rosslyn Metro Orange line which will take you into the Smithsonian stop and the National Mall, an enjoyable, memorial filled walk to the Tidal Basin.
March, whereas often quite pleasant and moderate, can get quite chilly also. Some of my coldest ever baseball games were in March - a cold, to the bone, drizzle. So bring a polar fleece jacket or lined windbreaker/jacket to have available if necessary, but often it's just a sweater/sweatshirt, long sleeve type of day. A layered approach is often the best strategy, adjusting as the weather dictates.
I share your enthusiasm, it's quite a lovely sight (even with the crowds), you'll have a blast.
I used to lived in D.C. ( ten years on 18th Street) and jogging around the Tidal Basin was a twice a week activity for us.
Unlike you my friends and I are so exhausted and hungry after the run and eating our heart out at some fancy restaurant
became part of the routine. It was fun but I gained weight instead. I gave up the Tidal Basin run after a year as I developed
severe allergies from the blossoms.
Well so much for the meditative beauty and inner peace part, eh? Although you like 'surprise me' travel, that probably wasn't what you had in mind, well, we still have the great museums, you'll have to sign up for one of my 'drive by' history tours .
For the rest of you sports fans, a reminder:
2014 Cherry Blossom Dates Announced - 3/20/14 - 4/13/14
If you're thinking about visiting, consider booking early like pluto did above (rooms fill, rates get jacked up).
Now that you've reminded me, it will be my first priority, Nuhusker, with Beirut Memorial coming in a close second, Sunset Parade would be third, but then too early in the year for that. Can't have everything. Maybe a visit to Walter Reed. For certain I will visit the Marine Corps museum next trip. One just about needs to move there to see it all.
Thanks, Husker (and whoa, what a hail Mary pass for the ages, that was last weekend, eh?)
I have vistited war wounded from Iraq and Afganistan at wrnmmc and Bethsda Naval Hospital several times. I have access, but I'm guessing that you can simply go to the reception desk and tell the volunteer you'd like to visit with any troop (s) able to have a visitor and they'll make that happen. Most of those guys (and gals although I've never had the chance to visit with one there) just want to see a different face. They'll appreciate you being there.
As for the miracle catch, well let's just say that that temporary moment of excitement has now been overcome by the fact that we're playing in The Big House this Saturday. #GBR
Not that they are always accurate and especially during this wacky year, but they are often pretty close, so FYI for any interested - Cherry Blossom Peak is April 8-12 2014. Come one, come all.
I heard the dates on the radio today and got a kick out of reading your original post from last year. I lived in Arlington for 3 years and am ashamed to admit I never got over the river for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I am thinking this is a good use of a leftover Cat 4 cert and there seems to be a few Cat 4's still with availability.
Thanks for resurrecting this post.
I appreciate your post, since I had to cancel my trip this year which was scheduled for 3/27 - 4/1. Now I won't feel as disappointed, since the blossoms are predicted to peak a good week after I would've departed. I will still keep this discussion thread bookmarked for future reference, as it's still very much a bucket list item, and still near the top of the list. I hope many others will be able to enjoy these beauties this year.