Cherry Blossoms in Bloom, Washington DC
Since this is my first spring back in Virginia, I wanted to make sure to catch one of the few DC "events" that people travel from all over the country - and world - to see. I checked the forecast for the blossoms and the weather frequently over the past week, attempting to figure out what the best morning would be. We'd had rainy weather off and on as the blossoms started to emerge, but the peak weekend was supposed to be gorgeous. The Saturday of the Cherry Blossom Parade is always ridiculous, so I made plans for Sunday morning. I got up at 4:30, drove to the nearest Metro station (free parking on weekends!), caught a train and got off at the Smithsonian stop. Even before 6:00 AM, there were plenty of other tourists exiting the station with me, most with much better cameras than my little Canon point-and-shoot. But what happened next was pretty amazing...
As the sky got brighter and I started my second lap around the tidal basin, the pathways became much more crowded - tourists, dogs, strollers, even a few hapless joggers. (Really? You live in DC and yet you don't know to avoid this area like the plague a few weekends per year?) I left a little after 9:00 AM, having taken an absolutely stupid number of pictures, and meandered up toward the Verizon Center for some ramen.
Practical Info: Though the National Cherry Blossom Festival lasts for several weeks, peak blooms only last about five days, which can vary year to year. This year, peak bloom was April 11th. Sunrise was close to 6:30 AM. The most famous trees are located around the tidal basin, which is surrounded by various memorials such as the MLK Jr, the FDR, and the Jefferson. You also get great views of the Washington Monument, and peeks at the dome of the Capitol and the White House. Taking Metro rather than driving is advised (though even Metro gets backed up during the festival) - Smithsonian is the closest stop.