Everyone who knows me, knows of my love for flowers! I’m guilty of buying them for myself, I grow them in my yard, and I am willing to travel to see them. Cherry blossoms are no exception!
When we were stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington, we braved the crowds to see the Skagit Valley tulips. It was one of the highlights of our time there.
After I found out that Washington D.C was less than 5 hours from Fort Bragg, I had to add it to our Fort Bragg Bucket List. And what better time to visit D.C than during the Cherry Blossom Festival?
We pretty much just hopped in the car and went – no planning, no research, just out the door and gone.
Needless to say, our trip to D.C was more than a little rough. I was completely unprepared for the insane crowds of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
If seeing the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C is on your bucket list, don’t make the mistakes that I did.
Don’t Wait Until the Weekend of the Blossom Festival
The day that we went to see the cherry blossoms also happened to be the same day as the Blossom Kite Festival. While that sounds pretty cool (and it kinda was), the whole city was PACKED.
The National Mall was overflowing with people flying kites and tourists taking in the sights. The sidewalks were so jammed with people that we could hardly get around. And restaurants were so busy that we almost didn’t couldn’t find anything for lunch.
If I could go back and do it again, I would try to see the cherry blossoms on a week day to avoid the throngs of selfie-takers like me!
Don’t Forget Your Camera
Imagine my disappointment when during our 5 hour road trip to mark an item on my personal bucket list when I noticed that forgot my camera. It was too late to turn around, so onward we went.
Of course, I was still able to snap some pictures with my cell phone. However, they are not the best quality.
Don’t make my mistake – bring your camera! The blooms are gorgeous and after a day of walking till your feet hurt and fighting the crowds, you deserve pictures that do them justice!
Don’t Mistake Magnolia Blooms for Cherry Blossoms
Fortunately, this is one mistake that I did not make. However, I heard many other people make this mistake and it was driving me nuts!!
I can’t tell you how many times I heard people telling the ones around them to look at the cherry blossoms and what they were actually looking at was a type of magnolia tree. Where I grew up in North Florida, we called these tulip trees or saucer magnolias.
When they bloom, the entire tree fills with beautiful pink blooms. Because of their pink color, it’s easy to see why some might mistake them for cherry blossoms, however, when you see them side by side, they look very different.
Cherry blossoms are much smaller than magnolia blooms. The petals of a cherry blossom are ‘fluffy’, whereas magnolia blooms are stiffer and waxy feeling.
Don’t Expect a lot of Pink
When we first saw the cherry blossoms I have to admit I was confused. I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing were Cherry trees or Bradford Pear trees. The blooms were more white than pink.
All of the pictures that I had seen on-line depicted trees with fluffy light pink blooms. In real life, the blooms are almost completely white with random pink petals mixed throughout.
In fact, I edited the pictures that I took to make the blooms look more pink than they actually were. And I suspect that a lot of others do too.
(Unedited pictures of the mostly white cherry blossoms.)
Don’t Miss the Tidal Basin
This is, by far, my biggest regret from our first family trip to Washington. If you read my post about all the things that went wrong during this trip, then you know that our feet were horribly sore after the first day. So, the next day when we went to see the cherry blossoms, we were not up for a lot of walking.
We were not able to make it over to the main part of the Tidal Basin (where the Jefferson Memorial is). We ended up viewing the cherry blossoms along a smaller section of the Tidal Basin before crossing the bridge.
While there were plenty of these beautiful trees in this area, I would really have liked to see the blooms and the monuments together. If you are going to see the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C, definitely make sure you visit the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial.
Seeing the cherry blossoms in D.C has been one of my personal bucket list items for a long time and I’m so glad that I finally had the opportunity. Despite the insane crowds, aggravation, and miles and miles of walking, I can honestly say that it was worth it.
I will always cherish the memories that we made on this trip and the pictures we took – as edited and low-cellphone-quality as they may be!