Every spring, usually from late March to early April, Washington is blanketed in a sea of pink and white blossoms that herald the arrival of springtime and the start of prime sightseeing season. The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the gift of the more than 3,000 predominantly Yoshino and Akebono cherry blossom trees in 1912 from the mayor of Tokyo, Japan as a gift of friendship to the citizens of Washington, D.C. For over a century, the city's biggest festival continues to honor that gift with special events and activities including walks along the Tidal Basin to get those iconic shots of the Jefferson Memorial through the trees, the Blossom Kite Festival, fireworks, the Cherry Blossom Parade on Constitution Avenue, and the Sakura Matsuri Street Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue.
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Cherry Blossoms at DC's Tidal Basin
Having grown up in the DC-area, cherry blossom season translates to one of the most chaotic times of the year around the National Mall. Swells of tourists and fanfare bombard the Tidal Basin in early spring.
There are however narrow windows of time when you can stroll among these blushing beauties in relative peace – just be prepared to go extremely early (before 9:00 am) or for an evening stroll. This year, I decided to go against my circadian rhythm and experience the blooms at dawn. Though greeted by a gray morning, the blushing blossoms still looked amazing against the pale sky.
As long as there have been streets, there have been street performers. In ancient Egypt and Greece, people entertained and passed the hat for donations. During the Middle Ages in Europe, troubadours were the personal street performers of the aristocrats, while minstrels and jongleurs brought joy to the general public. The tradition continued at the Jefferson Memorial on one of the last mild fall days in DC yesterday.
The monuments on the Mall in Washington D.C. seem to stand like marble rocks in a river of ever-moving sightseers. While it is easy to get caught up in a touring schedule that values efficiency over emotion, try not to let that happen. Instead, pick the monuments you want to see, like the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and let the others go. That way, when you get there, you can make the visit personal.
It was still late morning when the grand columns of the Jefferson Memorial were in sight, and yet, I decided to make a quick stop at a lesser building in its shadow: the concession stand. Once I was inside the memorial's rotunda, with the Potomac and a line of autumn-hued trees at my back, I met the statue of Thomas Jefferson with a pretzel in hand. I took my time reading his words from the inscriptions on the walls, and then I nabbed a seat under his gaze.
And I’ll remember that as the time I enjoyed a pretzel with Thomas Jefferson. Well, at least, in theory.
If one is ever in DC this walk is beautiful! The bustling of the city! The history! The boats! The Cherry Blossom Trees! The Monuments! The burbs of Washington, D.C. was our home for many years. There is so much free stuff to do! The Smithsonian is a must!! The Air & Space Museum and more!