By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
It’s that time again! Each year the beautiful cherry blossom trees bloom — and so do the crowds of area residents and tourist who come from all over the world to see our nation’s capital all dressed up “pretty in pink.” The trees are the main attraction of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual three-week celebration in Washington, DC. The multi-event celebration commemorates the blooming of the trees, the arrival of spring, and friendship between the United States and Japan, which gave the us 3,000 cherry trees in 1912 to plant in DC.
This year, peak bloom for the trees is expected to be between March 18 to March 23 (barring any sudden weather changes). This time partially overlaps with Easter week, which is also Spring Break for many area schools, so you can expect the flower’s fans to be out in full force in DC! The Tidal Basin, especially the areas right by the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument, will be very busy and crowded, likely more so than in previous years.
If you can get there early, it’s quite a lovely sight. But if you can’t do so, or you just really don’t want to deal with the crowds, here are some other options to see the pretty petals:
Hains Point area of East Potomac Park, Washington, DC: This is still right in downtown DC but tends to be a bit quieter and offers better parking options. The cherry blossoms are right along the water, and the park also has nice walking paths, picnic tables, restrooms, and a playground.
US National Arboretum, Washington, DC: This large (446-acre) park is still right in DC but away from the crowds, and features dozens of varieties of cherry trees in the research and display collections. You can walk or bike along many paths, enjoy a picnic, and even take a tram ride (for a small fee) on weekends to get a view of the whole park. Admission is free.
Anacostia Park, Washington, DC: See the cherry trees bloom along the Anacostia River at this 1,200-acre park. The park has dozens of cherry trees, plus nice trails and picnic areas, and it’s the site of the Anacostia River Festival which closes out the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA: This Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority location is beautiful year-round, but it is especially colorful in the spring. The 95-acre park in Vienna has many cherry tree varietals along with dozens of other types of trees and plants, and features easy walking paths, lakes, and rest areas. Admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children and senior citizens.
Lake Anne Plaza, Reston, VA: This mixed-use community has restaurants and shops and a small lake where many events are held. Walk a bit past the lake until you reach until you reach the Van Gogh Bridge, a wooden footbridge inspired by the artist’s famous paintings of Arles, France. Here you will find a few cherry blossom trees without the crowds.
Photos (c) Joni Stutman, used with permission