Each spring, Washington DC is filled with beautiful cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. The National Cherry Blossom Festival annually commemorates the 1912 gift to the city of Washington of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and celebrate the continued close relationship between our two peoples.
This year, the National Park Service in Washington DC was forecasting peak bloom of the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin to occur on Monday, March 27th. Hoping to avoid the crowds, I scheduled a day off from work on that Monday and planned to arrive at the Tidal Basin shortly before sunrise.
Unfortunately, the cherry trees did not reach peak bloom until March 30th. But I spent the morning walking around the Tidal Basin and visited the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the George Mason Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the World War II Memorial and Hains Point.
I made a second trip to see the cherry blossoms on Saturday, April 1st. On that trip, I again walked around the Tidal Basin and saw the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the World War II Memorial. I continued walking west to the Lincoln Memorial, Korean Veterans War Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial.
The following pictures are from my two trips into DC to see the cherry blossoms.
Cherry Blossoms Parking Sign
As planned, I drove into DC and arrived at the Tidal Basin shortly before sunrise. I easily found a parking spot. I walked over to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial for some photos of the sunrise.
Paddle boats and Jefferson Memorial at sunrise on Monday, March 27th
Washington Monument before sunrise
View of Virginia from the Jefferson Memorial at sunrise
Jefferson Memorial shortly after sunrise
On that Monday morning, the cherry trees were just starting to bloom. The buds cast a purple/pink color on the trees but they didn't look as impressive as they later did during peak bloom. There were several other people out hoping to catch a glimpse of the cherry blossoms. In fact, it seemed that even the joggers had cameras to take pictures.
Cherry blossoms before their peak
Close-up view of a branch of one of the cherry trees before peak bloom
Japanese Pagoda near the FDR Memorial. The Pagoda was a gift from the Mayor of Yokohama in 1958.
Cherry trees and the tidal basin with Jefferson Memorial in the background shortly after sunrise before peak bloom
Cherry trees a few days before peak bloom
Japanese Lantern - a 20-ton granite lantern located on the Tidal Basin's north shore. It was 300 years old when it was presented to the U.S. in 1954
Cherry Blossoms before peak bloom
Cherry Blossoms before peak bloom
Cherry blossoms before peak bloom
Since the forecast called for peak bloom, several news crews were set up on the edge of the Tidal Basin looking towards the Jefferson Memorial. One of the news crews set up along the tidal basin under the cherry blossoms
ABC 7 News van parked by the Tidal Basin
Fox 5 News giving a live report from the Tidal Basin
I returned to the Tidal Basin on the morning of Saturday, April 1st. and found the cherry trees to be in peak bloom. This time, I waited until after sunrise and took the Metro to the Smithsonian Metro Station. Even though I arrived shortly after 8:00 am, the crowds had already arrived.
Crowds of people along the trail around the tidal basin on Saturday, April 1st just a day after peak bloom began
Close-up view of one of the few red cherry trees in full bloom
Cherry trees in peak bloom
People walking along the Tidal Basin under the canopy of the cherry trees in full bloom.
Close-up view of a branch of one of the cherry trees during peak bloom