National Cherry Blossom Festival

Peak bloom was declared two days ago by the National Park Service, a few days earlier than anticipated due to warmer than usual temperatures in the region. Due to the ongoing pandemic, none of the usual festival events are taking place this year. We arrived in the morning a bit after sunrise today and ended up spending a long time trying to find parking. Luckily, despite the parking challenges, the Tidal Basin wasn’t very busy at all. And we were pleased to discover that despite recent high winds and heavy rains, the cherry blossoms haven’t been impacted at all!

These distant cherry blossom scenes are quite familiar, but there is one key difference – the lack of crowds! Typically, the area is packed! Today, there were very few people with plenty of space to move around. We ended up spending awhile walking around and enjoying the beautiful views. Quite different from last year when we stayed for a very brief time. Last year, shortly after our visit, the Tidal Basin was closed due to hordes of visitors.

The Washington Monument is one of the most visible monuments in DC as it towers above everything else in the city. Normally, we would venture to the cherry trees closer to its base but we did not today. Instead, we enjoyed viewing the monument from the Tidal Basin.

The Jefferson Memorial is located at the edge of the Tidal Basin. Normally, it is packed with visitors. This year, it appeared nearly empty as work continues to clean and renovate the structure. The dome already looks amazing – so clean! Here, it forms the blurred background of this close up photo of some cherry blossoms.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is one of the newer memorials by the Tidal Basin. We got some nice far away views of the statue surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms! Visibility of the statue definitely varies quite a bit depending on location though. Often, only the very top of the granite block can be seen.

This stately structure overlooking the Tidal Basin is Arlington House, something that we did not know until today. This building was constructed by a step-descendent of George Washington. It served as a home, a memorial to George Washington, Robert E. Lee’s house, and now a memorial to Lee operated by the NPS. Their website notes that the memorial “honors him for specific reasons.” Quite a bit of history in this structure that we only know because we noticed it in this photo!

We also enjoyed looking at the cherry blossoms from up close. They look very small and delicate but have survived some recent nasty weather! The small bunches of flowers that seem to sprout directly from thick trunks and branches are also quite beautiful to see.

While the majority of the cherry trees by the Tidal Basin yield white and light pink flowers, there are a few that grow pink flowers that are richer and bolder in color! These trees are quite a sight to behold! And very special as there are very few of them.