Got the Shut-in Blues? Tips + Recommendations to Enjoy the Pink and White Cherry Blossoms While Also Practicing Social Distance
A continuing series about awesome social distance activities in DC to keep you entertained during the outbreak and inspired to keep daydreaming about your next adventure in the Nation's capital.
NOTE: Major streets and bridges around the National Mall will be closed on Monday to keep crowds away from the Tidal Basin and mitigate the spread of coronavirus. (March 22 @ 9:27pm)
If you need relief from the Coronavirus blues, take a break from self-isolation and take in the fluffy pink and white cherry blossoms, which will hit peak bloom March 21–24th.
There will still be crowds at the Tidal Basin, nothing like pre-Coronavirus levels, but there will still be a bunch of people photo-bombing your Jefferson Memorial pic.
Check out our tips to avoid the clusters of cherry blossom peepers and recommendations for alternative locations to enjoy bloom-watching while also practicing social distancing. If you do venture out to the Tidal Basin, or anywhere else during the Covid Crisis, be sure to follow safe distance precautions. Read on!
TIPS TO AVOID CROWDS AT THE TIDAL BASIN
1. Go early -- really early
If you want to beat all the bloom-watchers, arriving before 10 am is a must. Increase the odds of enjoying the blooms without a crush of people, strollers and bikes, by setting your alarm early; plan to arrive around 8am. I know *groan, *but having the elbow room to get fabulous shots of the cherry blossoms with the amazing light at sunrise is soo worth it.
2. ... Or go late at night
Another way to avoid the crowds of people at the Tidal Basin is to go at dusk or later. The flowers are just as beautiful at night, and the quiet atmosphere adds to the serenity of the setting. Hint: It’s also the perfect time for a romantic stroll with your boo:)
3. See the blooms at two icon memorials
Take a few steps from the stroller-blocked sidewalks along the Tidal Basin loop to view the cherry blooms on the grounds of the Martin Luther King, Jr. (which has 182 cherry trees on the grounds) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials. The foot-traffic is less congested and the views are simply stunning! Plus, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the blooms on the other side of the Basin. Get your camera ready to snap iconic pictures of the two memorials and the Jefferson Memorial across the water.
Or you could skip the Tidal Basin entirely and check out these alternative spots to enjoy solitude and quality time with nature.
ALTERNATIVE CHERRY BLOSSOM VIEWING SPOTS
1. Washington Monument
In honor of the centennial celebration, Japan gifted the city an additional 100 cherry blossoms that have been planted in groves around the Washington Monument which is a short walk from the Tidal Basin.
2. Lower Senate Park
There is a grouping of more than 100 cherry blossom trees lining the fountain and pathways in Lower Senate Park, which is located north of the Capitol Building. Most of the West Lawn of the Capitol also has a variety of Cherry Blossom trees so you’ll be able to get a great photo of the blooms up close surrounding the Capitol dome.
3. National Japanese American Memorial
Fittingly, the walls of the granite memorial, which commemorates the loyalty and patriotism of Japanese American veterans in World War II and remembers Japanese Americans held unlawfully in internment camps, are flanked by cherry trees. Quick history lesson: the plantings of the cherry trees at the Tidal Basin originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant.
4. US National Arboretum
One of the city’s best kept Cherry Blossom secrets is the US National Arboretum, which is one of our favorites! The U.S. National Arboretum covers its 446 acres and includes a collection of cherry trees, including some hybrid species bred by staff scientists. Fun fact: The cherry blossoms here are genetic cousins to the ones at the Tidal Basin. Cuttings of the original 1912 cherry blossom trees were taken by the Arboretum in order to preserve their genetic lineage. So trees are basically identical to the ones at the Tidal Basin, but you can enjoy them without all the crowds. And the former U.S. Capitol Columns in the background make an ideal Instagram moment.
5. American University
It's a little known secret that AU has an arboretum and is home to more than 75 different tree species, including the Korean Cherry. The trees were planted in 1943 outside of the old School of International Service, now renamed as the East Quad Building, blooming each year as a plaque testifying to the AU-Korean friendship.
6. Arlington National Cemetery
Besides being the hallowed ground to honor our fallen men and women, Arlington is also a level II arboretum. A fitting place for such beauty and serenity, a personal favorite is the Cherry Blossom tree along Crooks Walk, the set of stairs that connects Arlington House to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Last but not least, please do your part in helping to protect the city's cherry blossoms. We kindly remind you to look at the blossoms, but never pick them (it’s against the law).
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