Japanese Stone Lantern in DC

Cherry Blossom Morning at DC’s Tidal Basin

Let’s make one thing clear: I am not a morning person. If I wake up before 6:30 am, it has to be for something pretty special. 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 or for an evening stroll. This year, I decided to go against my circadian rhythm and experience the blooms at dawn.

Bleary eyed and equipped with my camera and tripod, I set out to capture the 6:40 am sun rise over the cherry trees. I was worried I’d have to stake out a good spot, but was surprised to find parking easily and was joined by only a small handful of friendly photographers and early bird joggers. I found a great vantage point near the Martin Luther King (MLK) Memorial where I could peacefully observe both the Jefferson and Washington Memorials greet the day.

A morning time lapse video of the Tidal Basin in early April

At first I was disappointed that the overcast, dreary weather washed out any hint of a colorful sunrise and clear blue skies. But as I started shooting pictures, I realized that the gray skies only accentuated the delicate, pale beauty of the cherry blossoms – making me see the trees in a whole new, ethereal light. Plus the damp gray morning kept the hordes of visitors at bay. I spent the next couple of hours walking among the trees being a tourist, greeting the occasional passerby, befriending a swimming otter, and forgetting how early it still was. I guess what they say is true: the early bird gets the worm.

Washington Monument seen from FDR MemorialThe Washington Monument seen from the FDR MemorialYoshino cherry blossoms in Washington, DCYoshino cherry trees produce soft blossoms that loom over the Tidal Basin like cloudsThe Jefferson Memorial during cherry blossom seasonThe Jefferson Memorial from across the Tidal Basin

Japanese Pagoda in DC with cherry blossomsThe Japanese Pagoda was a gift dedicated by the mayor of Yokohama, Japan in 1958The Tiday Basing during cherry blossom season in Washington, DC       

Seven Tips to Enjoying the DC Cherry Blossoms
Read our seven tips to making your visit to the DC cherry blossoms more enjoyable and memorable: www.enroutetraveler.com/seven-tips-to-enjoying-the-dc-cherry-blossoms/

Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in DCIn 1912, Japan gifted 3,020 cherry trees to the U.S. for its National MallView of the Washington Memorial and cherry blossomsViews of the Washington Monument are best admired by the MLK MemorialDC's Memorial Bridge and Potomac RiverA serene view of Memorial Bridge can be viewed from the Potomac River across the street from the FDR Memorial

Tell us where you enjoy spending spring in the comments section below.

Lara Dalinsky
Lara Dalinsky

Lara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of exploring the world. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as the Art Director for the branding firm, Belmont Inc., in Alexandria, VA. In her spare time, she instructs high-energy Zumba dance classes, contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.

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