- Travel Topics
This March 27th marked the 100th anniversary of the cherry blossoms. A gift of the Japanese to deepen the friendship between both nations, the 2000 trees line the perimeter of the Tidal Basin and are in full bloom in the spring. With the bloom difficult to predict precisely in advance the event planners try to coordinate the 2 week long celebration (this year extended to 5 weeks) around the peak time. Unfortunately due to a warm winter and high early spring temperatures the trees were in full bloom the week of March 24th, and shedding the blossoms the week after – the parade had already been set for April 14th. By now the tidal basin is simply decorated with lonestanding tree stalks.
Fortunately living in DC makes it easy to make a trip down to see the trees and this year Dave and I booked ourselves an hour long cherry blossom cruise to lazily float right past them and avoid the massive crowds of tourists and camera flashes. We went with Capitol River Cruises (purchased through a Living Social deal) but even without it the $14 adult ticket makes for an affordable weeknight activity.
The one hour long cruises leave from the Georgetown waterfront every hour on the hour 12-9pm (7pm in March), stocked with tables, chairs, snacks and a supply of beverages (albeit overpriced).
Gliding along the monuments lining the Potomac River a guide tape booms through the speakers sharing various historical and cultural facts about the sights and DC in general. In between bouts of daydreaming I did tune in to hear a memorable fun fact – in the first years of the Washington Monument men were entitled to a rickety 20 minute elevator ride, wine and cheese included, while women and children were to walk the 897 steps up.
Half way into the ride the boat turns around and is able to get you closer to the cherry blossoms (unable to enter the Tidal Basin since it’s a closed off pond) bringing prime picture taking opportunities.
Overall the fluffy whitish pink cherry blossoms in full bloom are an incredible sight, especially the cluster of them bundled together by the Tidal Basin. A must see if you happen to be in DC in the spring. Although walking around gets you closer to the trees themselves the cruise makes for a nice activity in the water away from the crowds. If you’re lucky enough maybe you’ll have the multidextorous captain we had – one who was able to steer the boat entirely with the use of his feet!
Capitol River Cruises depart from the Georgetown Waterfront – 31st and K St NW DC every hour on the hour from 12-9pm (April-October). Cruises run for 45 minutes. Tickets are $14 for adults, $7 for children and can be purchased at the boat or in advance on their website.
Cherry Blossoms normally are in full bloom at the end of March and can be best viewed by walking around the Tidal Basin.