A Local’s Guide to Visiting the Washington, DC Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossom season in Washington, DC is a much anticipated time in the nation’s capital signifying the start of spring. The cherry blossoms are one of the biggest tourist attraction to the nation’s capital with over 1.5 million visitors.

Every year, the National Park Service predicts the much anticipated “peak bloom,” which is the period when 70% of cherry blossoms flower along the Tidal Basin. NPS has updated information for the latest. Peak bloom varies annually depending on weather conditions. The most likely time to reach peak bloom is between the last week of March and the first week of April, but if you visit DC outside this time frame, you may still catch sight of blossoms around the city. With self-guided walks to admire the blossoms up close plus lots of related events throughout the capital, cherry blossom season in DC will be sure to capture your heart.

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Planning Ahead & Getting to the Blossoms

When it comes to one of the busiest times of years in DC, earlier is typically better (booking accommodations, visiting in the early morning, etc.). Plan accordingly!

The highest concentration of cherry blossom trees is along the Tidal Basin, which is a narrow path on the National Mall near the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. Given the high volume of tourists, walking is the least stressful if it is an option. Metro to the Smithsonian (blue/silver/orange lines) or L’Enfant (blue/silver/orange & green/yellow lines) stations or bus to West Basin Drive near Independence Avenue SW. Enter the Tidal Basin area path from anywhere. Keep in mind that the area by the MLK Memorial is typically the most crowded. Equally beautiful spots can be found on the opposite side of the basin near the Jefferson Memorial.

If you want to take a break from walking, hop in a paddle boat from Tidal Basin Paddle Boats (1501 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024) — see photo bombers in background below.

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Cherry Blossom Activities

The Cherry Blossom Festival is March 20 – April 12, 2020 and is full of events that honor both American and Japanese cultures. Highlights of the festival include the Blossom Kite Festival, which sees hundreds of kites take to the sky on the National Mall, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, and Petalpalooza.

In addition to the official festival, there are lots of other special events and drink and food specials around town to celebrate. One of our favorite cherry blossom related experiences is the seasonal exhibit at Artechouse, an art space displaying interactive technology. Bonus: sip on a creatively themed drink at their augmented reality bar. Restaurants and bars will also be getting in on the fun with themed food, drinks, and decor.

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Etiquette

DO NOT TOUCH THE BLOSSOMS. Really, please don’t. The flowers are very delicate and only last for a short time. The blooms die a lot faster when people touch them. You may see others touching the blossoms or branches, but please be respectful and do not touch so that others can continue to enjoy. OK, we’re done.

It will be crowded throughout the city and especially near the cherry blossom trees, so be courteous and mindful as you snap photos away to your heart’s content!

Fun facts about Washington, DC’s cherry blossoms

  • The first donation of 2,000 trees, received in 1910, was burned on orders from President William Howard Taft. Insects and disease had infested the gift, but after hearing about the plight of the first batch, the Japanese mayor sent another 3,020 trees to DC two years later.
  • First Lady Helen Herron Taft planted the first tree in West Potomac Park. Many First Ladies, including Mamie Eisenhower, Lady Bird Johnson, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, have officially commemorated the blossoms. On March 27, 2012, Michelle Obama took up the cause by planting a cherry tree to mark the centennial of the blossoms.
  • One of the earliest recorded peak blooms occurred on March 15, 1990, while the latest recorded peak bloom occurred on April 18, 1958.
  • The majority of the cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin are of the Yoshino variety. But another species, the Kwanzan, usually blooms two weeks after the Yoshino trees, giving visitors a second chance to catch the blossoms.

Tell us what you think? Any other questions about the DC Cherry Blossom Festival or visiting DC in general? Leave us a comment!

The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Boulder, Colorado

Boulder has a college-town meets low-key mountain vibe. With a pedestrian-only main street, plenty of coffee shops and breweries, and surrounding natural beauty, it is easy to fall in love with. Boulder is one of those places that has something for everyone!

What to Do

Take a hike. The Flatirons are a fantastic hiking option for any age and any level. Start at the Chautauqua Park, which has a small parking lot and starts off relatively flat, and pick your trail as you ascend.

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Or drive or hike up Flagstaff Mountain (roundtrip 3 miles beginning near Gregory Canyon Trailhead) to reach Artist Point. Enjoy aerial views of the town, Continental Divide, Rockies, and foothills. For those looking for more challenging hikes, Royal Arch Trail and Mount Sanitas and Sanitas Valley Loop Trial are harder. Check out AllTrails for more detailed hiking information.

Looking for other things to do out West? See our guide for Jackson Hole, skiing Taos, and why you should visit Yellowstone

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Explore town. Wander in and out of shops on the main pedestrian street through central Boulder. From mountain-chic apparel to local artisan goods, throwback posters, and books, there’s something for everyone.

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One of our favorite shops we explored was the Savannah Bee Company. The store with floor to ceiling displays of packaged honey offers free tastings of their varieties. Visitors aged 21+ can also do an informative mead tasting of 6 samples.

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Catch a college football game. Imagine breathtaking views of the mountains in the backdrop of a Division I Pac-12 stadium. Fans are friendly, beer is sold inside the stadium, and the Buff’s mascot Ralphie the Buffalo charges the field at the start of the game and halftime. What more could you ask for?

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Pick up something unique at the farmers market. Taking place every Saturday in Central Park from April through November. Stroll through the stalls of local vendors offering plants, produce, crafts, and eats. You never know what treasures you’ll find!

Sample local breweries. West Flanders has a wide selection of craft beers that we were impressed with. Other local breweries include Boulder Beer Co., VisionQuest Brewing, Sanitas Brewing Co., The Post Brewing Co., Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, Twisted Pine Brewing Co., and many more.

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Where to Eat 

Boxcar Coffee Roasters. Custom brewed coffee in a quaint setting. The large space is shared with other vendors selling artisan food products, locally-sourced cheese, fresh bread, charcuterie, and wine. We ordered lattes to wash down Mexican dark chocolate and a massive cheese plate with sliced baguette – it was heavenly!

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The Laughing Goat. Cozy local coffeeshop feel with live music and big servings of coffee and espresso drinks. Great place to relax, socialize, or get work done, as long as you can mentally block out the buzz of activity.

Dushanbe Teahouse. This famous teahouse was a gift to the city from Tajikistan and was shipped and assembled piece by piece at its current location on Pearl Street. The interior is colorful and captivating and so worth the visit, as if the food and tea weren’t enough. Come for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or tea time, and make a reservation ahead of time — this spot gets packed with hour-long wait times or more. If you do get stuck with a wait, wander Central Park and the scenic Boulder Creek that runs through.

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The Mediterranean. One of the most popular spots in Boulder, “the Med” serves up top notch lunch, dinner, and tapas during a regular and late-night happy hour. Great accommodation for large groups too. We personally recommend splitting some tapas and digging into a pizza or paella.

Pasta Jay’s. If you’re looking for no-fuss classic Italian cuisine, this is the spot for you. Popular with the locals and student crowd, Pasta Jay’s dishes up reasonably priced Italian dishes in generous portions.

Where to Stay 

We recommend staying in an Airbnb or hotel near Pearl Street to be close to a lot of the action with easy access to shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.

Or stay in a nearby charming little mountain town. We stayed in Louisville (pronounced LOUIS-VILLE with an audible “S”), a short 20 minute drive from Boulder, and absolutely loved it! Main Street was packed with cool cafes, restaurants, and shops, and nearby local parks offered views of the distant mountains. We almost just wanted to stay put right there.

Planning the Perfect Trip to Yellowstone

Morning steam rising from thermal features, an erupting geyser in the distance. Bison herds grazing across the plain. The occasional bear lumbering in the woods, pawing through fallen logs for insects. Cascading waterfalls plunging into a rising, hissing fog. Yellowstone is a magical place, full of beauty, wonder, and wildlife. There’s nothing like visiting this national treasure. Follow these tips to plan your Yellowstone trip like a pro.

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Decide how to get there.

Whether you’re driving your own vehicle, renting one, or going with a tour group, this will be a huge factor in what you will be able to do or see in Yellowstone. Driving yourself will allow more freedom to make stops and detours as you please, while going with a group organized by a tour company allows you to relax and absorb your surroundings.

Go off grid.

Cell service is very limited in Yellowstone, so plan ahead to ensure you have what you need while in the park. Download the Yellowstone map and new app ahead of time as well as anything else you may need to access. Before arriving, in the app, select the “Settings” option and tap the choice “Download Offline Content” in order to access most of the app’s features while out of service range. Lastly, pick up a hard copy of the map for free at a park entrance or any visitor center for back up. Visitor centers typically also have some cell signal and pay phones. 

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Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

Plan ahead.

If you want to overnight in Yellowstone at one of the lodging options, plan to make a reservation at least a year in advance. Even campsites quickly fill up. If you are having trouble finding availability, check back daily, as people frequently cancel reservations as plans change, or consider doing a long, full day and staying outside the park near one of the five entry points where there are more accommodation options.

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Pack a picnic.

While there are some nice places to eat in the park, they can be crowded and eat into your time that could be otherwise spent exploring. There are plenty of picnic areas located throughout the park where you can pull off and enjoy a homemade lunch or snack along a beautiful river or overlook.

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Photo by Lucie Capkova on Unsplash

Look for wildlife along the way.

Part of the fun of exploring Yellowstone is the opportunities for wildlife sightings. Keep a sharp lookout for bears, bison, elk, and more throughout the drive, especially in the middle and north parts of the park. Early morning and evening are prime animal-viewing hours. Remember to keep a safe distance from all animals, even if they appear docile. The National Park Service asks visitors to keep 100 yards between themselves and bears and wolves and at least 25 yards for everything else.

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Consider human and wildlife traffic.

These can create delays in your itinerary. While ambitious travelers could feasibly drive the entire loop in one day, it is a very long day of driving, and these unexpected traffic jams can add delays to your trip.


Have more questions? Comment below and we’ll be happy to reply!

Top Photo Ops in Marfa, Texas

A tiny blip on the radar, Marfa is a far West Texas town turned cultural art mecca. Getting there won’t be easy though — the nearest airports are located in El Paso and Midland and are both about 3 hours away — but we promise the extra effort will be worth it! In this tiny West Texas town, there’s a Gram-worthy photo around practically every corner that is sure to elicit jealousy from friends. Here are our top photo op picks and things to do in Marfa.

The Paisano Hotel

The historic Paisano Hotel has old world charm, so its no wonder the film stars of the movie epic Giant, including Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean chose to stay here when filming nearby. The hotel courtyard offers a tranquil relaxation spot, and the bubbling fountain makes you almost forget you’re in the west Texas desert. Step inside the lobby to view photography on exhibit from the making of the film epic Giant. Bonus: Grab a super cheap and delicious breakfast burrito served up at the hotel restaurant in the am for just $5.

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Presidio County Courthouse

The charming pink building is nestled at the end of Marfa’s main street and can be seen from almost any spot in town. The view from the top of the courthouse tower is phenomenal, especially if you get up early to catch it at sunrise.

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Prada Marfa

The surreal Prada Marfa shop is a short 30 minute drive from Marfa through ranch land and desert. You’ve probably seen celebs like Rihanna pose in front of this false storefront, so why not snap a picture in front of it yourself? Plan to drive out in the evening to catch sunset for great lighting.

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El Cosmico campground

Just minutes from the heart of Marfa, El Cosmico campground offers visitors an eccentric glamping paradise. Stay overnight in colorful trailer homes, teepees or yurts. Communal spaces with hammocks and an outdoor kitchen give guests a chance to meet fellow travelers and exchange stories.

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Chinati Foundation

Renowned artist Donald Judd created larger than life installations in and around Marfa. The Chinati Foundation building in town exudes desert vibes with its dusty colored exterior. This converted building was formerly the Marfa Wool and Mohair Building in the center of town located just off the railroad tracks. Today, the building houses the installation of John Chamberlain’s 22 sculptures in painted and chromium-plated steel. Take a short trip out of town to visit more contemporary art installations that are part of the Chinati Foundation.

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Pure Joy Marfa tower

Located a few blocks off of the main street, this silo will remind you to find happiness in the little things.

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