Early April 2018, we took the flight from LAX to DCA, Washington DC for RWDevCon 2018, a conference for iOS developers. Luckily, we were right at the peak of the famous Cherry Blossom in Washington DC that drew millions of people here every year! The spectacular Cherry Blossom had been on my checklist for a long time, and I was nervous when they predicted that the peak would be on March 27, about a week before our arrival. However, due to the cold weather, the peak got delayed until our first day of the trip so we were ones of those lucky enough to see the awesome blossom!
Where to see Cherry Blossom?
Late March to Early April is the best time to see Cherry Blossom in Washington DC and you can see lots of cherry trees bloom along the streets all over the city. However, the view would be more spectacular near Tidal Basin, a man-made reservoir near the National Mall. There are about 3000 cherry trees, a gift from Tokyo in 1912 to Washington DC, and peak bloom is when 70% of the Yoshino variety blossoms are open on the cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin.
Besides Tidal Basin, there are lots of cherry trees along the streets around the Capital. You can find some varieties of the cherry trees like pink blossoms of Kwanzan trees lining the road along the driving range in East Potomac Park, to white blossoms of Yoshino in Tidal Basin.
It was nearly impossible to find a parking spot in Washington DC. As residents from Southern California, we found it better to have a car so we rented a car at the airport. Oh well, it was a big mistake! Driving from Alexandria took us about 30 minutes to DC, about the same time with the Metro. In addition, we couldn’t find anywhere to park, so we drove around for an hour at 6AM to find street parking, but there were unfortunately lots of cars parked on the streets, and many parking lots were closed for no good reasons!
After driving for an hour, we found some parking at East Potomac Park. You cannot park here before 8AM, so we were lucky to find plenty spots here 15 minutes before 8AM. We walked around the driving range in the morning, breathed in some fresh air, and enjoyed the beauty of the cherry blossom. From here, you can see Washington Memorial from afar. If you find some parking spot here, there’s a Circulator Bus that serves as a de facto parking shuttle. The fare is $1/person each way. There is also a restroom on the east side of the driving range.
In the afternoon, we came back to DC for some sunset pictures but we got stuck in traffic for 30 minutes near the National Mall. We couldn’t find any street parking either, and most of the public parking garages were completely full. We found an available parking garage at Federal Parking, the same building with the Museum of the Bible, which charged us $20/day for parking!
We have been road-tripping to many states in the US, and Washington DC was the most horrible experience that we have ever had in the US! We saw cars that got into the wrong direction, nearly ran over tourists crossing the street even though they had the right of way (including us), or blocked the intersections because there were no FREAKING lanes to turn left or wait! Honestly, I was disappointed with the infrastructure of the Capitol of the US! Drivers in Orange County usually yield for others but we couldn’t find anyone that were nice in Washington DC. Be careful to cross the street here as you could be run over by some crazy drivers here.
Besides bad driving, DC was very noisy with people honking at each other. I thought that LA drivers were crazy, but definitely not as crazy as those we found in DC. I don’t know how stressful it is working for the government, but driving here must drive people mad!
Too many Tourists
As a tourist, I don’t really like too many tourists. I mean I should have some space with other tourists, and we should be able to park our car. It’s Ok to travel and take pictures and enjoy the scenes, but too many at once will just destroy the enjoyment. The crowd in the afternoon at Tidal Basin and around National Mall made me feel that way too. Too many people took up space for selfie and pushed others around. It took us a long time to find a good spot among thousands of tourists around Tidal Basin; but one particular photographer asked us to move because he would like to take our spot! We have been to many places in the US, taking thousands of pictures and we are always thoughtful of other photographers, so we don’t want others to wait for us or be in others’ photos. However, the spot we chose was not even special or taking up places. There were thousands of trees and he could definitely stand right next to us but no, it must be my spot…
We were lucky that the weather was pretty pleasant when we walked around. It was about 50-60F so wearing a big coat like me warmed up quickly. In the morning, it was about 20-30F so my hands were nearly numb without gloves. I’d recommend to bring warm clothes as the weather might be really cold here in early April.
Overall, the trip was Ok. I finally experienced the famous Cherry Blossom in Washington DC, and saw famous buildings like the White House, or Capitol Hills. There are places that I’d love to go back again and again. Do I want to come back to Washington DC? Not really.