Packed Suitcase | My Love Affair with the Cherry Blossoms in DC
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My Love Affair with the Cherry Blossoms in DC

My Love Affair with the Cherry Blossoms in DC

Last Thursday, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. Unable to sleep as morning’s light began to steadily peek through the slats in my Venetian blinds, I tossed and turned for another hour before I realized the source of my restlessness: Flowers.

Specifically, I was being kept awake by the tempting thoughts of the cherry blossoms in DC, which at that very moment were emerging in peak form just a few miles from where I was attempting to sleep.

Cherry Blossoms in DC- close up of blossoms

I wavered for a bit, but finally a force more powerful than the desire to sleep prevailed.

Aw, screw it,” I said to myself out loud. With that, I jumped out of my cozy, inviting bed a full hour before my alarm was set to go off. If ever there was a motivating factor to speed up my typically sluggish morning routine, it was the sun rising higher and higher in the sky. Every minute that I dawdled was one minute that I’d miss morning’s glorious “golden hour.”

I was out the door and into an awaiting Uber within 15 minutes. The destination? The Tidal Basin near the MLK Memorial. The perfect spot to experience DC’s cherry blossom beauty.

I’m not sure what it is, but the Tidal Basin’s trees (a 1912 gift from the people of Japan) have always held a certain allure with my family. It began with my grandfather, who instilled an appreciation in them with my mother, who then passed the obsession down to me. Three generations of flower-loving photographers, to whom no spring is complete without a visit.

Cherry Blossoms in DC- mom as a child

My grandfather, grandmother, uncle and my mom at the cherry blossoms

Cherry Blossoms in DC- grandfather taking photos

My grandfather, assuming the position

As a child and throughout my teenage years, my mom — who would never let me stay home sick from school unless I was near death — would actually have me “stay home sick” one day each year while the blossoms were peaking so we could have our annual pilgrimage to see the trees in full bloom. It became a tradition that I would eagerly look forward to year after year.

As an adult, I’ve continued the tradition. I’ve seen the blossoms by limo, at sunset and even on the way to the airport as I embarked on a month-long trip to backpack around New Zealand. But until last Thursday, I’d never seen the district’s cherry blossoms at sunrise.

At the risk of sounding cliché, I have to say that witnessing the blossoms under the morning’s soft light was a bit magical. There were very few people (which was a treat in itself), and the few people that were there were equally enchanted. You could practically feel the happy energy radiating off of the crowd.

After an hour of wandering amongst the trees, it was time for me to head into work. A fleeting moment, but one that I’ll remember always.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my morning visit to the cherry blossoms in DC:

Cherry Blossoms in DC- blossoms to yourself

My first morning glimpse of the cherry blossoms


Cherry Blossoms in DC- Framed Jefferson Memorial- dawn

The Jefferson Memorial at dawn


Cherry Blossoms in DC- Washington Monument in the distance

I love how this photo turned out, with the out-of-focus Washington Monument in the background


Cherry Blossoms in DC- blossoms to yourself 2

With so few crowds, it felt as though you had the blossoms to yourself


Cherry Blossoms in DC- Tidal Basin Reflections

On this morning, the water was glassy and still… perfect for taking blossom reflection shots


Cherry Blossoms in DC- bicyclist taking photo

Typically, biking around the Tidal Basin this time of year is impossible. But if you go early enough, you can even stop and take some photos without feeling as though you’re in the way of pedestrian traffic.


Cherry Blossoms in DC- blossoms to yourself 2


Cherry Blossoms in DC- the Heart tree 2

This cherry tree is feeling the love, too!


Cherry Blossoms in DC- close up of blossom on tree

These little sprouts always have charmed me. This year was no exception.


Cherry Blossoms in DC- selfie

Couldn’t resist taking a cherry blossom selfie to capture the moment



  • Heather
    Posted at 11:46h, 18 April

    I love that your mom made you stay home sick so you could see the blossoms together 🙂

  • Amanda
    Posted at 16:53h, 18 April

    Gah, your images are gorgeous! I tried to see the blossoms in DC last year, but unfortunately they bloomed late and we missed them. I would love to see the Tidal Basin in full bloom for myself someday, though!

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica
    Posted at 14:23h, 30 April


  • Diane
    Posted at 08:34h, 20 June

    From 2000-2004 we lived between DC and Baltimore, and although we would get to DC at least once a year, it was never during the Cherry Blossom week. Still want to do that sometime because it’s just too gorgeous not to. xox

  • Megan Ramey
    Posted at 13:41h, 14 April

    Hi Heather – the picture of the women biking is amazing! Do you mind if I use it for my website,, which is free for the user?

    Also, here’s our Washington city guide –