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The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, America’s greatest springtime celebration, is set for March 20 to April 15 just across the Potomac River from Arlington in Washington, D.C.
This year's festivities include the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade® on April 14, the Blossom Kite Festival on the Washington Monument grounds on March 31, and Petalpalooza at The Wharf on April 7. Here in Arlington, travelers can stay just minutes from festival activities while enjoying hotel rates that average 20 percent less than those in downtown Washington, D.C.
Witnessing the cherry blossoms in bloom around the D.C. area is one of those bucket list items for many people, something they know they have to do. And when we say many people, we mean many people: It’s a natural wonder that attracts 1.5 million visitors annually.
It definitely can get crowded around the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin in D.C., the most well-known area for viewing the capital’s cherry blossoms. By making an Arlington hotel your home base for a visit, you can easily venture back and forth from festival events, and even catch glimpses of the Tidal Basin from sites like Arlington House and Gravelly Point.
Yes, you can enjoy all the fun of being amidst the lovely puffs of white and pink giving the area its unforgettable look without the crowds: Stroll or bike along the Arlington and Alexandria banks of the Potomac River on the Mount Vernon Trail, view blooming trees and even catch a glimpse of those famous cherry blossoms across the river.
Better yet – explore Arlington outdoors by connecting to the “Arlington Loop,” a trail route created by Bike Arlington that provides a map connecting four regional trails. If you need a bicycle, stop by any of the 92 Capital BikeShare stations found throughout Arlington and purchase a day pass. Another opportunity for some outdoor adventure is exploring deep in the woods of Potomac Overlook Regional Park, with 70 acres of woods, trails and educational gardens. For the off-the-beaten-path view of the cherry blossom trees, head to Arlington National Cemetery.
The National Park Service’s Bloom Watch tracks how the buds are doing on the way to bloom, and they are blooming earlier and earlier each year due to climate change, according to the National Park Service and research by the Smithsonian Institution.
Besides natural beauty, the buds are an enduring symbol of international friendship. The original trees were a gift of Japan to the United States in 1912.
Author: Kathleen Murphy