24 Hour or Less: Train Trip for the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival

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Day Trip - Washington, D.C.'s Cherry Blossom Festival

For a full itinerary, including a cost breakdown and travel tips, scroll to the bottom!

I haven’t experienced springtime in Paris, but after experiencing springtime in D.C., it will be pretty hard to beat.

That’s why each year, I follow National Park Service’s Bloom Watch updates, awaiting the trees to bloom pink and white, and truly mark the beginning of spring on the East Coast.

So when I heard the NPS announce the Cherry Blossom trees are at 70 percent bloom, we skipped off from work early, grabbed our bags and hopped on the Marc Train to see the cotton candy trees.

After an hour trip, we arrived at Penn Station, and this train station is a sight itself in D.C. We headed to Shake Shack to grab some dinner to-go, and then made our walk to the Tidal Basin.

Which, did you know cherry blossoms only last a period of two weeks from initial bloom? The clock is ticking!

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Quick tip: There aren’t a lot of food options once you hit The Mall, National Monument and Tidal Basin area. Be prepared with snacks to avoid the hangries!

Our walk had me stopping at every tree with blooms, with my fiancé pulling me along the way to ensure we didn’t miss the sunset.

But can you blame me? The trees are so pretty! Clouds of pink and white hung over us throughout most of our walk.

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We worked our way down The Mall and towards National Monument. The monument is grand by itself, but look at it with those blossoms!  

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After getting our fill, we veered left towards the Tidal Basin. It paid off to go on a weekday - the crowds were minimal, which means we could take in the scenic beauty that much more.

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As you can see, you can never take enough photos. But, it’s also important to put the camera down, and enjoy the views.

Quick tip: It got cold and windy fast. Check the weather, because on the East Coast, what can be a beautiful day can turn into a chilly evening. Come prepared with gloves and a jacket!

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After the sunset, we had some time before the last train back home, so we made our way through the streets to our destination, Denson's Liquor Bar.  

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Marked by street lamps, take the steps downstairs to enjoy this intimate speakeasy. With cozy booths, dim lights and craft cocktails, it’s the perfect place to enjoy your evening and raise a glass to our time in D.C.

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Never experienced D.C.? Here are my top tips and a cost breakdown to give you a better idea when planning!

Best Time to See the Trees

For the past couple of years, April has been the best time to see these trees, but be sure to watch for updates from NPS. Plan accordingly!

Where to Enjoy the Trees (with minimal crowds)

If you go during the Cherry Blossom Festival or on a weekend, the crowds can be fairly heavy. If you are looking to enjoy a few cherry blossom trees without the crowds, go behind Jefferson Memorial and there will be a narrow path that takes you to a small section of trees. Here’s where the flowers are plenty and the crowds are few.

What To Wear

For the two times we went, we had two days of different weather: Day 1 was beautiful, sunny and 75. Day 2, cold, cloudy at 45. You never know what weather to expect on the East Coast, so sometimes you have to pack for it all! I tried to put together the list of essentials, but warning, I dressed for comfort, not a fashion show.

Comfy Shoes

To see all the blossoms and monuments requires a lot of walking. I wore my Antonio Melani boots -  incredibly comfortable (and my go-to sight-seeing boots)! My fiancé chose to wear his classic Vans. 

Layers

Weather shifts quickly, and what was a beautiful afternoon turned into a chilly evening. Watch the weather and bring layers to adjust. I brought my North Face Jacket - it’s easy to pack and has two layers (one with cozy fleece). I linked to a few favorites along with ideas for the men as well.

What to Pack

Snacks & Water: There aren’t a lot of restaurants or foods stands in the area so pack appropriately. If you go during peak for cherry blossoms, especially during the festival, the crowds can be very heavy. Lines get long at the food trucks - Don’t waste your time waiting in lines and come prepared.  

Sunscreen: Long days in D.C. without sunscreen leads to regret (trust me, I learned from experience)

Light blanket (if you plan to picnic!)

Portable charger (with all the photos we took, our batteries began to dwindle fast)

Jacket & Gloves: Watch the weather - April can still be cold in D.C., so bring a jacket and gloves just in case.  

Large Tote/Backpack: Make life easy by packing all the essentials in backpack to keep things organized (or a large tote if that’s your preference). Personally, I like having a backpack to distribute the weight for the long walks.

Cost Breakdown

To help give you an idea of what our evening in D.C. cost, here’s a quick breakdown.

Total: $80    Trip Duration: 8 hours

Train Ticket = $32 (16 per person, roundtrip to Baltimore)

Dinner for two (aka Shakeshack) = $20

Cocktails for two = $30