National Cherry Blossom Festival 2023

We arrived at the Tidal Basin for what turned out to be ideal cherry blossom weather! The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and it was a warm Spring day! The cherry trees were at peak bloom and didn’t seem to be impacted at all by the rain the previous two days.

While there are plenty of ways to get to the Tidal Basin, we often come from the National Mall. The first cherry trees that we saw were the ones around the National Monument.

One of the best places for morning views of the cherry blossoms with the National Monument towering above is the southeast corner, right by the bathrooms! There is a steep slope that leads up to the road here with the bathroom structure down below. This slope provides an elevated view of the cherry trees so that you’re viewing them from the side rather than below.

Of course, we took many close up photos of the cherry blossoms!

Peak bloom is defined by the National Park Service as when 70% of the Yoshino cherry trees are in bloom. Of course, some trees will bloom earlier and some will bloom later. There are also other species though we don’t know how to differentiate them. Casey Trees, a DC nonprofit, does have a map that identifies some individual trees. This particular tree has started to lose its petals. The vast majority of the trees haven’t really started to drop their petals though.

The Washington Monument provides a familiar subject to be framed by cherry blossoms!

Very pretty!

Upon reaching the Tidal Basin, we saw that nearly all the paddle boats were out and about. We overheard that there was a 2 hour wait to get one!

It is typically extremely busy on weekends during cherry blossom season but it seemed particularly busy today!

The Air Force Memorial, located on the far side of the Pentagon, is visible above the trees on the opposite side of the Tidal Basin.

Generally, when the cherry blossoms first come out, the cherry tree’s leaves haven’t come out yet. This tree was showing a few leaves though!

While the majority of the trees display white petals, a few keep a pinkish hue.

Always on the lookout for a scene involving the Washington Monument!

One of the pinker trees in the background with an out of focus tree with white petals in the foreground.

The Jefferson Memorial can be more difficult to nicely frame with cherry blossoms. It still looks quite nice with its cleaned dome!

The Jefferson Memorial again, this time with pinker blossoms in the foreground.

The Martin Luther King Memorial is about the same height as the surrounding cherry trees. He can be easily seen from the opposite side of the Tidal Basin.

This particular tree was very pink!

A very pretty scene!

Helicopters flying here and there are a very normal occurrence here in DC. We saw this particular VH-92 fly over the Tidal Basin at least twice.

It was very busy everywhere. There were tons of people around us and we could see tons of people on the opposite side of the Tidal Basin.

More pink!

Sometimes, the cherry trees almost touch the water!

This Japanese Stone Lantern was in a pretty busy spot. We photographed over the people to get a view of its top surrounded by cherry blossoms.

The Washington Monument from the east side of the Martin Luther King Memorial. Many non-cherry trees have started to sprout their green leaves. It definitely felt like spring with all the flowers and greenery!

Martin Luther King framed by cherry blossoms.

The area around the Martin Luther King Memorial provides some beautiful views of the Washington Monument on the other side of the Tidal Basin with cherry trees by the water. The smaller tower to the left of the Washington Monument is the Old Post Office Tower. It is the second tallest building in the downtown DC area, and 3rd tallest building in DC overall.

Kite flying is a popular activity on the Mall and around the National Monument. There was also a kite festival today!

Another pretty cherry blossom scene!

This particular tree seems like a cherry tree from a distance but is something else.

The Tidal Basin is big enough that wind often creates small waves on its surface. It can be like glass but only under ideal conditions. Another way to get that glassy reflective surface is with pools of water on the path surrounding the basin. There were quite a few pools of water today in the section near the FDR Memorial.

Some of the pooled water was due to flooding. This section of the path was underwater and thus had little waves.

There was a nice patch of cherry blossom petals near this flooded section of the path.

Still, quite quite a nice view even without a glassy surface!

Once again, the National Monument and many cherry blossoms.

There are less cherry trees in the area to the west of the Jefferson Memorial. We’ve photographed this particular cherry tree a few times now. Its base was underwater today. In the past, this tree didn’t get much attention as people tend to walk right by it. But today, there were a few people photographing it.

We could see the very busy Martin Luther King memorial on the other side of the Tidal Basin. The Lincoln Memorial is visible in the background.

The National Monument towers over everything!

Another very pink tree.

The view always changes depending on your location. Here, we can see Arlington, VA, behind the Martin Luther King Memorial.

We’ve almost walked a complete loop!

After reaching where we started, by the paddle boat dock, we headed back to the National Mall and walked to the east. This particular section of the mall was closed to allow the grass to grow back.

In the opposite direction, facing the Capitol, we could see many kites and tons of people!

This particular owl kite was having trouble taking off. We got a few photos of it with one of the few cherry trees by the mall.

After taking a break to have lunch, we headed back towards the Tidal Basin in anticipation of sunset.

This time, we decided to approach via the west side of the National Monument. The sun sets in the west so anything to the east will be illuminated by the sun’s light.

There are many cherry trees here. We normally don’t walk by this area though!

We walked to the FDR Memorial where we saw flooding earlier in the day. The tide was lower and there was less water on the path. But we did see some nice pools of water! There were also significantly less cherry blossom petals in the pools.

While there was wind throughout much of the day, it was much calmer around sunset. The Tidal Basin was relatively still and reflected nicely.

The sun wasn’t quite where we thought it would be relative to the north side of the Tidal Basin. Unfortunately, the trees at the base of the Tidal Basin were in shadow. We did get a nice glow from the east side of the Tidal Basin though!

Most of the cherry trees around us were in the shadow of other trees and structures. But some light did get through.

The light at sunset is very different from during the day.

The pink flowers were quite pretty in this light.

We normally photograph a few cherry blossom clusters that are growing out of cherry tree trunks. But we didn’t today until this one!

By now, it was much darker though the tall National Monument was still fully glowing. We were hoping the foreground would still be illuminated but the actual geometry of the Tidal Basin was not what we were thinking! Oops. Probably should have verified where the sun would be!

The Jefferson Memorial looked very nice at sunset. Its so clean!

The last of the evening glow as the sun was about to go down below the horizon.

We came across this very nice example of a cherry tree with pink blossoms and another white the more common white color.

We walked back via the National Monument. It is illuminated by large spotlights both far away and at its base.

Quite a bit of repair work was done after the earthquake in 2011. There are some stone blocks that seem to have been completely replaced. Others have been patched up. And of course, there is always constant maintenance. It seems likely that the stone that is lighter in color represents more recent repairs?

A closer look at one side of the monument.

We finished the day with this view of the National Monument piercing the moon!

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