Tuesday, February 28, 2017

5 best places to take photos of Washington DCs cherry blossoms

Spring in Washington D.C. is synonymous with cherry blossoms. Every year locals and visitors alike flock downtown to see these magnificent blooms. Often coinciding with spring break, in my experience, it’s the busiest time of the year. 

Many people come not only to see the gorgeous views, but to take photographs of these incredible trees. (More than 3,000 of them are here!) Here are some of the best places I’ve found to take photos:

1. Tidal Basin

This probably goes without saying because, if you’re on the path walking around the Tidal Basin, you’re going to get some nice photos from almost every angle. If time permits, I recommend setting enough time aside to walk the entire path. 

You’ll get different angles and views. It's tempting to hang around other spots (Washington Monument and also along Maine Avenue) that have lots of trees as you travel closer to the Tidal Basin, but it's really worth it to make sure you go all the way down and see the real deal.

2. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Several angles near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial offer opportunities to take some nice photos of the monument with the blossoms it. Another reason I like this spot is right before you arrive at the monument (if you are walking from the festival area) is that the fallen petals start to collect in the basin and you can get some pretty shots here. 

3. Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial is a popular spot with many people. It’s a great place to sit and take in the views. For photography, you can see the entire basin and take the distant shots that show the full scope of the magnificent trees. After sitting on the steps, you can get close up and personal with some trees. In this area is a dark pink tree that I usually like to take some shots of because there are fewer of these around the Basin, the majority of them are light pinks and whites. 

4. Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

Another spot where you can get some nice shots is by the FDR Memorial. I like to try to capture the Washington Monument with its reflection in the water with the surrounding cherry blossoms.

Additionally, some wonderful opportunities present themselves for close-ups and other angles. Once you pass the FDR Memorial and continue around the basin (walking towards the Jefferson Memorial), there are some “sweet spots” here. As you get closer to where you need to cross Ohio Dr. SW to get to the Jefferson Memorial you can get real close and personal with the blossoms and frame the Jefferson Memorial (and its reflection) with flowers. 

5. Independence Ave. SW

I’ll be honest, I had to look this up on the map in order to try to direct to the right spot since I rarely drive in this area. Independence Ave. SW runs through (in a circle) and basically cuts off a small part of the Tidal Basin. It’s not an unknown spot, but you can typically get some lovely angles away from the crowds, along with the gorgeous reflections there are to see. 

6. Bonus shots

It is common for other flowers come into bloom at the same time as the cherries in the DC region. Over by the George Mason Memorial, the blend of pink magnolias and yellow forsythias are truly gorgeous. Also, the National Park Service (NPS) has a pretty tulip garden between the Tidal Basin and the center of the National Mall. Sometimes the tulips aren’t ready yet, but there are some years they are out in full bloom. 

If you go to see the cherry blossoms on the weekend, it’ll be harder to get clear shots because of the heavier crowds that tend to visit. If possible and fits into your schedule, see if you can go on a weekday instead. I have gone down on the weekend and experienced chaos just trying to get on a train and once there, it’s sometimes difficult to move around. 

Being local, I always try to head down on a weekday for a few hours. It’s still typically busy, but I’m usually able to get some good shots. I tend to get downtown around 10:30-11 a.m. (after morning rush I’ll hop a Metro) and stay for a few hours. However, I’ve also gotten downtown around 4 p.m. and stayed through until sunset.