My husband and I visited 4/5-8. This was my 5th trip to D.C. and I came specifically for the cherry blossoms. Changed my hotel reservations about 4 times.
We had a direct early morning flight from Louisville to BWI. We took a Lyft to our hotel, the Americana in Arlington, VA. At this time of day during the week, it wasn’t any faster than public transport but it was nice to just ride. $69 including tip. The return trip on Sunday evening was $77.82 but we tipped the guy more because he was so entertaining.
I’m an airline employee and can fly non-rev on Delta and Southwest. Southwest has direct flights from Louisville and had space available so that is why I chose BWI.
We used a combination of Uber/Lyft and Metro. I always checked both Uber and Lyft before requesting a ride because often times there was a significant price difference. Turns out we had 8 Uber rides and 8 Lyft rides and I had the same driver twice on Lyft (different location and time of day). He said that was a first for him. I used about $38 worth of Metro rides.
This was my second stay at the Americana Hotel. It’s nothing to look at at all from the outside but the rooms are clean, decent size and bed is comfortable. The bathrooms are dated but function. It’s close to the Crystal City Metro stop, restaurant choices and there is a Whole Foods down the block. The rooms all have mini-fridges which is a big plus for us. Best of all, they are very reasonably priced with friendly service. If they have spare Metro cards they will let you use one during your stay.
As I mentioned, I’ve been here before and have done and seen a lot of the most popular attractions more than once. I normally make a detailed plan but this time, we just winged it based on weather.
I followed this great site for regular cherry blossom updates. This guy is a photographer and he goes to the tidal basin regularly and posts images and provides logistical information. It's very helpful if your trip revolves around the cherry blossoms or even just have an interest. You can follow it on Facebook and/or Instagram.
I won’t do a timeline trip report this time.
We perfectly timed it for peak bloom and it was an absolutely gorgeous spectacle. I was up at 5 every morning to get to the Tidal Basin before sunrise along with many other photographers. Unfortunately, no spectacular sunrises to be had and 2 of the 3 mornings were very overcast, no color in the sky at all. However, I found these early mornings to be the most pleasant by far. The afternoons and evenings were just a mad house. Yes, it is beautiful but so many people are inconsiderate and disrespectful. People climbing on the trees, pulling down branches, pulling off blossoms to wear in their hair. I try to make sure I don’t set up in other photographers’ shots, some people are not so mindful. I always wait patiently if someone is shooting where I would like to shoot. But people would crowd behind me to the point I couldn’t even take a step back. Then people would expect me to move out of their way. So yes, go and enjoy the beauty but it comes with an unpleasant price.
In no particular order:
Visited the DAR Museum. It’s free and we like to look at period furniture. We like antiques and get decorating ideas. 31 rooms to see.
Friday morning after leaving the Tidal Basin I walked to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and got in line about 7:30 for tour tickets. There were about 100 people in front of me. There were still plenty of times to choose from once I got to the booth. We took a 10:30 tour.
Neither of us had ever been to the Air and Space museum and we spent a few hours there. We waited in the security line for about 20 minutes. It was very busy. We did the virtual reality ride simulator which is a bit behind in the times and not great but the flight simulator was a lot of fun. This is definitely a fun and visually interesting museum.
We enjoyed the Postal Museum.
Disappointed to see that one can no longer walk up to the fence at the White House.
Had a visit to Washington National Cathedral which is the 6th largest in the world and it was impressive. I love gothic churches and stained glass windows and this one didn’t disappoint. If you visit, make sure you don’t miss the lower levels as there are a maze of rooms and chapels one of which has gorgeous mosaics. I wish we could have done the gargoyles tour but they are doing outside restoration to the church and it wasn’t available. The church is out of the way from other tourist sites but it’s worth the visit.
I wanted to go the Cherry Blossom pub. It’s a more hip scene and we felt out of place. It was crowded and hot. We each got a drink, circled around and left. We were there maybe 15 minutes.
Enjoyed the magnolia trees at the Enid Haupt Garden.
Visited some the monuments and memorials at night on foot. Walked from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. This was the first time I had done this at night and it’s a much better experience in my opinion. There are still a lot of people but it’s nothing like daytime crowds.
We had two dinners at the Commissary because the food was so great. Highly recommend this place. The service was very good and my food couldn’t have been any hotter than if I had pulled it out of the oven myself. Had so much food that ate the rest of it for breakfasts both mornings.
Zaytinya was pretty good but not great. We chose the heated outside seating which was nice because inside was very loud.
Waited in line for about 20 minutes Saturday morning for Lincoln’s Waffle Shop. This is a good solid place for a diner style breakfast that is not expensive. The food was good but it’s nothing special.
Had “lunch” at Off The Record in the basement of the Hay-Adams. This place is ranked one spot higher on Trip Advisor than the Commissary. I can’t see why. What we had was fine but it was elf food portions. I think you are paying for the ambience.
Before leaving for the airport, we had dinner at We, The Pizza’s Arlington location. This place is very casual, order at the counter style. I really liked the pizza and would definitely eat here again. My husband didn’t like it as much but he isn’t a fan of New York style and also thought it was too greasy.
I love D.C. and I hope this wasn’t my last visit. The only downside this time was we saw a cyclist struck by a car on Independence Ave. and 4th St. The cyclist ran the light. I called 911 and other people ran to help him. We don’t have any medical training and stayed out of the way. He didn’t move for a while. We left as emergency vehicles arrived. My husband gave the driver his name and number in case he needed a witness. The man did try to stir after a few minutes. Hopefully, he will make a full recovery.