Spring has finally sprung in Washington, D.C. and that means it won’t be long before the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. It is one of the most beautiful times of year in the nation’s capitol. Here are some important things you should know before venturing out to see the flowers:

  1. The famous cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. were initially sent over from Japan in 1909 but were discovered to have been infected with foreign pests and had to be destroyed! The Japanese were good-humored about the incident, joking that George Washington had clearly set an example on “destroying cherry trees.” Two years later, about 3,000 new trees were sent over.
  2. Did you know cherry blossoms are edible? Check out DC-area restaurants for cherry-blossom themed food and drink specials (cherry blossom ice cream, anyone)? Or head over to the Library of Congress for interactive exhibits and fun activities involving Japanese culture.
  3. But don’t pick the blossoms! Take what you want from the petals that have fallen to the ground, but know that it’s against the law to pluck them from the trees.
  4. The cherry blossom isn’t just a tree – it’s a festival. The National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place over a 3-week period each spring in Washington, D.C. Highlights include: parades, a 10-mile run, cultural exhibitions, street performances, a kite festival, and even a fireworks show. If your visit falls during the festival, don’t get your hopes up: the festival is planned way in advance, and sometimes occurs when the blooms aren’t at their peak.
  5. During peak bloom, there might be more people than flowers! For a less crowded view, go early, late, or..if you dare…in the rain!
  6. The Tidal Basin isn’t the only place in D.C. where there are cherry trees. There are plenty of places to check out the flora and fauna in the DC area. The National Arboretum and Dumbarton Oaks are just a few of the places you can immerse yourself in cherry blossoms (and other flowering gardens and exotic plants)!

See the blooms for yourself with a springtime music festival in D.C. or explore on one of our other East Coast History travel programs.