News & Politics

Why DC’s Cherry Blossoms Are Overrated

Before you hit “send” on the hate mail, hear me out.

Photograph by Frank Hallam Day.

Read more from our Ultimate Guide to Cherry Blossoms here

While I, too, have gasped with delight when I’ve managed to hit the Tidal Basin exactly at peak bloom, let’s be honest: The frenzy over these fickle trees is a tad insane.

Peak is a scant few days, which is what makes it a rare event, I know, but which also guarantees swarms of gawkers tripping over one another on the same three days. (Or worse, across one or two days if there’s a threat of wind or rain, because these divaish petals demand ideal conditions.)

Meanwhile, Washington bursts with colorful azaleas, lacy dogwoods, and bright tulips. No one is bumping into each other to see those. To which I say: Why not? On a pilgrimage to the Tidal Basin a few years ago, I watched as people mostly looked at the blossoms through cameras and cell phones. Is our embrace of the trees truly because they’re beautiful? Or is it fear of missing out, because it’s the thing to do each spring and, these days, a must-have for your Instagram feed?

This article appears in the April 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.