I was happy when the National Park Service first announced that the cherry blossoms peak would be between March 26 and March 30. Those were the days that we were available to make a short trip to DC to catch the cherry blossoms.
Alas, the cold weather has delayed the peak blooming season and NPS revised the dates. Nevertheless, we decided to continue with our plans.
On Friday morning 3/28, we walked a couple of blocks from the hotel towards the metro station and headed towards the Library of Congress. I have seen pictures of the beautiful interior in Tripadvisor and I wanted to check it out. There was a short line for security check at the library. The interior is beautiful. We went downstairs to wait for the tour to start. The guide took us to the upper level to view the magnificent reading room which is closed to the general public except on President's day and Columbus day. No pictures were allowed but it was confirmed that the reading room was featured in the National Treasures movie. The guide also showed us the Jefferson's library and the exhibit showing the contents of Lincoln's pockets at the time of his assassination.
We next headed towards the Capitol using the tunnel between the Library of Congress and the Capitol. We just missed making the "drop in" line for a tour by a few seconds as security closed the line as we were approaching it. We were told to come in early the next morning at 8:30 am or so to wait for available spots for the public tour. Most visitors have made advanced reservations a while back.
Since it was a beautiful day, we decided that we were energized enough to "drop by" the White House. At the corner of 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, the traffic stood at a standstill. Then we saw a motorcade heading towards the White House. We were not sure whether that was the President. We called it a day after that.
Saturday was another beautiful day. It was pretty warm too. We had intended to visit the National Zoo to see the panda bears. But the female bear was being artificially inseminated that day so that plan was scrapped. After lunch, we drove towards the Tidal Basin. Traffic was heavy but was tolerable. We knew that the cherry trees were not blooming but we just want to see what stages they were at. From the car, we hardly noticed any buds.
However the Cherry Blossom Kite Festival was on and many kites were being flown.
Next we headed to Georgetown. Parking was challenging since many side streets were reserved for residents. Unlike NYC, the parking garages here do not seem to display the parking rates at the entrances. Luckily, we found street parking with a 2 hours meter.
The paved streets of Georgetown were crowded with shoppers. Most of the stores are what you find in the mall. There is one cup cake store that is featured on the cable network. There was a long line of potential customers.
Sunday arrived overcast with sprinkles of showers. Off to the zoo we went after confirming by phone that the panda bears exhibit was opened. There were no entrance fees. We were fortunate to arrive at the exhibits around the feeding time. There was a zoologist there engaging in a Q and A session on the panda bears. We also visited other exhibits and learned new facts. For example, the vultures could fly up to a height 36,000 feet !
Since it was still an early afternoon, we drove to the Lincoln Memorial. My teenager had studied about Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech and I told her that there is a marker to indicate the spot where King stood to deliver that oratory. It was definitely history lessons came alive for her.
We were disappointed in not catching the cherry blossoms during the trip but overall it was a good mini break for us.
For the Cherry Blossom pictures:
For the panda bear picture: …blogspot.com/2013/04/panda-bears-washington…