Cherry blossom trip to Washington DC

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Cherry Blossom festival at Capitol. (All photos courtesy of Lina Shah)

We visited the nation’s capital many times, but never saw the famous festival of Cherry Blossoms – this spring break was the perfect time for us to revisit the Washington DC area with family (We always use Destination DC: www.washington.org, to plan our trip and look for things to do.)

In the DC area, you never feel like you have enough time; there are so many National Museums and historical sites with constantly updated exhibits. This trip, our focus was to enjoy the Cherry Blossom season, dine and relax.

For 2022, the National Cherry Blossom festival was celebrated during March 20 to April 17 in Washington DC area, commemorating the 110th Anniversary of friendship between the people of United States and Japan, a once-a-year event memorizing a gift of 3000+ cherry blossom trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington DC.

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Flowering trees with their frothy masses of pink or white blossoms signal the end of winter and the first blush of spring. Many flowering cherries also have a fragrant and pleasing scent of crushed almond. We enjoyed beautiful views of the cherry blossoms, with diverse and creative programming, promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, along with community events at the Tidal Basin and surrounding neighborhoods of Virginia and Maryland.

John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Starting the next day with a grand brunch at Silver New American Brasserie on Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, we found broad varieties of contemporary favorites with healthier and vegan options, featuring ingredients from local farms. From award-winning Chef Ype Von Hengst’s top menu items, we enjoyed burrata avocado toast, crispy brussels sprouts, Beyond Meat’s Baja Burger and oatmeal banana brulle.

When in Washington, we usually try to go see available performance shows at the John F Kennedy Center. The Center, a living memorial of President Kennedy, is celebrating a 50th Anniversary of world-class art, powerful education and creativity. This time, a grand ballet performance of Don Quixote by American Ballet Theater was playing in this beautiful historic 2400+ capacity auditorium. The family loved watching Don Quixote beginning his adventures with his trusty squire Sancho Panza in tow. After the show, we enjoyed coffee and snacks on the roof terrace restaurant, KC Café, also at the Center. In association with the Asia Society, the Kennedy Center is running a COAL + ICE show in a tent, featuring a documentary photography exhibition visualizing the climate crisis. This breathtaking exhibit was both entertaining and eye-opening.

Moven Park, Leesburg, VA.

On our 3rd day, we took a trip to the 1000-acre historic estate and horse park at Morven Park grounds in Leesburg, Va. Exploring 240 years of history at the Davis Mansion, the Museum of Hounds and Hunting and Winmill Carriage Museum was very educational. An impressive Greek Revival building, the mansion was home to former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis and his wife Marguerite. Beautiful gardens, as well as natural trails for hiking and visitation, are free thanks to this Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation. We were lucky enough to witness a horse competition at the Equestrian Center. The wonderful riding academy facility attracts the world’s top riders for competition and training of horses. We couldn’t pass up checking out the picturesque downtown and outlet shopping of Leesburg, Virginia.

9/11 Pentagon Memorial.

On our drive back to DC, we visited the National Pentagon Memorial, dedicated to 184 lives lost on the tragic event of September 11, and learned about the unique design of memorial.

This time we made sure to eat at Michelin Star Zaytinya by Jose Andres, a Turkish, Greek and Lebanese restaurant. Very conveniently located within 1 minute’s walking distance from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Metro center and Chinatown. The entrance and newly decorated ambiance are a very modern look. Zaytinya’s menu runs under the direction of James Beard Award-winning Chef José Andrés and offers variety of Mediterranean dishes with lots of vegan options. We enjoyed variety of hummus, falafel, cauliflower tiganites and Chef’s Special Zaytinya Fries and Mujadara.

Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.

While on the National Mall, we visited Library of Congress, National Museum of American History, Jefferson Monument, Eisenhower Monument and walked on the busy streets of nation’s Capital. We had a great time enjoying very closer view of White House and Lincoln Memorial from the VUE rooftop bar ofthe Washington Hotel in downtown DC. We also spent time at National Air and Space Museum exploring the Discovery satellite and the original first plane of Wright brothers. We also walked on cobblestone sidewalks of historic Georgetown and water-front area.

Our trip to Washington DC is always very memorable, inspiring, entertaining and educational. I am sure you will get a chance to enjoy visiting the Nation’s Capital during the Cherry Blossoms, just like us!

Lina Shah is a Freelance Writer, Editor, Teacher, Social Worker and Financial Professional. Inspired by her father, she is a multi-talented suburban Chicagoland wife and a mother of two, who also enjoys cooking, social gathering and event planning.

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