Cherry Blossom Festival & U.S. Gardens
Cherry Blossom Festival
Each year, Washington DC holds a Cherry Blossom Festival complete with parade! This celebrates the gift of 3000 cherry trees given to the city by Tokyo in 1912. Stroll along the tidal basin to enjoy the delicate beauty of the pink flowers reflected in the water. With the cherry blossoms blooming and Washington DC washed in pink, when could be a better time to explore this fascinating area of the United States? This springtime tour has a focus on blooming gardens, combined with cultural insight into the region.
In addition to the exciting cherry blossom festivities, Washington DC has a myriad of sights worth seeing. The seat of the US government, DC is an internationally recognised symbol of democracy. See where laws are made at the US Capitol and remember the United States’ great and influential presidents by visiting various memorials. The memorial for Roosevelt, the 32nd President, is particularly charming. It combines sculpture, water and natural landscape to create a unique memorial; therefore it feels like a secluded garden rather than an imposing structure.
This area is rich with landscaped gardens. Even when visiting the Washington National Cathedral, you will be treated to acres of charming gardens. At the US Botanic Garden, designed to look like the Crystal Palace, you will find a vast range of plants from orchids and roses to tropical rainforest dwelling species. Various simulated microclimates permit exhibits of plants from across the world. A morning spent at the US Arboretum will be a fascinating experience. A tour by tram will inform you of the history and aims of the arboretum as well as highlighting certain exhibits and gardens. Choose your area of interest to explore further: head to the Asian collection, the bonsais or the dogwoods. You may also explore the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks and the Hillwood Estate. There is also an excursion to the wine region to enjoy the stunning scenery and a tasting.
History and Culture
In addition to this area’s political importance, this area also has great historical significance. Step back in time in Old Town Alexandria – a beautifully preserved historic district with cobblestone streets and red brick pavements that hums with energy. Enjoy a tour of this colonial town which George Washington called home. A visit to Gettysburg will fascinate and allow insight into a significant location of the US Civil War. Visit to Arlington National Cemetery and a tour of war memorials will be a solemn but important experience. The National World War II Memorial honours the 16 million who served in the US during WWII. Though remembering the American commitment and sacrifice to the war, it is symbolic of the peace and freedom sought by all the allies.
Finally, no visit to Washington DC is complete without opening your mind at the Smithsonian Institute. With so many different museums on offer, covering topics from indigenous people, to the enigma code, to art, you can delve into whatever interests you!
11th April 2019
Arrive In Washington
Arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport and transfer by coach to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing and getting acquainted with the area.
Welcome to Washington
Visit the new White House Visitor’s Centre, where you can explore the White House by watching a short film, viewing artefacts and taking a virtual tour. Drive along Embassy Row, where the social elite built large mansions following the civil war. These now largely house embassies, associations and clubs who restored the homes after the families lost their fortunes. Then tour Washington National Cathedral – the sixth largest church in the world. This 14th-century-style Gothic wonder is taller than the Washington Monument and took 83 years to build. Situated on 57 acres, the cathedral has expansive charming gardens.
Following lunch at Café Duluxe Cleveland Park, explore the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens which features one of the most comprehensive collections of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Russian Imperial art outside of Russia. Highlights include a diamond crown worn by Empress Alexandra at her marriage to Nicholas II; Beauvais tapestries designed by François Boucher; two Imperial Easter eggs by Carl Fabergé; and La Nuit by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.
Cherry Blossom Parade – 13.04.19
View the Cherry Blossom Parade from reserved seating and wave pink pom poms to join the festivities! The massive parade navigates down Constitution Avenue to the Tidal Basin where a festival queen is crowned. Along with the parade are several free concerts on the Mall, lantern-lighting, dances and races.
Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure. Perhaps stroll along the tidal basin to view the Japanese cherry trees in bloom and take photos. Why not combine this with stops at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memoral, the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial. Look across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Memorial for an unforgettable view of the city, and enjoy the serenity conjured by the shade trees, pools and waterfalls of the FDR Memorial.
Vineyards in Virginia
After a morning at leisure, head to Barrel Oak Winery for a gourmet basket picnic lunch and wine tasting. Visit also the Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery for another tasting and to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Dinner tonight will be enjoyed at Maggiano’s Little Italy.
Arlington National Cemetery and Old Town Alexandria
Arrive at the Visitors’ Centre at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of JFK, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and thousands of soldiers from every major U.S. war. The Space Shuttle Challenger astronaut’s memorial and the Tomb of the Unknowns are also located here. (Coach parking payable locally). Continue to Old Town Alexandria, where you can enjoy some free time and lunch at leisure before a guided tour of this beautifully preserved Colonial district. Evening at leisure.
Politics and Plants
Today, enjoy tours to learn about various important US buildings. Your guide will inform you about the United States Library of Congress (the world’s largest national library), The Supreme Court building, and the United States Capitol – perhaps the most recognisable symbol of democratic government in the world! Following this insight into politics and architecture, enjoy some nature at the US Botanic Garden – a living plant museum. Exhibits interpret the role of plants in supporting the earth’s diverse and fragile ecosystems and in enriching human life. At leisure from mid-afternoon – perhaps go shopping or enjoy the American classic – a sports bar!
Trees and Trams
Today enjoy a private tram tour of the US Arboretum. During your tour you will hear about the Arboretum’s history, mission, research and the display gardens and collections. The 446 acres have a myriad of different gardens including an azalea collection, a fern valley and a grove of state trees. After a morning of perusal, enjoy lunch at District Chophouse and Brewery before returning to your hotel to spend the rest of your day relaxing or exploring as you choose.
Take a step back in time with a visit to the Cyclorama Centre at the Gettysburg National Military Park. The painting, known at the Gettysburg Cyclorama, is a breathtaking panorama measuring over 300 feet and depicting Pickett’s charge – a futile assault on the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Visit the Eisenhower National Historic, the home and farm of President Eisenhower located adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield. With its peaceful setting and view of South Mountain, this home was a meeting place for world leaders working to reduce Cold War tensions. A licensed battlefield guide will provide a tour. Then dine at Antrim 1844, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Gardens and Memorials
After breakfast enjoy a tour of Dumbarton Oaks and Gardens. Farmland has been transformed into spectacular terraced garden rooms and vistas. Take time to explore the gardens and the progression from formal gardens near to the house, to a recreational and practical zone of pools, tennis courts, orchards and vegetable gardens. At the far reaches of the property, enjoy a more rustic element as you enter a wilderness complete with streams and meadows. Enjoy some free time to have lunch and explore Georgetown before a memorial tour in the afternoon. Stops include The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, The Korean War Veterans Memorial and The National World War 2 Memorial. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Smithsonian and Departure
After breakfast, store your luggage and check out. Today, visit your museum or museums of choice at the Smithsonian Institute on the National Mall. (Admission charges may apply). Perhaps visit the National Air & Space Museum to experience the history of flight and see the plane flown by the Wright brothers and the Apollo 11 command module. If you’re interested in science, perhaps try the National Museum of Natural History for dinosaur fossils and a live insect zoo or learn about the indigenous peoples of the Americas at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Return to your hotel to collect your luggage then transfer to the airport for your return flight.
Please note: The cherry blossoms depend on nature’s timing and cannot be guaranteed.
The restaurants/vineyards listed for meals are subject to availability and subject to change.