By Jordi Lippe-McGraw. Photos: Getty.
You may not be in Japan for the centuries-old tradition of hanami, but it just got a whole lot easier (and cheaper) to check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. (March 15–April 16). Amtrak just announced 25 percent off tickets for travelers heading to the nation’s capital to see this year’s bloom.
By booking at least 14 days in advance, visitors will get to take advantage of the Saver Fares aboard the Northeast Regional. So if you're traveling from, say, Richmond, Virginia, you only pay $26 one way; a trip from Philadelphia is $39; and those leaving from New York City pay $49. There’s even a special for people coming straight from Newark Airport—$54 to get you from the terminal to Union Station.
Even if you weren’t considering a trip, you may want to now. This celebration has been going on for 90 years, ever since Tokyo gifted 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the U.S. in 1912; they were planted in Washington as a symbol of enduring friendship between the two countries. Our capital city goes all out for the annual celebration, with a kite festival, nearly 100 cultural performances at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area and ANA Performance Stage, a parade along Constitution Avenue, and a waterfront fireworks display. Bonus for train travelers: Washington Union Station is the official headquarters of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. But you should book tickets asap if you plan to attend the biggest events in early April.
Once in D.C., a number of hotels have their own specials and packages to amplify the flower power. The Jefferson is offering a Picture Perfect Cherry Blossoms Package, which includes a gift card to have one of your Instagram photos of the cherry blossoms framed by Framebridge. And The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection has its Bubbles & Blossom package where guests get to stay in a recently renovated deluxe guest room, receive a bottle of appropriately colored rose, and a one-hour photo session with Flytographer at popular cherry blossom locations. The Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C.also has a Springtime by MO package that includes a hanami gourmet picnic, catered by its restaurant Muze, and "exclusive views of the Tidal Basin" from March 10–April 24.
The National Park Service just updated its peak bloom prediction to March 19—March 22 due to recent temperature trends and the weather forecast. Some predictions say the blossoms are expected to bloom as early as March 14. The festival runs a month, starting tomorrow. When do you go?! Easy: When the snow stops. We'll keep you posted on how the blooms fare in the next few weeks.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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