These Before-and-After Photos Might Make You Rethink Visiting DC’s Cherry Blossoms

What you expect to see at the Tidal Basin isn't always what you get

What visions of the cherry blossoms swirl in your head? Romantic picnics in the shade of the cherry trees. Capturing the perfect photo of a Tidal Basin sunset. A gentle breeze that swirls a thousand blooms around you in a whimsical tornado.

These are the dreams of the estimated 1.5 million people who visit D.C. every year for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

It's time to wake up. You can try to convince some poor sap to hoof your picnic basket many, many blocks from the nearest Metro station to the Tidal Basin. If you're lucky, you'll find a spot where the herds of tourists can't stampede over your picnic blanket, but the hordes will never move out of your photos. For every cherry tree in the whole park, 428 visitors are crowding around for their own Instagrams.

There are expectations and there are realities, and the photos below we took before and after the bloom might make you think twice about heading down to the Tidal Basin and dealing with crowds.

To compare before and after photos, hold down the white bar in the middle of each image and slide it.

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