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. Because as the cherry blossom trees will be bursting with blooms in a few short weeks — the National Mall will also be bustling with visitors. For every cherry tree in the whole park, 428 visitors are crowding around for their own Instagrams.
Cherry blossom season is about enjoying the blooms, with thousands of other fans just like you.
There are expectations and there are realities, and the photos below we took before and after the bloom might make some visitors rethink when the best time to visit is.
To compare before and after photos, hold down the white bar in the middle of each image and slide it.