Travel

Cherry Blossom Washington Visit - Drive from Toronto

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  • Feb 11th, 2019 12:15 pm
[OP]
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Aug 20, 2017
55 posts
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Cherry Blossom Washington Visit - Drive from Toronto

Hi All !

we were planning to visit washington sometime in april as i read online that this year the cherry blossom will be around april 12 - 14. To save on flight costs, we are planning to drive. Has anyone done the drive before ? If yes, how was the experience ? Are there any stops / rest areas in between ?

Also could you recommend your top locations to visit considering we have a 3 yr old with us ? Any recommendations on hotels and where to eat etc will help too.

-Swammingo
16 replies
Deal Addict
Oct 25, 2008
2204 posts
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North York
We did the drive from Toronto to Washington - there were many rest stops / pit stops in between, so the drive is very doable especially if there are two drivers.

Hotels, look into Crystal City (in Virginia) .. it is well connected through Subway to DC + cheaper.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 20, 2017
55 posts
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Ethan15 wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 12:14 am
We did the drive from Toronto to Washington - there were many rest stops / pit stops in between, so the drive is very doable especially if there are two drivers.

Hotels, look into Crystal City (in Virginia) .. it is well connected through Subway to DC + cheaper.
Thank you so much. Will check on the hotel. Which visitor places did you visit ?
Jr. Member
Oct 3, 2011
104 posts
70 upvotes
OTTAWA
I've been told by a few locals that it's a zoo for the cherry blossom festival, plan for a lot of extra time waiting around in lines. I've done a trip from baltimore from ottawa at the 1000 islands crossing, the drive is about 8 hours which I think should be about the same since kingston to ottawa or toronto is about the same amount of time. Lots of places to stop, don't speed.. there are speed traps everywhere on the interstates in both NY and pennsylvania and they like picking on people from out of country.
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Feb 7, 2017
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Eastern Ontario
Ethan15 wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 12:14 am
We did the drive from Toronto to Washington - there were many rest stops / pit stops in between, so the drive is very doable especially if there are two drivers.

Hotels, look into Crystal City (in Virginia) .. it is well connected through Subway to DC + cheaper.
This is great advice.
The traffic in and around Washington DC is a zoo!
Leaving your car in Virginia and training in is an excellent idea.
(Although we’d prefer to get a hotel in DC if it was a weekend getaway
Otherwise it’s like staying in Mississauga when your focus is downtown TO)
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 20, 2017
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These inputs are a great great help. do let me know considering 3 yr old , what places should we visit and which are the places to eat you will recommend.
Sr. Member
Apr 6, 2008
887 posts
433 upvotes
We were there in DC for the weekend of the cherry blossom festival (not intentionally). Lots of free museums, most are great, we found the zoo really nice. We stayed flew from Toronto, stayed in Arlington Virginia. Much more reasonable to stay there, can still get on the subway from there. Took transit for the weekend which is great, don't even think about driving. Capital buildings are nice but only spent a few hours there. It was a nice city, it was quite impressive how patriotic Americans are. It would be a weekday and crowds of people hanging out with flags etc. It's a very expensive city. Food is very pricey, there is a McDonald's and a few cheap pizza places if you're looking to save money. The blossom festival was somewhat underwhelming but we didn't go for that. The weekend was enough, we enjoyed it but were ready to leave.
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Sep 1, 2005
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Markham
If you want to see Cherry Blossoms for sure, book several hotels (with 24 hour cancellations) and be flexible with your timing because the blooming date could vary by a few weeks depending on the weather. I'm sure there are sites with "cherry blossom" watch so watch for peak timing and go when it's there....cancel all of the reservations you don't need.

Re. drive, I drove thru Grove City and shopped Outlet Mall ...you can do that on the way down or one the way home. It's roughly half way down so in theory if you don't want to do whole drive in one shot, you could shop and stay there one night and shop.

Eats:

Three Amy's for pizza
Maine Avenue Fish market
El Pollo Rico for peruvian chicken (if you're going to Arlington cemetary)
Ben's chili bowl for chili dog
Julia's Empanadas for snacking on empanadas
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
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Feb 22, 2016
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Swammingo wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 12:30 pm
These inputs are a great great help. do let me know considering 3 yr old , what places should we visit and which are the places to eat you will recommend.
If you're going via Buffalo and taking the US 219 route, several interesting things that way. One that's just inside the PA border is the Zippo/Case Museum (it's free so a nice quickie stop to stretch your legs):
https://www.zippo.com/pages/zippo-case-museums

Then when you're on I-80, get off in Clearfield, PA and visit Denny's Beer Barrel Pub! You've probably seen them on travel and food shows on TV for their crazy hamburgers:
http://dennysbeerbarrelpub.com/



Just get the biggest size the group can finish as a team, take your Instagram photos, then cut it into pieces like a cake and split it up :-) When I went, our server said they often get orders for the biggest ones, for birthday parties -- makes for a cool photo (like it's the cake)...
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Sep 22, 2005
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Ottawa
Plan to stop in Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, PA on your way there or back, your 3-y-o might think that he/she has been to chocolate/candy heaven Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Smiling Eyes

Oh yeah, the little one might not enjoy the museums but probably likes the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The admission is free but you pay for parking.

We love all of the Smithsonians around Washington. Spent a week in July a few years ago and it wasn't enough. We also want to see the cherry blossoms sometime soon.
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Aug 27, 2009
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Oakville
It's been a while but in 2014 we stayed at the Holiday Inn, Camp Springs, MD. The nice thing about HI (and many other motel chains in the US) is that breakfast is included. It was a short walk to the metro station.
https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Hotel_Review ... yland.html

In addition to the usual DC sights, there is the Udvar Hazy Center (Air & Space museum - part of the Smithsonian) out by Dulles. It's absolutely huge with an impressive collection of aircraft including a space shuttle.
https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_R ... ginia.html

If you do some shopping on your trip PA has no sales tax on clothes & shoes though exchange may kill the deal.
If you drive via Pittsburgh there is an expensive section of toll road. IIRC it was US$16 back in 2014.
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Dec 21, 2005
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Markham
We did the TO - PIT - DC drive back in 2010 during the Easter break. Shopped and stayed overnight in Pittsburgh then stayed in Alexandria, VA for two nights.

Scored the Westin Alexandria for $90(?) USD — walking distance to the metro and took transit into the main attractions around DC.

If it gets too crowded around the various memorials due to the cherry blossoms, you can also find them in a suburb north of DC (Kenwood).
:idea: :) :lol: :razz: :D
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Jul 13, 2009
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I did this almost 10 years ago and it was great! Only weird thing to prepare for is temp went from -10 to 30C that drive!
Deal Addict
Jun 4, 2003
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Toronto
Have done it 7 times in past 6 years with friends and family. Tried all three routes for different pitstops. If you want to make a stop at Pittsburgh or the Grove City Premium Outlet you have to go down on I76E and it is the longest route but I always take this route when going down during winter months. e just came back in January spending 11 days there. If you want to visit the Hersey World, then you will have to go down on I83S and it is worth it. I have also taken the I70E route on our way back to Toronto in order to visit the Zippo/Case Museum in Bradford, PA, but since your child is 3 years old I would highly recommend the Hersey World. We actually made a stopover one time at Harrisburg to join the guided tour in the Capitol Building and it was quite amazing. We stayed in Arlington at the Hyatt the first time and it was extremely convenient since the Metro station is right next to it. We then stayed at the Dulles Airport four times in a row and drove to the Metro terminal to park and ride each day. train rides in the DC metro area are expensive so I would not do it any more. the last two times we stayed near the Tyson Town Centre and the Fairfax Town Centre for an easy drive into DC downtown daily. If you are going to be there for just a few days, then I highly recommend either Arlington downtown or the Crystal City near the Reagan Airport bear a Metro station. Hotels on the Dc side and at Georgetown are quite expensive without free parking as well so before you book and make sure you check their parking fee rates.
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[OP]
Newbie
Aug 20, 2017
55 posts
15 upvotes
Thanks all for the inputs. I guess i have to do the Hersheys visit.

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