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How to See the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC: A Complete Guide

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Every spring, the city of Washington, DC turns into a pastel pink wonderland with the annual blossoming of the cherry trees. When the cherry blossoms in Washington DC are in full bloom, it’s an absolutely incredible sight. Pink and white blossoms line the Potomac River, the monuments, and DC’s historic neighborhood for one of the most picturesque events of the year.

Many visitors and locals descend upon Washington, DC’s sidewalks each year to see this flowery spectacle. To help you plan your trip and make the most out of your visit, we wrote this guide to the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. Whether you’re a tourist or a local in DC, we’ll help you scope out the best places to see cherry blossoms in DC and when the best times are to go.

By the way, if you’re planning a trip to DC, be sure to download a FREE copy of our PDF DC guide – a perfect travel companion for a weekend in the city. Just enter your details below and we’ll send the guide to your inbox ASAP!

 


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Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC: Frequently Asked Questions

When is Cherry Blossom Season in Washington DC?

In general, cherry blossoms in Washington, DC bloom anywhere from late March to early April. Each year, depending on the weather and temperature in the earlier months of the year, the peak bloom forecast date changes. As of this update, it’s still too early to predict the peak time in cherry blossoms in DC in 2019. However, you can check back on the official Cherry Blossom Watch website for updates on the forecasts for the peak bloom season.

Around the peak bloom date, the city of Washington, DC hosts an annual Cherry Blossom Festival, where there are tons of family activities, a popular road race, and plenty of opportunities to see these famous flowers. This year, the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC lasts from March 20 to April 13, 2019, with the parade occurring on the last day of the festival.

Do I Have to Go to the Cherry Blossom Festival Activities to See Them?

Absolutely not! In fact, if you want to avoid the crowds in Washington, DC, we recommend that you skip the main festival events and explore the cherry blossoms early in the morning (before activities start) or in less-popular areas. We’ve got a bunch of suggestions for you below on popular and off-the-beaten-path places to see the blossoms all around the city.

What is the Weather Like During Cherry Blossom Season in DC?

The weather in springtime in DC can be really unpredictable. One day, it’s sunny and warm, and the next, it’s cold, rainy, and windy. Sometimes, the weather changes that drastically within a single day. Yeah. DC weather is temperamental AF.

With that said, it’s important to come prepared for a wide variety of weather conditions. For your trip to DC for the cherry blossoms, I’d recommend bringing the following in addition to your normal weekend trip wardrobe:

  • A rain jacket and/or umbrella
  • Fleece sweater
  • A large handbag
  • Good walking shoes
  • Your camera

Where Should I Stay to See the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC?

Washington DC is a super walkable city and, in the main areas, you can see a lot of the most famous cherry blossoms on foot. The closest areas to stay for the Cherry Blossoms are downtown and Chinatown. We recommend the following options to see the Cherry Blossoms:

  • Luxury Hotel
    • The St. Regis Washington DC | Located in the downtown area, the St. Regis Washington DC is one of the finest luxury properties in the city. Personally, I treated my family to a staycation here a few years ago and was totally googly-eyed over the lavish decor, beautiful furnishings, and proximity to literally all of the main attractions in the city. Plus, they offer a free champagne toast every night.
      • Address: 923 16th and, K St NW, Washington, DC 20006, United States
  • Mid-Range Hotel
    • POD Hotel DC | In the heart of the Chinatown area, POD Hotel DC is a fantastic mid-range option. While the rooms are small, prices are typically lower than most hotels in the city and it’s in a great location to walk to DC’s main attractions.
      • Address: 627 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
  • Budget Hostel
    • HI – Washington DC Hostel | Part of the Hostelling International network, the HI – Wahsington DC Hostel is a solid choice for budget travelers or solo travelers looking to meet others and cut costs. It’s centrally located and well-maintained, walkable to the cherry blossoms and most other attractions in downtown DC.
      • Address: 1009 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
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If you’re trying to figure out where to stay for the cherry blossoms, we’ve got an entire post on where to stay in Washington, DC with a bunch of our favorite suggestions for centrally-located accommodations in the capital city!

Check reviews and prices for hotels and hostels in Washington DC

How Can I Get Around Washington DC?

Washington DC is a really easy city to get around – it’s small, not too congested, and has great public transit options. First of all, it’s totally walkable in the main downtown areas and the surrounding neighborhoods. Where it’s not walkable, you can easily get around the city by Metro Rail or bus, or call one of the city’s ride sharing/taxi services (Uber, Lyft, Via, and taxis are all available).

Most public transit trips cost $1-4 one-way and run from very early in the morning until around midnight each day. Consult the WMATA website for more information on routes around DC.

Washington, DC at the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial during the spring cherry blossom season.

Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

The Tidal Basin

The Tidal Basin is the quintessential place to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. Located on the waterfront right next to the Jefferson Memorial, this park area has trails and sidewalks to explore the blossoms.

It’s the area of the city where the cherry trees are most condensed, meaning you’ll likely see blossoms everywhere you look here! Additionally, this is where most of the festivities for the Cherry Blossom Festival occur, and also one of the most popular (read: crowded) areas to see the cherry blossoms in DC.

While here, you can snap shots of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial amongst the pink and white blooms. You can also rent a paddle boat (normal or swan shaped, you choose) and paddle around the area to see the cherry blossoms from the water. It’s a fun activity to do on a sunny day in the spring!

How to get there: Take the Metro and get off at the Smithsonian station (Blue/Orange/Silver line) and walk ~10 minutes to the Tidal Basin. Or, simply walk from your Downtown accommodation.

The National Mall

While there are fewer trees in the National Mall than in the Tidal Basin, it’s still a great spot to catch lots of blossoms, with trees clustered sporadically from the Capitol Building all the way to the Washington Monument. On nice days, the National Mall is a perfect place to stroll outside, catching views of some of the city’s most iconic sights with some cherry blossoms in between.

Plus, while you’re here, you can catch some of DC’s best museums – the many (free) Smithsonian Museums and the Newseum are my personal favorites. Pro tip: Head to the top floor of the Newseum for an amazing view of the National Mall, the Capitol, and some cherry trees lining the lawn!

How to get there: Take the Metro and get off at the Smithsonian station (Blue/Orange/Silver line). Or walk from your Downtown accommodation. Either of these options will leave you directly on the National Mall!

The National Arboretum

A lesser-known but absolutely beautiful place to see cherry blossoms in DC is in the National Arboretum. Located near the NoMa neighborhood of the city, it’s a bit trickier to get to – but well worth the hassle. You’ll leave the crazy crowds of the National Mall and the Tidal Basin for a more peaceful, tranquil haven in the Northeast of the city.

Here, you’ll find trails all around the park area, many which have pink and white cherry blossoms during the peak bloom season. During your visit, you can also see the old Capitol columns and enjoy other various plant species in the park.

How to get there: It’s a little tricky to get here by bus or metro, so I’d recommend visiting using a ride sharing service, a taxi, or by renting a car.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

If you’re hoping to get even more peace and quiet while admiring the annual cherry blossoms, head to Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens – one of the city’s prettiest parks, in my opinion. Kenilworth Park is where the majority of the cherry blossoms are, but the aquatic gardens are lovely and are also worth a visit if you’re in the area already.

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In the springtime, around peak bloom season, you can spot some beautiful cherry blossoms lining the grounds of the park. Even upon entering the park, you can already see dozens of cherry trees lining the area, and if you’re lucky, you might even get the views to yourself.

How to get there: You can get to Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens via metro – you can find detailed instructions here. However, we’d recommend driving as it’s a little bit out of the way.

East Potomac Park & Hains Point

Located along the Potomac River, East Potomac Park is home to a large number of DC’s cherry blossoms. The park is on a peninsula southeast of the Tidal Basin/Jefferson Memorial, and tends to be a bit more peaceful than the Tidal Basin during peak bloom times. A visit to East Potomac Park is a great way to extend your visit to the Tidal Basin or get some exercise along the river on warm days. 

How to get there: Continue southeast from the Tidal Basin past the Jefferson Memorial along the sidewalks and you’ll arrive in East Potomac Park.

Cherry Blossom Tours in Washington DC

If exploring the city on your own makes you anxious, don’t fret! There are a ton of awesome guided tours – short and long – that you can take to see the blooms and learn more about their history. Here are a few fun/quirky cherry blossom tours to consider:

  • By Boat: The Potomac River is a great vantage point for seeing the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. Most boat tours of the city depart from Georgetown’s waterfront. There are also several recommended cherry blossom boat tours on the Cherry Blossom Festival website.
  • On a Bike: Whiz through the streets of DC on two wheels and see the amazing cherry blossoms on the Cherry Blossom Bike Tour. Many DC locals love getting around by bike, and this is a great way to experience the city and see some of the best spots for cherry blossoms along with an expert guide.
  • By Segway: I’ll be honest – I’ve never ridden a Segway and kind of feel terrified about them. However, if you’ve wanted to try it out, there’s no better (or more unique) way to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC than on the Cherry Blossom Segway Tour.
  • With a Walking Tour: There’s really no better way to see and learn about the cherry blossoms in DC than by taking a walking tour. The 2-hour Cherry Blossom Secrets Walking Tour takes you to some of the best areas of the downtown area, where a local guide will share the history and fun facts about the cherry blossoms in the city.

By the way, don’t forget to download your FREE weekend guide to Washington DC! Enter your details below and we’ll send it straight to your inbox. 

Places to See Cherry Blossoms Near Washington DC

If you’ve got extra time and want to see even more cherry blossoms, here are a few places near DC (in neighboring Virginia and Maryland) where you can see stunning displays of cherry blossoms:

  • Arlington National Cemetery (Arlington, Virginia) – A visit to Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most moving day trips from Washington, DC, and is especially beautiful in the springtime, where you can see cherry blossoms along the cemetery’s many pathways.
  • Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (Vienna, Virginia) – Located in Vienna, Virginia, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens boasts an impressive number of cherry trees, without the crowds of Washington DC.
  • Kenwood (Bethesda, Maryland) – If you’re looking for beautiful row houses lined with cherry trees (AKA a super picturesque, laid-back neighborhood), visit Kenwood, a residential area in Bethesda, Maryland. The best streets for cherry blossom viewing are Kenwood Avenue, Kennedy Drive, and Dorset Avenue.
  • Centennial Park (Howard County, Maryland) – If you’re late to the cherry blossom party, no worries. In Howard County’s Centennial Park, you can typically see cherry trees in full bloom up to two weeks after the Tidal Basin peak. They also have an annual festival – Cherrybration – which supports cancer charities and is a lot less crowded than DC’s festival.

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The cherry blossoms in Washington, DC are one of the highlights of traveling to the city in the spring. However, it can be hard to avoid the crowds and get the best views of the cherry blossom trees with the monuments nearby. We created a guide to show you the best ways and places to see the cherry blossoms in DC! Click through to read the complete guide, including travel tips on where to stay and things to do in Washington DC as well. #USA #Travel #WashingtonDC

Kay is a full-time media professional located in Washington DC who takes every spare day of time to travel the world. In the last year alone, she's visited over 10 different countries and taken a dozen short trips in between. You can typically find her wandering the streets of a city, taking ridiculous self portraits, or hiking a mountain somewhere. Connect with Kay: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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