Discover where to see cherry blossoms in DC, Maryland, and Virginia with our complete guide to popular and hidden cherry blossom locations. Plus we’ve got info, tips, and websites to determine the best time to see the cherry blossoms in DC.
The Tidal Basin is the most popular place to see cherry blossoms in DC, but it’s not the only option. There are many more delightful spots to see cherry blossoms without the crowds.
The National Park Service predicts the peak cherry blossom bloom time every year, but it’s a tricky business. The blossoms are highly affected by the weather that leads up to the peak bloom. If your primary goal is to see the blooms, the tips and websites below will help you determine the best time to see the cherry blossoms in DC.
2020 Cherry Blossom Update: The Park Service closed all access to the Tidal Basin during the 2020 cherry blossom season. The National Park Service predicts that peak bloom for cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin will be March 21 to 24, however many events and venues are closed. We look forward to seeing the blossoms again in 2021.
Best Place to See Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC
The most famous and best place to see cherry blossoms in DC is the Tidal Basin. Tourists flock to the basin every year to see more than 3000 cherry trees bloom. White granite monuments like the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument provide a stunning backdrop to cherry blossom pictures.
Perhaps nowhere is more romantic on a spring day when the cherries are in bloom. The beautiful cherry blossoms crowd the shore and fill every view, and the water gently mirrors the beauty. The price of all that loveliness is crowding. Locals and visitors from around the world make a pilgrimage to see the cherry blossoms and to attend the DC Cherry Blossom Festival.
Still, the crowds are there for good reason. It is worth extra effort to see the cherries at the Tidal Basin at least once. Take a slow stroll around the basin to see the trees from every angle. Here are our top tips for viewing cherry blossoms at the DC Tidal Basin:
- Arrive early or late in the day for the lightest crowds.
- At dawn and sunset, you will share the area with many photographers, and you can capture beautiful cherry blossom pictures.
- The thickest blooms are on the northern and eastern side of the basin.
- If time allows, walk the 2-mile paved trail around the basin.
- Photograph the Washington Monument framed by cherry blossoms from the western side of the basin (near the FDR Memorial).
- Photograph the Jefferson Memorial framed by cherry blossoms from the northern side of the basin.
- Parking is limited. It’s best to get dropped off or walk from a DC metro stop. The closest metro station is Smithsonian, on the blue, orange, and silver lines.
- See below for sites that track the best time to see the DC cherry blossoms.
View the Cherry Blossoms in DC from the Water
Our favorite way to see the cherry blossoms in DC is from a Tidal Basin pedal boat. These little boats are a fun way to escape the crowds and see the trees from the water. There are pedal boats for 2 or 4, and a limited number of 2-person Swan Boats that have an electric motor for when you get tired of pedaling.
Your little boat gives you a pretty view from the water. You can pedal under the trees along the busy shore, or head away from the edge. You’ll have excellent views of the Washington Monument and other memorials surrounding the Tidal Basin from the water.
More Ways to Tour Cherry Blossoms in DC
View the cherry blossoms from your car on a scenic drive around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park.
Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Tours is a convenient option to visit the Tidal Basin and other important sites throughout Washington DC.
For a more unusual approach, book a Cherry Blossom Segway Tour of the blooms with Get Your Guide. The $85, 3-hour tour includes many of the most popular DC monuments and a visit to the Tidal Basin cherry trees. Note that you may proceed on foot at times if crowds prevent safe travel close to the blossoms.
More Places to See Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
Dumbarton Oaks: Cherry blossoms, magnolia trees, and spring flowers line the pathways of this beautiful garden in Georgetown. You can also enjoy the blossoms from the adjacent Montrose Park, which has a children’s play area.
East Potomac Park: If you can’t face the mob at the Tidal Basin, take a drive just south through East Potomac Park. Cherry trees line the shore on both sides of this peninsula at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, and the crowds will be much smaller.
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens: Cherry trees surround the parking area and Visitor Center at Kenilworth Park where you can also enjoy birding along the boardwalk.
National Arboretum: The cherry trees are more spread out, but you’ll appreciate the peace at this less frequented garden in northeast DC.
Oxon Run Park: Volunteers planted over 200 cherry trees in Oxon Run Park and it is now the second-largest collection of cherry trees in DC.
Stanton Park: One of the larger sites in the Capitol Hill Parks collection maintained by the National Park Service, Stanton Park has a nice collection of cherry trees surrounding the statue of Revolutionary War hero, General Nathanael Greene.
When to See the Cherry Blossoms in DC and Tips for Your Visit
The Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival runs from mid-March to mid-April (March 20 – April 12 in 2020). Parties, performances, parades, and other events celebrate the bloom and the history of this gift from Japan. Crowds amass daily in hopes that the blossoms will emerge on time, but they do not always open as planned.
“Historically, average March temperatures are the leading predictor for peak bloom dates. When it’s warm, the blossoms tend to come out early, and when it’s cold, they come out late most of the time.” – Washington Post Capital Weather Gang
The National Park Service forecasts the timing of the peak blooms. The peak occurs when 70% of the Yoshino cherry tree blossoms are open. The first forecast is usually announced in early March and then adjusted as needed due to weather patterns.
In our experience, it’s better to arrive toward the end of March or early April if your focus is to see cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. If you visit in March, check our guide to March Events in Northern Virginia for more fun local activities.
These websites track the progress of the cherry blossoms:
- National Park Service Bloom Watch reveals their predictions in early March.
- Bloom Watch, a page of the Cherry Blossom Festival site is updated with the changing predictions.
- Cherry Blossom Watch: an independent site focused on the Tidal Basin blooms
- Capital Weather Gang: The weather forecasters of the Washington Post are often more accurate in their bloom predictions, and they update frequently on changing weather patterns.
- Blossom Cam: Track the progress of the blossoms from several spots around the Tidal Basin.
In addition to the Cherry Blossom Festival events in Washington DC, many parks, historic sites, and businesses offer cherry blossom related specials and activities. For example, Dolci Gelati in Old Town Alexandria offers a scoop of Cherry Blossom Gelato.
A Cherry Blossom-Filled Neighborhood in Kenwood Maryland
The most spectacular cherry blossoms outside of Washington DC are on the tree-lined streets of the Kenwood neighborhood in Bethesda, Maryland. 1200 cherry trees line the streets and blooms are thick throughout the neighborhood. It’s actually become a popular destination for Japanese tour vans so drive slowly and park carefully.
Visit McCool Travel for more details and cherry blossom pictures from this wonderful alternative to Washington DC.
While street parking is usually available, Kenwood can be crowded during the cherry blossom season. Consider walking or biking in to enjoy the blooms without traffic and parking issues. Park on Landy Lane and walk or bike north on the Capital Crescent Trail a short distance until you see the neighborhood on your left.
More Places to See Maryland Cherry Blossoms
Brookside Gardens: Head to Wheaton Maryland for a stroll through the 30 cherry trees and other spring blooms at this lovely garden.
Centennial Park: A 2.6-mile paved pathway around the lake offers the chance to visit cherry blossoms, fish, picnic, and relax.
Rockville Civic Center Park and Glenview Mansion: Cherry trees line the drive to Glenview Mansion and around the adjacent Rockville Civic Center Park. Visitors can also enjoy a nature center, playground, and wooded nature walk.
Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Virginia
These are our favorite spots to take cherry blossom pictures in Northern Virginia. From formal gardens to office parking lots, they all offer good picture spots as long as your focus is on the blossoms.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna
Meadowlark is a beautiful destination year-round and you’ll find scenic cherry blossom viewing near the entrance, along the lake, on the perimeter trail outside the park, and even in the parking lot. There is a small admission fee to enter the garden, but the $6 cost is well worth it. You can explore the gardens and photograph beautiful cherry trees, magnolias, and other spring blooms.
There is a beautiful mix of cherry and magnolia trees near the front entrance, with comfortable rocking chairs to enjoy the view. This is an ideal spot to visit cherry blossoms with someone who has limited mobility. A paved wheelchair-accessible path leads to more cherry trees by the pond.
If you want to add a hike or biking to your visit, you can arrive on the W&OD Connector Trail, which passes under a row of cherry trees close to the park entrance. The Connector Trail leads from the Washington and Old Dominion Bike Trail to Meadowlark Gardens.
Meadowlark’s cherry trees generally bloom 3 to 4 days later than the Tidal Basin, depending on the weather. By mid-April, the trees are usually at or past peak bloom, both near the entrance and by the lake. However, the trees in the parking area and the perimeter path are late bloomers and often peak in the 2nd half of April.
Van Gogh Bridge at Lake Anne, Reston
Our focus at Lake Anne is just a few trees, but the location is so picturesque it’s one of our favorite places to see cherry blossoms in Northern Virginia.
Head to Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, and walk along the lake until you reach the Van Gogh bridge. The weeping cherry trees by the bridge are a perfect photo spot. If you crosse the bridge and look back you can admire the bridge, the beautiful trees, and the high-rise behind where Reston founder Robert E. Simon lived.
During your visit, check out the hidden art of Reston installed at Lake Anne. Ah, suburban living.
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington
Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful, solemn, and moving place to visit any time of year to explore US history and honor our fallen. The cemetery is full of stately memorial trees, including many cherry trees, whose blooms add even more beauty to the site.
Many tours make a quick visit to the Tomb of the Unknown and the Kennedy gravesite before moving on. You will see cherry blossoms from these sites, but if you have time, slowly explore the cemetery to fully take in the scale, beauty, and power of this sacred place.
Alexander Bell Drive, Reston
Virginia cherry blossoms are common throughout our towns and cities. One pretty example is in an office park in Reston on Alexander Bell Drive. Ignore the office buildings, as you look up into the blooms that line the street. We used to visit on windy, post-peak weekends so our kids could play in the falling petals (at the corner of the lot, not on the street).
These trees are easy to reach from the W&OD bike trail. Look for the lot on your right, just after you cross Sunrise Valley Drive heading west. At the bottom of the drive, you’ll find a few beautiful pink trees. Further up the road, the trees are a mix of pink and white blossoms.
More Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Virginia
Green Spring Gardens: Green Spring has several cherry trees along with other spring flowers, a children’s garden, and an indoor shop and library.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: This large garden just north of Richmond Virginia is a wonderful day trip destination from the DC area. with two restaurants, acres of gardens, and a fun children’s play area.
River Farm: Once part of George Washington’s vast property, River Farm has a nice orchard with cherry and other blooming fruit trees, along with peaceful spots along the Potomac River and a fun children’s garden and play area.
Snow Meadow Lane: This small, dead-end street in McLean is lined with late-blooming cherry trees.
Fairfax County makes an excellent base for visitors coming to visit cherry blossoms. Stay at the Hyatt Tysons Corner and the metro to DC is right outside your door. You’ll find more Fairfax County hotel reviews and rates here. Be sure to stop by the Fairfax County Visitor Center in Tysons Center Mall to pick up festival info, maps, and free souvenirs.
Old Town Alexandria: You’ll find a nice collection of cherry blossom activities and deals in Alexandria including dining, drink. hotel, and activity specials. Several Old Town hotels, like The Alexandrian, are offering special cherry blossom themed packages. Check TripAdvisor hotel reviews for Alexandria here.
Do you have a favorite spot to see cherry blossoms in DC, Maryland, and Virginia? Please leave your tips in the comments below. Enjoy nature all season long, and shift your focus from cherries to bluebells, with these Fabulous Ways to Celebrate Spring in Northern Virginia.