This complete guide to where to see cherry blossoms in Virginia, DC, and Maryland includes popular and hidden locations plus tips on when and how to see the blooms. We've also got 2024 Cherry Blossom Festival event updates plus helpful websites to track the peak bloom in the Washington DC region.
The Tidal Basin, home to the National Cherry Blossom Festival, is the most popular place to see cherry blossoms in DC. If you are a bucket list person, the DC cherry blossoms should be on your list.
Happily, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has returned to a full slate of live events including parades, fireworks, and performances around the Tidal Basin and National Mall.
Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something, at no additional cost to you.
Fortunately, there are many more delightful spots to see cherry blossoms in DC, Virginia, and Maryland and you'll find them below. Read on for DC info plus Tidal Basin alternatives where you can see cherry blossoms.
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 and nearby.
2023 Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Update
The National Park Service declared Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom on March 23, 2023 at the Tidal Basin. This is 2 days later than the 2022 peak but earlier than 2021.
The Yoshino blossoms at the Tidal Basin reached stage 1 (green buds) on February 23. Initial peak bloom predictions have been pretty accurate:
- The National Park Service predicted peak bloom at the start (or even before) their March 22 and 25 forecast.
- Capital Weather Gang predicted peak bloom of the DC cherry blossoms between March 19 to 23. (They initially forecast March 25 and 29).
If you miss the peak cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, don't worry. Kwanzan trees bloom 2 to 3 weeks later and we know where to see late-blooming cherry trees. Early spring is a beautiful time of year in the DC region, even if the cherry trees are past their peak.
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 3700 cherry trees bloom. White granite monuments like the Thomas 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.
Top Tips for Viewing DC Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms
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. The pathway is usually packed from 10:00 to 4:00 during peak bloom.
- 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. The south end of the basin, where flooding has taken a toll, has the fewest trees.
- If time allows, walk the full 2-mile paved trail around the Tidal Basin so you can see the blooms from every angle.
- Parking is very 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. Scroll down for more ways to see the DC blooms, including seasonal guided tours.
- See below for sites that track the best time to see the DC cherry blossoms.
Best Tidal Basin Cherry Blossom Photo Spots
There are great cherry blossom photograph spots all around the Tidal Basin, but here are a few of our favorites:
- For a cherry blossom photo think with blooms, take photos near curves in the path. The area just east of the Jefferson Memorial is a good curved spot.
- Photograph the Washington Monument framed by cherry blossoms from the western side of the basin, near the FDR Memorial.
- Just south of the FDR Memorial is the Japanese Pagoda, which dates to the 17th century. The 9 granite slabs are carved with a Buddha seated on a lotus flower.
- Photograph the Jefferson Memorial framed by cherry blossoms from the northern side of the basin.
- Don't miss the beautiful cherry trees near the Martin Luther King Memorial, also on the north side of the Tidal Basin.
- The Japanese Lantern is a popular photo spot just east of the MLK Memorial. During a special ceremony at the festival, the 400-year-old lantern is lit by the Cherry Blossom Princess.
View the Cherry Blossoms in DC from the Water
In 2023, the Tidal Basin pedal boats open on March 11.
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. Reservations are required, so follow the link to pick your date and time.
Pedal boats carry up to 4 people and are $38/hour weekdays and $40/hour weekends and holidays. If you see a reference to “tidal basin paddle boat”, this is the same thing (the official name is pedal boat). In past years there were a few 2-person Swan Boats with an electric motor, but these may not return.
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 basin from the water.
More Ways to Tour Cherry Blossoms in DC
Below are several more beautiful and fun ways to see cherry blossoms in Washington DC.
Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive: View the cherry blossoms from your car on a scenic drive around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. Our route gives you lots of cherry blossom views and suggests a quiet area to stop and walk under the blossoms.
East Potomac Park is also a great place to bike beneath the cherry blossom trees on flat, paved, one-way roads.
Guided Tours: Guided tours are a convenient way to see the cherry trees, especially for first-time visitors to DC. The highly-rated DC Cherry Blossom Tour with Viator (offered seasonally) includes visits to the Tidal Basin along with stops at the Lincoln Memorial, US Capitol, and more.
You can also tour the cherry blossoms in DC and Kenwood Maryland (see info on Kenwood below) with pickup in either DC or Falls Church Virginia. This tour is only offered during cherry blossom season.
Visiting DC outside of cherry blossom season? This very popular Washington DC tour will take you to all the major monuments, memorials, and the Capitol Building. Or see the top DC sites beautifully lit on a narrated Moonlit DC Tour of the National Mall.
Bus Tours: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Tours are a convenient option to visit the basin and other important sites throughout Washington DC.
Bike Tour: For a more active approach, book a Cherry Blossom Bike Tour of the blooms with Viator. The $54, 2-hour tour (available seasonally) includes many of the most popular DC monuments and a visit to the cherry trees. Note that you may proceed on foot at times if crowds prevent safe travel close to the blossoms.
Virtual Tour: The Tidal Basin was closed to the public in 2020, so the National Park Service created a virtual tour of the cherry trees in bloom that you can watch at home.
More Places to See Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
When you're ready to venture beyond the Tidal Basin, check out these other DC cherry blossom locations for beautiful blooms.
Washington Monument Grounds: There is a nice collection of cherry trees on the grounds of the National Mall, especially near the Washington Monument. This is a quiet spot to photograph the monument rising from the blossoms.
U.S. Capitol Grounds: There are some beautiful cherry trees sprinkled around the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The largest grouping is in the Lower Senate Park with over 100 trees surrounding the fountain and paths.
East Potomac Park: Avoid the crowds at the Tidal Basin and take a scenic drive through East Potomac Park. Cherry trees line the shore on both sides of this peninsula at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The crowds are much smaller here and you can usually find free parking. This is also the best place to see late-blooming cherry trees in DC.
The road through East Potomac Park begins at the southwest corner of the Tidal Basin and follows the edge of the park south to Hains Point. East Potomac Park is a great alternative for biking under the DC cherry trees. Just follow the paved Hains Point Loop Trail through the park.
The George Mason Memorial, at the corner of East Basin and Ohio Drive, has a pretty mix of magnolias, flower beds, and a few cherry trees.
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.
Congressional Cemetery: Rows of pretty cherry trees create a tunnel of blossoms in this historic cemetery. You can't drive into the cemetery but visitors are welcome to explore on foot and there is free parking near the entrance on E Street.
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens: Cherry trees surround the parking area and Visitor Center at Kenilworth Park. The park is also a favorite place to enjoy birding along the boardwalk.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Located in northeast DC, the Basilica of the National Shrine has 150 cherry trees and magnolias. This beautiful church is open daily from 6:00 to 6:00 and free parking is available,
LeDroit Park: A small park in the historic LeDroit Park neighborhood is a great place to see a few early-blooming Okame Cherry Trees. The pink blossoms surround an ornate metal sign leading into the park (as shown in these Instagram pics by CaroleJeanPhotography).
National Arboretum: The cherry trees are more spread out, but you'll appreciate the peace at this less frequented garden in northeast DC.
Stanton Park: Stanton Park has a nice collection of cherry trees surrounding the statue of Revolutionary War hero, General Nathanael Greene. The park is one of the larger sites in the Capitol Hill Parks collection maintained by the National Park Service.
Oxon Run Park: Volunteers planted over 200 cherry trees in Oxon Run Park, one of the largest collections of cherry trees in DC.
Enid Haupt Garden: This beautiful garden behind the Smithsonian Castle fills with pink when gorgeous magnolia trees bloom (usually a few days ahead of the cherries). There are no cherry trees in the garden, but the magnolia blooms are definitely worth a visit.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC
The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from mid-March to mid-April and will be held from March 20 to April 14, 2024. Parties, performances, parades, and other events celebrate the bloom and the history of this gift from Japan.
The festival marks the anniversary of 3,000 cherry trees being given to the city by the Mayor of Tokyo, Japan. The first cherry trees were planted in Washington DC on 27 March 1912.
In 2024, festival events and the annual cherry blossom parade are once again in-person events. Signature 2024 Cherry Blossom Festival events include the following (2024 dates are TBA):
- Opening ceremony – March
- Blossom Kite Festival – March
- Petalpalooza fireworks show – April
- Cherry Blossom Festival Parade – April
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.
When to See the Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
Normally, crowds amass daily in hopes that the blossoms will emerge on time, but they do not always open as planned. The National Park Service forecasts the timing of the peak blooms when 70% of the Yoshino cherry tree blossoms are open.
The average peak bloom of Washington DC cherry blossoms used to be early April, but weather has a major impact on the timing. Warmer weather led to an early bloom in both 2021 and 2022, and 2023 is on a similar track.
In 2021 peak cherry blossoms in DC occurred on March 28. The 2022 peak bloom arrived even earlier on March 21. Fortunately, the blossoms held on post-peak and were still looking lush when we visited on March 27, 2022.
The first cherry blossom forecast is announced in early March and then adjusted as needed due to weather patterns. If March is warm, the peak bloom is usually early.
The first National Park Service prediction for peak bloom in 2021 was April 2 – 5, but the peak came early on March 28. In 2022, the peak bloom date occurred even earlier on March 21.
In our experience, it's better to arrive toward the end of March if your focus is to see cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. However, warmer weather brings earlier blossoms, so April could be past-peak. 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 its 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.
Where 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 when your focus is on the blossoms.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna
Meadowlark is a beautiful destination year-round. In spring, you’ll find scenic cherry blossom viewing near the entrance, along the lake, on the perimeter trail outside the park, and even near 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 bike ride to your visit, you can reach the park from the W&OD Connector Trail. The paved trail passes under a row of late-blooming cherry trees close to the park entrance and picnic area. 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 near the entrance and by the lake. However, the Kwanzan cherry trees on the connector trail are late bloomers and often peak one to two weeks later.
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.
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.
Ad Hoc Road, Great Falls
Beautiful, late-blooming Kwanzan cherry trees line the entrance to Ad Hoc Road in Great Falls. If you visit, take it slow and stay off private property on this short dead-end street. Take a Great Falls scenic drive to see the trees, visit local parks, and enjoy a meal or drink in this charming small town.
Shouse Village, Vienna
Late-blooming Kwanzan cherry trees line Shouse Road and connecting streets in the Shouse Village neighborhood. The village is named after Catherine Filene Shouse who donated the land and funds to create Wolf Trap National Park.
Baron Cameron Park and Weihle Avenue
Take a short drive north from the Van Gogh Bridge to see our two newest cherry tree photo spots in Northern Virginia.
Update: Unfortunately this weeping cherry tree was cut way back and is not a great photo spot anymore. A beautiful solitary cherry tree stands next to the playground in Baron Cameron Park, near the Reston Dog Park. Branches full of cherry blossoms hang down almost to the ground creating a gorgeous photo spot. The trunk and branches on this tree are lovely, and the location is perfect for kids and dog-lovers.
Cherry trees line parts of Weihle Avenue across the street from Baron Cameron Park. A group near Longwood Grove Drive creates this short cherry tree tunnel covered in 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. Here you can enjoy two restaurants, acres of gardens, a beautiful conservatory, and a fun children's play area.
Old Town Alexandria: Wander the lovely streets of Old Town Alexandria and you'll see lots of blossoming cherry trees. Cobblestone streets, brick sidewalks, and colonial homes make the perfect backdrop to spring blooms. Get takeout from one of the many Old Town restaurants and head to the waterfront parks for a picnic surrounded by blooms.
River Farm: Once part of George Washington's vast property, River Farm has a nice orchard with cherry and other blooming fruit trees in peaceful spots along the Potomac River. The farm also has a fun children's garden and play area.
Fairfax County Virginia parks and historic sites offer blossom-centric events at Green Spring Gardens, Workhouse Arts Center, Mosaic District, and of course Meadowlark Gardens. Old Town Alexandria businesses host cherry blossom deals including dining, drink, hotel, and activity specials. See our roundups of March Events and April Events for fun things to do in the region.
Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Maryland
The best places to see cherry blossoms in Maryland include several pretty gardens and one spectacular neighborhood.
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.
See our Complete Guide to the Kenwood Cherry Blossoms for details and insider tips for this wonderful alternative to Washington DC.
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.
Where to Stay During Cherry Blossom Season in the DC Area
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. Read our full review of the Hyatt Tysons Corner. You'll find more Fairfax hotels here and Fairfax County hotels here.
Arlington is just across the river from the Tidal Basin area so it's a great base for your visit. Check Arlington hotel rates and availability here.
Prefer an apartment or house for your visit? We've rounded up 17 Amazing Northern Virginia Airbnb and Vacation Rentals that fit the bill. Or click here to check vacation rental availability in DC.
Do you have a favorite spot to see cherry blossoms in DC, Maryland, and Virginia? Enjoy nature all season long, and shift your focus from cherries to bluebells and other spring wildflowers, with 30 Fun Spring Bucket List Adventures in Virginia DC Maryland.
Pin it for later: