Beautiful Washington DC Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive

Updated on March 13, 2024 by Julie McCool

Take a cherry blossom scenic drive for close-up views of the Washington DC cherry trees around and near the Tidal Basin from the comfort of your car. This is my favorite route for seeing cherry blossoms from the car, a nice option when you have guests with mobility issues. I also include places where you may find parking if you want to get out and take some photos of the DC cherry trees in bloom.

My cherry blossom scenic drive route includes views of many of Washington DC's famous cherry trees along with several monuments. Sure, you can see more of the DC cherry blossoms on foot, but you'll also encounter crowds and a lot of walking. This drive is a way to see pretty cherry trees from the privacy of your vehicle.

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Explore more: Beautiful Northern Virginia Scenic Drives Near Washington DC.

Note that the National Park Service sometimes closes roads on this route, especially when the area is crowded. Our complete guide, Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Virginia, DC, and Maryland, is a great resource for tracking and seeing cherry trees in bloom in locations around the DC region.

As much as we love the DC cherry blossoms, they are not the only option. We highly recommend the beautiful Kenwood Maryland cherry blossoms as a great DC alternative.

And even if you miss the peak bloom at the Tidal Basin, you can see late-blooming cherry trees on this scenic drive route 2 to 3 weeks later.

When to Take a Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive

Please note that timing is very important if you want to enjoy this drive without sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. On weekdays, plan to take your drive between 10:00 and 3:00 to avoid the heaviest rush hour traffic.

On weekends, complete the drive early (before 10:00) or late (after 4:00) in the day. Check traffic updates before you head out and stay away if traffic is heavy.

2020 cherry blossom closeup
DC Cherry Blossom Closeup

DC Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive Route

My cherry blossom scenic drive route is not the most direct but it gives you the best cherry tree views from your car. The highlights are a drive around the Tidal Basin, through East Potomac Park, and past the Washington Monument and World War II Monument.

Here is a Google map of my suggested route using the Einstein Memorial as an arbitrary starting point. Note that the Google map may update due to road congestion. The map below shows the intended route, followed by basic directions and highlights to watch for on your drive.

Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive FuninFairfaxVA Google map
Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive Route

Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive Highlights

From the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge or the Einstein Memorial, go straight on Constitution (50E), with Constitution Gardens on your right. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool are also on your right but they are not visible from the road.

Turn right on 15th Street NW. You'll have great views of the Washington Monument and surrounding cherry trees on your right.

Washington Monument 15th St view
Washington Monument from 15th St

Stay straight until the road merges into Maine Ave, then bear right onto E. Basin Drive. The Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial will be on your right, and you'll see a nice section of cherry trees from your car.

Tidal Basin cherry blossoms 2020
Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms 2020

Turn left on Ohio Dr. SW following signs for Hains Point. The George Mason Memorial, at the corner on your left, is surrounded by beautiful saucer magnolias, a few cherry trees, and forsythia.

DC in bloom at the George Mason Memorial
DC in bloom at the George Mason Memorial

To continue your drive, go straight into East Potomac Park until you have to turn left at the Do Not Enter signs. The drive around East Potomac Park is one way, so you turn left here then turn right again on Ohio Dr. SW.

NOTE: The National Park Service sometimes reverses direction on the loop through East Potomac Park to ease traffic congestion (as they did on March 26, 2023). No matter which direction you travel through the park, you'll return to the same point.

East Potomac Park  Scenic Drive Loop

The scenic drive through East Potomac Park is about 3 miles long on a two-lane, one-way road. There are water views throughout, and most of the drive is lined with cherry trees. The park is a popular place to fish, jog, cycle, walk, and picnic.

There are many free parking spots along the drive, which fill up quickly on nice weekends. If you find a spot, this is a nice place to walk around and see the cherry trees up close.

Cherry Blossoms Scenic Drive in East Potomac Park Washington DC
Cherry Blossoms Scenic Drive Washington DC

There is a paved walkway along the river's edge, but portions of it may be closed due to damage from frequent flooding.

East Potomac Park cherry blossoms 2020
East Potomac Park Cherry Blossoms

There were lots of helicopters flying by during our visit and one passed dramatically close overhead.

Helicopter flying over East Potomac cherry blossoms
Helicopter over East Potomac cherry blossoms

If you are able to find a parking spot on the west side of the park you can watch flights take off and land across the river at National Airport. Notice how the planes bank as they come down the Potomac, avoiding the restricted airspace over the Pentagon.

Plane over Potomac River and cherry blossoms from East Potomac Park
Plane Over Potomac River, East Potomac Park

West Potomac Park

When you exit the park, continue straight on Ohio Dr. SW (the Tidal Basin will be on your right). You are now driving through West Potomac Park between the river and athletic fields. The FDR Memorial is on your right but is not visible from the road.

View of cherry trees from East Basin Drive
Cherry Trees from East Basin Drive

Make the first right on East Basin Dr for more views of the cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin. You'll pass the Martin Luther King Memorial on your right, though you will only see the back walls as the statue faces the water.

MLK Memorial scenic drive view
MLK Memorial view from the road

Turn right on Independence Ave past the northern end of the Tidal Basin, curving to the left until you can take a slight right onto 17th St NW. Here you will have a brief but fabulous view of the World War II and Lincoln Memorials on your left, and the Washington Monument on your right.

WW II and Lincoln Memorial scenic drive view
WW II and Lincoln Memorials from 17th St

Now turn left on Constitution to complete your drive. If left turns are not allowed, follow the map above to get back onto Constitution. Watch for a glimpse of one of our favorite DC hidden gems, the Albert Einstein Memorial. (If there is a parking space available, this is a great photo spot.)

Albert Einstein Memorial in Washington DC
Albert Einstein Memorial DC

As you head onto the bridge you'll have a nice view of cherry trees in front of the Institute for Peace.

Cherry trees at the United States Institute of Peace
United States Institute of Peace

You have completed our recommended cherry blossom scenic drive in Washington DC. As noted above, this is not the most direct route to any of the points highlighted on our map. Remember, this is not the route Google will suggest so use our map link above.

It is easy to get lost when you are navigating the confusing streets in this section of DC, but you can always loop back and try again. We love a great scenic drive, but this one is trickier than most.

We hope you enjoy the beautiful cherry tree views and encounter minimal traffic on your cherry blossom scenic drive. Happy cherry blossom season!

Find more beautiful road trips in our guide to the Best Scenic Drives in Northern Virginia.

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This cherry blossom scenic drive offers close-up views of the Washington DC blooms around and near the Tidal Basin from the comfort of your car.
DC Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive
Washington DC cherry blossom scenic drive for close-up views of cherry tree blooms from the comfort of your car.
DC Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive