Best Washington, DC Cherry Blossom Trip Tips - Hexbag

Best Washington, DC Cherry Blossom Trip Tips


Sakura, a Japanese symbol, are found throughout, even in DC

In 1906, USDA official Dr. David Fairchild planted cherry trees in DC at his Chevy Chase, Maryland, residence. After they prospered, more blossoming trees were planned for the capital.

Tokyo offered the US 3,020 cherry trees in 1912 after failing to provide 2000. Later, Somei-Yoshino trees dominated Washington, DC. This contribution started the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Study the past.


The National Cherry Blossom Festival?
DC has had cherry blossom festivities before. Japanese folks travel and host “flower watching” parties during cherry blossom season.

Since 1935, Washington, DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival has lasted four weeks in April. Parade, kite festival, art shows, and more are part of the event.


The 2024 National Cherry Blossom Festival is March 20–April 14.

When do DC cherry blossoms bloom?
The DC Cherry Blossom Festival lasts 4 weeks, although most cherry blossoms last 1-2 weeks.

Cherry blossoms rely on winter and spring weather.

Peak bloom in DC occurs mid-March to late April, usually during the Cherry Blossom Festival. When 70% of their blossoms are open, the Tidal Basin Yoshino cherry trees attain “peak bloom”.

-Peak cherry blossoms at the FDR Memorial in DC
National Park Service studies cherry blossoms and anticipates peak bloom each winter/spring. The predictions improve as peak bloom approaches, and you can trust them a few weeks out (although nature is unpredictable!).

In 2024, peak bloom is March 23-26.

Bloom peaked March 22, 2022. Elliot and I live near DC and arranged a last-minute getaway to coincide with peak bloom once the NPS verified the dates.

You may see cherry blossoms in the last week of March and the first week of April if you prepare early (like most people).

Cherry trees near the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC blossom within days.

Cherry trees bloom beautifully for 1-3 weeks (typically 1-2 weeks). Longer tree blossoms are more fragile.

Visit at peak since wind, rain, cold, and heat shorten bloom life! Most trees lost their flowers a week after peak in 2022 due to strong winds and rain.

Cherry blossoms closeup
The main draw in DC during cherry blossom season is seeing hundreds of cherry trees in bloom, but there are many other fun things to do!

1. See DC cherry blossoms.
Best cherry blossom viewing places in DC:

Tidal Basin cherry blossoms
The most famous cherry trees are surrounding the Tidal Basin, with fluffy pinkish-white Yoshino cherry blooms framing the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial in most photos.

The Tidal Basin is DC’s most popular bloom location. Photos from here may seem magnificent when facing the lake, but hundreds or thousands of people are behind them. Fortunately, there are few people here, making photography easy.

Contrary to reality, the 2-mile Tidal Basin path requires some effort. You’ll find less crowded places than the National Mall, so it’s worth it.

Favorite Tidal Basin cherry blossom spots:

  • Near the Japanese Lantern, photograph the cherry blossoms and Washington Monument or Jefferson Memorial across the basin.
  • MLK Memorial—Busy yet lovely.
  • Walk out from the basin at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Park to view cherry trees and less people.
  • Cherry tree branches offered a Jefferson Memorial vista near the Japanese Pagoda.

If the weather is right, hire a pedal boat in the Tidal Basin to see the water blooms. The east side Tidal Basin boat building on Maine Ave rents boats by the hour.

The boat house opens in March; reserve via Boating in DC. Walk-up rentals will be available only during cherry blossom season starting March 23, 2024.

cherry blossoms around the Washington Monument
Cherry trees line the southern and eastern sides of the Washington Monument, making it easy to traverse from the Tidal Basin.

Cherry flowers at EPP
East Potomac Park, across I-395 from the Tidal Basin, has my second-favorite DC cherry trees. The golf course centers the park, but the 3-mile route has hundreds of cherry trees of many kinds.

Though less busy, East Potomac Park’s Yoshino cherry trees bloom at the same time as those near the Tidal Basin. To admire them, park at Hains Point or the one-way road.

Even during peak bloom weekend, parking was ample.
Many Kwanzan cherry trees in East Potomac Park bloom darker pink two weeks after Yoshinos. The “main” bloom may be missed, but these are still visible!

Other DC cherry blossom patches
Since the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park are free and include cherry trees, most people will remain there. If you like fewer trees and more peace, try:

  • Magnolias and cherry trees bloom simultaneously in the National Arboretum. Some Arboretum Yoshino trees bloom earlier than Tidal Basin ones. The vast Arboretum is seldom crowded. Parking and entry are free!
  • Our beautiful Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has 150+ cherry trees outside.
  • Georgetown’s Dumbarton Oaks museum has a beautiful cherry hill. They have additional flowering trees. Starting March 15, the gardens will charge admission from 2–6 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday to alleviate cherry blossom congestion.
  • Congressional Cemetery in DC and Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown have cherry tree lanes/walkways.
  • In DC, even tiny parks and neighborhoods get cherry blossoms.

Washington, DC Cherry blooms
The most popular blossom-peeping spot in Maryland is Kenmore in Bethesda, but you can’t park on the street. Drive by or park outside the neighborhood to walk.

1.Enjoy National Cherry Blossom Festival events
DC will undoubtedly have something unique for the 2024 National Cherry Blossom Festival, March 20–April 14.

Notable occurrences include:

Festival Opening: 5 p.m., March 23, 2024. Japan-US friendship is commemorated at this inaugural occasion. Distinguished artists from both countries will perform. Free tickets are available late February.
10–4 p.m. March 30, 2024. Bloom Kite Festival The Mall and Washington Monument Kite Festival is a family favorite. Come kite-fly among cherry blossoms! Visit to see the spectacle!
The Washington Monument Bloom Kite Festival
Kite Festival at Washington Monument

Petalpalooza, April 6, 2024, 1-9 p.m. A free all-day Capitol Riverfront festival on the Anacostia River with live music on outdoor stages, interactive art displays, family-friendly activities, and more. The Official National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show starts to music at 8:30 p.m.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, 10 a.m., April 13, 2024. This spring parade in Washington, DC, has magnificent floats, huge parade balloons, marching bands, prominent performers, and more. Grandstand tickets cost $25-40, however the parade route on Constitution Ave between 9th and 15th streets is free (arrive early).
Event activities are available. Find DC houses with “Petal Porches” decorations. (Select Petal Porches in the checklist to see all participating homes.)

2.Enjoy cherry blossom afternoon tea.
DC hosted numerous themed afternoon teas during cherry blossom season, which I loved!

Mandarin Oriental cherry blossom afternoon tea
Elliott and I picked the Cherry Blossom Tea at the historic Mandarin Oriental, a wonderful occasion with weeks-long tableware.

The following DC hotels provide beautiful cherry blossom afternoon teas:

St Regis DC
Salamander In Washington DC (formerly Mandarin Oriental), menus and reservations are often available during cherry blossom season.

Most afternoon teas are in 5-star hotels and cost $75–125 per person. But it’s a unique opportunity to experience the season at a hotel you may not stay at!

3. Enjoy cherry blossom treats and drinks.
Washington, DC restaurants, cocktail bars, bakeries, and more provide cherry blossom-themed snacks, drinks, and menus.

Elliot and I ordered Astro Doughnuts and cherry blossom cocktails at Hotel Washington’s VUE rooftop bar in 2022.

To optimize your cherry blossom visit to Washington, DC, especially during peak bloom, remember the following:

Expect busyness. Yes, “peak” cherry blossom blooms are brief and everyone wants to see them. The Tidal Basin and other monuments will be crowded. Museums will fill. Accommodations may sell. Reservations necessary at restaurants. Plan forward after accepting it.
Throughout the week. I know work and cherry blossom blossoms make it hard, but the festival’s biggest days are weekends in full bloom. Visit weekdays to avoid chaos.
Wake up early. Although hardly “quiet,” the Tidal Basin and other wonderful viewing areas are less crowded before daybreak.
Avoid driving whenever feasible. Avoid driving into DC due to parking fees! After driving into DC, we left our car at our hotel for the weekend (save for East Potomac Park). Use Metro, DC Circulator buses, bike share, or walking wherever possible.
Wear good shoes. Seriously. Plan for stairs and cherry blossom gazing during the 2-mile Tidal Basin stroll.
Prepare for any weather. Bring clothing and a raincoat or umbrella even after checking the weather a few days before travel. DC offers lovely late March and early April afternoon temperatures in the 50s-60s F. Despite little rain, it was cloudy and windy throughout of our visit.

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