Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in DC and Unique Ways to See Them
Well over one hundred years ago – 111 years to be exact – the mayor of Tokyo City, Japan made a decision that to this day ensures that spring is welcomed into our nation’s capital in a phenomenal burst of pink blossoms. That decision? He decided to gift Washington DC with twelve different varietals of Japanese cherry trees – a total of 3020 cherry trees – as a symbol of the growing friendship between the two nations.
However, it wasn’t until 23 years later that the first Cherry Blossom Festival was held, and 24 years later that it became a national annual event. And what an annual event it is! From petal porches to pink tie parties to parades to Petalpalooza and more, the festivities surrounding the National Cherry Blossom Festival are as unique as they are colorful and take the color pink to a whole new dimension.
Interested in checking out the city during its most beautiful season? We don’t blame you. This year’s festival is scheduled to run from March 20 through April 16 as cherry blossoms typically bloom starting around the last week of March into the first week of April. (As for peak bloom dates – as of this writing it was still too early to predict according to the experts.)
Read on to get the scoop on the best places to view these bountiful blossoms – as well as some really cool ways to get up close and personal to them.
The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC
So, where do you go to take in all these beautiful blooms? That’s the best part. Some of the best photo ops happen right in the middle of DC’s most iconic attractions. That means you not only get to see what the city is famous for year-round – its monuments and memorials – but you get to see them amid a backdrop of these breathtaking flowering trees.
On the other hand, some of the best places to see cherry blossoms in DC are typically only privy to the locals (shhhh….) meaning a lot fewer spectators and a calmer more serene setting overall. We gathered up the following five options that offer the best of both worlds for your consideration.
Tidal Basin and National Mall
There are now about 3770 trees alone lining two of the most well-known areas of the capital – the National Mall and the Tidal Basin – making them the number one place visitors and residents alike head to snap photos.
If you aren’t familiar with where to find them – the National Mall is what the area from the Capital Building all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial is referred to, while the Tidal Basin is considered a part of the National Mall and the Memorial Parks (which is a part of the National Park Service) and sits at the mall’s southern end.
With the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and more located within these two regions, you are not only getting two of the best places to see the cherry blossoms – you’re also seeing a large portion of exactly what else you came to see in DC – some of its most well-known monuments and memorials.
It is important to note that due to the popularity of these areas regardless of the time of year, these are also going to be the most crowded spots to view the trees. If you want to avoid the crowds – consider going very early in the morning or choose one of the other spots we recommend.
Hains Point Loop Trail in East Potomac Park
Just beyond the Jefferson Memorial you will find the Hains Point Loop Trail which is located in East Potomac Park. Here you’ll find a pathway that offers approximately four miles – which you can choose to walk or bike – of cherry blossom sighting opportunities. Not only will you find a nice variety of cherry blossom trees – at least twelve different species – but you will also be treated to fabulous views of DC’s waterways including the Potomac River, the Anacostia River and the Washington Channel.
U.S. National Arboretum and The Gardens of Dumbarton Oaks
About ten minutes or so from the Capital Building via car, you’ll find the U.S. National Arboretum in Northeastern DC. Here you can take in the blossoms without all the elbow jostling thanks to the fact that they are spread out across three miles. Bonus (actually two bonuses) – they have a longer peak season and that is due to their diversity, which also means you will also see a wider variety of colors here – everything from white to deep pink to dark red.
Another option is The Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks – which is a Harvard University research institute, a library, a museum and a garden. This 16-acre historic estate resides in DC’s Georgetown and is home to Cherry Hill where – you guessed it – you can find those pink petals winding throughout. Since it is also a short drive away from the cherry blossom “hub”– about 20 minutes or so – as an off-the-beaten-path destination it’s another great alternative to get those Instagram-worthy shots.
The Most Unique Ways to See Cherry Blossoms in DC
Looking for a unique way to take in all this beauty? One that will take the cherry blossom viewing experience to a whole new level? Beyond Times Square has you covered! Check out just a few of the private, luxury options we offer below.
How about blossoms by boat? On this private 90-minute adventure you’ll board your vessel in one of DC’s newest districts, The Wharf. Your tour will start in the Washington Channel and then continue up the Potomac River to your final destination – Georgetown. Along the way you’ll have fabulous views of the blooming trees along the banks as well as an entirely different vantage point of some of the DC’s most famous monuments, memorials and buildings.
You also have the option to bring aboard your own food and drinks or even have your excursion catered upon request. And your guide? A US Coast Guard licensed captain who will happily provide the narrative along your journey and perhaps even share some little-known secrets of the city.
Thanks to the fact that DC’s monuments and memorials are brilliantly lit come sundown, you can beat some of the daytime crowds and check out the cherry blossoms in the evening instead. Then, if you like, you can take that concept a bit farther – and view them from the seat of a bike.
On this private tour, your savvy professional tour guide will meet you at your hotel with a plan in mind to make sure you get the best views – and will even customize the tour should you have specific sights you would like to fit in. With less traffic – both vehicular and by foot – you’ll enjoy a less hectic pace and some pretty incredible nighttime photo ops!
DC Cherry Blossom Private Pedicab Tour
Here’s an option if you don’t feel like boating, biking or hoofing it – take in these springtime beauties via your private pedicab. This experience has you sitting back in comfort and enjoying the ride while your driver chauffeurs you around to all of the most popular viewing spots.
As you make your way around the Tidal Basin and National Mall, your driver – who is also an expert tour guide – will provide the narrative to make sure you don’t miss a thing. And your guide will be happy to oblige if you want to climb out at certain points to get up close and personal to any particular monuments or memorials. And – this one is dog friendly – so be sure not to leave Fido behind!
Now, with all of this sightseeing, you’re bound to work up an appetite, right? Well lucky for you Beyond Times Square has some fabulous food tours in DC! We believe food tours are the perfect way to end or start your day – meaning with a full belly of course!
Now, Georgetown is a must-see when in our nation’s capital and this experience will have you covering about two miles of it. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of this neighborhood – DC’s oldest! – such as the fact that it was once a tobacco port city.
And of course – you will also be tasting as you go – and that can include anything from homemade donuts to some yummy street food! Bon Appetit!
And there you have it our fellow flower fanatics – our guide on the best places to see cherry blossoms in DC and some unique ways to check them out. Cherry blossom season will be here before you know it. For the best availability for these experiences and more – don’t delay – give our amazing Destination Experts a call today to get your Washington DC getaway customized and curated just for you!