Washington D.C., the US capital city, leaves its stoicness far behind come spring with the advent of the Sakura, or the cherry blossoms that transforms it into a floral wonderland. We headed to DC for this reason in early April to view this cherry blossoms mania firsthand (cause let’s face it, Japan is too far away) and scoured quite a few places to see these delicate flowers. So, if you’re wondering where to see cherry blossoms in DC, then this is the article for you! I have also compiled all of these spots in one handy Google map at the very end so that you don’t have to do all of the legwork in hunting down these beauties!
Top places where you can see cherry blossoms in DC
1. Tidal Basin
Tidal Basin is a D.C. is a partial artificial water reservoir between the Potomac River and the Washington channel and serves as the hub for the National Cherry blossom festival. Every year, this place comes to life the rows of cherry blossom trees blooming in early spring, which is one of the most beautiful natural spectacles to behold and is as breathtaking as witnessing the Hanami in Spain.
Since we got quite a bit of rain during our visit, we were mighty scared of missing out on the blossoms altogether and so made a mad dash for the Tidal Basin since we heard it was one of the best places to see Cherry Blossoms in DC. Irrespective of the pollen and crazy tourists with their selfie sticks, the jaw dropping beauty of nature, i.e. the blooms all around, will transport you to a state of nirvana and happiness like no other. We visited the tidal basin twice, and the blossoms were just as spectacular in broad daylight as they were in the golden hour of dusk.
2. National Mall for the Monuments and Memorials
During our visit to Washington DC we opted for an AirBnB and stayed in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, a bustling urban neighborhood within walking distance to the National Mall. Commonly referred to simply as “The mall”, this extended patch of green encompassing the tidal basin at one end, is the heart of DC with all the presidential memorials/monuments, war memorials and many of the Smithsonian museums located in this region. So, if you’re wondering where to see Cherry Blossoms in DC, then this is the place to go.
Obviously, tourists flock to this area to see the cherry blossoms and your best bet would be to just put those stubs to good use and keep on walking. We started off with the Lincoln Memorial and made our way up to the Jefferson Memorial, with stops in between for the Washington Monument, WWII memorial (one of the many sites to commemorate the anniversary of D-day) Korean War veterans memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and finally the Jefferson Memorial.
My personal favorite remains the FDR memorial because of the statue of Fala, FDR’s pooch and loyal friend. All these memorials featured the powerful words, quotes and excerpts from the speeches of these visionaries and presidents, words and ideas which helped shape and lead the nation, words that were inspiring, evocative and extremely thought provoking.
I humbly request you to read the inscriptions on the memorial walls if you get a chance, even if that costs you a few selfies. As commoners, we often forget the ideas and vision that shaped the country whose fruits of success we enjoy, we forget the endless toils and tribulations the founding fathers had to go through to get us to this point and a slice of their revolutionary ideas, now permanently carved out on the memorials, can be quite a revelation as it informs us about the past and how far we have progressed as a nation.
3. National Arboretum
We were greeted with foul weather from almost immediately after we set foot in DC but that did not deter our spirits. With the sun finally coming out of behind the gloom and doom of the grey clouds, we decided to head off to the National Arboretum in the hope of seeing some more cherry blossoms beyond the tidal basin as well as the famous bonsai garden. Alas, there too our hopes got cruelly dashed when the lady at the visitor center informed us that the cherry blossoms were all gone thanks to the hurricane from the previous week, that had washed the delicate blossoms away.
Naturally, we were devastated since this is one of the best places to see Cherry Blossoms in DC. But, we made the best of it and spent some time at the bonsai garden with rows and rows of miniature marvels greeting us as well as the ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) exhibit and then stopped for some time to marvel the Capitol Columns looming over the landscape. The Arboretum is vast and just the right place if you love flora of all kinds. We had to cut our visit short due to the looming dark clouds and impending rain and thus made our way to seek refuge in the museums.
4. Where to see cherry blossoms in DC minus the crowds: Parks and Gardens
Wondering where to see cherry blossoms in DC minus the crowds? Then head to some of the quieter parks in the city that come alive with the blooms but are known only to locals. See the blossoms without being pestered by selfie sticks in the following places:
i) East Potomac Park: Albeit smaller, the groves of cherry blossoms on this man made island on the Potomac river can be viewed crowd free.
ii) Oxon Run Park: This park has the second largest collection of cherry trees in DC, thanks to volunteers planting over 200 cherry trees here.
iii) Stanton Park: This Capitol Hill park is lined with cherry trees and is a great spot to see the blooms.
iv) Dumbarton Oaks: The neighborhood of Georgetown is not only known for its restaurants, federal buildings and shops but also for this beautiful garden with cherry blossoms and lots of other spring flowers.
Tips on viewing cherry blossoms in DC
Now that you know where to see cherry blossoms in DC, here are some handy tips to maximize your viewing experience:
a) Arrive early or later in the evening (a little before dusk) to catch the blooms without the crowds. This will also help in finding decent parking because the Mall and Tidal Basin can get crowded too quickly.
b) Spring can get rainy, so pack in those raincoats, rainboots and don’t forget to bring in an umbrella.
c) If you are visiting during the day (late morning/early afternoon), walk away from the larger groves with heavy crowds to explore smaller ones around. A few good full branches will make excellent backdrops for your photos.
d) As mentioned before, do not forget to explore some of the local parks to get away from the crowds and view the blossoms in peace.
Resources to plan your visit to see the cherry blossoms in DC
Ending the post with a Google Map (as promised) and some helpful links to help you plan your DC visit to see the blossoms at their peak bloom. Here are some links on predicting peak bloom season, transportation and other events going on during the cherry blossom festival in DC.
1. Bloom predictions to plan your DC trip
Cherry Blossom Watch website
2. Transportation during cherry blossom festival in DC
3. Events during the cherry blossom festival in DC
Washington DC comes alive with dozens of events during the cherry blossom festival. Here is a link to the most important ones.
I hope you liked this post on where to see cherry blossoms in DC and are busy planning your trip to see the same! Thanks so much for reading do check out my other post on where to dine in DC for a fabulous time!
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