The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in D.C. This Year

Make the most of your time in the nation’s capital when the city is painted pink.

The Tidal Basin in the spring with the Jefferson Memorial and the iconic Cherry Blossom trees
Photo: Courtesy of

March 20, also known as the spring equinox, marks the day when the sun crosses the equator and heads north. For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, that means lots to look forward to, including longer hours of serotonin-boosting sunshine, warmer temperatures, and nature budding back to life.

Few cities undergo this seasonal transformation more beautifully and dramatically than Washington, D.C., with its 3,000-plus cherry blossom trees. Gifted to the nation's capital by Tokyo's mayor, Yukio Ozaki back in 1912, they remain a visually striking symbol of renewal, hope, and friendship.

The natural phenomenon is so cherished that there's an annual National Cherry Blossom Festival (held this year from March 20 through April 16) that draws more than 1.5 million people from around the globe. As for the best time to see the blooms? The National Park Service (NPS) has predicted peak blooms from March 22 to 25 this year, and visitors can stay tuned to the NPS Bloom Watch website for updated information about their progress.

But because the window to view the cherry blossoms is so fleeting, here's a handy guide to help you strategize and make the most of a trip to Washington, D.C. this spring.

Boats on the Tidal Basin surrounded by Cherry Blossoms
Courtesy of

Tidal Basin

The most photographed site during cherry blossom season, this 10-foot-deep reservoir bordered by the Potomac River and Washington Channel casts a positively pretty effect with nearly 4,000 Yoshino cherry trees that entice the senses with their soft, whitish-pink hue and delicate almond scent. The Tidal Basin also provides terrific photo ops near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

But with such wide appeal comes visitors — and lots of them. If you want to steer clear of the crowds, drop by early in the morning when the natural light illuminates everything, including the water, with a warm, flattering glow.

A smarter option? Book a room at the Salamander Washington D.C. The stately property boasts unfettered views of the Tidal Basin, plus, it's within easy walking distance to the trees.

The Mandarin Oriental DC over the Cherry Blossom and Tidal Basin
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental

U.S. National Arboretum

Situated on the eastern edge of the nation's capital, the U.S. National Arboretum maintains a wonderfully hushed vibe all year round. How? Because the best way to get here is by driving. Stretched across 446 acres, this nature and preservation center boasts more than 70 types of cherry trees. Also worth scoping out is the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, which displays nearly 150 diminutive, meticulously pruned specimens.

For some of the city's top locally owned restaurants, hop back in the car and head to the H Street Corridor. The buzzy neighborhood's most exciting option, The Little Grand, serves up cocktails and pizzas by beloved New York chef Bobby Hellen in a stylish, discreet setting, while Daru turns out delicious riffs on classic Indian dishes. (The black daal with burrata is a knockout.)

National Mall

Another popular stop for visitors (regardless of the time of year) is the National Mall. But to peep the puffy blossoms, head just northwest of the Lincoln Memorial and to the Washington Monument, where you'll spot little clusters of trees.

For a bite nearby — and since you'll already be on your feet — stroll over to Old Ebbitt Grill, a beloved city institution founded in 1856, known for its raw bar, crab cakes, and burgers. Another terrific option is Immigrant Food by chef Enrique Limardo. The visionary concept celebrates the rich culinary contributions of America's immigrants in a vibrant, colorful setting.

Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

The Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, encompassing 16 acres and home to the aptly named Cherry Hill, is open every day except Monday.

Come springtime, the slope transforms into a cascading sea of pink with various types of trees, including Sargent's cherry and Edo Higan. You can also spot other resplendent blooms (magnolias, forsythias, and tulips) around this time of year.

Afterward, treat yourself to a well-crafted drink. Lead bartender Engidawork "Engi" Alebachew is shaking up original libations for the occasion at Bourbon Steak in the Four Seasons hotel. And at Fitzgerald's, a swanky lounge steps away from the Georgetown University campus, you can pair elevated bar snacks (Korean chicken wings, local cheese board) with some Japanese whisky from the extensive collection.

Take a stroll along the Tidal Basin in the spring to catch a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial and the iconic Cherry Blossom trees
Courtesy of

Hains Point Loop Trail

Prefer to explore the city via bike? Check out Hains Point Loop Trail in East Potomac Park. The flat, 3.5-mile cycling route offers scenic views of local bodies of water (Potomac River, Anacostia River, and the Washington Channel), iconic monuments, and, of course, plenty of cherry trees.

For a pit stop, visit Navy Yard, the waterfront district that's boomed in recent years with noteworthy dining options. The Salt Line by Kyle Bailey specializes in sustainable seafood from New England to the Chesapeake Bay, while at Bammy's, chefs Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan dish out Caribbean staples such as curry and escovitch.

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