Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms

Best Place to See the Cherry BlossomsFrom our DC Tourism Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Washington DC attractions.

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So you want to know the best place to see the Cherry Blossoms? The pink and white flowering trees that you see on nearly every postcard of Washington DC are (some) of our famed Cherry Blossom trees. I, for one, was a little disappointed to discover they are not full of delicious cherries ripe for the plucking. However, these hybrid trees are grown specifically for their beauty and during peak bloom, they do not disappoint.

How long do Cherry Blossoms last? That depends entirely on the weather! A chilly night or strong storm can cause the trees to lose their blooms but we’ll tell you below all about how to time your visit.

In the age of Instagram selfies and the the perfect shot, however, you’ll be hard find pressed to get a photo that does not also include a hundred of your new closest friends. Let’s be honest. It gets crowded.

Though the most photographed spots are along the Tidal Basin, they are not the only ones. Use our guide to find some of the best places and best times to view the Cherry Blossoms.

Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms

…On the National Mall/Tidal Basin

…Off the Beaten Path

…Tips on When To View the Blooms

Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms

Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms On the National Mall/Tidal Basin

Be warned, you’ll be there with lots of other people. Sometimes, though, this makes it all the more photogenic. From engagement shoots and wedding poses, families and pets, you get to be part of some of the most memorable photos of another.

You’ll find the most people along the Tidal Basin. The Tidal Basin has a sidewalk that borders the water the nearly wraps around the edge of entire thing featuring the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial and Thomas Jefferson Memorial. The trees here line the sidewalk along the water and you can walk amongst them making them popular for good reason.

Want to know what you’re seeing? Take our Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin Walking Tour!

If you want to avoid the crowds without going off the beaten path, Best Place to See the Cherry Blossomswe have two suggestions:

  • Go a little further. If you venture off the sidewalk along the water and past the George Mason Memorial along Ohio Drive and the Potomac you’ll come across a few other groves of blossoms that have just as much beauty and a few less people. If you want to do the whole thing it is a 4.1 mile loop, but you’ll see much more variety than the Tidal Basin. Use the NPS Hains Point Loop Guide to know what you’re looking at!
  • Go in the water! You can rent a paddle boat to take out on the basin to get a different perspective – and a bit of fun! Just be careful with your camera.

Walking along the Tidal Basin leads to some beautiful photographic shots to document your visit to the blossoms.

Photograph the Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms:

Best Shot 1: One of the most popular images is of low hanging branches full of blooms with the Jefferson Memorial in the distance.  The sidewalk alongside the MLK Memorial has some of the best shots of Jefferson in the distance.

Best Shot 2: A key reason to place the trees along the Tidal Basin was the reflection in the water. Though the water is filled with creatures, the occasional log, and tourists (on paddle boats) and there is a small current, the water often has great reflections. Especially if come in the morning before the paddle boats hit the water. The sidewalk between the MLK and FDR Memorials has a nice curve that allow you to catch a nice view of the reflections.

DC cherry blossoms washington memorialBest Shot 3: There are two ways to catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument framed by blossoms: wide angle and close up. Being the tallest structure in the city, you can see the Monument from just about everywhere. If you want a grand view of the blossoms lined up along the water with the Monument jutting out of the top – you can do that from anywhere along the Tidal Basin sidewalk! A popular spot is the bridge between the FDR and Jefferson Memorial.

…but the Tidal Basin isn’t the only place to see Cherry Blossoms. In honor of the centennial celebration, Japan gifted the city an additional 100 cherry blossoms that have been planted around the Washington Monument. They are not right at the base but close enough and in a few groves that you can get some beautiful shots of the blossoms look up at the Monument in the background.

Not a real Shot: There are no Cherry Blossom trees by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. It’d be a lovely photo and it is a frequent question.

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Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms Off the Beaten Path

The famed Cherry Blossom trees are the ones of the Tidal Basin – as the oldest and the most photographed. But they are not the only ones and in some views, aren’t the prettiest. Washington, DC in Spring is beautiful in part due to the number of cherry blossoms but also a variety of other flora and the pride city residents have in their individual neighborhoods.

Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms at the Capitol: The photo du jour in the Spring seems to be blossoms with a DC landmark. Nothing evokes the capital more than the Capitol! If you’ll be “on the Hill” anyways, take a stroll through Senate Park north of the Capitol Building. There is a gorgeous reflecting pool and fountain lined with Cherry Blossom trees. In fact most of the West Lawn of the Capitol also has a variety of Cherry Blossom trees so you’ll be able to get a great photo of the blooms up close surrounding the Capitol dome. This is a great thing to do before/after our Capitol Hill Tour.

View the cherry blossoms at arlingtonBest Place to See the Cherry Blossoms in Arlington National Cemetery: Besides being the hallowed ground to honor our fallen men and women, Arlington is also a level II arboretum. A fitting place for such beauty and serenity, a personal favorite is the Cherry Blossom tree along Crooks Walk, the set of stairs that connects Arlington House to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This solitary Cherry Blossom has  limbs full of flowers set amongst the simple white marble headstones. It is a common bottleneck on our Arlington National Cemetery tours as folks stop for photos.

Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms in Georgetown: This historic neighborhood has had nearly 275 years to develop its beauty. Just like residents in most DC neighborhoods, Georgetown residents are responsibility not just for their yards but also the tree boxes along the sidewalk. You’ll see a variety of spring blooms, including another weeping Cherry Blossom on our Historic Georgetown tour.

Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms in the Arboretum:  The National Arboretum is here to share its flowers, trees, plants with us and it is beautiful all year round. In the Spring, you can find numerous variety of Cherry Blossom trees. They even have self guided tour booklet! It is about 3 miles so a bit lengthy for a walk, even if it is a gorgeous one. Personally, we like to do it on bike but you can drive through the Arboretum – just park in designated spots only.

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Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms- When to View the Cherry Blossoms:

Cherry Blossoms are fickle creatures – this past December 2015 the tree in my front yard bloomed because it had been so warm. They are greatly affected by weather for both when the bloom and for how long as there is no way to tell for sure. Even the National Park Service expert on the trees won’t predict peak blooms until March 01.

The trees usually reach peak bloom the first week in April but in the last five years they have come early and late. Since most people need a little more notice to plan their trip than can be guaranteed, the best we can offer is when to view the blossoms once you’re already here.

  • Too Early to see the Cherry Blossoms? – Try the Indicator Tree: There is one tree by the Jefferson Memorial that always blooms a week before the rest – this is how we “know” that it is about time. Got to DC too early – go check out this tree. At least you can see one blossom before you go! You’ll find the tree along Where to view the Cherry Blossomsthe path on the Thomas Jefferson Memorial side of the bridge over the Tidal Basin — Washington Channel. This is the bridge closer to the city. The tree is growing next to a holly tree and has a sign to indicate which tree is the indicator tree.
  • Missed the Chance to see the Cherry Blossoms?Try the Kwanzan Blossoms on Hains Points: They historically blooms two weeks after the main blossoms on the Tidal Basin but are just as pretty. If you venture off the Tidal Basin sidewalk along the water and past the George Mason Memorial along Ohio Drive and the Potomac you’ll come across a few. Try to get there in the afternoon for the best light.
  • Here for Peak Bloom but Too Many People? – Go at Sunrise: A quieter and potentially more beautiful time to view the blossoms. You’ll see plenty of photographers but you’ll get there before most of the crowds. If you’re on the basin, the Jefferson Memorial is on the eastern side if you want to place yourself for sunrise.