Are you looking to visit the Washington DC cherry blossoms? You have come to the right place because here is an Ultimate 2023 guide! The first thing to note about cherry blossoms is where they came from. In 1912 Japan sent 3,000 cherry blossom trees to DC as a gift and a sign of friendship.
Flash forward over 100 years later and these cherry blooms trees are now a historic part of spring in DC. They welcome the season with a big festival that draws millions of people to see them every year. If this event has been on your bucket list, here you will learn where to stay and help figure out what the best places to see DC cherry blossoms are.
When is the best time to see cherry blossoms in Washington DC
The best time to see cherry blossoms in Washington DC is in the spring! The season runs from late March to early April when almost 70% of the cherry trees will be in bloom. You get about 14 days in the whole year to make this happen, so plan your trip to DC accordingly!
What is the Cherry Blossom Indicator Tree in DC?
The National Park Service has a Cherry Blossom indication tree. Every year they study the same tree to predict when the rest of the trees are blooming. It is located in the John Paul Jones Memorial in West Potomac Park. The Cherry Blossom Indication Tree is not marked or indicated in any way, so no one but the National Park Service knows which tree it is.
When this tree starts to bloom it is an indicator that the Washington DC cherry blossoms season has started.
Cherry Blossom Bloom Watch Camera
One of the best ways to view the Cherry Blossoms is through the watch camera. This camera is live 24/7 and gives you the best behind-the-scenes information on the trees in the Tidal Basin. Which is one of the most popular and beautiful spots in all of DC to see the cherry blossoms. The camera is on top of the Mandarin Oriental building and runs all year round.
Stages Of Blooming For Cherry Blossoms
There are different stages to the DC cherry blossom season. Every year is different depending on a few factors. The amount of rain, temperatures, and amount of wind are a few of the biggest things that affect the stages of blooming. These stages are known as hanami which has been studied for centuries and is almost foolproof.
The first stage has visible green-colored buds. This usually happens around the end of February and lasts up until the first few weeks of March. The next stage is when the buds peek out and become visible. Once this happens there is a little over 2 weeks to wait until full bloom.
After that, you have what is called the Peduncle Elongation stage of blooming. After this happens the Washington DC cherry blossoms will be blooming in 5-10 days. This is one of the prettiest and last stages that happen before the famous light pink shade comes to life. At this is when the flowers are at the puffy white stage. Once you see the trees with white flowers you can expect the full bloom to happen in about 5 days.
Attending The National Cherry Blossom Festival
The cherry blossom festival in DC, or Petalpalooze, is one of the biggest and best festivals in the area. Every year this festival lasts for a few weeks. It usually starts in late March and ends in mid-April. Washinton DC pulls out all the stops for this beautiful spring event.
There are flower parades, live concerts, art shows, and a beverage garden to relax in. One of the best things about the Cherry Blossom festival is the live firework show that starts at 8:30. The light show goes off and is paired with a music set list.
Many of these events are held in or around the Tidal Basin and are always free to attend. Plan to spend your whole day here to get the whole experience. You are going to love attending the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Parking can be a bit tight, so you can grab a ride-sharing app, walk from your hotel, or rent a scooter or bike.
Where to See Washington DC Cherry Blossom Trees
The cherry blossom time in DC is one of the prettiest times to go to the nation’s capital. There are plenty of different places to see them throughout the city too. The most famous and picturesque areas are along the Potomac River.
Head right into the middle of the National Mall to see the cherry trees in Washington DC. If you have never been on a walk around the mall before, you are in for a treat. The Mall is where some of the prettiest architecture is in the whole city and during the spring it really comes to life when the trees bloom.
You can plan to visit the Smithsonian or an art gallery before or after you walk around to see the cherry blossoms. The national mall is the best place to start your day if you are visiting the Washington DC cherry blossoms.
First up is the Tidal Basin and this without a doubt is the most popular place to enjoy the cherry blossom season in Washington DC. There are about 3,000 beautiful cherry blossoms planted along the banks of the Potomac River. This is most likely going to be the headquarters for the Cherry Blossom Festival every year and where most people head first to see the light pink trees.
The walking path around the river is a short 2.1-mile loop and provides beautiful views of the trees. Look for the starting sign to view the hanami, or stages of the blooms, happening before your eyes. During the festival, this is where the live music and other events will take place with plenty of spots to relax in the shade. Go early in the morning to find a good parking spot to beat the crowds and the heat.
East Potomac Park
The next place to see the cherry blossom trees in DC is East Potomac Park. This is probably one of the most scenic places to visit as well. This lovely park is 3,000 acres and is located island in the middle of the Potomac.
You can bring a picnic and set it up in the middle of trees, enjoy a hike or bike ride along the Hains Point area, or even stop for a round of golf! If you are in town for a few days this is one of the best places to spend a few hours looking at the Washington DC cherry blossoms.
For a more city vibe during cherry blossom season in Washington DC head to the Historic Estate of Dumbarton Oaks in the Georgetown part of town. On the grounds, there is a research library, a mansion, and the gardens here are stunning during the blooming season
The best area on the grounds to see the cherry trees are at Dumbarton Hill. From up on the hthree different variations of cherry trees are are visible. The rest of the gardens are definitely worth a stroll while you are there as well.
Another one of the best places to see DC cherry blossoms is at the US Arboretum. This is a popular attraction in DC all year round for the beautiful gardens. During the spring when the cherry trees are blooming, it becomes an extra special place to visit.
The Washington DC cherry blossoms at the US Arboretum are hidden behind Suaka trees which causes them to bloom later in the season. Making a great place to visit if are you in town in midlate Aprilpril.
Less Crowded Places to See Cherry Blossoms in DC
If you want to avoid the crowds to see the Washington DC cherry blossoms these next few suggestions also have cherry blossoms trees. If you wanted to see all of these spots you may need to stay a few extra days so you are not rushing around! But, when the trees bloom for those short few weeks it is such a magical time to visit Washington DC!
Staton Park is another location to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. It is a small park on capital hill and is open every day of the year from sunrise to dusk. The cherry trees here surround a statue of the Statue of General Nathanael Greene in the main section of the park.
It is always free to enter and is full of beautiful nature all year long and you can visit anytime during the day. This would be a great place to start or end your tour of the trees for the day because of its central location.
Oxon Run Park
The next hidden gem to check out during the cherry blossom festival in DC is Oxon Run Park. This small park is home to over 200 of the best cherry trees. In the picnic area and playground makes it one of the places to see the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC with kids. They can get their energy out on the playground while you sit back and take in the view.
At the park, there are also hiking and biking trails around the park that are stunning during the blooming season. The park is free and open to the public every day of the week. Bring a picnic and stay all day, or just pop by on your tour of the beautiful trees.
The River Farm is a historic estate with beautiful gardens with more than DC cherry blossoms. It is located just outside of DC in Alexandria, which is only a 20-minute drive away and full of wonderful things to do.
They open up to the farm up to the public only from March to November. The cherry trees can be front in the front near the gates. But you should still head inside here because there is also a beautiful rose and meadow garden. The River Farm is cared for and home to the Horticulture department and always looks amazing.
Quick tips for visiting Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
One of the busiest times time of the year is cherry blossom time in DC! You will want to start planning your trip now to ensure you get a good booking. You can track the cherry blossoms on the blossom watch all year long. This is the easiest way to stand in the know about when they will bloom.
Another quick tip is to arrive early at the popular locations that you want to see. This helps to beat the crowds that gather later in the day. The cherry blossoms in DC are located throughout the city be sure to check out a few of the less popular sites because they are all incredibly beautiful in bloom.
One of the best ways to few the Cherry Blossoms that most people do not know is to take a ride on the river taxi. This boat taxi runs from Alexandria straight to DC and gives you a stunning view of the cherry blossoms. Keep this in mind when you are thinking about coming to the festival it is a great way to beat the traffic.
Where To Stay In Washington DC For Cherry Tree Season
Willard InterContinental Washington
From the Willard InterContinental Washington, you can see the Tidal Basin and white house. This is one of the best places to stay when thinking about going to the Festival. You could easily walk there and avoid the traffic. They have a variety of rooms to book from queen rooms to suites big enough for the whole family.
Try to book as early as you can because this is one of the best luxury hotels in Washington DC all year long when cherry blossoms are blooming they fill up fast. When booking asks for a room with a view of the white house, you will not be disappointed.
Check rates here: Booking.com
cherry blossom season in Washington DC
You will find everything you could ever want at Hotel Washington. They are one of the best boutique hotels in DC for the view alone. When booking a room be sure to ask for a view of the sites you will not regret it. The Hotel Washington has a restaurant, bar, parking, and fitness center as well making it one of the best boutique hotels in Washington DC.
When staying here you would be super close to all the best places to see the Cherry Blossoms in DC during the spring. Plus, they are pet friendly so you do not have to find a babysitter for your pup.
Check rates here: Booking.com
The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C
The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C is one of the best luxury hotels with views of the Cherry Blossoms in Washington D.C. Ask for a room with a view of the trees when booking so you can enjoy the blooms from your room. The Westend Bistro serves a delicious lunch and dinner. There is also a lobby bar serving snacks and drinks all day long.
On-site there is also a 24-hour gym, 4 basketball courts, and fitness classes available to take. The Ritz-Carlton would be one of the best places to treat yourself to a weekend away in DC to see the beautiful cherry trees.
Check rates here: Booking.com