Cherry blossom season is upon us once again! Peak bloom is expected to be April 1, and best viewing is typically 4-7 days after the peak (keep in mind that shifts in weather could alter the peak date). Area residents and visitors from all over the world will come to see the absolute beauty of the blossoms with DC as the backdrop. In fact, District officials estimate that 1 million people visit here during the Cherry Blossom Festival. While the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and the National Mall are spectacular, the massive crowds can make the experience a bit less enjoyable and more challenging, especially with kids. We have compiled a list of some other spots in and around DC where your family can enjoy the cherry blossoms with a bit more peace. Do you know of a great spot in or near DC to see cherry blossoms that is not on our list? Please share in the comments sections.
You may get a less crowded view of the cherry blossoms along the Potomac and around the National Mall if you view them by boat. The Potomac Riverboat Company offers numerous cherry blossom cruises which depart from Georgetown, the Wharf, and Alexandria. It even has a cruise that runs during the Cherry Blossom Festival’s Petalpalooza Fireworks show. During Petalpalooza (April 6th) they will offer free sightseeing cruises throughout the day, as well as a complimentary canine “Paws & Petals” cruise at 2:30pm. They also run dining cruises on the Odyssey and the Water Taxi which cruises between the previously mentioned ports, as well as National Harbor. Other companies offering cherry blossom cruises include DC Cruises (which offers weekend and weekday cruises around the monuments) and Spirit Cruises (which offers a 2-3 hour dining cruise offering cherry blossom views).
The National Arboretum is one of DC’s best-kept secrets. It provides 446 acres of gardens, walking trails, and a stunning collection of plants, including several varieties of cherry trees. The cherry trees are spread throughout the arboretum, but exploring this beautiful space is part of the fun. Entry is free, so make a day of it and take along the family dog and a picnic.
The Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks is an oasis in the city. This historic estate in Georgetown has a number of large cherry trees that make for great picture ops. Japanese plum trees and tulip magnolias are also in bloom. The gardens are open from 2pm – 6pm Tuesday through Sunday and there is an entrance fee. Montrose Park is nearby, with a fun playground for the kids. It, too, is home to many cherry trees.
This DC neighborhood sits just west of Georgetown. Its quiet, residential streets are lined with cherry blossoms each spring. Yoshino cherries line most of these streets, which is the same variety that graces the Tidal Basin area. So, expect peak bloom to be during the same time period.
The Basilica is located in DC’s Brookland neighborhood. It is the largest Roman Catholic church in North America, and among the 10 largest in the world. One million people visit the Basilica each year. During early April, visitors can enjoy the beauty of 150 cherry trees blossoming on its grounds. Parking is free and guided tours of the Basilica are available.
This park has over 200 cherry trees! This year, a picnic filled with family fun will be hosted there as part of the Cherry Blossom Festival lineup of events. The Oxon Run Pink-nic will take place on April 7th from 1pm – 3pm.
7. Kenwood, MD
The streets in this area of Chevy Chase, Maryland are lined with around 1200 cherry trees! The neighborhood’s streets become carpeted in the cherry blossom petals each spring. Remember to always be respectful when viewing in residential areas.
8. Stanton Park
The four acres of this park are absolutely stunning when the cherry trees bloom. There are so many trees that the park looks like it is covered by clouds made of petals. There is a playground in the park and it is an easy walk from Union Station.
9. Hains Point
The 4.1 mile loop around Hains Point is full of cherry blossoms. It provides great photo ops with river backdrops. It can get crowded early in the cherry bloom season since many people park there to walk over to the Tidal Basin. But, it is home to 481 Kwanzan cherry trees, which bloom two weeks after the Yoshinos (the variety around the tidal basin). Peak bloom here is often less crowded, particularly if you can go on a weekday. There is a playground, picnic tables, and restrooms at the tip of Hains Point. You can also take a free ride on the Wharf jitney that shuttles people between the Wharf and Hains Point. The jitney, which is pet- and bike-friendly, runs twice an hour and makes the trip in about three minutes.
For helpful information about the Cherry Blossom Festival, check out DCMB’s post Enjoying the National Cherry Blossom Festival with Kids as well as the festival website.
Also, Cherry Blossom Watch provides frequent updates about the blossoms, a good explanation about “peak bloom,” and information about the varieties of cherry trees in our area and how their bloom periods differ.