Where To See the Washington, DC Cherry Blossoms: A Guide for Families

There's no better place than Washington, DC to see cherry blossoms in the spring. Photo courtesy of Andrew Turner, Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic
There's no better place than Washington, DC to see cherry blossoms in the spring. Photo courtesy of Andrew Turner, Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic

WIth spring comes one of the most iconic symbols of the season—the blooming of the famous Washington, DC cherry blossoms. Each year, visitors flock to the nation's capital to take part in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a citywide celebration of the blooms. The festival includes various events like the Blossom Kite Festival, Petalpalooza, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 20 to April 17, 2022. Peak bloom—the time when 70 percent of the cherry blossoms are open—is predicted for March 22-25, 2022. But you don't have to attend one of the festival events to enjoy the cherry blossoms. Read on for 11 great places to see the Washington, DC cherry blossoms with your family, from the famous (and busy) Tidal Basin to some lesser-known gems.

For more springtime fun with your family, check out our Spring Fun Guide for Kids and Families in Washington, DC.

Great Places to See the Washington, DC Cherry Blossoms

It's worth fighting the crowds to see the Tidal Basin's iconic cherry blossoms. Photo courtesy of cherryblossomwatch.com

1. Tidal Basin

The Tidal Basin is the most well-known place to see the Washington, DC cherry blossoms. That's where the original cherry trees, gifted to the nation's capital 110 years ago by the mayor of Tokyo, were planted. Today, more than 3,700 cherry trees line the Tidal Basin. The water and monuments make beautiful backdrops for viewing and snapping pictures of the blooms. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the south side of the Tidal Basin offers stunning views of the cherry blossoms. On the northwest side, there is the Japanese Lantern landmark, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

The Tidal Basin’s main parking lot on Maine Avenue SW is closed off for a festival welcome area. Here families can find information and activity tents, a performance stage, food tents, and porta-potties. Performances representing Japanese and American culture take place on the stage from 12-6pm during peak bloom dates. The Tidal Basin is free to visit and is open from 6am to midnight.

Related: Top Tourist Attractions in DC: The Best Things to See and Do with Kids

Tidal Basin pedal boats are available for rent starting in April. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

2. From the Water

If you’re not up for all that walking, why not view the Washington, DC cherry blossoms by water? The popular Tidal Basin pedal boats are available for rent starting in April. There are also water taxis and sightseeing cruises operated by the Potomac Riverboat Company that are great for families.

Hains Point's cherry blossoms peak later than those at the Tidal Basin. Photo courtesy of Danny Navarro, Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic

3. Hains Point Loop Trail (East Potomac Park)

This park is located south of the Tidal Basin on a peninsula jutting into the Potomac. It has a playground, picnic tables, restrooms, and lots of cherry trees. Families can walk all or part of the 4.1-mile loop around Hains Point and find many photo ops with the Potomac River in the background. Peak bloom of the trail's Kwanzan cherry trees is about two weeks after the Tidal Basin's Yoshino cherry trees, so if you miss seeing the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, head here.

4. Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Located in northeast DC near the Maryland border and adjacent to the Anacostia River, this national park is open 8am-4pm daily. Explore the wetlands by trails or boardwalk and see lots of blooming cherry trees and other spring flowers. Admission is free.

5. US National Arboretum

The National Arboretum has about 500 cherry trees spread out around its 446 acres. With walking trails, beautiful gardens, and plenty of space for a picnic, it is a must-visit for anyone who lives in the DC area. When you've had your fill of the cherry blossoms, check out the Bonsai collection at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, which includes more than 300 specimens of miniature horticultural art. The grounds are open 8 am-5pm, and the Bonsai museum is open 10am-4pm. Admission is free.

6. Dumbarton Oaks

The historic, elaborate gardens of Georgetown's Dumbarton Oaks include lots of spring flowers and a stunning hillside blooming with cherry trees, aptly named Cherry Hill. The gardens are open from 3-6pm on Tuesdays through Sundays through the end of October. Timed tickets are required, and reservations must be made in advance online. Nearby Montrose Park also has beautiful cherry trees and a great playground for kids.

Related: 100 Things To Do in DC with Kids Before They Grow Up

The Basilica becomes even more beautiful when the cherry trees bloom. Photo courtesy of Lawrence OP, Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic

7. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Located in DC's Brookland neighborhood, the Basilica is the largest Roman Catholic church in North America, and among the 10 largest in the world. It is also a great place to see cherry blossoms, with 150 cherry trees on the property. Parking is free, and tours are available by making a reservation on the website.

8. Oxon Run Park

A lesser-known cherry blossom DC option is Oxon Run Park in southeast Washington, DC. A great spot for a picnic, the park has over 200 cherry trees and a playground. Oxon Run Park is open every day from 9am-6pm. Admission is free.

9. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens — Vienna, VA

With 95 acres of ornamental gardens, peaceful woodlands, and kid-friendly trails, Meadowlark is a fun place for families to visit in the spring. It is also a great place to see cherry blossoms, with peak bloom generally happening a few days after the Tidal Basin's peak. In March the gardens are open from 10am-4pm. Starting in April, they're open until 7pm.

Skip the crowds and head to Green Spring Gardens to see cherry blossoms. Photo courtesy of Friends of Green Spring Gardens, Facebook

10. Green Spring Gardens — Alexandria, VA

For a more low-key cherry blossom-viewing experience, this beautiful park near Annandale, Virginia has about 20 cherry trees. You'll also see many other flowers, trees, and shrubs in bloom in the spring and all year long. Green Spring has 22 themed gardens over 31 acres, included two children's gardens, and kids will also enjoy walking along the stream. Admission is free, and the grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk.

11. Brookside Gardens — Wheaton, MD

Brookside Gardens is Montgomery County’s 50-acre public garden situated within Wheaton Regional Park. Most of the cherry trees are in the Japanese-style Gude Garden. Kids will also enjoy the labyrinth and the children’s garden. Brookside Gardens is open from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

Can't make it out to see the Washington, DC cherry blossoms in person this year? Check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival's BloomCam for real-time online viewing.

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