Springtime brings one of the most iconic symbols of the season—the blooming of the famous Washington, DC cherry blossoms. Each year, more than 1.5 million visitors flock to the nation's capital to take part in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a citywide celebration of the pink and white blooms. The festival includes lots of fun 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 18 to April 16, 2023. Peak bloom—the time when 70 percent of the cherry blossoms are open—is predicted for March 22-25, 2023. But you don't have to attend one of the festival events to enjoy the cherry blossoms. Here are 12 great places to see the DC cherry blossoms with your family, from the famous (and busy) Tidal Basin to some lesser-known gems. Trust me—whichever of these spots you choose, the blooms will be breathtaking just the same.
For more ways to keep the kiddos busy all season long, check out our Spring Fun Guide for Kids and Families in Washington, DC.
The Tidal Basin's iconic cherry blossoms make for some gorgeous photo ops. Photo by Elvert Barnes, via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Kid-Friendly Spots to See DC Cherry Blossoms
The Tidal Basin is the most well-known place to see the 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 Potomac River and the monuments make beautiful backdrops for viewing and snapping pictures of the blooms. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the basin's south side offers stunning views of the blossoms.
If you can, stop by the festival welcome area off West Basin Drive SW on the northwest side of the Tidal Basin, near the FDR and Martin Luther King Jr. memorials. There you'll find information and activity tents, a stage, food tents, and porta-potties. Performances representing Japanese and American culture take place on the stage during peak bloom dates. The Tidal Basin is free to visit and is open from 6am to midnight.
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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 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.
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Hains Point's cherry blossoms peak later than those at the Tidal Basin. Photo courtesy of Danny Navarro, Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic
This park is located south of the Tidal Basin on a peninsula jutting into the Potomac River. 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 river in the background. Peak bloom of the trail's Kwansan 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 to Hains Point.
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 via trails or along the boardwalk and see lots of blooming cherry trees and other spring flowers. Admission is free.
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 8am-5pm, and the Bonsai museum is open 10am-4pm. Admission is free.
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 2-6pm on Tuesdays through Sundays through the end of October. Nearby Montrose Park also has beautiful cherry trees and a great playground for kids.
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The Basilica becomes even more beautiful when the cherry trees bloom. Photo courtesy of Lawrence OP, Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic
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.
A lesser-known place to see the cherry blossoms is Oxon Run Park in southeast 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.
This Capitol Hill cemetery is a great place to see cherry blossoms if you're too early or too late to catch the Tidal Basin's blooms. Plus, it's less crowded! Congressional Cemetery's Okame cherry trees typically bloom one to two weeks before the Yoshinos around the Tidal Basin, and its Kwansan trees bloom roughly one to two weeks after the Yoshinos.
Kid-Friendly Spots to See Cherry Blossoms in the DC Suburbs
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.
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Skip the crowds and head to Green Spring Gardens to see cherry blossoms. Photo courtesy of Friends of Green Spring Gardens, Facebook
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.
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 DC cherry blossoms in person this year? Check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival's BloomCam for real-time online viewing.