A year ago as our city began to shut down and we were all at home scared and uncertain about a virus that was taking over the globe the cherry blossoms slowly and quietly began to blossom all around DC as they do every year, but this time without parades, celebrations and crowds from all over the country.
A year later our traditional cherry blossom festivities are still not safe but there are still many ways to enjoy them. I am sharing a list of some of my favorite places to enjoy the cherry blossoms. Hanami is the Japanese word for cherry blossom viewing. Scroll to the end for additional ways to celebrate the cherry blossoms this year.
Sadly, the National Park Service has announced it will limit access to the Tidal Basin this year and other favorite spots like Dumbarton Oaks are still closed but let me help you find ways to still enjoy the cherry blossom season in 2021.
The best place to see Cherry Blossoms in DC without a doubt is the Tidal Basin. Naturally, that means it will be the most crowded place. But like most tourist attractions it is crowded for a good reason. Everyone must experience cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin at least once. Although, they will be closing off the area for peak bloom (April 2-5) you might still be able to enjoy this area. Try going a week before peak bloom predictions, it won't be in its full glory but blossoms might be around 50% and the area should still be more open to pedestrians.
Last year I visited days before any closures were announced and I had a lovely time wandering around alone enjoying lots of blooms. When possible always try and go on a weekday there will be fewer people.
While the Tidal Basin might be where tourists flock to see the cherry blossoms, there are several other locations you can enjoy the beauty of spring in the nation’s capital.
2. Congressional Cemetery
I know this one might sound odd but this a beautiful quiet space to enjoy the blooms. This historic cemetery is open to the public (currently unfortunately not offering their tours). There were originally 12 varieties of cherry trees gifted to DC, in the photo below you will see the Akebono variety which produces these pink blossoms whereas at the Tidal Basin you will see predominantly white blooms.
3. National Arboretum
No matter the season this is a beautiful spot to visit in DC but during cherry blossom season, this is a fairly hidden gem. While tourists flock to the tidal basin you can sneak away here. All throughout the spring, you can enjoy different blooms at this spacious arboretum and you can get a photo up at the instagrammable columns.
Take the free Wharf Jitney (double-check currently closed) over to Hains Point or rent a bike and ride over and get ready for ample photo-ops of the blossoms. Cherry blossom trees line the road here that you can enjoy without the crowds. This 4.1-mile loop is a great opportunity to see many different species of cherry trees unlike anywhere else in the park. Stroll among the blossoms while taking in spectacular views of the Potomac River and Anacostia River.
5. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The largest Roman Catholic Church in North America is located in DC’s Brookland neighborhood. You can see more than 150 gorgeous cherry blossom trees on-site. Entry to the grounds and the Basilica is free of charge.
Regularly scheduled guided tours for groups of up to 15 people are currently available and require no advance reservations. Audio tours are also available and free of charge.
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. 1:00 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Sundays: 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
6. The Bishop's Garden at Washington National Cathedral
This has become of my favorite spots in DC over the last year. A beautiful peaceful space to sit outdoors. Bring a blanket and enjoy sitting under the blossoms in this small but beautiful garden while admiring the impressive architecture of the Cathedral. This photo was taken March 21, 2021 so there should be many more blooms by this weekend.
Just taking a stroll around the Cleveland Park neighborhood you will encounter several patches of blossoms. A big patch sits off Idaho Ave, near the Hearst Recreation Center.
7. Omni Shoreham Hotel
Okay, this one might be tough this year. The garden of this hotel has beautiful blooms and I recommend making reservations at the hotel restaurant to enjoy these but sadly it is still closed. So looks like the only way would be through booking a stay, they are offering a great cherry blossom special.
8. Stanton Park
The park is adorned with trees, walkways, and a playground. This is a great spot for DC locals to enjoy the cherry blossoms filled with mostly families from the neighborhood you can pack a picnic and enjoy the cherry blossoms without the crowds.
9. Kenwood Neighborhood, Montgomery County Maryland
Kenwood Ave Bethesda, MD 20815
So this is not in DC and has become more popular but this neighborhood right outside the city is a beautiful spot for cherry blossoms. In the early 1930s, a local developer planted cherry trees as a way to promote the neighborhood to potential home buyers. Now, over 1,200 trees grace the neighborhood.
You can really enjoy this residential area by yourself if you can make it during the week versus the weekend. Keep in mind you can't park on the street so you will have to find parking a little further away and walk over. The best cherry blossom viewing can be found along Kennedy Drive, Dorset Avenue, and Kenwood Avenue.
DC goes all out for cherry blossom season which normally brings in millions of dollars of revenue to the city. Dozens of hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes offer cherry blossom specials. For some creative options on how to celebrate the cherry blossom season this year see this post.
Cherry blossoms are just the tip of the spring excitement in DC. Stay tuned for some more posts about other spring blooms you can enjoy in the DMV and subscribe to receive updates first. Follow me on Instagram for more tips and regular updates.