It’s almost spring, which in Washington, DC means one thing: cherry blossoms! Peak bloom, when 70% of the cherry trees’ flowers are open, has averaged out to be April 4. However, it has occurred as early as March 15 and as late as April 18. Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang is calling for a peak between April 1-5 this year. Experts say that the best blossom viewing is four to seven days after the peak bloom begins; however, the blossoms can last up to two weeks in the right conditions.
Most people head to the Tidal Basin to take in DC’s breathtaking spring beauty. But given the crowds, limited parking, and difficult access, we thought we’d share DC’s best spots for cherry blossoms – ones that are off the beaten path.
IN WASHINGTON DC
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the National Arboretum is home to more than 1,000 different cherry trees. Many of them are “hybrid” trees developed by Arboretum scientists. While the trees here are more spread out than those at the Tidal Basin, The Arboretum offers a self-guided tour of its cherry trees.
1703 32nd Street NW
This Harvard University research institute, library, museum, and garden is the legacy of Robert and Mildred Bliss. National Geographic named it one of the ten best gardens in the world (2014)! Cherry Hill is a remote section of the gardens devoted to the iconic cherry blossom. Inside the building, visitors can explore the “Seeing Cherries” exhibit, devoted to celebrating the beautiful blooms over time around the world. While at Dumbarton Oaks, be sure to check out its incredible collection of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
400 Michigan Avenue, NE
The largest Roman Catholic Church in North America, located in DC’s Brookland neighborhood, is home to more than 150 gorgeous cherry blossoms. Be sure to check out the inside of this stunning church while you’re there (open 365 days a year!)
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
1550 Anacostia Avenue, NE
Cherry trees surround Kenilworth’s parking area and Visitor Center. This park is also great for bird watching!
1900 Anacostia Drive SE
This park offers cherry blossom trees along a lovely riverside path. As an added bonus – bald eagles are often spotted at this park.
Intersection of Maryland and Massachusetts Avenues, SE
Located in Capitol Hill, this park is named for Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War under Abraham Lincoln. However, the main focus of the park is a statue of Revolutionary War hero General Nathanael Greene, surrounded by gardens that include an impressive collection of cherry trees. Fun fact – Stanton Park was indicated on Pierre L’Enfant’s original (1791) plan for the city of Washington!
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court
Vienna, VA 22182
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is a 95-acre oasis with lakes, wildflowers, gazebos, birds, butterflies, walking trails, and spectacular cherry blossom trees. One of its best spots is the Korean Bell Garden, which features over 100 treed next to a lovely lake. Note that Meadowlark’s cherry trees generally bloom three to four days later than the Tidal Basin, depending on the weather.
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, VA 22211
The cemetery is full of stately memorial trees, including many cherry trees. Cherry blossoms are visible from both the Tomb of the Unknown and the Kennedy gravesite.
Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road
Alexandria, VA 22312
This Fairfax County park has several cherry trees, along with other spring flowers, a wooded stream valley with ponds, and a naturalistic native plant garden. Visitors can also enjoy more than 20 thematic demonstration gardens, a greenhouse, a plant shop, a horticultural reference library, two gift shops, a historic home.
7931 E. Boulevard Drive
Alexandria, VA 22308
This peaceful, waterfront property was once part of George Washington’s vast land along the Potomac River. River Farm features a lovely orchard with cherry and other blooming fruit trees, along with several other gardens.
Snow Meadow Lane
This dead-end street in McLean is lined with late-blooming cherry trees.
Van Gogh Bridge at Lake Anne
1609 Washington Plaza
Reston VA 20190
Van Gogh Bridge is a picturesque wooden footbridge at the Lake Anne Village Center. While this spot only has a few cherry trees, Lake Anne is so serene and lovely, it’s worth the drive to Reston.
1800 Glenallan Avenue
Wheaton, MD 20902
This award-winning garden is home to 30 cherry trees and many other spring blooms. Its specialty gardens include azalea, butterfly, children’s, rose, formal, and Japanese gardens.
10000 Clarksville Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042
This park, which has received awards for its natural design and sensitivity to nature, is centered around a 54-acre lake lined with cherry blossoms. Stroll along the 2.6-mile paved pathway to take in the view! You’ll likely also see white-tailed deer, beavers, foxes, turtles, herons, and many other bird species at Centennial Park.
Note: peak bloom in Howard County is typically two weeks after DC’s cherry blossoms peak.
Rockville Civic Center Park and Glenview Mansion
603 Edmonston Drive
Rockville, MD 20850
Stunning cherry trees line the drive to Glenview Mansion, a 1926 Neo-Classical Revival home on the National Registry for Historic Places. From the mansion, visit the 153 acre-Rockville Civic Center Park Garden, which offers more blooms, as well as a nature center, playground, and wooded nature walk.
Visit the Kenwood neighborhood in Bethesda to take in its 1,200 cherry trees lining the streets, mainly Kennedy Drive and Dorset and Kenwood Avenues. While parking isn’t allowed, visitors can either drive through, walk or cycle over from the nearby Capital Crescent Trail.
The Bottom Line
DC’s best spots for cherry blossoms extend far beyond the Tidal Basin! Locals don’t have to limit themselves to fighting the crowds and traffic to see amazing cherry blossoms this spring. The greater DC area offers several wonderful spots to see our city’s favorite bloom. Did we miss yours? Please let us know so we can add it to our list!
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