Mar 19, 2022 - Things to Do

Where the District blooms: Our guide to D.C.'s cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Spring brings a burst of color to the District. This year, the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms are expected to be at peak bloom — their deepest, most brilliant pinks — from March 22-25.

Yes, but: That brief window isn’t the only time when residents can enjoy colorful blossoms. D.C. has gorgeous diversity in its blossoms, from magnolias to dogwoods, says Scott Aker, the National Arboretum’s Garden Unit expert.

  • Aker says some blossoms show their colors before the Yoshino blossoms (which line the Tidal Basin) do, including the plum blossoms and Okame cherries.
  • The peak bloom season for all different types of blossoms in D.C. ranges from late February until early May.
  • “We don’t have huge numbers of any one type [of cherry blossom] here,” Aker adds. “But, we have 147 different types of cherries.”

Where you should go: Blossom viewing at the Tidal Basin can often feel less-than-serene as you compete with visitors for the best picture along the water. So, try someplace else.

The National Arboretum is a good place to start — particularly as it features a number of cherry blossoms.

  • The best way to experience the arboretum is through its app which offers a self-guided cherry blossom tour. Aker says that the app can even pinpoint specific plants and give facts on them, which avoids cluttering the arboretum with signage.
  • Starting March 18 through mid-May, traffic restrictions are in place to facilitate an influx of visitors. Aker recommends that people try to visit on weekdays.

You can also find blossoms in your own neighborhood, using this map by non-profit Casey Trees. Aker recommends the Kenwood neighborhood in Bethesda for a cherry blossom neighborhood walk.

Be smart: Visit the cherry blossoms on a drizzly day, Aker says. There tend to be fewer people and the colors are more saturated.

  • An overcast day will promise you the best photos, he adds, while a sunny day is great for a picnic.

Of note: Not all trees are created equal. White blossoms with green leaves and a strong smell are Bradford pear trees, an invasive species in D.C. that Aker calls an “environmental nightmare.”

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