Oh how I still remember that blustering, rainy day we had when we visited the Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms in D.C. for the first time. I’m not talking a gentle sprinkle either. We were getting hit with a downpour and it was moving sideways.
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First time on the D.C. Tidal Basin
When you move to Washington, D.C., it’s pretty much a right of passage to walk around the Tidal Basin to check out their famous blossoms. I mean people travel for thousands of miles to bask in their beauty. I could drive or take the metro in a matter of minutes.
While my aunt was in town, we decided to go down to finally see the cherry blooms. Naturally it was the wettest day of the week, but we powered through as this was her only day to see them.
Why see the D.C. Cherry Blossoms in the Rain?
One very nice thing about rain during cherry blossom season in DC is that the throng of tourists lightens up quite a bit.
I found a free parking spot a short walk from the Jefferson Memorial and the memorial gave us shelter from the storm, bathrooms for the boys and uninterrupted views of the Tidal Basin.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going to see the cherry blossoms on a stormy day, but if that is all you are able to do, it isn’t as bad as you might think.
Just make sure you pack up your rain boots, rain coats and rain pants.
What to wear on the Tidal Basin
Cherry blossom season is in the spring, and it will rain on the one day you have to visit. Make sure you always have an umbrella handy. Wear light layers, water-resistant shoes and have a raincoat ready to whip out when the rain starts to fall. If you have rain pants, even better.
Read our full Cherry Blossom Festival Guide now
How to Enjoy the Cherry Blossoms in the Rain
Walk the Tidal Basin
The Tidal Basin doesn’t close just because there is rain. Feel free to walk around the Tidal Basin, savoring the fact that you probably have the place pretty much to yourself.
Hide in the Jefferson Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial gives you a prime location to see the D.C. cherry blossoms, while having a roof over your head. You can even learn about the former president.
Oh, and there are bathrooms if you need to dry off… or use the toilet.
Puddle Jump Along the National Mall
Grab your rain boots, waterproof pants and a good rain jacket to go puddle jumping along the National Mall. Start up at the U.S. Capital or down by the Lincoln Memorial to see how far you can go.
Not only can you jump in puddles, but you can see how the water hits the National Mall reflecting pools and cherry blossom petals blowing through the air as you wander.
Parents— this is an excellent way to wear out your kids before nap time. Trust me, I’ve done it and it works like magic.
Stroll through the National Arboretum
If you want a little more protection, and a lot more space to see cherry blooms, head out to the United States National Arboretum to wander the paths. The visitor’s center/ administration building usually has a small self-guided walking tour pamphlet so you can find all of the trees throughout the 412 acres.
Check out the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, and don’t miss the Asian Garden, even in the rain. Here you can see weeping cherries draping over the gardens.
Just wait… the rain may stop
Like many other climates plagued by rain, sometimes if you just wait a few hours, the rain will clear out and you can sprint over to the the trees.
Wet trees are just as beautiful as dry ones, if not better. Think of the photos you will get with water droplets still on petals and falling across the leaves. Photos with a bright umbrella and the blooms will look perfect on your social media feed too.
Indulge in a Cherry Blossom Donut
It’s true that Washington, D.C. goes all out when it comes to cherry blossom inspired food. None is more anticipate than the Cherry Blossom donut at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken.
These beautiful, cherry-filled donuts are almost too pretty to each, but we “suffer” through it… and have a few on hand at all times. If cherry isn’t your thing, grab the creme brûlée donut, my go-to donut throughout the year.
Sip on a Cherry Blossom Cocktail
Bars across the District start adding Cherry Blossom signature cocktails to their menu in March. You will see everything from actual cherry-infused libations to every shade of pink cocktail on the planet.
Here are just a few of our favorite cherry blossom cocktail recipes and bars to get you started.
Indulge at the Cherry Blossom Terrace at La Vie
If you really can’t stand the rain, book a table at La Vie to sit under the cherry blossoms on the terrace. While these are paper cherry blossoms, you can still feel that magic that the season brings as you sip on cherry blossom inspired cocktails and Japanese-inspired cuisine.
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Washington, D.C. Travel Resources
Your Washington, D.C. vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve got the resources you need to plan your trip and make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area. If this is your first time to the capital region, check out our Washington, D.C. trip planner and itineraries.
For transportation, check out our D.C. driving guide and our guide on how to ride the metro. For those flying in, you’ll want to read our guides to BWI, DCA and IAD airports.
Dive into our things to do in D.C., which is always being updated and evolving to make sure you have the latest and greatest activities to fill your checklist of things to do. Don’t forget about food, the real reason we all travel, right? Our Washington, D.C. restaurant guide will get you started and lead you into neighborhoods full of delicious treats.
For more resources, check out our pages on Baltimore, Frederick,Richmond, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Shenandoah National Park and beyond.
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
Budget: When it comes to Washington, D.C. budget hotels, prices vary depending on the season. In the middle of October, a four-star hotel could be under $150, while in December it may be over $400. At any given time of year, though, Hotel Hive is a safe bet for value when it comes to resting your head. If you are looking for a hostel, Hi Washington D.C. Downtown is well located for exploring all of the D.C. museums, restaurants and bars at the fraction of the price of a hotel. Check rates and availability here.
Mid-range: Every USA hotel chain can be found in Washington, D.C., but stay at the St. Gregory Hotel when you want a local touch. The modern, light-filled rooms will welcome you to the city, whether you are in a studio or suite with wraparound terrace. The hotel is walking distance to Georgetown, the National Mall and Embassy Row, making it easy to explore without a rental car. Check rates and availability here.
Luxury: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Washington, D.C. We love cozying up at the Graham Georgetown, a sweet little boutique hotel in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Check rates and availability here. Major hotel brands like The Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C. and St. Regis Washington D.C. all have outposts here as well. If you want something a bit more historic, we recommend The Jefferson, Washington D.C. Ninety-nine rooms in this luxury boutique hotel bring together an attentive staff, petite spa, and the Michelin-starred Plume restaurant with all of the history you could hope for when you are in the nation’s capital. Check rates and availability here.
Family-friendly: We always gravitate towards the Kimpton hotels whenever we are traveling with kids. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington D.C., once the General Post Office building, is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood just four blocks off the National Mall near the National Gallery of Art. Price point is mid-range, depending on the time of year you visit. Parents will love the nightly wine events and evening nightcap perks as well as complimentary coffee and a tea bar each morning. Kids will love that they can borrow a fish friend for their stay, and that there is always a treat on hand that they can enjoy, and the robes are just their size. Kimpton also has adult and child-size bikes to borrow so you can cruise around town during your stay. Check rates and availability here.
Looking for Washington DC Rentals? Check HERE for the best location, size and rates.
Washington DC Rental Car
If you just flew in , you probably need a rental car. Although you can certainly take the Metro most places, especially if you fly into DCA, you may want a rental car to get out and explore. Find the best priced and availability HERE.
Planning a Trip to Washington, D.C.? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Whether you are traveling domestically or coming from an international destination, travel insurance is a must for anyone coming to Washington, D.C. You will be exploring both inside and outdoors; hiking may even happen if you get adventurous. You could find yourself on a Segway or bike tour. The city is highly populated and accidents and crime do happen. This is not to scare you, but to prepare you for what could occur when you are checking out the free museums, exploring neighborhoods, finding the best food and learning about the local street art. Should something happen, travel insurance has you covered.
We recommend and use Allianz Travel insurance. Our family is covered under a household plan, but their individual plans are just as robust if you are a solo traveler or a couple looking to get away. I’ve been a customer for more than five years and have always been in good hands with the Allianz team.
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