Spring must be here if the ground is covered in white petals and D.C. residents linger long after work to take in the fresh blooms on the trees. Washington, D.C. cherry blossom season might just be our favorite time in the city, and it draws in thousands of visitors each year.
There are a few things you need to know before you pack your bags and head to the nation’s capital for peak cherry blossom viewing. We’ve got tips for festivities, plenty of spots on the Tidal Basin to take pictures with trees, and the perfect hotels and parking spots just for you.
The Best Time to Visit D.C. During Cherry Blossom Season
Cherry blossoms, being persnickety little flowers, are dependent on the weather in the months leading up to March and April. If we have a warm winter, the Yoshino cherry blossom peak season happens earlier in March. If we have a cold and frosty winter, you are more likely to see blooms in April.
These variables make it really hard to plan a trip to Washington, D.C. especially if you are flying. If you are driving, you can simply stalk the National Park Service website for the bloom forecast. Your best bet if you fly is to book your trip between mid-March and mid-April during the D.C. National Cherry Blossom Festival. You are sure to see cherry blossoms then, whether in peak bloom or not.
Cherry Blossom Dress Code
No, there isn’t an official cherry blossom dress code. Don’t be silly. But if you want to look your best for your photos, really put some thought into your outfit. Flowy skirts, jeans with a cute top and jacket, and fun hats all work well with a few blush blooms.
You will see a lot of people wearing pink and white, but keep in mind that blue and yellow pops beautifully too. Men: wear a blue suit for those engagement photos. You can thank us later.
Wear Really Good Walking Shoes
This is not the time to wear heels, ladies. You will be doing a ton of walking (in fact, schedule a pedicure for later). Lace up your cute sneakers and pack the strappy heels and sandals in a bag for photos.
Visit the D.C. Tidal Basin During the Week
Weekdays are slightly less crowded than weekends when visiting the cherry blossoms, since D.C. residents have to go to work and school. Around sunset you’ll see people pop over to the Jefferson Memorial to take in the view, but it’s nothing compared to weekend crowds.
Grab the Best Photo Light at Sunrise and Sunset
Sunrise is the quietest time on the Tidal Basin and National Mall for photos. Only hardcore photographers and cherry blossom enthusiasts are out that early. While we prefer sunset, mainly because we like to sleep, you will get incredible light either time of the day.
Get Away from the D.C. Tidal Basin
Thomas Jefferson and MLK Jr. love when you visit their memorials at the Tidal Basin, but there are so many other great spots to find D.C. cherry blossom trees without the crowds.
Where to Find D.C. Cherry Blossoms Apart From the Tidal Basin
- United States National Arboretum
- Washington Monument
- Dumbarton Oaks (Georgetown)
- Hains Point (East Potomac Park)
- Kenworth neighborhood (Bethesda, MD)
- Arlington National Cemetery (Arlington, VA)
Read our Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Guide for more spots around Maryland and Virginia.
Take Public Transportation to the D.C. Cherry Blossoms
Cherry blossom season is one of the busiest times of the year in Washington, D.C., especially around the National Mall and the Tidal Basin. Take the D.C. Metro and walk as much as possible to avoid parking difficulties. You can easily drive to a suburban metro station, park your car for a nominal fee for the day and take the train if you are coming from farther out.
If your feet need a little break while walking around the city, you can also hop on a bike via the Capitol Bikeshare program, or pick up any number of electric scooters lying around town. You will need an app to access them. The Circulator Bus around the National Mall will also save you countless steps as you wander the city.
Want to park near the blooms? Read our Tidal Basin parking guide.
Where to Stay in D.C. During Cherry Blossom Season
You could stay at a hotel in town where you can park and leave your car. Book that room early though, as the tour groups and cherry blossom lovers will be scooping them up.
Washington, D.C. has a massive quantity of hotel rooms, but when it comes to spots close to the cherry blossoms you want to be picky. Book either close to the Tidal Basin or near a Metro line for easy access.
Here are a few of our favorite D.C. hotels near the Tidal Basin:
- Mandarin Oriental
- Hyatt House Washington
- Canopy by Hilton Washington
- Intercontinental Washington, D.C.- The Wharf
- Hilton Washington, D.C.- National Mall
Need more hotels? Check out the cherry blossom edition of the Washington, D.C. hotels guide.
Attend One of the National Cherry Blossom Festivals
There are so many events happening during the month-long National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. You really don’t have any excuse not to attend at least one. We love the kid-friendly Bloom Kite Festival, and of course, you don’t want to miss the parade along Constitution Avenue. Get your tickets ASAP in January for the parade though.
Cherry Blossom Festival Events Around Town:
- Pink Tie Party
- Festival opening ceremony
- Blossom Kite Festival
- Cherry Blossom Parade
- SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration
- Anacostia River Festival
- Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival
Read our complete guide to the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival.
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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, Richmond 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.
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. Check rates and availability here.
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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