Everything You Need to Know About the Washington DC Cherry Trees

Cherry Blossoms with Washington Monument reflected in Tidal Basin, Washington DC

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Visiting Washington DC during cherry blossom season is truly a sight to behold. Here's what you need to know about planning your trip to the nation's capital during this special season. 

  • 01 of 09

    When Do the Cherry Blossoms Bloom?

    Cherry Blossoms Festival Continues In Washington

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    The date when the cherry blossoms reach their peak bloom varies from year to year, depending on the weather. The dates of the National Cherry Blossom Festival are set based on the average date of blooming, which is around April 4th. The dates are predicted each year by the National Park Service.

  • 02 of 09

    What's the National Cherry Blossom Festival?

    Cherry Blossoms In Bloom In Washington, DC

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    The Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual, city-wide event featuring more than 200 international cultural performances and more than 90 other special events.

  • 03 of 09
    USA - Washington DC - Cherry Blossoms in Bloom
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    Washington, DC's famed cherry trees grow in three park locations: around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point), and on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

    Approximately 3,750 cherry trees are on the Tidal Basin. Most of the trees are Yoshino Cherry. Other species include Kwanzan Cherry, Akebono Cherry, Takesimensis Cherry, Usuzumi Cherry, Weeping Japanese Cherry, Sargent Cherry, Autumn Flowering Cherry, Fugenzo Cherry, Afterglow Cherry, Shirofugen Cherry, and Okame Cherry.

    Some cherry trees are also located in some quieter places around the region.

  • 04 of 09
    Cherry Blossoms In Bloom In Washington, DC

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    The best way to get to the Tidal Basin and the National Mall is by public transportation.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    What Is the History?

    Low Angle View Of Cherry Blossoms Blooming On Tree At Tidal Basin

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    In 1912, the people of Japan sent 3,020 cherry trees to the United States as a gift of friendship. First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin. These two original trees are still standing today near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. Workmen planted the remainder of the trees around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. In the early 1990s, the Cherry Blossom Festival became a two-week long celebration, as it is today.

    To learn more, read Ann McClellan's book The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration.

  • 06 of 09

    How Can I Avoid the Crowds?

    Cherry blossom sunrise in Washington D.C.

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    The National Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the more heavily attended annual events in Washington, DC. Visit the Tidal Basin early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the largest crowds. The largest crowds visit on the weekends. Many of Washington’s most popular attractions will be very busy as well. Plan ahead and make reservations or buy admission tickets in advance.

  • 07 of 09

    Where Should I Stay?

    Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC

    Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

    The Washington DC area has a wide range of places to stay, including hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. You can find cheap hotels and luxury accommodations near the National Mall or you may consider staying in the nearby suburbs.

  • 08 of 09

    Where Should I Eat?

    USA, Washington DC, interior of Union Station

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    Washington DC has hundreds of fantastic restaurants featuring cuisines from all over the world. Many local restaurants offer special dishes and add cherries to some of their recipes during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. For details, see a guide to Washington's Cherry Picks. The museum cafes are expensive and often crowded but are the most convenient places to dine on the National Mall. There are a variety of restaurants and eateries within walking distance to the museums as well.

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  • 09 of 09
    Hsing-Hsing the panda at National Zoo

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    The spring is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy a variety of family fun activities in the Washington, DC area. From outdoor recreation to community events to visiting historical and cultural attractions, there are endless opportunities for fun around the region, including some hidden gems.