Every spring, the blossoming cherry trees in Washington, D.C. draw millions of visitors to the Tidal Basin, especially for the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival from mid-March through mid-April each year.
Although the National Mall and several other highly-congested touristy areas offer great opportunities to see these colorful flowers in full bloom, there are some quieter places around the D.C. area where you can see the cherry blossoms without the crowds.
Peak bloom dates for the cherry blossom trees are predicted each year by the National Park Service, but blossom season largely depends on the weather in late winter and early spring. Harsher, longer winters will push back bloom dates, though the calendar of events for the National Cherry Blossom Festival will remain unaffected.
While the National Arboretum may be considered a tourist attraction, it's certainly not on everyone's list of must-see destinations of a historic tour of the capital—though it should be. The Arboretum features 76 varieties of cherry trees blossoming in the research and display collections, and you can take a self-guided adventure through acres of flowering cherry trees by car, foot, or bicycle.
The Arboretum is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, and admission to the attraction is free of charge. It can get quite busy during cherry blossom season, so arrive earlier or later in the day to avoid the crowds.
Located in Vienna, Virginia, the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens has over 20 varieties of cherry blossoms on the 95-acre gardens. You can explore walking trails, lakes, an extensive shade garden, and gazeboes full of native wildflowers, birds, butterflies, irises, and peonies. There's also an indoor atrium, picnic areas, and educational facilities all for a low price of admission.
As an added treat, the Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark contains over 100 trees and shrubs native to Korea. Once you've taken in the rest of the facilities, you can relax in this beautiful garden's central pavilion that includes replicas of ancient Korean monuments adorned with traditional Korean symbols or have a picnic by a flowing waterway underneath cherry trees.
Anacostia Park is one of Washington's largest recreation areas with 1,200 acres of play spaces, open fields, and beautiful groves of blooming trees. Cherry trees bloom all along the Anacostia River, including in the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens and the Kenilworth Marsh. Anacostia Park also features an 18-hole golf course, a driving range, three marinas, and a public boat ramp.
Cherry trees bloom along the Anacostia River at the 1200-acre park that is one of Washington, DC's largest recreation areas. Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens and Kenilworth Marsh offer beautiful nature walks and exhibits. There is an 18-hole course, a driving range, three marinas and a public boat ramp.
With four acres rimmed by cherry trees, Stenton Park is one of the larger parks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the best place to see several of these blossoming trees at once. Although the park is named for President Lincoln's Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, the statue at the center of the park depicts revolutionary war hero General Nathanael Greene. The statue is surrounded by formal walkways, flower beds, and a playground; and there are no admission fees to see the trees.
The Foxhall community and neighborhood near Georgetown has cherry blossom-lined streets that are known locally as the city's best-kept spring secret. While there's no one central area to see the cherry trees all at once, enjoy driving around this neighborhood and basking in the pinks and whites on every block. There are also a number of great accommodations including bed and breakfasts and resorts in the Foxhall Community. If you'd like to spend some time walking under the trees and eating local cuisine, you could also plan your stay here.