The 10 Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in DC, Maryland, and Virginia (updated for 2021)
I opened the door, walked outside, and immediately knew that spring had arrived. The evidence was everywhere. Fountains bubbled, daffodils leaned into the sun, the magnolia and cherry tree blossoms were well on their way to full bloom.
I closed my eyes and drank in the scent of fresh air and the perfume of spring’s first flowers.
It made me happy… I was ready for winter to end.
As I strolled through the gardens, I envisioned coming back to this place with my daughter. She would have so much fun running through the Children’s Garden, playing in fields of flowers. She would have so much fun. The photos would be amazing!
However, at the same time there was a nagging sensation in the back of my mind. When is the best time to see the flowers? Where should I go?
Related: Check out the Kid Friendly Maryland comprehensive resource for parents: Things To Do In Maryland With Kids!
Like me, I am sure you have your story of missing the peak bloom of your favorite flowers. Vowing to never again let a blooming flower go to waste, I am starting a series which will be what I hope becomes a great resource for anyone who wants to know when and where to see flowers in bloom in the Greater DC-Baltimore Area. First on the list? How about the best places to see cherry blossoms in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
When Are Cherry Blossoms In Bloom And Where Can You See Them?
What are the dates of peak bloom?
When are they in bloom? Cherry Blossoms and Magnolias (which are every bit as glorious as cherry blossoms in my opinion) blooming are among the first signs of Spring. Depending on the weather, these blossoming trees bloom anywhere from mid-March to mid-April. In 2021, peak bloom is predicted 2-5 April by the National Park Service.
How Will COVID-19 (Coronavirus) impact the Cherry Blossom Festival?
The Cherry Blossom Festival is cancelled again for 2021. As of this writing, there are no solid plans to restrict access to the Tidal Basin. However, that can change quickly. Already, the DC Government is encouraging visitors to check out virtual bloom cams. If you plan to visit the Tidal Basin blossoms in person, I would highly recommend going right before or right after peak bloom. Or, visit on an off-peak time (like the middle of the week).
Best Places to see Cherry Blossoms and Magnolias
Here are some of the best places to view Cherry Blossoms and Magnolias… including a few gems that are off the beaten path.
Cherry Blossom Festival At The Jefferson Memorial
This will be the busiest and most crowded place to see the cherry blossoms. Still, it is also the most iconic blossom watching location. If you absolutely must check out the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, consider going on a weekday and arriving super early in the morning (like, 7-8AM early). If you make the trek to the Tidal Basin and it is too crowded, there are plenty of other places on the National Mall with gorgeous cherry blossoms too. Check out the area around the Washington Monument, or even the Enid A. Haupt Garden, a small garden, located next to the Smithsonian Castle.
Dumbarton Oaks is actually a museum that also has a gorgeous garden. The garden is only open from 2-6PM, but if you time it right, the stroll down a cherry tree-lined lane is something out of Victorian movie set.
If you have young children in tow or if you get to Dumbarton Oaks a little early, check out this small public park that is literally next door to Dumbarton Oaks. The cherry blossoms are also spectacular here. Plus, your kids will enjoy the playground.
Cherry Blossom Festival at the FDR and MLK Memorials
If only there was a way to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms of the Tidal Basin, without having to jostle for position near the Jefferson Memorial. If you want to stick to cherry blossoms in DC, why not spend some time at the rest of Potomac Park, which also runs along the Tidal Basin. It will likely be crowded.. but not as crowded as the area around the Jefferson Memorial.
The U.S. National Arboretum is consistently on the top of the list for great places to see cherry blossoms without the crowds. Check out their Asian Tree collection for both magnolias and cherry blossoms. While you are there don’t forget to check out the National Capitol Columns or the famous Bonsai trees.
This community in Bethesda, MD sports no less than 1200 cherry trees. Apparently, parking can be a little tricky, but not an insurmountable task. Still, locals rave about the beauty of the cherry-tree lined streets in this neighborhood.
Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD is a lovely garden pretty much any time of the year. They also happen to have about 30 cherry trees, including the type of cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin. To see them, visit the Gude Garden near the pagoda.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
This regional park in Vienna, VA features lovely cherry trees, some of which are located at the edge of beautiful lake. Other great spots to view the cherry blossoms are on the paths near the visitor center.
The great open secret about cherry blossoms in Howard County, MD– located between Washington DC and Baltimore– is that peak bloom for these cherry blossoms is typically 2 weeks after the DC cherry blossom peak bloom. That means if you missed the blooms on the Tidal Basin, or if the weather was stinky, you get a second chance to see them! In Howard County, Centennial Park might be the best public place to see the cherry blossoms.
This lovely (really lovely) arboretum in Baltimore blooms fairly soon after the blossoms in DC and it is sooo lovely. They have amazing cherry blossoms and magnolia trees. Plus, it won’t be nearly as crowded as some other places!
Matthew A Henson Neighborhood in Baltimore
This is a new entry for 2021 because I wasn’t aware of it until a reader alerted me! A few years ago a ton of cherry trees were planted and a park was created on the entire block of 1600 N Appleton Street. This street looks amazing and the cherry trees extend to the 1500 Block of McKean also in West Baltimore.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
This amazing botanical garden in Richmond, VA might be a little far away to be considered in the greater DC area. However, I visited for the first time a few years ago and I have to tell you– it is totally worth the drive! Magnolia trees are already in bloom and the cherry trees are not far behind. Plus, they have a number of daffodil patches that are quite lovely, gorgeous grounds (even without a ton of flowers blooming), and the conservatory houses beautiful displays or orchids and tulips.
More Information On The Cherry Blossoms
Thank you for checking out this guide to the best places to see cherry blossoms in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. Check back soon for the next post in the series, which will feature Daffodils!
Thanks and happy Spring to you!