My absolute favorite season in Maryland and the DC region is spring. From mid-March through mid-May the explosion of blooms is such a fun and happy way to say goodbye to winter.
Cherry blossoms and spring magnolias are the perfect way to start the season! Check out this guide for where to find the best places to see cherry blossoms in DC, Maryland, and the region!
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 2023, peak bloom is predicted to be potentially very early by the National Park Service. It looks like peak bloom will be 22-25 March. (Note: the earliest peak bloom on record was March 15th in 1990.)
The Cherry Blossom Festival is Back for 2023!
The Cherry Blossom Festival is back for 2023! The Blossom Kite Festival is 25 March on the Washington Monument Grounds. It will run from 10AM-430PM with a rain date of 25 March.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade will take place Saturday, April 15th from 10am-noon.
Petalpalooza is a music festival taking place on April 8th from 1-9PM.
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.
Haines Point at East Potomac Park
One of our favorite sneaky places to see cherry blossoms is Hains Point on East Potomac Park! The cherry blossoms here are every bit as lovely as the Tidal Basin, but without the crowds. Plus East Potomac Park has plenty of parking and restrooms.
Dumbarton Oaks is actually a museum that also has a gorgeous garden. The garden is only open from 3-6PM Tuesday-Sunday, but if you time it right, the stroll down a cherry tree-lined lane is something out of Victorian movie set.
Dumbarton Oaks also has some amazing Magnolia Trees and this area of the garden is like a true sanctuary.
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. Here is more info about Montrose Park.
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.
The National Harbor has lovely cherry blossom trees too! They are smaller trees than the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. They are still quite lovely though! Check these beauties out about a week before the DC Cherry Blossom 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.
Google Map Directions for the neighborhood (but make sure you are parking legally!)
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
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.
Check out the spot where our National Anthem was penned! ‘O, Say Can You See…’ Ft. McHenry is a National Park so make sure your kids snag their Junior Ranger booklet from the Visitor Center.
In April (these photos were taken early April), the cherry blossoms are absolutely stunning. Pack a picnic lunch and just enjoy hanging out under the trees, with water views everywhere!
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.
The peak bloom date is when 70% of the flowers of the cherry blossom trees are open. This varies from year to year and is dependent on weather patterns. If there is a milder winter, it is likely the cherry blossoms will bloom earlier in March. A colder winter and peak bloom could be early to mid-April.
Once cherry blossoms reach peak bloom, it will typically last 5 to 6 days.
There is no fee to see the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin or some of the other public locations like Haines Point. However, you will likely have to pay to park your vehicle.
Short answer- extremely. Tourists from all over the world come to Washington DC to see the famous cherry blossoms. But this is for a good reason– they are really gorgeous!
It is illegal to pluck the cherry blossoms. You can take petals that have fallen to the ground, but you are not allowed to pick them from the trees.
The nearest Metro train stop to the festival is the Smithsonian/National Mall station on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines. The two entrances/exits to Smithsonian/National Mall station are located at 12th Street & Jefferson Drive SW (on the Mall) and 12th Street & Independence Avenue SW.
They start white and gradually turn pink.