Avoiding the Crowds

Crowds are an integral part of Washington DC's cherry blossom season. But there are ways you can avoid them and still see flowers.

Washington DC's famous cherry blossom reached peak bloom on March 28, 2021. They're now done for the year.

You can find the most recent updates here.

You often see photos like this of cherry blossoms close to the Washington Monument. This one, and many of the ones like it, are actually taken at a grove of cherry blossoms between the Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument.

Cherry blossom season brings the crowds, and foot and road traffic around the Tidal Basin can get very heavy. There’s almost certainly going to be quite a few people around, especially during the day. So you could be waiting for a very long time if you wait for a people-free view.

But the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin are not the only cherry trees in town. If you’re looking for great alternatives that don’t involve the logistical issues of the Tidal Basin–or if you just want to take photos in a calmer environment or without people getting in your shot–here are some places to try. Or maybe you couldn’t time your visit precisely with the cherry blossom bloom. If so, you’re still in for a treat, because the DC area in spring and summer has lots of other beautiful flowers and gardens.

The National Mall

There’s a grove of cherry trees on the edge of the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin.

East Potomac Park / Hains Point

This shot, with Memorial Bridge in the background on a misty spring morning, includes a branch of one of the thousands of cherry trees lining the waterfront of Hains Point.

There are a couple of thousand cherry trees around the waterfront of Hains Point. Most people use Hains Point as a parking lot, but it’s a great place to find some beautiful cherry trees all to yourself. And there’s plenty of room to sit and enjoy the view of the river.

There are especially large collections of Kwanzan cherry blossoms on the western side that are well worth seeing when they’re in bloom.

The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum is a sprawling parkland within Washington DC. It’s not walkable from the National Mall, and once you’re there, a car of bicycles will help a lot (it’s a large area). There’s a huge variety of flora here, including many other flowering trees and plants.

Dumbarton Oaks

The Dumbarton Oaks campus in Georgetown has some beautiful cherry blossoms along with lots of other flowers in a beautifully maintained and peaceful setting right in the heart of DC. There is an entrance fee, and the gardens are only open from 2 PM to 6 PM. More info on their website.

Kenwood Cherry Blossoms

While there are cherry blossoms all over the area–even along the median strip along one of the busiest roads in the region–Route 66–but a residential neighborhood in Bethesda has an unusually large collection that can be a lot more convenient and a lot less busy to visit than those downtown. You can find more information here.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

This botanical park in the Northern Virginia suburbs just west of downtown DC (in Vienna, not far from Wolf Trap) has quite a few Yoshino cherry trees surrounding a lake as well as a huge variety of other plants and trees.

It’s a really wonderful place to take people photos, and if you’re just taking personal shots there’s no problem, but if you’re doing them for paying clients there’s an extra fee and reservations are required. You can find more information on that [here]
(https://www.novaparks.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Portrait%20Photography%20Rules%20for%20Meadowlark%20Botanical%20Gardens%20September%2020141_0.docx) [doc].

You can find the hours and more information about Meadowlark here.

Beyond the Cherry Blossoms

The Washington area is beautiful in spring and summer, with all sorts of other flowers and trees coming out from the first daffodils of the season and continuing with others through the summer and fall. A personal favorite is River Farm on the banks of the Potomac in Alexandria. It was once one of several farms George Washington owned in the area and is now run by the American Horticultural Society.

For lots of other ideas beyond the cherry blossoms, check out the DC Gardens website. The Washington Post has also put together a very handy list of other gardens worth seeing.

And if you need a break from all the beautiful flowers, there’s a lot else to do in DC.

Want to Help Support DC's Cherry Trees?

If you'd like to help support the care and upkeep of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, the Trust for The National Mall has launched an Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign. Donations go to the official Cherry Tree Endowment, which will give the National Park Service additional resources to fund the care, maintenance, and possible replacement of the cherry trees. You can find more information here.

The Trust is dedicated to marshaling private support for maintaining and improving the historic National Mall area. I'm not affiliated with the Trust--just an admirer of their efforts.

Last updated March 18, 2020

View Comments

  • Hi David,
    We really enjoyed our visit to DC from Apr 6 - Apr 10, it is such a beautiful city, and the trees were gorgeous for our visit! While we mainly saw the trees around the tidal basin as we were walking a lot with a young toddler and my wife is pregnant, we did find some trees near capitol hill and union station as well, right near the Japanese american memorial, and a fountain there, I believe it's called the senate reflecting pool. We were there on the Wednesday afternoon and they were already near full bloom it seemed! Beautiful! I didn't see these listed in your summary here so I wanted to let you know, if you didn't already know about them!

  • Please update the forecast...I am due back in Niagara Falls on Sunday night...and desparately want to see these blossoms. I am in Front Royal now and hoping to catch them before I have to head back.
    Thank you!