Cherry Blossoms DC 2018: Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms
The best place to see Cherry Blossoms in DC is the Tidal Basin. It’s definitely a beautiful time to be in the D.C. area but tourists coming to the area specifically to see the cherry blossoms might be disappointed without some preparations. Cherry blossom trees line the walkway around the Tidal Basin and it is definitely the best place to see them.
Cherry Blossoms DC: When is Peak Bloom for the Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms in Washington D.C. reach peak bloom sometime between mid-March and mid-April. The peak bloom is completely weather dependent, and the last few years spring has been crazy in this area. It’s cold one minute and hot the next! Last year we had 2 weeks of almost 80-degree weather in February followed by a huge freeze, which basically caused all the magnolias to start bloom then die! If you are planning a trip here just to see the cherry blossoms, I would make a backup plan. Also follow the NSP’s predictions very closely, I usually check on a daily basis when it gets close to peak! The initial cherry blossom peak bloom for 2018 prediction is March 17 to 20.
UPDATE: BOTH the NSP and the Washington Post have pushed back their predictions one more time to April 8 – 12. After we had some snow last week I saw this coming! The weather has been seriously cold here!
UPDATE April 4th: Peak bloom has been moved up to April 5-8! We’ve got some crazy weather coming our way including a wind advisory today with gusts up to 50 MPH that could blow a bunch of petals off and SNOW in the forecast for Saturday. At this rate I’m not sure the cherry blossoms in DC will survive past this weekend. So if you can go see them I’d hurry and go during the week.
The picture below was taken on the first day of peak blooms April 5, 2018!
When is the Best Time of Day to See the Cherry Blossoms in D.C.
Once the cherry blossoms hit peak bloom be prepared for that weekend to be extremely crowded! Everyone and their mother will be at the Tidal Basin trying to get that cherry blossom selfie. It’s so crowded it’s hard to even walk sometimes. And if you have kids, DO NOT BRING A STROLLER!! I repeat do not bring a stroller, because you won’t be able to get anywhere.
My advice is if you are going on a weekend, go early in the morning. When I say early I mean get there by 6 to 7 am and you should have the place pretty much to yourself for about an hour. The crowds start really rolling in at around 9 am and by 11 am you will regret having slept in! If you can plan a weekday visit, all the better, it will be mostly empty!
Weather for Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
Weather in the Washington D.C. area is beyond finicky in the spring. Having lived here for the last 20 years, it’s snowed, rained, and been 80 degrees during the cherry blossom season. For the past few years though I’ve yet to catch a weekend at the Tidal Basin during peak bloom where it wasn’t cloudy and threatening rain. Dress accordingly in layers and with some waterproof gear.
As the weather is finicky and the cherry blossoms in DC are delicate, a huge rain or thunderstorm storm can completely wash the petals away. Or a hot spell could make the petals drop and spring green sooner than predicted. If you are coming here specifically to see the cherry blossoms, I’d watch the weather very carefully a few days could mean glorious pink trees, or a bunch of pink petals basically carpeting the ground.
Transportation: How to Get to Cherry Blossoms DC at the Tidal Basin
The cherry blossom trees in Washington D.C. surround the Tidal Basin. If you get there early as in 6 to 7 am on a weekend there is plenty of parking. Even if you get there late there is still plenty of parking but will require some walking. You can also take the Washington D.C. metro, the Smithsonian stop on the Blue, Yellow, and Silvers lines is the closest. There are several parking lots for Cherry Blossom on Ohio Dr Southwest, these fill up quickly, but if you keep driving down Ohio there will usually be street parking. You can walk a scenic route along the river to the tidal basin. It’s actually a very nice paved path which is also lined with some cherry blossoms.
Cherry Blossom Festival DC 2018
The National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC this year runs from March 20 – April 15. The Cherry Blossom Parade will take place April 15th. This will be the most crowded day at the Tidal Basin. I’ve been to the main event in the past and if it coincides with peak bloom there will not even be room to walk! So if you go to this parade good luck!
Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run DC 2018
The annual Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run takes place April 8th. I would avoid the tidal basin and driving to DC during this time because traffic will be insane with nowhere to park. There will be a number of road closures for the run. We accidentally went last year during the run and had to turn around and go home. Well not exactly go home, we hit up another cherry blossom spot on the way back.
Cherry Blossoms DC: If You Miss Peak Bloom
Because the weather around this area is so unpredictable you may miss the main cherry blossoms like I did last year. By the time we got down to the Tidal Basin it was mostly green, and this was a week past peak. But don’t worry, there’s another blossom called the Kwanzan cherry blossoms that bloom literally everywhere in this area! These blooms are a lot sturdier, bigger and a deeper pink! They look almost like carnations on trees. Peak bloom for the Kwanzan cherry blossoms in D.C. is just a week or two past the main blossoms. They are just as pretty to photograph!
Cherry Blossoms DC: If you are too early for Peak Bloom
As the cherry blossoms are so weathered dependent you might arrive in DC before they bloom. The predictions for peak bloom were pushed back twice this year and then moved up rather suddenly with very little notice. Fortunately, if a sea of blush is what you’re after the saucer magnolias bloom a week or two before the cherry blossoms in DC. These beautiful trees truly put on a show and can be even more magnificent than the cherry blossoms themselves. There’s a few locations to see that sea of pink in DC, but my favorites are Enid A. Haupt Garden at the Smithsonian Castle and Rawlin’s Park.
Enid A. Haupt Garden
Alternative to Cherry Blossoms DC
If you don’t want to battle the crowds at the Tidal Basin in D.C. during the cherry blossom peak bloom, then I’d suggest heading over to Kenwood in Bethesda, Maryland. This cute little neighborhood has all the cherry blossoms and none of the crowds, see the details here.
Cherry Blossom Bar DC
After you are done with Cherry Blossoms in DC it’s time to head over to the Cherry Blossom Bar! This Cherry Blossom pop-up bar by the Drink Company is dripping with cherry blossoms and trees. Not to mention the Godzilla and a room covered with lanterns and butterflies. And the drinks are all excellent. My favorites of the evening were the “A God, An Alpha Predator, Godzilla” and the “Yuzu Sour.” The “Beana Colada” comes in the cutest cat mug ever, and don’t let the red bean scare you, it’s perfect in this drink. “The Way Of The Tea” is light with egg whites and as a nice strong matcha flavor. My least favorites were the “Love Crazed Monster Crushes World” and “There Goes Tokyo,” both were a bit too strong for my taste but those that like a good whiskey would enjoy it. Cherry Blossom Pop Up Bar is open until April 29th, so hurry and check it out. It is located at 1843 7th Street N.W.