With COVID cases on the rise in Washington DC in 2021, you may want to avoid the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin and find an alternative so you can safely social distance while enjoying the peak cherry blossom bloom!

There are even rumors that the National Park Service may close down the Tidal Basin this year to discourage people from coming.

 

cherry blossoms washington dc 2021

The Tidal Basin cherry blossoms are the main attraction during the Cherry Blossom Festival and arguably the best place to see cherry blossoms in DC.

But I have 5 secret spots to see cherry blossoms in Washington DC to avoid all the crowds during the pandemic this year!

 

 

cherry blossoms washington dc
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Cherry Blossoms Washington DC Peak Bloom 2021

So when do cherry blossoms reach peak bloom in Washington DC?

When will the DC cherry blossoms bloom in 2021?

Cherry blossoms usually bloom between mid to late March and early April.

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In 2019 the National Park Service predicted that peak bloom for the Washington DC Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to be between April 3 and 6 in 2019.

The cherry blossom peak bloom forecast for Washington DC though isn’t always accurate because of how volatile the weather in this area is.

It’s 70 degrees one minute and snowing the next.  A few years ago we actually had snow covered blossoms, and NPS had to push back their initial forecast.

Then the NPS revised their prediction again 3 days before the peak bloom period.

Some of the alternative places to see cherry blossoms in Washington DC I have listed below have different peak bloom times so if you happen to miss peak bloom around the Tidal Basin, these alternatives may be in bloom.

PEAK BLOOM UPDATE 2021:  The National Park Service announced on March 1, 2021 that they predict peak bloom for the cherry blossoms in Washington DC to be between April 2 and 5.

1. Hains Point East Potomac Park Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

Hains Point in East Potomac Park is usually used as parking for visitors to see the cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C.   

cherry blossoms dc hains point

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Cherry blossom trees line the road here! There’s a huge variety of cherry trees and basically no crowds because everyone is busy walking to the Tidal Basin. 

The Yoshino cherry blossoms around Hains Point bloom at the same time as the Tidal Basin, around late March to early April. 

My favorite cherry blossom trees here are the kwanzan cherry blossoms that bloom about 2 weeks after the Yoshino.  

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There is literally a forest of these trees planted in East Potomac Park and makes for the best photos.

If you ever wanted to frolic in a forest of cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. this is the place to do it. 

kwansan cherry blossom dc

Peak bloom for kwanzan cherry blossoms in DC near hains point is about 2 weeks after the main cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin.   

So if you happen to miss the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms then Hains Point is a great alternative!

washington dc cherry blossoms
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2. National Arboretum Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

The National Arboretum has a large variety of cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. that bloom at different times.  

national arboretum dc cherry blossoms

The trees here are absolutely gorgeous, especially the stunning willow cherry blossom trees. Because the space here is so large there are hardly any crowds so it’s perfect for social distancing.

cherry blossoms national arboretum

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The National Arboretum is open 8am – 5pm.  In previous years the cherry blossoms at the National Arboretum bloomed about 1 week before the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. 

If you are too early for the Yoshino cherry trees in DC then the National Arboretum is a great alternative.

Additionally, the Holly and Magnolia Collection at the National Arboretum is truly magical! 

national arboretum cherry blossoms

The magnolias bloom around the same time as the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms.  

national arboretum cherry blossoms

I just went for a visit on April 2, 2021 and it was beautiful.  The magnolias smell amazing and there are some daffodils blooming too! 

The magnolias are located here.

I would download their app to see exactly what is blooming and where so you are not driving around aimlessly.

national arboretum cherry blossoms
cherry blossom national arboretum
washington dc national arboretum cherry blossoms

 3. Congressional Cemetery Cherry Blossoms

This may be kind of shocking but the Congressional Cemetery is a beautiful place to view cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.  Beautiful pink trees line the walkway during spring and without any crowds in sight.

The Okame cherry blossom trees at Congressional Cemetery bloom about 1-2 weeks before the Yoshinos around the Tidal Basin.  Then there is a second bloom of Kwansan cherry blossom trees about 1-2 weeks after the Yoshinos.

congressional cemetery cherry blossoms

March 22, 2021 UPDATE:  Congressional Cemetery has opened up its grounds to the general public!  Their first batch of cherry blossom trees bloom early and should be blooming now.  They’ll probably hit peak later this week.

UPDATE:  I actually got up super early and went down to the Congressional Cemetery to check out the blossoms. 

As of 3/25/2021, the Okame trees are in full bloom.

congressional cemetery

This creates a beautiful blossom tunnel effect I’ve not seen in many places around this area!

If you’ve never been to Congressional Cemetery it may be a bit confusing because it looks closed!

Many of the gates appear to be locked and they still have a sign up on their main entrance which contradicts their website.

The main gate entrance is on E street and there’s plenty of free 2-hour parking right in front of the entrance.

The main gate looks closed but it is not!  It’s not locked you can enter freely.

congressional cemetery blossoms

Once you enter through the main gate on E Street, just walk straight and you will see the blossoms to your right.

I saw quite a few people walking their dogs here but definitely no crowds.  I was here on a weekday though early in the morning!

Location:  1801 E Street, Southeast
Washington, D.C. 20003

4. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Cherry Blossoms

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception not only boasts beautiful architecture but also has 150 stunning cherry blossom trees!  

And unlike the Tidal Basin, the Basilica offers free parking for visitors. The Basilica is open 7 am to 6 pm through March 31st, and open until 7 pm after April 1.   

5. Kenwood Bethesda, Maryland Cherry Blossoms

Kenwood is a neighborhood in Maryland just outside of Washington D.C.  

kenwood cherry blossoms how long will they last

The cherry blossoms in Kenwood though are just as pretty as the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.  There’s also a free parking lot because you can’t park on the streets here. 

cherry blossoms bethesda kenwood

The Kenwood cherry blossoms bloom about a few days to a week after the cherry blossoms in DC so if you miss the Washington DC cherry blossom bloom, Kenwood is a good choice!

If you happen to live in Maryland there’s also quite a few other places to find cherry blossoms in Maryland.

kenwood cherry blossoms
cherry blossoms not in dc
bethesda cherry blossoms

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6. BONUS:  Dumbarton Oaks Cherry Blossoms

I have a bonus alternative to cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC, but it’s not free. 

Dumbarton Oaks is a garden in Georgetown.  It has a section called Cherry Hill with beautiful cherry blossom trees for you to enjoy without crowds.  

There’s also a little walkway called plum walk. This walkway is lined with plum trees that bloom with beautiful plum blossoms before the cherry blossoms.  Dumbarton Oaks is open 2-6pm and has an entry fee. It’s $10 for adults and $5 for children 2-12.  

Because of the pandemic Dumbarton Oaks is currently closed.  I predict it will remain closed for the majority of spring if the COVID situation in Washington DC does not improve dramatically.

Dumbarton Oaks is still closed and will likely remain so when the 2021 cherry blossoms hit peak bloom.

More Cherry Blossom Alternatives to the Tidal Basin

Here’s a few more alternatives to the Tidal Basin that I’ve not personally been to but could be a great substitute this year.

Stanton Park – This public park has cherry blossoms surrounding a Statue of General Nathanael Greene.  Location:  226 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002

Oxon Run Park – Has over 200 cherry blossom trees! Location:  1200 Mississippi Ave SE, Washington, DC 20032

Montrose Park  – Right next to Dumbarton Oaks (which is closed) in Georgetown.  Has cherry blossom-lined streets.  A great option if you have kids, because there is a playground in the park.  Location:  3052 R St NW, Washington, DC 20007  

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