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.
These other places to see cherry blossoms in DC are just as pretty as the Tidal Basin and some of the peak bloom times also differ from the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms, so you will have the chance to catch both!
Or if you happen to arrive in DC before or after the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, some of these places might be blooming.
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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.
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 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.
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.
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!
UPDATE 2021: These are at peak bloom as of 4/16/2021 and so pretty! It’s perfect for a picnic because there is parking right next to it! We went on Friday and Sunday for a picnic and there were barely any other people there!
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.
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.
My dress available here.
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!
The magnolias bloom around the same time as the Tidal Basin 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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