Your guide to the National Cherry Blossom Festival

What is it?

The Cherry Blossom Festival takes place every spring in D.C. In 1912, the Mayor of Tokyo gifted Japanese Cherry trees to the United States. Since then, the annual pink blooms that take place in late March to April have become a symbol of the city, an hallmark of spring — and one of the busiest tourist weeks all year.

Where is it?

There are cherry blossom trees all over the city, but the main spot is around the Tidal Basin, near the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and other smaller things. Here, you can walk all around the Basin to get different views of the water, the monuments, and the trees.

What to expect

You should be warned: this is one of the busiest times of years for visitors. Depending on when the peak blooms happen, there might be a great deal of school tour groups in the city. Furthermore, there are an incredible number of people that come just for the tidal basin. It is considered, by a lot of residents of the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia area), to be one of the worst weeks all year. So, be aware that, especially on the weekend, you will be contending with a lot of people. A lot of people walking around, and a lot of people in public transportation.

Is it worth it?

Yes. Especially if you have never seen it, it is beautiful. The trees are resplendent, and the way they frame the entire tidal basin and even the city itself is incredible. It is definitely the most beautiful time of year, at least if it is not too rainy (always possible in DC in the spring). And while you have to contend with a lot of other people, this is not something you can see any other time of year.

What metro station?

The best station to use is probably Smithsonian, on the blue/orange/silver lines. You can easily transfer there (or if you don’t mind a walk, walk) from the L’Enfant Plaza station on the yellow/green lines (and VRE trains), or transfer from the red line at Metro Center.

Where to go next

As mentioned, the Tidal Basin is the primary area to see the cherry blossoms. If you are looking to get away from the crowds, try checking out the Woodley Park area, where you can go grab a bite to eat or a drink at Adams Morgan, or check out Georgetown for more outdoor beauty. Chinatown is also not too far, for a good place to get some food You can also easily access the Smithsonian museums and memorials on the National Mall, but beware – they will also be slammed with crowds.

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