Check out where to see the cherry blossoms in DC and find the top spots for that picture-perfect Instagram, both on and off the National Mall.
You know spring has sprung in Washington, DC when the cherry blossoms appear and the National Cherry Blossom Festival begins. But capturing the perfect shot of a cherry blossom tree can be a daunting task. Expert photographers will tell you, the secret to taking a beautiful photo of these delicate marvels is a combination of the perfect scene and some good old-fashioned timing. For the blossoms, that time is during peak bloom, which typically occurs around early April but has occurred as early as mid-March and as late as mid-April.
The best viewing of the cherry blossom trees typically lasts four to seven days after peak bloom begins, which according to the National Park Service, began on March 28. In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and DC Health and in consultation with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, the National Park Service will limit all vehicular and pedestrian access to the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and West Potomac Park during the peak bloom period of the cherry blossoms as a public health precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The start and end dates of any restrictions are dependent on the bloom cycle of the trees, but are currently projected to fall between approximately March 26 and April 12. Updates will be posted the National Park Service's website and on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts dedicated to the National Mall.
To ensure the health/safety of our communities, it is recommended for all to enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival virtually this year and to see the blossoms via the live BloomCam. If you find yourself in DC, please follow the latest safety guidance for seeing the blossoms by the National Park Service. Note that the National Park Service has issued a mask requirement on all National Park Service-managed lands where physical distancing cannot be maintained outdoors. Also, please ensure you check the latest safety information for alternative blossom locations.
So grab your lens (camera or phone) and capture these world-famous trees from these ideal vantage points and see the likes on your feed blossom.
Please also check out our trip advisory before planning your visit to the cherry blossoms.
The steps of the Jefferson Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
The Japanese Lantern
Dating back nearly 400 years, the stone lantern is a serious #tbt. One of a pair – its twin resides at a Tokyo temple; the Japanese lantern was carved to honor the Third Shogun of the Tokugawa period. Each year, to mark the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the lantern is lit by the Cherry Blossom Princess representing the Embassy of Japan.
On a Tidal Basin paddle boat
Tidal Basin paddle boats with the cherry blossoms - Where to photograph the cherry blossoms during the National Cherry Blossom Festival this spring in Washington, DC
See the blossoms from the water when you hop in a two- or four-person paddle boat. Get yourself to the middle of the Tidal Basin for a wide shot of the trees or paddle yourself to the Jefferson Memorial for a shot of people dotting those marble stairs.
U.S. National Arboretum
No matter the season, the National Arboretum in Northeast DC shines as a photogenic destination. During cherry blossom season, the hidden gem is another place to behold the celebrated pink and white flowers. An added bonus: The Arboretum’s blossoms usually peak at a different time than the Tidal Basin ones, offering an alternative opportunity to catch the blossoms.
The Gardens of Dumbarton Oaks
Cherry blossoms line the pathways of the 10 acres of gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, an historic estate in Georgetown. You can’t go wrong with any of the beautiful views of the blossoms, but Cherry Hill at peak bloom is utterly spectacular. The gardens are open every day of the week except Mondays.
Anywhere on the banks of the Tidal Basin
To get shots of the blossoms from every angle, take the time to do a full loop around the Tidal Basin. Depending on the time of day, pause at different spots to capture the light just right. Sunsets are particularly beautiful, but sunrise comes with the advantage of not being as crowded.
In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and DC Health and in consultation with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, the National Park Service will limit all vehicular and pedestrian access to the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and West Potomac Park during the peak bloom period of the cherry blossoms as a public health precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The start and end dates of any restrictions are dependent on the bloom cycle of the trees, but are currently projected to fall between approximately March 26 and April 12. Updates will be posted the National Park Service's website and on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts dedicated to the National Mall.
Hains Point Loop Trail
Take the free Wharf Jitney over to Hains Point or grab some wheels from Bike and Roll and get ready for ample photo-ops of the blossoms. The loop around Hains Point spans 4.4 miles and is full of views of the blossoms with waterfront backdrops of the Potomac River, Anacostia River and Washington Channel. The loop is usually less crowded than the Tidal Basin, and it includes as many as 10 unique cherry blossom species.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The largest Roman Catholic Church in North America, and the 10th largest in the world, is located in DC’s Brookland neighborhood. The Basilica’s grounds hold even more appeal: you can see more than 150 gorgeous cherry blossom trees on-site. Snap photos of the trees while you admire the church’s incredible architecture. Entry to the grounds and the Basilica is free of charge.
As a reminder, please do your part in helping to protect the trees by never picking the cherry blossoms (it’s against the law).
So, now that you have the basics down, you’re ready to go capture the perfect photo. And be sure to check out our guide to spring before you visit the nation's capital.
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