It's the calm before the storm that hits DC every year--pink and white blooms begin to appear, kicking off the official unofficial start of spring and the return of the cherry blossom peepers. It's been a crazy, unseasonably mild winter so the flowers are making an earlier than usual appearance.
DC’s cherry blossoms are expected to be at peak bloom around March 27-30, 2020. Peak bloom also means peak bus loads of people flocking to the Tidal Basin bent on getting that "perfect" shot of the city's famous pink and white blooms.
Fighting the crowds is part of the experience at the Tidal Basin during peak bloom, but it doesn't have to be that way. Here are our top ere are our top six tips for experiencing the full glory of the blossoms, without a bunch of random people photobombing your Jefferson Memorial pic.
1. Visit during the week
If you can, visit the Tidal Basin during the week. Crowds on the weekends reach Disneyland-esque levels for a chance to view the pink blossoms. Going on a weekday when everyone else is at work or school means far fewer crowds.
2. Go early -- really early
Even if you go on a weekday, you can still expect to encounter crowds. If you want to beat all the out-of-towners, arriving before 10 am is a must. Increase the odds of enjoying the blooms without a crush of people, strollers and bikes, by setting your alarm early; plan to arrive around 6am. I know *groan, *but having the elbow room to get fabulous shots of the cherry blossoms with the amazing light at sunrise is soo worth it.
3. ... Or go late at night
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid the crowds of people at the Tidal Basin during the day is to go at dusk or later. Visitors come to the District to participate in all the festival’s activities during the day, but they start heading back to their hotels to wind down or eat dinner around 5pm. The flowers are just as beautiful at night, and the quiet atmosphere adds to the serenity of the setting. Hint: It’s the perfect time for a romantic stroll with your boo:)
4. Take to the water
Everyone goes to the Tidal Basin for selfies and close-ups with the blooms, making the sidewalks and grassy areas as crowded as Union Station during rush hour. So, instead view the flowers from the water. Rent a kayak, canoe, paddle boat or stand-up paddle board for a DIY experience on the water, or opt for a boat ride along the river. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Right now you can find great deals with Washington Marina National Ferry Corp, Capitol River Cruises, and Boomerang Boat Tours. Potomac Riverboat Company and DC Water Taxi are a couple more to check out.
5. See the blooms at two icon memorials
Take a few steps from the jam-packed sidewalks along the Tidal Basin loop to view the cherry blooms on the grounds of the Martin Luther King, Jr. (which has 182 cherry trees on the grounds) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials. The foot-traffic is less congested but the views are simply stunning! Plus, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the other blooms on the other side of the Basin and get your camera ready to snap icon pictures of the two memorials and the Jefferson Memorial across the water.
6. Skip the Tidal Basin entirely!
There are many alternative places in DC to enjoy the pink and white blooms beyond the Tidal Basin. The National Arboretum (one of our all-time favorite hidden gems!) holds 42 varieties. Blooms adorn National Cathedral, and cherry blossom-lined streets welcome visitors in Foxhall Village. Other stellar DC groves: Anacostia, Hains Point, as well as Dumbarton Oaks.
Curious? There's more!
Beyond the Basin: 14 Alternative Spots to See Cherry Blossoms Around DC
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it