Beyond the Tidal Basin: A New Spin on the Cherry Blossoms

National Arboretum Cherry Blossoms The cherry blossoms finally arrived! Cherry Blossom week is one of the prettiest weeks in the city and invites all the Washingtonians out of winter hibernation. Many of us brave the tourists and make our way to the Tidal Basin where the rows of pink trees provide the perfect backdrop for beautiful pictures of the city’s most famous monuments. However, DaycationDC opted for a different kind of cherry blossom adventure and headed to The National Arboretum.

The National Arboretum is home to dozens of different types of flowering cherry trees. Instead of finding the trees all lined up in their pink glory at the Tidal Basin, you’ll find them scattered throughout the 446 acres of the arboretum.National Arboretum Cherry Blossoms

When we first arrived, we headed to visitor’s office and picked up a handy Cherry Blossom booklet that included a map of all the locations of the trees. The trees are numbered around the arboretum so you are positive you are looking in the right place.  We also discovered that many of the flowering cherry trees were mid to late season bloomers – some are not even pink! This means that many of the flowering cherry trees in the arboretum will be available a little longer than their famous friends lining the Tidal Basin.  While we were particularly engaged with the cherry blossom adventure for our visit, the National Arboretum has a wide variety of activities for any season.

National Arboretum Cherry BlossomsNature Hike: In addition to the self-guided cherry blossom tour, the arboretum offers many other tour pamphlets available at the visitor’s center. Some of the major gardens include the Azalea Collections, Dogwood Collections, Fern Valley, and National Herb Garden. You can find out what’s blooming before you go anytime of the year by visiting the website.

Picnic: There are a few different places for picnics complete with picnic tables and grassy areas to spread out on a blanket. While you have to keep your food to the picnics areas, they don’t seem to mind if you just plop down in any grassy area to watch the clouds, plants, and people.

National Arboretum National Capitol ColumnsThe National Capitol Columns: Every place has its landmarks and the National Arboretum is no different. The National Capitol Columns are the original 1828 columns that made up the East Portico of the Capitol. They were later removed in the 1958 expansion project. A reflecting pool with water trickling down the steps reflects the columns and provides an excellent photo opt or place to relax.

Exercise: If you need to get your work out on with some beautiful scenery, this is definitely a good place. Whether you move fast or slow, this is a beautiful place for a running, walking, biking, or roller skating.  The park is also dog friendly so your furry friends can get some exercise too.

National Arboretum Cherry Blossoms Special Activities:  The National Arboretum offers 35 minute tram tours on weekends that run from mid-April to mid-October. The tram is $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors, and $2.00 for kiddies 4-16.  There are also a number of seasonal hikes, exhibits, workshops, and festivals. The most popular activity appears to be the Full Moon Hike which we hope to check out at some point this year. Many events are free but some require a fee or an advanced reservation. You can find the full list of events on the website.

General Tips: A trip to National Arboretum is great in any season.  However, we’d recommend you dress for the weather, wear good walking shoes, and toss a blanket, a camera, and water bottles in your car. Pack some snacks or a lunch if you plan on staying for more than a few hours. There is parking throughout the arboretum so you don’t necessarily have to trek from one end to the other. Most of all, enjoy the beautiful gardens in Washington’s backyard!

Good For:
Nature lovers, families, couples, picnic enthusiasts, dog owners, exercise

Free to visit but some tours and special events cost extra

3501 New York Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002


About Kelley Smith 52 Articles
I'm Kelley Smith and I love sharing tips on how to best explore Washington, DC. I love pretty much anything I can eat plus really good beer and whiskey served by story telling bartenders. I also like sassy museum guides, photogenic architecture, and colorful urban gardens.

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