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Cherry blossom season is more than just another festival in Washington, DC. The bloom of the cherry blossoms marks the end of braving the cold winter inside. It marks the beginning of rooftop happy hours, patio brunches, and the first sightings of tourists. This year, the Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 to April 12. Plus, both locals and tourists will flock to the Tidal Basin to capture that perfect Instagram photo. That view of the Jefferson Memorial perfectly framed by pink branches can’t be beat. However, the festival and visit to the tidal basin aren’t the only way to see the cherry trees.
This blog has been updated for 2020.
Off Beat Cherry Blossom Tours
Beyond the Tidal Basin at the National Arboretum: There are tons of flowering cherry trees at the National Arboretum. Pick up a self-guided tour pamphlet at the visitor center and wander the arboretum to your heart’s content. Also, be sure to check out the Sakura Orihon: Diary of a Cherry Blossom Journey exhibit from February 8 to March 29. The Arboretum is enormous so bring your walking shoes, bike, or strollers for little ones. There is also ample parking if you prefer to drive to key spots.
Dogs are welcome on a leash. You can also bring a picnic to eat in the Grove of State Trees.
Petal Paddle: Enjoy the flowers from the water with a 1-hour Petal Paddle kayak tour. Head to the Wharf Boathouse to rent single kayaks for $35 or doubles for $70. Guided tours (approximately 1.5-2 hours) are also available for $65 and depart from the Key Bridge Boathouse. Bring a change of clothes in case you get wet!
Potomac River Cherry Blossom and Monument Boat Tour: If you don’t want to paddle your own boat, we get it. This 50-minute, narrated boat tour departs from Georgetown, The Wharf, or Alexandria and will take you past many major sites. Tickets start at $21 and tours run from late March through mid-April.
Special Events To Celebrate the Season
Georgetown Cupcakes and Cherry Blossoms: Skip the Tidal Basin and head to another historic neighborhood in DC. Join the Dumbarton House for a 2-hour walking tour of Georgetown at noon on April 25. Enjoy the cherry blossoms around Georgetown with spring-themed cupcakes from Baked and Wired, Sprinkles, and Georgetown Cupcake.
Cupcakes must be pre-ordered for the tour so tickets are only on sale until April 18. $25 per ticket.
Artechouse: Beyond the Blooms: Artechouse near L’Enfant Plaza is an art venue known for its visual masterpieces that bring together art, science, technology. From March 13 to May 25, you can check out a larger than life, immerse digital representations of the cherry blossoms. Open daily to all ages. 21+ after 5:30 pm – you can buy cocktails inspired by the art for an extra fee (cashless)! Buy tickets online: $16 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under.
Petalpalooza: Head to the Warf April 11 from 1:00 to 9:00 pm to celebrate spring with music, art, and fireworks! You’ll find beer gardens at the Transit Pier and District Pier but this event also has plenty of family-friendly fun. Free entry – just pay for any food and drink during the afternoon.
Cherry Blossom Beer, Wine, and Music Festival: Looking for a 21+ cherry blossom festival? Head to Navy Yard for the Cherry Blossom Beer, Wine, and Music Festival on Saturday, March 28. General administration includes unlimited full pours and tastings of beer, cider, and wine. There will also be food trucks around so you can buy snacks for an additional fee. Tickets start around $25 but by them early! Costs will go up closer to the event.