Spring in Washington, D.C. is synonymous with the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms, one of the most popular and highly anticipated blooms in the world. Each spring, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the Tidal Basin to witness the beautiful cherry blossoms in peak bloom. The entire area transforms into a picturesque sea of pink and white. If you’re planning to visit the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms this year, this article will provide you with some useful tips and tricks to make the most of your visit and avoid the crowds. So, let’s dive in!
Tip #1: Set Proper Expectations
The first and most important tip for seeing the cherry blossoms is to temper your expectations. While you will find many amazing photos of the Tidal Basin in full bloom, these images often don’t show the hordes of people who flock to the area at this time of year. If you’re expecting to have a quiet moment alone with the cherry blossoms, you may be disappointed. Instead, approach your visit with an open mind and be prepared for crowds. Understand that Instagram vs. reality very much applies here.
Tip #2: Plan for Crowds
If you’re going to head down to the Tidal Basin to see the Washington, DC cherry blossoms you need to prepare for heavy crowds. The dates during the National Cherry Blossom Festival are busiest of the year for tourism in DC. The areas on the Tidal Basin that get the most crowded are the Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, and MLK. However, don’t let the crowds discourage you from seeing the cherry blossoms. If you plan ahead and set realistic expectations, you can still enjoy the beauty of the blossoms without feeling overwhelmed.
Tip #3: Visit Early or Late
To navigate the crowds at the cherry blossoms in DC, consider visiting early in the morning or late in the day. Most visitors tend to arrive mid-day, so by going early or late, you can avoid the heaviest crowds.
If you choose to go early, prepare to see a lot of people dressed up for photos with professional photographers. Photographers like to take advantage of the morning golden hour and lighter crowds to capture stunning photos of the cherry blossoms, so be prepared to dodge a few photo shoots. Alternatively, you can visit the cherry blossoms after dark for a different but still beautiful experience. While they may not photograph as well in the dark, the cherry blossoms are still stunning to see in person.
Tip #4: Embrace Overcast or Rainy Days
If you want to avoid the heaviest crowds, consider visiting on an overcast or rainy day. While many tourists flock to the Tidal Basin to see the blossoms on sunny days, locals who live nearby are often deterred by wet weather. Don’t let a little rain discourage you from experiencing the beauty of the cherry blossoms. Bring a raincoat and umbrella and embrace the weather. Not only will you dodge the crowds, but you may also get a unique and memorable experience of the blossoms in the rain. Plus, the overcast or rainy weather can add a moody and atmospheric vibe to your visit.
Tip #5: Know the Best Ways to Get There
Getting to the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season can be a challenge, but with the right transportation tips, you can avoid the stress and enjoy your visit.
The best way to get to the Tidal Basin is on foot or via the Metro. The closest Metro stations are Smithsonian and L’Enfant Plaza. If you’re arriving on the Orange, Blue, or Silver line, use the Smithsonian station. If you’re arriving on the Blue or Yellow line, use L’Enfant Plaza.
Driving your own car is strongly discouraged during cherry blossom season due to limited parking and heavy traffic. Instead, consider using Capital Bikeshare or e-scooters to get around. If you use Capital Bikeshare, be sure to check the app for available docks near the Tidal Basin, as they can fill up quickly. If you opt for e-scooters, use the app to find approved locations where you can end your ride and leave the scooter. Keep in mind that some roads may be closed or restricted during the festival, so plan your route accordingly.
If you can swing a hotel downtown or at the Wharf you’ll be in great shape. These locations make it easy to walk back and forth between the Tidal Basin and your hotel.
Tip #6: Discover East Potomac Park
East Potomac Park is one of the best spots in Washington, DC to see cherry blossoms. Even though there is a huge concentration of cherry trees and even though it’s relatively close to the Tidal Basin, few people go here! East Potomac Park is southeast of the Tidal Basin and you may hear people refer to it as Hains Point (technically Hains Point is only the tip of the park). It’s a great spot for a light stroll or a bike ride. This is a popular spot for bicyclists year-round and a particularly amazing ride during the bloom.
Tip #7: Reserve a Paddleboat
Renting a paddleboat is a popular way to see the blossoms from a unique perspective. Paddleboats are small boats that you power by pedaling like a bicycle. The paddleboat dock is situated on the east side of the Tidal Basin, just a short walk from the Washington Monument. If you plan on paddling during this season, it’s highly recommended to make a reservation in advance, as far ahead as possible. Due to its immense popularity, the number of boats available is limited.
Tip #8: Discover hidden gems
When you visit the Tidal Basin to see the blossoms don’t miss some fun hidden gems! A favorite among tour guide is a little cherry tree called Stumpy. It’s located in an area that often floods during high tide, which has damaged its roots. Despite the odds, Stumpy still manages to bloom every spring.
If you head over to the FDR Memorial, you’ll find the Japanese Pagoda, a gift from the mayor of Yokohama in the 1950s. Not much is known about its history, but it’s worth checking out. And the Japanese Lantern is a historic artifact over 300 years old and one of the oldest outdoor pieces in Washington, DC. It’s located near the spot where the very first cherry tree was planted on the Tidal Basin over a century ago. You’re not going to find many artifacts this old around Washington, DC!