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Cherry Blossoms DC 2024: Peak Bloom Prediction and Travel Guide

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One of the best times to visit Washington DC is during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. Viewing the peak bloom of cherry blossom trees on the Tidal Basin is a must-see experience. With amazing bursts of pink and white the cherry blossom trees create a huge burst of color in the nation’s capital. In this post I’ll be going everything you need to know before visiting DC for the cherry blossoms and the peak bloom prediction.

The 2024 Cherry Blossom Festival will take place from March 20th to April 14th, 2024. While peak bloom for 2024 is predicted to be March 23rd through 26th which has been predicted by the National Park Service.

Close up of a Cherry Blossom bloom

You might be asking yourself when is peak bloom predicted? It’s difficult to plan a trip around peak bloom since the most accurate predictions are about 10 days before they bloom. I’ve seen many friends come to town and miss the peak bloom by a few days.

DC Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Prediction 2024

2024 Peak Bloom:
🌸 March 17, 2024 🌸
(Updated March 17th, 2024)

The blooms are currently stage 6 out of 6 and are considered peak bloom.

2023 Peak Bloom:
March 23rd, 2023

The National Park Service has predicted the 2024 cherry blossom peak bloom as March 23rd to 26th. The Washington Post predicts that the 2024 peak bloom will be on March 21st. The Washington DC cherry blossom peak bloom prediction for 2023 was between March 22nd and March 25th which was predicted by the National Park Service.

Typically the cherry blossoms bloom in March or April and last for about a week. Peak bloom is when 70% of the blossoms have bloomed which can heavily vary because of weather conditions. Wind is often a large factor as it’ll blow blooms off the trees.

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Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin

It is common for peak bloom predictions to change as they get closer to bloom. The dates often change due to weather and other circumstances which can make it hard to plan a trip to DC for the blossoms.

Last year (2023): The National Park Service (NPS) observed peak bloom on March 23, 2023.
2022: Peak bloom was observed March 22nd to 25th, 2022

Best Places to See the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

By bar the best place to see cherry blossoms in Washington DC is the Tidal Basin. The cherry blossom trees surround the entire path around the Tidal Basin. This makes it great for framing up photos of the blossoms surrounding DC’s monuments.

Washington Monument Cherry Blossoms Tidal Basin
Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin

Typically Casey Trees releases a map of all of the cherry blossoms across the city if you’d like to find a less crowded area. Some other popular areas for cherry blossoms in DC include U.S. National Arboretum, Congressional Cemetery and Dumbarton Oaks, while in Maryland you can visit the National Arboretum and Kenwood.

Since the Tidal Basin is the best place to see cherry blossoms in DC here are my tips for planning your visit to the Tidal Basin:

  • Expect huge crowds around the Tidal Basin (even at sunrise).
  • Go at sunrise! By far my favorite time to see the blossoms on the Tidal Basin are at sunrise.
  • Be prepared to be disappointed, often the peak bloom date will shift even days before it’s expected. This makes it very hard to plan a trip to the area for the bloom. That’s why it’s important to have temper expectations before visiting.

Tidal Basin Cherry Blossom DC Parking Map

Parking map for DC cherry blossoms
DC Cherry Blossom Tidal Basin Parking Map

It’s probably easiest to just Uber/Lyft to the Tidal Basin, I would recommend getting dropped off near the MLK memorial off Independence Ave SW. From here you can walk around the entire Tidal Basin to get the most out of the area.

If you plan on driving here are some tips:

Above is a map of the parking situation at the Tidal Basin. The primary parking lots are located off Ohio Drive SW. That includes Parking Lot A, Lot B, and Lot C which are located next to each other. If you’re lucky you can also find parking on Ohio Drive SW near the west side of the Tidal Basin. The parking lot off of Maine Ave should be avoided since it’s closed for festival activities.

There is street parking on Ohio Dr and next to the MLK memorial but they can be hard to come by. Street parking on Ohio Dr is paid and costs a few dollars an hour via the ParkMobile app.

The entire stretch of Ohio Dr becomes a one way, so it can be difficult to get to the bigger parking lot off of Ohio. You’ll most likely have to go down Buckeye Dr. SW to reach that parking lot. Every time I shoot the Cherry Blossoms for sunrise I park at the lot on Ohio south of the Tidal Basin.

Lot A parking lot by the Tidal Basin
Parking lot A at the Tidal Basin

You can also metro to the Tidal Basin, the closest metro stop is Smithsonian which has the blue, orange and silver lines.

Additionally, if you can bike and are nearby you can rent a bike via Capital Bikeshare. There are also dockless bikes and scooters around the area but just be careful not to park them in a no parking area when riding down (the app will show you no parking zones).

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2024

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in 2024 will take place on March 20 thru April 14, 2024. The not-for-profit organization hosts events all around DC including performances on the Tidal Basin and exhibits.

Here are the primary 2024 Cherry Blossom Festival Events:

  • Opening ceremony (Free): Sunday, March 23, 2024 5:00am-6:30pm at the Warner Theatre
  • Petal Porches (Free): Sunday, March 20, 2024 – Sunday, April 14, 2024 all over DC homeowners decorate their homes to celebrate the blossoms
  • Blossom Kite Festival (Free): Saturday, March 30, 2024 10:00am-4:30pm at the Washington Monument Grounds
  • National Cherry Blossom Parade (Free): Saturday, April 13, 2024 10:00am-12:00pm on Constitution Avenue
  • Petalpalooza (Free): Saturday, April 6, 2024 1:00pm-9:00pm at the Yards (Fireworks at 8:30pm)
  • Pink Tie Dinner Party (Ticket Required): Friday, March 15, 2024 7:00pm-11:00pm at Union Station

Full Event List

DC Cherry Blossoms Pictures

If you’re unfamiliar with the beauty of the cherry blossoms in Washington DC here are a few of my photos over the years.

The most iconic place to take photos of the cherry blossoms is around the Tidal Basin. There are loads of other smaller parks around the district that also have cherry blossom trees if you’re looking for a less congested area.

Remember to tag your photos #CherryBlossomDC on Instagram.

If you’re planning a trip to DC here are my favorite spots to photograph in Washington DC. You can also stop the uniquely themed Cherry Blossom Pub that is usually open during cherry blossom season for a cherry blossom themed cocktail (or at any of these DC cocktail bars). Additionally ARTECHOUSE typically has an exhibit revolving around the blossoms as well.

Things to Do if You’re Too Early for Peak Bloom

If you’re too early for the blossoms you can also stop by Rawlins Park or the Enid A. Haupt Garden to get your pink fix with magnolias. Their pink blooms are often confused for cherry blossoms but are also worth checking out.

You can also stop by and see cherry blossom trees at Congressional Cemetery and the LeDroit Park Arch. The trees at these locations typically bloom a few weeks before the Tidal Basin.

Both parks are a great way to see some color in the city, plus they are free to visit!

Stages of a Cherry Blossom Tree Bloom

Understanding the blooming stages of cherry blossom trees is not just for botany buffs; it’s essential for anyone planning to witness this amazing spectacle in DC. From the initial buds to the breathtaking peak bloom, each stage is a step closer to springtime perfection.

Close up cherry blossoms

Stage 1: Green Round Buds

The adventure begins with the emergence of green round buds. This initial phase is the tree’s way of whispering is the kick off for the start of the cherry blossom bloom. These small green buds are the promise of beauty yet to unfold, the first sign that the bloom is on its way.

Stage 2: Florets Visible

Next up, the buds bloom into a slight preview of the main event as the florets become visible. This is where you start seeing hints of color and life on the branches, a teaser of the vibrant spectacle to come.

Stage 3: Extension of Florets

As we move to the third stage, the florets extend, giving the branches a fuller appearance. This stage heightens the anticipation as the trees start to fill out, hinting at the nearing peak bloom.

Stage 4: Peduncle Elongation

Then comes a transformation, the peduncle elongation. This fancy term simply means that the stems holding the flowers elongate, lifting the blossoms towards the sky. This stage sets the scene for the flowers to truly take the spotlight.

Stage 5: Puffy White Blooms

The fifth stage is when magic happens in full force. The blossoms transform into puffy white clouds dotting the branches, a dreamy sight that captivates all who see it. This stage is the epitome of ephemeral beauty, a fleeting moment of purity and wonder. At stage 5 the blooms are well worth photographing,

Stage 6: Peak Bloom

Finally, the finale, peak bloom, where the cherry blossom trees are in their full glory. This ultimate stage is when the Tidal Basin turns into a living painting, awash with the delicate colors of cherry blossoms in full display. It’s the moment everyone waits for, a breathtaking spectacle that draws travelers far and wide.

DC Cherry Blossom Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of frequently asked questions about the DC cherry blossoms to help you plan your trip, above I’ve covered everything from peak bloom dates to best viewing spots but here are more DC cherry blossom transportation and travel tips.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned DC traveler, these FAQs are here to help you get the most out of your cherry blossom experience.

When do the Cherry Blossoms Bloom in DC?

Cherry blossoms in Washington DC typically start to bloom in March or April. There is currently no expected date of when the 2024 cherry blossom bloom will be in DC.

What Metro Stop is DC Cherry Blossoms?

The cherry blossom trees in Washington, D.C. can be found around the Tidal Basin, which is accessible via the Smithsonian Metro stop on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines. However, the cherry blossoms are only in full bloom for a short period of time each year, typically in late March to early April, so it’s important to plan your visit accordingly. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the Tidal Basin can get very crowded during peak bloom, so it’s a good idea to arrive early in the morning or consider visiting during off-peak times.

There are also cherry blossom trees all over Washington D.C. You can see where every cherry blossom tree is planted in DC with Casey Tree’s cherry blossom map. Blossoms in different areas of the city will bloom at different times.

Why are there cherry blossom trees in DC?

In 1912, the People of Japan gave the People of the United States a gift of friendship by planting cherry trees in Washington DC. In Japanese culture, the Sakura, also known as the flowering cherry tree, holds great significance as a beautiful flowering plant.

How Long is Peak Bloom Cherry Blossoms?

The peak bloom period for the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. usually lasts a few days to a week, between late March and early April. Peak bloom timing can vary from year to year depending on weather conditions, but the National Park Service usually provides a prediction based on a number of factors such as temperature and weather patterns. When the cherry blossoms reach their peak bloom, the flowers will begin to fall from the trees within a few days, so plan your visit accordingly if you want to see the blossoms at their best.

Do You Have to Pay to See the Cherry Blossoms in DC?

No, there is no charge to see the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. The trees are free and open to the public and are located in public parks and areas such as the Tidal Basin and the National Mall. However, there may be some additional costs if you choose to participate in cherry blossom-related activities or events, such as tours, cruises, or concerts.

There may also be parking fees or other transportation costs to consider if you plan to drive to the area. Overall, viewing the cherry blossoms is a popular and accessible activity that visitors of all ages and budgets can enjoy.

Can You Drive to See Cherry Blossoms in DC?

Driving to see the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. is possible, but parking can be difficult to come by and traffic can be heavy during peak bloom. Parking in the Tidal Basin area, where many of the cherry blossom trees are located, can be extremely limited and is likely to fill up early in the day.

If you choose to drive, parking farther away from the Tidal Basin and walking or taking public transportation to the cherry blossom viewing areas is ideal. You can also consider taking a guided tour, shuttle, or boat cruise that will transport you to and from the cherry blossom sites.

Regardless of how you get there, plan ahead and be prepared for crowds, as the cherry blossoms are a popular attraction in Washington, D.C. during peak bloom season.

Can I Take Pictures with the Cherry Blossoms?

Yes, photography is allowed and encouraged. The trees are also low enough to take portraits near, just remember not to pull the branches or break off any pieces of the tree. Many visitors enjoy capturing the beauty of the cherry blossoms. My personal favorite route is to take a walk around the Tidal Basin when I am down there. This give you a great chance to photograph the MLK Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and tons of other unique angles shooting between the blossoms.

Is It Crowded During the Cherry Blossom Season?

Yes, the cherry blossom season is a popular time to visit Washington DC, so it can get crowded, especially around the Tidal Basin area. It is recommended to visit early in the morning or on weekdays to avoid the largest crowds. By far my favorite time to go to the Tidal Basin is at sunrise.

Are There Any Restrictions or Rules for Visiting the Cherry Blossoms?

Yes, there are some rules and guidelines to follow when visiting the cherry blossoms. These include not climbing on the trees and not picking the blossoms. Most importantly don’t forget to have fun and respect all visitors in the area.

I hope you found my guide to cherry blossoms in DC helpful! Spring is one of the best times to visit Washington DC. With plenty of flowers blooming around the district, events, and great weather it’s hard to have a bad time.

If you have any questions let me know in the comments below.

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13 comments on “Cherry Blossoms DC 2024: Peak Bloom Prediction and Travel Guide”

  1. Oh and one other thing, Parking Lot B is closed due to the Yellow Line construction. Parking will be very limited only along the Ohio Drive SW and Parking Lot A, which has been over taken by construction workers.

  2. The Parking Lot area changed since last year, the Paddle Boat area will remain open while the side streets by MLK is closed as they will be putting up the information tents up again for the second straight year.

  3. Thank you very much for the information. Could you please recommend some places or hotels to stay for the festival and other attractions?

    1. Hey John! If you stay in Chinatown or near Union Station you’ll be relatively close to walk to the Tidal Basin. If you want more specifics let me know! There are also more expensive hotels right by the Tidal Basin like the Mandarin Oriental.

      1. Hi Andy. It would be grateful if you can share some specifics. I can walk from hotels to the Tidal Basin. Less expensive hotels are preferred. Thank you very much!

        1. I am not too familiar with the hotels but I recommend finding one with Gogole maps since you can quickly compare prices. There is a Hilton ($288/night) and a Grand Hyatt ($230/night) for the weekend of the 25th that might match your needs! You could also look at places in Capitol Hill, not that far of a walk and might be more affordable for the blossoms.

    1. Hey Linda, if you arrive at Union Station walking to the Tidal Basin is a 2.4 mile walk, so I’d recommend walking (should only take 50 minutes plus you get to walk on the National Mall for most of it). You could also rent a bike or scooter, there are also taxis sitting out front of Union Station that can take you closer.