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Best of the Cherry Blossoms: How to Spend 1 Bloom-Filled Day in Washington, DC

Make the most of cherry blossom season with this 1-day tour of the highlights and lesser-known spots

What to Know

  • The Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing, with peak bloom forecast to begin April 1
  • The Tidal Basin is the most popular place to see the cherry trees, but they are planted throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia
  • Cherry blossom-themed food, drinks and museum exhibits have popped up all around the city

Can’t get enough cherry blossoms? With the arrival of peak bloom, it’s time to plan out your best cherry blossom day ever.

We’ve created a one-day itinerary so you can make the most of the brief blossom season. Keep reading for tips on where to go, what to eat and how to get there.

Getting around the D.C. area any time of year can be tricky, and you’ll avoid traffic by using public transit, bikeshare or scooters-for-rent. Here are the routes for the free D.C. Circulator Bus and Metro bus and rail. Google Maps offers reliable transit directions and the Transit App gives real-time arrival information. Bring a helmet to take advantage of affordable Capital Bikeshare rides (no smartphone required) or dockless scooter and bike rides.

Download the NBC Washington app for the latest weather and cherry blossom updates.

Stop #1: Breakfast, of course! Nosh on a cherry blossom doughnut

There are delectable cherry blossom doughnut options in every quadrant of the city and many Virginia cities, each delectable and stuffed with cherry goodness.

Feast on Cherry Blossom-Inspired Cocktails, Food u0026 Goodies Around DC

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (Northwest D.C., Falls Church, Virginia) is offering a seasonal cherry blossom doughnut for the season. The $3.95 treat is filled with cherry jam, topped with a cream cheese glaze and decorated with a cherry blossom design using dark chocolate and cherry buttercream. 

District Doughnut (Georgetown, Capitol Hill, The Wharf, Union Market) makes a doughnut with vanilla bean dough, cream cheese glaze, pie crust crumble and cream cheese drizzle. 

Virginia-born Sugar Shack (Alexandria, Arlington, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Washington, D.C.’s U Street Corridor) fills their Cherry Bomb treat with cherry pie filling and tops it with vanilla icing and white chocolate curls. 

Stop #2: Spend the morning at the Tidal Basin

Rise and shine early to beat the crowds at the most iconic cherry tree viewing spot: the Tidal Basin.

Trees encircle the reservoir, giving you a perfect spot to snap photos with views of many monuments, including the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Washington Monument.

Walk, bike or scooter about 2 miles around the entire Tidal Basin to get the full view, or go out on the water. Boating in DC offers pedal boats ($30 an hour for 4 people; $20 an hour for 2 people; $35 an hour for a 2-person swan boat with motor for those who can’t pedal). 

Stop #3: Stroll along the Wharf and grab lunch

From the east edge of the Tidal Basin, head south down Maine Avenue about half-a-mile to the country’s oldest open-air fish market at The Wharf.

It’s free to stroll up and down the waterfront, do some window shopping, ogle at yachts and snap pictures on the swings on Recreation Pier, or you can out get on the water.

The Wharf Jitney offers a free option for heading to East Potomac Park, the site of more cherry trees. Crowds are often smaller here than the Tidal Basin.

Three paid cruises are also available. 

You can rent stand up paddle boards, single kayaks and double kayaks on The Wharf or sign up for a guided tour, allowing you to paddle out to see cherry blossoms lining East Potomac Park. Reservations with Boating in DC are recommended

Hungry? Local favorites like Captain White’s and Famous Seafood & Desserts offer up a classic Chesapeake-region take-away lunch. The area also boasts some of D.C.’s best high-end dining or favorite chains including Shake Shack and Milk Bar, which is offering a seasonal cherry cookie. For even cheaper options, look to the Safeway near the Waterfront Metro Station.

If you’re there on April 6, stick around for fireworks and revelry at Petalpalooza.

Here’s more information on getting to and from The Wharf

Stop #4: Head inside for ARTECHOUSE

Step into a cherry blossom whirlwind at ARTECHOUSE’s “In Peak Bloom.” The interactive museum offers several exhibits highlighting the short-lived beauty of the cherry blossoms. Adult tickets are $15.

The museum is a few blocks from The Wharf at 1238 Maryland Avenue Southwest, Washington, D.C. The L'Enfant Plaza Metro stop is about four blocks farther.

Check out some of the highlights:

Step inside a cherry blossom whirlwind at a new interactive exhibit in D.C. that celebrates the short but sweet nature of spring blooms. <a href="https://www.dc.artechouse.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ARTECHOUSE's "In Peak Bloom" is open through May 27</a>.

Stop #5: Find your secret blossom viewing spot

Everyone sees the Tidal Basin trees, but create special memories — and avoid photobombers — at one of the lesser known places with gorgeous blooms.

Options include D.C.’s National Arboretum in Northeast, Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, Maryland’s National Harbor or Kenwood, Bethesda, neighborhood and Virginia’s Old Town Alexandria or Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna.

If you're interested in Georgetown, National Harbor or Alexandria, you can grab the Water Taxi from The Wharf. One-way adult tickets start at $10. 

Check out this map to find the best spot for you:

Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots

Here are some iconic favorites and off-the-beaten-path places

 

Stop #6: End the day with a cherry blossom-themed drink

The third iteration of the popular Cherry Blossom Pop Up Bar (PUB) in Shaw has nearly 90,000 individual blooms covering the ceiling. Menu items include floral-themed cocktails and ramen, a nod to the Japanese origins of the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The pop-up bar at 1839 7th St. NW is set to be open until April 21. It's near the U Street Metro station.

Missing Attachment It’s almost cherry blossom season, and D.C.’s popular Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar is back open. Here’s a look at the offerings this year, including floral-themed cocktails, and ramen. 

The Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar envelops you in blooms, but a number of other spots offer themed drinks and some have better views. Here are some options.

If you have more than one day in D.C., here are some more things you can do:

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