Spring is near, and Renee Sklarew, author of The Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C., shares with us the best ways to enjoy the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital.
The famous trees, were a gift of friendship to the American people from the Japanese people. In Japanese, the trees are called “Sakura” or exalted flower plant.
Three thousand flowering cherry trees were planted from 1912 until 1920. Check out the history of the cherry trees here.
The blooming of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin are a clear sign that spring has arrived—and they are a view to behold.
The cherry blossoms usually bloom in the last week of March, with current predictions for a peak bloom from April 2 to 5.
A visit to the Jefferson Memorial requires a 10-minute walk from the Maine Avenue SW parking lot and Tidal Basin Paddleboat Marina, or the 1.5-mile northwest route that passes by the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. The Tidal Basin is a large body of water that is bordered by Washington’s famous cherry blossom trees.
One lovely way to experience the Jefferson Memorial is in a paddleboat, where you’ll have an unobstructed view from the Tidal Basin. Another way is at dusk, when the Memorials are lit and glowing. Rangers from the National Park Service offer guided tours every day.
Alternative, less-crowded places to see the cherry blossoms include the US National Arboretum, a great place for a scenic hike. The cherry blossom trees bloom at the same time the magnolia trees bloom, so it’s really beautiful there and so big you don’t encounter any crowds.
Another favorite place to see them is around the National Gallery of Art because, again, no one goes there, and the trees are just lovely though not very old. They are also on the street beside the US Capitol, if you walk from Union Station, but they will probably still be out of reach currently, as it’s all closed off with fencing.
The magnificent Hillwood Mansion, Museum & Gardens was established by heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Built in the 1950s, Hillwood’s 13 acres are separated into garden rooms—the Four Seasons Overlook, Rose Garden, French Parterre, Japanese Garden, Pet Cemetery, Friendship Garden, Lunar Lawn, and Greenhouse. Take a guided or self-guided tour and enjoy the view of D.C. from one of the city’s highest points. The museum is open, but advance reservations are required.
Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Garden is not only an extraordinary mansion filled with medieval and Renaissance tapestries, as well as Asian and European art and sculpture, it’s also a treasure trove of Byzantine and pre-Columbian art and rare books. And, as if that weren’t enough, the grounds—a dozen specialized formal gardens, a swimming pool, and a bathhouse with tile mosaics, etc.—are one of the most underrated oases in the area. It’s also a lovely place to see Washington’s cherry trees. It’s rarely crowded but only open in the late afternoon for a few hours. The museum is temporarily closed, so check the website for updates.