By Hayley Hutson
Planning a trip to Washington, DC, for cherry blossom season? The nation’s capital is about to be painted in bright hues of pink, with blooms peaking between the last week of March and the first week of April. When the National Cherry Blossom Festival takes over the town, it brings millions of visitors and ample events to explore.
If you’re gearing up for a visit, you’re in for a treat that extends far beyond the breathtaking beauty of cherry blossoms lining the Tidal Basin. Whether you’re a foodie, culture seeker, or nature lover, this city has something special for every traveller. Here’s where to eat, play, and stay in Washington, DC, for cherry blossom season.
Savouring the Flavors of Cherry Blossom Season
During the springtime, Washington DC restaurants are transformed by cherry blossom-themed offerings and vibrant, floral-inspired decor. Kickstart your day with epic panoramic views of the city, book a table at Ciel Social Club, an elegant rooftop lounge and restaurant atop the AC Hotel. Dine on brunch classics like steak and eggs, chicken and waffles, and avocado toast – paired with a mimosa, of course.
For a truly indulgent affair, the Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea at the historic Willard InterContinental is a must-try. Between the decadent finger sandwiches, boutique teas, and opulent decor, you’ll feel like a royal at this iconic AAA Four Diamond Hotel. During your visit, be sure to try the Willard’s famous freshly baked scones.
Cap off your evening in the heart of Dupont Circle with dinner at The Pembroke for contemporary American cuisine in a sophisticated setting. The upscale menu features dishes like lobster bucatini made with homemade pasta and duck leg confit. Fancy an al fresco experience? The greenery-adorned terrace is calling your name.
Where to Play in DC’s Cherry Blossom Playground
Although you can find blossom-themed events all season, Washington DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 20 to April 14, 2024—making that the best time to visit DC to maximize your cherry blossom viewing experience. During the festival, visitors will be treated to a variety of exciting parades, art exhibits, festivals, and cultural performances celebrating the iconic flowers.
Check out the Blossom Kite Festival, a long-standing favourite, to witness high-flying kites from around the world. Petalpalooza is a popular choice among families as a free event offering live music, interactive art installations, fireworks, and hands-on activities.
On the last weekend of the festival, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade will take over the city, spanning ten blocks with elaborate floats, celebrity entertainers, and marching bands. Apart from the festival, ARTECHOUSE DC is renowned for its annual spring-themed exhibition celebrating the blossoms. This year, it’s ISEKAI: Blooming Parallel Worlds, inspired by the Isekai genre of Anime.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds without missing out on the cherry blossom trees, opt for a boat cruise down the Potomac. City Cruises, a sponsor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, offers a wide range of dining and sightseeing cruises with unparalleled cherry blossom views.
Where to Stay in DC During Cherry Blossom Season
If you’re visiting Washington, DC for cherry blossom season, it’s best to book your accommodations early, as hotels tend to fill up fast. Before you decide where to stay, consider the kind of trip you want. Are you hoping for unspoiled views of the pink and white flowers from your window? Do you want to be able to walk to the Tidal Basin from your hotel? Would you prefer a more peaceful stay in a less chaotic part of town?
As the closest hotel to the Tidal Basin, the 5-star Salamander Washington DC offers exceptional views of the blossoms (from some rooms) and is around ten minutes away on foot. It’s also home to one of the best spas in the city and offers easy access to the National Mall and Reagan National Airport (DCA). InterContinental Washington DC – The Wharf sits on the Potomac River and is another great option for travelers who want the ability to walk to the Tidal Basin.
For travellers who want the convenience and excitement of a Washington, DC, stay without staying in the heart of cherry blossom craziness, the newly-renovated Dupont Circle Hotel is a stellar choice.
Located in the centre of one of DC’s most iconic neighbourhoods, the Dupont Circle Hotel is a stone’s throw from a melting pot of restaurants, cultural attractions, and nightlife. There’s also easy metro access here, allowing you to explore the rest of the city without having to walk.
Hayley Hutson is a freelance travel writer and copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. In her free time, she’s either eating her way through a new destination or listening to one of her favourite podcasts. Her work has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Matador Network, Viator, and more.