Everything You Need to Know for DC’s Cherry Blossom Season

Including where to pick up cherry blossom-themed goodies

March 10, 2023 6:40 am
Sunrise at Tidal Basin when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom
Sunrise at Tidal Basin with the cherry blossoms in full bloom
Lisa Mei Photography via Getty

It’s almost cherry blossom season in D.C., but sometimes it feels like it’s almost always cherry blossom season in D.C. The spring event has turned into a nearly two-month celebration of all things tangentially related to the trees that were a gift from Japan in 1912.  It can be overwhelming. It is overwhelming. But whether you’re a longtime D.C. resident or a tourist, there are a handful of helpful tidbits to know that will help you navigate the next few months. 

Peak Bloom

There is no consensus on when the blossoms will blossom. The National Park Service says March 22 to 25, The Washington Post says March 25 to 29 and the local NBC affiliate says March 15 to 20. So with a giant shrug of the shoulders, peak bloom will be in the second half of March. Which means it’s damn near impossible to let your out-of-town friends know when they can crash on your couch.

Where to See the Blossoms

The Tidal Basin is the best place to check out the trees. It undeniably offers the best views and makes for the most beautiful photographs. If possible, stop by when most people are at work. It’s overrun almost every other time, and there’s not much you can do about it. If you’re a runner, you may want to avoid the area once the petals begin to drop. They’re slippery — I write from experience. 


D.C. is spoiled with fantastic cocktail bars. Some of the best get into the spirit, pun intended. The best-looking cherry blossom-related drink offerings are at Silver Lyan. After last year’s successful collaboration with NYC’s Katana Kitten, they’re doing it again, with a “hanami picnic” that includes a bento box and cocktails, as well as à la carte drinks.

If you want to get into the spirit without spirits, enjoy Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea at The Willard. It may be pricier than most every other cocktail option, but at least tea is somewhat traditional. 

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Dozens of D.C. restaurants are offering cherry blossom-related specials. But we’re recommending the excellent Japanese restaurants in D.C., rather than highlighting temporary items that have little or nothing to do with Japan. Make a reservation at Shōtō, Sushi Nakazawa, Sushi Taro, Toki Underground or the relatively new Menya Hosaki. If you’re trying to avoid tourists, definitely make a reservation at Menya Hosaki on Upshur Street, where you’re not going to find a lot of other cherry blossom tourism.

Or just get a cherry blossom donut from Astro Doughnuts. They’re pretty and take pre-orders.


The spring sports teams are embracing the cherry blossom theme this year. After observing the popularity of the Nationals and Wizards cherry blossom-themed jerseys in 2022 (the Nats one was so popular, it set MLB sales records), the United are getting in on the action. Their March 25 game against the New England Revolution is Cherry Blossom Night, and last month the team unveiled their own cherry blossom jersey

Though not technically an official Cherry Blossom Festival-related giveaway, the Nats are giving away City Connect t-shirts to the first 20,000 fans on opening day (March 30). The merch is cherry blossom-related. 


There are two cherry blossom-centric fireworks displays: April 1 on The Wharf, and April 8 at Capitol Riverfront at the Yards Navy Yard Metro. What do fireworks have to do with cherry blossoms? No idea, but they sure do go BOOM!


If you have kids or need an idea for a daytime date, do not miss the Blossom Kite Festival on March 25 on The National Mall. If you have a pet or super small child, you may want to avoid the area. You do not need to fly anything to enjoy this. Every year I watch the competitive kite flyers and wonder how anyone gets into competitive kite flying.  


The parade is at the tail end of the National Cherry Blossom Festival on April 15. By this point, there shouldn’t be any cherry blossoms in peak bloom, but there will be elaborate floats. You can pay anywhere from $25 to $40 for certain seating/standing room on the parade route, but you don’t need to do this. Simply walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to see the same parade. 


The Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington DC Convention Center and The Salamander are offering cherry blossom specials. Just because you live here doesn’t mean your friends and family need to stay with you. And if you do live here, the Embassy Suits has a cherry blossom Yappy Hour for dogs. Dogs will get to swim in the hotel pool and drink a dog-friendly version of the cherry blossom specialty, “Berry Good Dog” cocktail. 


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