It happens every year. There you are, an innocent Washingtonian in springtime, strolling along in flip-flops and madras, enjoying the weather and the beautiful city in which you live. Then suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you spot one: a tourist. And come cherry blossom time, there are likely to be thousands of them surrounding our fair city—especially around the Tidal Basin and Hains Point. What’s a Washingtonian who just wants to take in some cherry blossoms without getting trampled to do?
Well, we can’t help you with the swarm of tourists hitting the Tidal Basin, but did you know there are plenty of other places to see cherry blossoms in DC? That way you, too, can enjoy DC’s springtime without feeling like you’re in something akin to a Six Flags.
US National Arboretum
One of the best places to avoid the Tidal Basin and still see flowering cherry blossoms is at the National Arboretum. Visitors can explore 76 varieties of cherry trees in the research and display collections. Pack your bike and a picnic, as this 446-acre park is great for both.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
This Northern Virginia park is full of walking trails, lakes, and more than 20 varieties of cherry trees. The trees in this 95-acre park bloom a little later than those at the Tidal Basin.
Don’t forget there are cherry trees blooming along the Anacostia River, too. Head to Anacostia Park where you’ll find 1,200 acres spanning the river shoreline and dozens of cherry trees. There are trails, boat launches, picnic areas, a swimming pool, and Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens to keep you busy.
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law
Near UDC’s Mason Law Library there’s a small grove of ornamental cherry trees where Van Ness Street meets Connecticut Avenue, Northwest. Stroll along the sidewalk or take a seat on one of the cement stoops in the plaza and people watch. 4200 Connecticut Ave., NW.
Stanton Park, Capitol Hill
Named for Edwin Stanton, President Lincoln’s Secretary of War, this four-acre park is rimmed by cherry trees—some old, some young. Sure, Capitol Hill traffic runs around the periphery of this park, but there’s a large grassy area that’s perfect for picnicking. Plus, there’s a playground for small children.
These blossom-lined streets are known as the best-kept secret among springtime revelers. Bloggers writing about these cherry-tree clusters often lament how neighbors will ostracize them for exposing the precious information. Most streets have Yoshino cherry trees, but if you’re late to check out the blooms, turn down Surrey Lane, which is lined with Quanson cherry trees that blossom slightly later than trees on the Mall.
Another neighborhood with cherry-tree-lined streets is Kenwood. The enclave of trees is located just off River Road in Bethesda and is very close to the Capital Crescent Trail—a biking hot spot.