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Swarms of people will head to Washington, DC in the coming weeks to see the city's famous cherry blossoms. These sites will allow you to take in the view without having to push through the crowds.
Thousands of visitors flock to Washington, DC, in March and April to see the city’s famed cherry blossoms and experience the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place from March 20 to April 17.
Join in the celebration by seeing expert kite flyers compete April 2 at the Washington Monument grounds; taking in the fireworks at the Southwest Waterfront April 9 and watching a parade, April 16, along Constitution Avenue.
The Tidal Basin surrounding the Jefferson Memorial with its concentration of flowering cherry trees serves as the iconic shot of the District of Columbia in bloom. Even at 6 a.m. the area has blossom-watchers and by noon it can be elbow- to-elbow for strollers.
>>For More: 6 Things to Do During DC’s Cherry Blossom Season
Visit the Tidal Basin because it’s beautiful, but to enjoy cherry blossoms and other blooms with fewer crowds, also head to these two locations.
U.S. National Arboretum
This off-the-beaten-path facility, just 2.2 miles from the Capitol, blooms with 446 acres of gardens and greenery. Although you won’t be alone at the U.S. National Arboretum, the crowds are less intense than at the Tidal Basin, creating a better viewing experience. In addition, you can drive or bike (bring your own) along the arboretum’s nine miles of road. From mid-April through mid-October a guided tram tour of several gardens is available.
To find flowering trees different than the ones blooming at the Tidal Basin, obtain the Arboretum’s booklet “Beyond the Tidal Basin: Introducing Other Great Flowering Cherry Trees.” Use the booklet for a self-guided tour to see Dream Catchers that grow to 25-feet tall, Pendula trees whose branches “weep,” or hang down as well as to enjoy a host of other beautiful trees.
Along with cherry blossoms in March the Arboretum flowers with hundreds of daffodils, pussy willows and azaleas.
Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens
Another beautiful and less-visited garden is part of the Hillwood Estate and Museum. An urban oasis in Northwest Washington, DC, Hillwood’s 12 acres of formal gardens are surrounded by 13 acres of woodlands that back up to Rock Creek Park. On a stroll, it’s easy to forget that you are still in the city.
Landscaped to the tastes of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the heir to the Post cereal fortune, the gardens are as carefully arranged as the rooms in her mansion, a showcase for Russian decorative arts and 18th century French furnishings.
Hillwood features cherry trees, primarily in the Japanese-style garden, a tranquil setting of winding paths, bridges, boulders, ponds and waterfalls. In March, enter Hillwood’s greenhouse and the scent and sight of 2,000 orchids greet you. In April and May, 4,000 azaleas bloom as do hundreds of rhododendrons, magnolias and crab apples, creating lush pink, red, and white landscape laced with tulips and daffodils.
What are your favorite spots to see spring blossoms? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.
Photo by the author.