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6 Essential Tips for Seeing DC’s Cherry Blossoms | Washington, DC Family Photographer

Here we finally are. It is the FIRST DAY OF MARCH! And in Washington DC, March is the month where we start to get warm spring days, blossoms pop up EVERYWHERE, and that heavy winter gloom lifts. If you’re anything like me, you’re also starting to incessantly check the Cherry Blossom Watch‘s website in hopes that they will soon forecast their first peak bloom prediction! 

Speaking of, the cherry blossoms will be here before we know it. Historically speaking, they typically bloom in the last week of March or first week of April, but in my nearly ten years in the DC area, I’ve seen them bloom as early as mid-March and as late as mid-April. It just totally depends on what the winter looked like!

So, as we await the arrival of our favorite little springtime guests and we begin to plan our visits with them, I’m sharing my top tips for seeing DC’s cherry blossoms below!

Head to the Tidal Basin at sunrise on a weekday! 

Trust me on this one. If you go to the Tidal Basin a weekend or weekday evening, you’ll be fighting the crowds. And nothing is a bigger cherry blossom buzzkill than having to squeeze by sweaty strangers while simultaneously trying NOT to fall into the Tidal Basin, ugh. OR having to wait for people to clear the frame as you try to take that perfect photo!! 

To avoid this, you MUST go on a weekday at sunrise. I recommend this for two reasons: 

  • Obviously, you beat the big crowds. This is KEY if you’re hoping to take photos without tons of people in them.
  • The early morning light is simply magical. Even if you’re not taking pictures, experiencing the blossoms in the soft, golden light is something else — trust me, it’s worth the early alarm. Pro-tip: Ease the pain and bring a travel mug full of your favorite hot caffeinated beverage!!
  • If you’re looking to take family photos with the cherry blossoms, you’ll definitely want to make sure you meet your photographer at sunrise on a weekday!

Steer clear of the trail directly along the Tidal Basin’s edge.

When I have a cherry blossom photo session at the Tidal Basin, I only spend about 25% of my time on the path directly along the water’s edge of the basin. It’s just too crowded! There are so many other great spots at the Tidal Basin to take photos or have a little picnic. Try the FDR Memorial, the MLK Memorial, or the grove of trees just northwest of the Japanese Lantern! 

Park in the West Potomac Park parking lots. 

One of the toughest parts of any visit to see the cherry blossoms is fighting the inevitable traffic and trying to find a parking spot! Again, if you go early, you’ll avoid traffic AND have no trouble finding a place to park. When I have a family photo session planned at the Tidal Basin, I personally avoid Ohio Drive all together. It fills up fast and if I don’t find a spot, I have to loop all the way back around the basin along Independence Avenue and that’s a huge time suck, especially if we’re approaching rush hour. So what I do is park in one of the three West Potomac Park parking lots! You’ll have to walk about 5-10 minutes to get to the Tidal Basin, but trust me on this one — don’t attempt Ohio Drive unless you’re literally there in the middle of the night. Save yourself the time and hassle!

Skip the Tidal Basin altogether! 

While seeing the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin is certainly a must-do, you can find cherry blossoms at a number of other locations across the city! Personally, I love seeing them at the National Arboretum and there are also a good number at Stanton Park on Capitol Hill! Another magical spot in DC during the springtime is the Enid A. Haupt garden at the Smithsonian Castle — it’s filled to the brim with Saucer Magnolias. These typically bloom BEFORE the cherry blossoms and are just as beautiful in my opinion.

Book Family Photos with the Cherry Blossoms!

Cherry blossom season is arguably one of the most beautiful times of the year in Washington, DC. Making it a very popular time for family, maternity or newborn photos. If you’re interested in capturing your family among the beautiful cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, you can book your session here! Prefer to ask some questions before you book? You can contact me here 🙂

Don’t forget to take advantage of all the cherry blossom fun across Washington, DC and Northern Virginia!

I make it a point every year to have a “Cherry Blossom Day” complete some or ALL of the following:

Compass Coffee: Cherry Blossom Cold Brew

Astro Donuts: Cherry Blossom Donut

Ted’s Bulletin: Cherry Blossom Poptart

Ice Cream Jubilee: Cherry Ice Cream

City Center’s Pink Lanterns

DC’s Petal Porch Competition

And there you have it, folks! Do you have any other advice for seeing DC’s cherry blossoms? Share in the comments below! 

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