Spring in Washington, DC is magical and always provides a gorgeous backdrop for family photos. Below, I share my favorite spring session locations in the greater DC area. From the iconic cherry blossoms to Burnside Farm’s tulip fields, you won’t be disappointed with the stunning settings our beautiful region has to offer!
Tidal Basin in Washington, DC
The QUEEN of all spring session locations in the DMV: The Tidal Basin! Every year, tens of thousands of people visit the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossom trees at peak bloom for good reason: they are stunning!
Pros: These little blossoms are absolutely gorgeous. And the light at the Tidal Basin at peak bloom is to die for!
Cons: The Tidal Basin can get REALLY crowded on evenings and weekends making it hard to take photos without other people in the background. Your photographer will likely have to know all the good photo spots OR get really creative. Parking can also be a pain – you’ll have to make a game plan ahead of time and build in an extra 30-60 minutes to your travel time.
Best time for photos: Sunrise on a weekday morning in late March or early April (during peak bloom!) Parking is easier on weekday mornings too.
Enid A Haupt Garden at the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, DC
The Enid A. Haupt garden at the Smithsonian Castle has an entire garden full of magnolia trees that bloom big, beautiful pink saucer magnolias in mid-March. Historically, the magnolias bloom about a week before the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin.
Pros: The pink magnolias are STUNNING. And this garden is typically a lot less crowded than the Tidal Basin. So if you’re looking for family photos with pink blossoms, but don’t want to fight the crowds, this could be the spot for you!
Cons: These flowers are subject to March’s indecisive weather. If we have a warm spell in early March and then get hit with a cold spell or snow in mid-March, the blossoms may not survive. There have definitely been years where they didn’t ever get to hit peak bloom because they were destroyed by the cold before they could reach that stage.
Best time for photos: Early morning or sunset on a weekday. Weekends tend to be super crowded unless you get there for sunrise (which would be glorious!)
Hains Point in Washington, DC
The Kwanzan cherry blossoms bloom 1-2 weeks after the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms. They are so fun! They are fluffier and pinker than their Tidal Basin counterparts.
Pros: You don’t have to fight the crowds to enjoy these blossoms. These blossoms aren’t as popular as the cherry blossom trees at the Tidal Basin, so you’ll likely have these groves to yourself, especially if you go on a weekday morning! Street parking is available along Ohio Drive and there are always spots.
Cons: They just AREN’T the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms. And there are less of them.
Best time for photos: With the direction of the sun, I recommend the morning for a session with the Kwanzan cherry blossoms.
Burnside Farm in Nokesville, VA
Photos courtesy of Burnside Farms.
Burnside Farm’s Festival of Spring is a sight to behold — tulips as far as the eye can see. You’d swear you were in the Netherlands!
Pros: This is a super unique location. If you want colorful, vibrant family photos, you can’t miss this spot!
Cons: The festival can get crowded, especially on the weekends. It’s best to go during off-hours (first thing in the morning or late in the day on weekdays.) It’s also a bit of a drive from DC — but SO worth it!
Best time for photos: Early weekday mornings!
Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
Brookside Garden is home to SO many lovely spring blossoms: cherry blossoms, tulips, azaleas, wisteria – just to name a few! You’ll have flowers for a session in March, April, May and even June!
Pros: There are so many lovely backdrops – it will be hard to choose! AND Brookside has cherry blossom trees, which is nice if you don’t want to fight the crowds of the Tidal Basin.
Cons: There aren’t many! If I had to name one, it’s that you have to purchase a $50 permit to shoot here.
Best time for photos: Almost any time of the day or week! For light purposes, first thing in the morning or sunset would be best.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is magical. Like Brookside, they have so many different flowers and blossoms – cherry blossoms, tulips and their piece de resistance: the azaleas! They have rainbows and rainbows of azalea bushes – in all different colors!
Pros: So many lovely backdrops. It’s often quiet too – very peaceful and no crowds!
Cons: You do have to purchase a permit to shoot here and their hours don’t allow for early morning sessions.
Best time for photos: Because Meadowlark doesn’t open until 10AM, sunset is the best time for photos at this location.
Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA
Green Spring Gardens is one of the most popular locations for family photos for good reason! They have gorgeous curated gardens with SO much in bloom – all year round. From March through October, you’ll have something blooming for your backdrop. Perfect for Northern Virginia families who want an alternative to the Bishop’s Garden!
Pros: A truly stunning backdrop, with so much variety. Easy parking, easy access. No crowds!
Cons: There really aren’t any!
Best time for photos: Sunrise or sunset on a weekday OR a weekend.
The Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC
This is my favorite session spot in ALL of the DMV. If you want to feel like you’ve jumped into a secret English garden, this is the spot for you. Sitting in the shadow of the National Cathedral, the Bishop’s Garden is truly one-of-a-kind with its big trees, lush gardens, fountains, a dreamy stone gazebo and winding pathways. You’ll find it all here: cherry blossoms, wisteria, tulips, roses, dogwoods, peonies, and more!
Pros: It’s just perfect. It can’t be beat. Parking is easy. It’s never crowded. It’s always beautiful – any time of the year.
Cons: Shooting here requires a $250 photography permit.
Best time for photos: Early to mid morning or late afternoon to sunset — any day of the week!