Unique Ways to Experience DC’s Cherry Blossoms

3/22/2022

The blooming of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington has come to symbolize the natural beauty of our nation's capital city. The famous trees — a gift from Japan in 1912 — signal Washington's rite of spring with an explosion of life and color that surrounds the Tidal Basin in a sea of pale pink and white blossoms. 

Pink and white cherry blossoms frame the Washington Monument.

Hundreds of thousands of city residents and visitors from across the nation and around the world come here to witness the spectacle, hoping that the trees will be at the peak of bloom for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival celebrates the gift of the cherry blossom trees and their symbol of enduring friendship between the citizens of Japan and the United States.

Here are a few unique ways you can experience the cherry blossoms.

Learn about the trees

Use the cherry tree field guide to identify the types of cherry blossom trees in the Tidal Basin. You can also learn how National Park Service cares for and maintains the trees.

Closeup of cherry blossoms in low light with the Washington Monument in the background.

Explore the history

Read about the history of the cherry trees and the people involved in bringing them to the District of Columbia, such as Eliza Scidmore who worked with First Lady Helen Taft, the manager of Washington area parks, and representatives of Japan to plant the cherry trees.

Black and white portraits of Eliza Scidmore and Helen Taft.

The project faced many setbacks, but eventually succeeded. Today, these trees stand not only as a powerful symbol of friendship between nations, but as an inspiring reminder of the difference people can make by faithfully pursuing a dream.

Become a citizen scientist

Phenology is the study of plant and animal life cycles in relation to the seasons. It is nature’s calendar and a key component to life on Earth. Changes in phenological events like flowering and animal migration are among the most sensitive biological responses to climate change. 

The  U.S. Geological Survey sponsors the USA National Phenology Network, which is a national effort to help track the timing of plant and animal activity as an indicator of environmental variation and climate change. This unique project engages both professional and citizen scientists to document life cycles of nature. The USA National Phenology Network brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, educators and others to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals across the U.S.

As a volunteer scientist, you can track the phenology of plants and animals through Nature's Notebook, an online plant and animal phenology monitoring program. By participating in phenology monitoring, you will develop a better understanding of nature and contribute to a national database used by scientists and resource managers. If you are an educator, use My NASA Data’s Blossoms Blooming: Analyzing Plant Growth Patterns lesson plan to teach students how to analyze historic growth data and atmospheric near surface temperatures.

Closeup of white cherry blossoms showing the detail of the individual flowers.

Follow a trail guide

Take any of the following loops to experience the cherry blossoms.

  • Tidal Basin Loop. This easy 2.1-mile loop takes you through natural and cultural treasures. Circling the Tidal Basin, this trail provides views most in accordance with the tradition of hanami (blossom viewing).
  • Hains Point Loop. This 4.1-mile loop is well worth the trip. It is also a great opportunity to see many different species of cherry trees unlike anywhere else in the park. Stroll among the blossoms while taking in spectacular views of the Potomac River, Anacostia River and the Washington Channel.
  • Memorial Loop. Experience the Japanese cherry trees in their monumental setting while visiting some of our national icons. This 2.7-mile loop takes you through some of the park's memorials such as the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial, as well as some of the lesser-known places such as Constitution Gardens where the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial is located.

Take a virtual cherry blossom tour

See the cherry blossoms at the National Mall and Memorial Parks whenever and wherever with virtual cherry blossom tours.

Take a virtual walk around the Tidal Basin trail and visit some of the nearby monuments in 360 degrees. Or hop in a paddle boat and see the Tidal Basin from the water side by joining a virtual paddle boat tour during the bloom.

Watch the Bloom Cam

Watch the blooming of the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin from a webcam hosted by the Trust for the National Mall.

Cherry blossoms in the foreground with several paddle boats in the distance.

Set your digital background

Virtually immerse yourself in the capital's famous cherry blossoms! Download high-resolution images to use during video meetings and gatherings. Or use as computer or phone backgrounds

Pathway surrounded by cherry trees, near clear blue water.

Attend an event or activity

There is a wide variety of events and activities during the National Cherry Blossom Festival including the Blossom Kite Festival, Japanese Street Festival, Capital Waterfront Fireworks during the Petalpalooza event, National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and more.

To learn more, visit the National Park Service's Cherry Blossom Festival website.

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