If you have traveled to Washington, D.C. in the early spring, you’re aware of the famously beautiful cherry blossom trees. Donated by Japan in 1912, the trees symbolize the friendship between the United States and Japan. Visitors travel from all over the world to take pictures of the short-lived blooms during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, causing the Capitol to swell with tourists. But, just over the Potomac River, several sites in Northern Virginia contain the stunning trees without the hassle of the milling crowds. Plan a trip to these garden destinations and featured events to get a closer look at the Cherry Blossoms this spring.
Image Credit: Patrick Lennon
Several gardens in Northern Virginia offer self-guided tours of the cherry trees, letting you take pictures of these Japanese beauties at your own pace. Contact the gardens before you visit to get the Cherry Blossom status at each location.
Green Spring Gardens—Alexandria
Green Spring Gardens has a handful of cherry trees along with a variety of other spring flowers, a children’s garden, and an indoor gift shop and library for visitors to peruse.
Sitting on the banks of the Potomac, the 25-acre River Farm was once a part of George Washington’s vast property. The estate features a charming grove of cherry trees near the front gates, four acres of meadows with colorful flowers on display during the spring, and a fun children’s garden and play area.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens—Vienna
Image Credit: Patrick Lennon
Stroll through 95 acres of display gardens and unique native plant collections at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, including about 100 cherry trees made up of over 20 unique varieties. The park’s walking trails wind past serene lakes and showcase the carefully cultivated landscape of the gardens. Fairfax is one of the prime spots in Northern Virginia for cherry blossom peeping, and there are various events and tours scheduled to showcase their beauty.
—CHERRY BLOSSOM EVENTS—
Cherry Blossom Monuments Cruise—Alexandria
photo credit: Carol Stulan for Visit Alexandria
This Potomac River cruise sets sail from Old Town Alexandria and lasts about an hour round trip as you view the iconic Cherry Blossoms from your waterfront seats while also learning about the monuments, memorial statues, and bridges you’ll pass along the way.
If you’re just looking to avoid the traffic of Washington, D.C., consider parking in Old Town Alexandria and taking a water taxi to the National Mall. The Potomac Riverboat Company provides 30 minute rides across the river, getting you to the Cherry Blossoms quickly and without the annoyance of the weekend traffic jams often found in Washington, D.C.
Private Cherry Blossom Boat Tours—Alexandria
Book a private tour with Embark DC while the cherry blossoms are blooming for a unique, customized experience. These boat tours range from 1.5 to four hours, with the captain providing detailed narration as you explore along the Potomac. Trips can be arranged to include a variety of stops at well-known cherry tree spots and historic sites in the region, and you can even make land at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. Bring along a picnic lunch complete with Virginia wines, have the boating excursion catered, or notify your tour guide in advance to grill your own meal on the boat.
More Locations to View the Cherry Blossoms in Virginia:
photo credit: Emelyn Gwynn, @lynchburgva
- Downtown Lynchburg
- Town of Buchanan Cherry Blossoms—Buchanan
- Alexander Bell Drive—Reston
- Van Gogh Bridge at Lake Anne—Reston
- Arlington National Cemetery—Arlington
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden—Richmond
- Snow Meadow Lane—McLean
- If you're in the coastal area and are looking for cherry blossoms, head to Virginia Beach for the Cherry Blossom Festival, held each year in Red Wing Park (2023 date TBA).
The dates of the National Cherry Blossom Festival vary each year depending on the weather, but with the warm temperatures in the forecast, the trees have begun showing signs that the blooms are quickly approaching. The National Parks Service has not yet released their estimated peak Cherry Blossom bloom time, but the stunning trees should have their spring blossoms on display for a few weeks starting at the end of March and beginning of April.