Our 2018 Cherry Blossom Everything is presented in partnership with our friends and partners at Hilton
It’s D.C.’s most beautiful time of the year again. Or at least the most touristy time of the time. Commemorating the 91st anniversary of the mayor of Tokyo gifting the district more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees, The National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place March 20 through April 15. The cherry blossoms are now predicted to be peaking on March 27. The city will celebrate the best gift we’ve received since 1912 with four weeks filled with cherry-inspired drinks, dishes, desserts, and things to do throughout the area. Here’s your guide to all the pink ethereal beauty that will be taking over the city. From where to see the blossoms, where to Instagram the blossoms, food and drink specials, events picks and more, here’s your Cherry Blossoms Everything 2018 guide.
Where to Get the Best Instagrams of the Blossoms
This is the reason (or one of them) you’re here right? Useful hashtags are #CherryBlossoms, #MyDCCool, and #BYThings. Also useful is this super handy map that the National Park Service and the National Cherry Blossom festival put together.
The Washington Monument from the Tidal Basin
Grab this (very iconic) shot midway between the FDR memorial and the Martin Luther King memorial.
The Crowded but not too Crowded Crowd Shot
Depending on the time of day, there may be people all over the Tidal Basin, the best place to grab a still gorgeous crowd shot is from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. Grab shots of your friends, random strangers lazing about
The Tidal Basin (from the basin itself)
Rent a paddle boat and paddle your little heart out into the center of the basin, take all the shots. Be careful having your cell phone out on the water (we recommend bringing a plastic bag to keep it in, just in case).
The Jefferson Memorial between branches of blossoms
So there’s a few different opportunities to get this shot. Either between the Tidal Basin Welcome Area on your way to the memorial, or from across the basin in front of the FDR memorial.
My favorite color is red, but I am also drawn to pink, especially this time of year when we here in DC await the delicate pink blooms of the cherry blossoms! This year’s peak predictions are between March 17-20. Let the count down begin! #igdc #dcitystyle #bythings #mydccool #cherryblossomdc #cherryblossomfestival #thenationalmall #momentsofmine #acreativedc #mytinyatlas #darlingescapes #guardiantravelsnaps #travelstroke #city_explore #petitejoys #postitfortheaesthetic #cntraveler #thecity_life #huffpostgram #mashpics #usaprimeshot #culturetrip #theweekoninstagram #washingtondc
The Japanese Lantern + Pagoda
Located on opposite sides of the basin, if you get these stone sculptures from the right angle you can completely fool people into thinking you are actually in Japan. The Pagoda is located on the basin trail between the Jefferson Memorial and the FDR Memorial, and the Lantern is located on the Washington Monument side of the Martin Luther King Memorial.
Pagoda —— Peak bloom is now just a few weeks away. Excited to get back out on the basin and find some totally different compositions this year. I will go back and shoot my favorite trees and spots of course as well. —— Iso 100 / 50mm / f3.2 / 1/640s —— #walkwithlocals #igdc #mydccool #dctography #exposeddc #bythings #ig_color #artistfound #acreativedc #washingtondc #stayandwander #cntraveler #usaprimeshot #exploretocreate #ourplanetdaily #ig_unitedstates #tlpicks #lonelyplanet #city_explore #natgeotravel #earthpix #hbouthere #travelexploring #artofvisuals #cherryblossoms #nationalmall #teamcanon #tidalbasin #mycanonstory #sakura
Cherry Blossom Drink Specials
Drink Company’s cherry blossom and Japan themed edition of their infamous pop-up bar will blow you away with their breathtaking attention to detail. Enjoy their 10 cocktails and special Cherry Blossom beer options underneath dense cherry blossom trees, in a calmingly beautiful Japanese tea house (as calm as a packed tea house can be), or Shinjuku’s Memory Lane laden with bright signs and hanging lanterns. Also, Godzilla. They made a Godzilla that emits smoke/vapes.
Virginia is for lovers… of cherry blossoms. This spring Ambar Clarendon will offer the Visnja Sour, created with cherry-infused rakia, lime juice, simple syrup infused with cherries, and a spritz of absinth, garnished with a cherry. Head to BABA, the bar below Ambar Clarendon where you can grab a galss of Baba’s Secret, featuring dry sake, freshly pressed beet juice, lime juice, simple syrup, Maraska maraschino liqueur and mint leaves.
If you start feeling a little thirsty in the middle of the festival, head to Bibiana and check out their Cherry Blossom cocktail made with rum, cherries, lemon juice, sugar and then topped with prosecco.
If cider is more up your alley, Jug & Table is holding a Spring Blossom Launch presented with Distillery Lane Ciderworks on Thursday, March 22. The cidery has created the Spring Blossom, a cider with regionally sourced sour cherry juice that you can enjoy at Jug & Table before anywhere else.
Kyirisan will pay homage to Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo, who gifted D.C. our cherry blossom trees with a “Thank You, Mr. Ozaki” cocktail, a play on a Negroni Sbagliato made with Batavia Arrack, Cocchi Rossi, lemon and cava.
From March 19-April 6, Momofuku CCDC will be offering their Forest Among the Clouds cocktail made of gin, vanilla, black pepper, and burnt thyme. Sounds like my kind of forest.
What’s better than one cherry blossom inspired cocktail? Two cherry blossom inspired cocktails. MXDC Cocina Mexicana will be offering the Cherry Sour, made from Glenmorangie, Luxardo cherry liqueur, house-made cherry syrup, yuzu, egg whites, and angostura bitters along with the Strawberry Blossoms made with Milagro tequila, yuzu, house-made strawberry syrup and house-made lychee syrup, garnished with a Tajin rim and edible flowers.
Ocean Prime’s Sakura Dawn cocktail is made with Pure Dawn Sake, Bombay East Gin, infused agave, ginger bitters and topped with an edible microbloom. Who doesn’t enjoy an edible microbloom?
The FestivALE Farmhouse Cherry Ale is the official beer of the National Cherry Blossom Festival brewed by Old Ox Brewery. It’s already started to be distributed to different wine & beer stores in the area, and you can also try it out at The Cherry Blossom PUB.
Head to Reston, Virginia, to enjoy The Red’s Blossom made from a combination of Strange Monkey gin, lime juice, Campari, grapefruit, orange chamomile simply syrup, and a splash of agave.
TenPenh Tysons is taking a classic cocktail and giving it a cherry blossom twist with their Blossoming Boulevardier. The drink will be made of Suntory Toki Japanese Whiskey, cherry liqueur, Aperol, Sweet Vermouth, and orange bitters topped with a cherry garnish.
Celebrating more than just one type of blossom, 701 Restaurant will have the Mayim Bialik cocktail, a combination of Giffard, apricot liqueur, Aperol, Dolin sweet vermouth, grapefruit simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, and prosecco, garnished with a brandied cherry and edible pansies.
Cherry Blossom Food Specials
Head to Arlington for a unique treat at Bayou Bakery where they’ll be serving Sour Cherry Hot Cross Buns for two weeks. The buns will be filled with fruit, glazed, and of course, have the iced cross.
Bird is the word for The Bird’s blossom inspired menu with dishes like Foie Gras, Jingisaka Crudo, two ramen options—one with pheasant, the other with salmon, and a dessert with cherries, saki, and orange.
Bourbon Steak at Four Seasons will be offering cuts of A5 New York Strip Steak with pickled turnip and rutabaga sauce in a sandwich between Japanese Milk Bread Rolls. This special will be served in a bento box that was made from Sakura wood of cherry blossom trees. Ooh lala.
Brasserie Beck is taking the fruity route with their Foie Gras to celebrate the cherry blossom festival. The French dish will have Bing Cherries, vanilla essence, and served with brioche. A unique dish deserves a unique pairing and that’s where the fruity Aged Cherry Lambic, Boon Oude Kriek, comes in to tie the experience together.
Leave it to Buttercream Bakeshop to take a favorite childhood snack (dessert? Both?) and make it their own in honor of the cherry blossoms. The Shaw bakery will be rolling hohos with cherry blossom buttercream especially for The National Cherry Blossom Festival so don’t miss out.
Cuba Libre will offer a cherry blossom-inspired Cuban dish and featured dessert, both at $10 each during the festival. Start off with the Rum-Braised Crispy Pork Belly (with sour cherry coulis and blooms salad) and sweetly finish with Empanadas de Cerezas (goat cheese, cherry & guava paste and toasted pistachio empanadas with sweet cherry mostarda).
District Distilling has got you covered with a three-course, prix fixe dinner with specialty cocktails for a more high-class cherry blossom celebration. Baby spring greens, Crispy Skin Duck Breast (with sautéed asparagus, parsnip purée and cherry demi glacé), and sour cherry pie will be accompanied by two cherry blossom inspired cocktails; the Weeping Cherry (made from a combination of Backroom Rye, Warre’s Fine White port, Corridor cherry cordial and Bittermen’s orange citrate bitters, garnished with a Luxardo cherry) and the Rolling Stone Fruit (made of WildJune gin, Embassy Row crème de menthe, lime jam and cherry pureé, garnished with a mint sprig and fresh cherry).
Enjoy the Kennedy Center’s café farm offerings of Veal Osso Bucco with pickled cherries; Crispy Duck Confit with white balsamic cherry gastrique; and Spiced BBQ Chicken with cherry coke bbq sauce and cherry mustard jam. For dessert indulge in Strawberry “Sakura” Roulade (sakura shortcake, cherry mousse, cherry blossom petals, salt-preserved cherry blossom).
Ladurée is offering their cherry blossom macaron, a light pink macaron with sweet hints of cherry blossom florals. Look at the macarons. Look at them.
The Lafayette within The Hay-Adams will be offering a Japanese-inspired menu with dishes like Seared Tuna Loin, Wagyu Striploin, and a Matcha Torte with cherry jubilee ice cream. Make your way downstairs to the Off The Record Bar for a specialty cocktail, The Cherry Blossom-Tini, composed of Bombay Sapphire, apple brandy, cherry liquor, simply syrup and lemon juices.
Starting March 14 get your hands on Milk Bar’s Cherry Blossom cookie. Baked with cherries, milk crumbs, rose water essence and dried cherries, the cookie is sure to be a hit for the second year in a row. They’ll be available at the CityCenterDC location as well as the new store location at The Wharf.
The Watergate Hotel’s luxurious igloos will be transformed into a cherry blossom experience. Available from March 1- April 15, the heated domes will feature cherry blossom décor, a signature cherry blossom cocktail, and menu specials like cherry blossom fried chicken and waffles and hot chocolate cake with cherry gelato and black cherry cream.
Fried, dumpling, and dessert. Three words that are all great on their own and even better together. Occidental Grill & Seafood will have a Sour Cherry-Yuzu Gyoza (say that ten times fast) that will be served with cherry blossom gelato.
If you’d like to welcome the cherry blossoms with a fancy meal, The Oval Room will be offering a themed three-course prix fixe with a specialty cocktail in addition to the featured seasonal menu. Enjoy chilled Maine Lobster (cherry blossom gelée, pollen and crème fraiche), Foie Gras Royale (cherries, cocoa nib, cherry blossom espuma and hyssop), and for dessert Cherry Blossom Milk Pudding. Their cocktail, the Spring Snow, will be made from a combination of Akashi Japanese whiskey, Cocchi Torino vermouth, Luxardo maraschino liqueur and cherry blossom bitters, garnished with a maraschino cherry, apple blossom peddles and flowers.
What’s a better way to celebrate the city’s best spring event than with a Sunday afternoon, three-course table side tea service menu of cherry blossom inspired offerings and a matcha pairing at the Park Hyatt? Expect classic tea time selections from the seasonal tea service menu such as pastries, a cheese and charcuterie station, and custom desserts. Bring a tea time loving kid and enjoy a range of delights including cherry blossom macarons and teas from around the world.
Indulge your spring time sweet tooth at Pennsylvania 6 with Dolci Gelati’s Cherry Blossom Gelato, a seasonal gelato made with berry compote, red wine meringue, and toasted almonds.
Available March 20-April 15, enjoy RARE’s Japanese inspired three-course menu where you can choose from dishes from like pork belly, grilled octopus, Wagyu & Virginia Beef dry-aged burger, Karagge-fried chicken, and matcha cake among others. Somewhat related, go to their happy hour. It’s a good deal.
For all of March and April, The Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown will be offering fluffy Cherry Blossom Pancakes with branded sour cherry compote and whipped cream as well as a Cherry Blossom Daiquiri made of Pyrat XO rum, cherry blossom syrup, fresh lime, and orange bitters.
Chefs from Ritz-Carlton, Osaka and Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo have collaborated with the chefs at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons in honor of the cherry blossoms with dishes such as Clear Japanese Sakura soup (crispy rockfish filet, cherry blossom broth), Wagyu Beef Striploin, and Frozen Sakura Soufflé. Pastry Chef Heidi Kabath will be offering a Chocolate Bonsai Tree dessert using over 1lb of Valrhona chocolate. The 100% edible tree will have sesame shortbread with cherry blossom panna cotta, raspberry cream cone with micro basil, citrus matcha tart with lemon meringue crisp, and espresso marshmallow with a 24 karat espresso bean among more edible features.
The Kennedy Center’s upscale restaurant will be offering two savory specials, a sweet dessert, and three cocktails for cherry blossom season. Enjoy the shaved brussels sprouts salad, cherry braised beef short rib, and for dessert The Madame Butterfly (rose blossom and pistachio angel cake, cherry blossom mousse, green tea meringue, lychee ice cream). Sip on a glass of Dom Perignon Rose, 2006 or try one of their specialty cocktails; Cherry Blossom (vodka, bianco vermouth, luxardo maraschino, celery bitters, and fresh cherry blossom), Sake Tini (sake, cointreau, cranberry juice, fresh lime, orange bitters), and Cherry Smoke (Johnnie Walker Black, cherry heering, sweet vermouth, orange juice).
Siren will be offering a cherry blossom dessert special with rice cream, cherry compote, green tea cake, white chocolate, butterfly pea tea, and yuzu gelee, all garnished with a dark chocolate twig and flowers made of sugar. Sounds like a real cherry blossom treeat.
Throughout the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Taqueria del Barrio will be offering a cherry blossom food and drink pairing with cherry ancho pork tacos and the Chapulin Colorado margarita with tequila, house-made ancho cherry syrup, triple sec, and fresh lime.
Cherry Blossom Etc. (art exhibits, events, specials, more)
Cherry Blossom Spa Ritual @ Argentta Spa (March 1 through April 15
Watergate Hotel’s Argentta Spa is offering 90-minute cherry blossom body treatments and cherry blossom mani/pedis. Treatments include a cherry infused cocktail.
Flower Crown Class @ The Watergate Hotel (March 3-4, April 7-8)
Remember the cherry blossoms forever with a long-lasting flower crown made of fine silk cherry blossom blooms. The Watergate Hotel partnered with The Wandering Florist will be offering flower crown classes March 3-4 & April 7-8 with complimentary prosecco.
SAKURA YUME @ ARTECHOUSE March 15 through May 6
If dabbling in an alternate universe experience with koi fish and cherry blossoms sounds like your thing, ARTECHOUSE will have a large-scale seasonal instillation in celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival. There will be two types of admission options; day and evening. Evening admission is 21+ where they’ll have their newest augmented reality cocktails. Instagram away, folks. Come back next week for our First Look.
Cinematsuri @ Landmark Theatres E Street Cinema March 18 through April 3
Here’s something for all you filmophiles—D.C.’s Japanese Film Festival, an official National Cherry Blossom Festival event. Catch five of Japan’s recent and best films from different categories all in Japanese with English subtitles.
Seasonal Experience @ The St. Regis March 20 through April 15
Guests can choose from cherry blossom themed overnight packages like the Getaway Package (March 20-April 15) which includes breakfast for two, cherry blossom dessert, and a morning tour of the blossoms using the hotel’s Shinola bikes. The Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea (March 20-April 15) offers a selection of cherry blossom inspired tastes along with a cherry blossom tea blend that’s blended in house.
Ground yourself in honor of the cherry blossom trees with Take Five Meditation’s One Giant Meditation at The National Building Museum March 25 at 9:30 a.m.
No matter your level of experience, kick off the kite season with the Blossom Kite Festival taking place at the Washington Monument March 31. Bring a kid or two, it’s free. This event is great.
Blossom Bash @ The Anthem April 6
Cherry blossoms, Third Eye Blind, and Bush. DC101 presents the Blossom Bash at The Anthem. How’s it going to feel? Zen.
Petalpalooza @ The Wharf April 7
With a name like Petalpalooza, how can it not be fun? With art installations, games and activities, live music, a roller rink, a beer garden, and a fireworks show, this event will definitely be a great way to celebrate the cherry blossoms. If that wasn’t convincing enough, there will be free samples of La Croix and L’Occitane. Petalpalooza is the perfect event for your human children where they can make their own t-shirts, and your dog children with a Pop-Up Puppy Parklet. The event is free and goes from 1 to 9:30 p.m. with fireworks starting at 8:30 p.m.
Cherry Blossom Wine and Beer Festival @ Navy Yard April 7 and 8
Head to Navy Yard April 7 and 8 and you’ll run head first into the Cherry Blossom Wine and Beer festival, where you can expect a ton of beer (duh), wine and cider. Looking for a little more? There will also be boozy bingo for those who love being competitive, live music, food trucks, and more.
If running like, a lot and exercising sounds like your kind of way to celebrate spring and the blossoms, The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run & 5K Run-Walk is April 8 at the Washington Monument Grounds.
Witness one of D.C.’s largest spectator events, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Running for 10 blocks along Constitution Avenue, the parade will be full of giant colorful balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands, celebrity entertainers, and more. Look at the giant balloons…
If you’re not ready for the fun to stop after the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, the Sakura Mastsuri Festival follows it on Pennsylvania Ave. This grand finale to the National Cherry Blossom Festival will feature performers from across the country and Japan as well as Japanese chefs showing how to cook Japanese food.
Tips to See the Blossoms
So, the secret (sorry everyone in D.C.) to seeing the cherry blossoms tourist-free is to go very ,very early in the morning. The Tidal Basin is essentially open 24 hours, and sunrise is absolutely stunning. Get up early, enjoy the trees, and then you can be comfortably eating breakfast before the first tourist has even complained about the lack of parking. To catch some extra shut-eye spend the weekend at the new Canopy by Hilton at the Wharf and enjoy staying right on the southwest waterfront, mere steps from the blossoms.
If you’re unable (or just unwilling) to get up early, there are ways to see the sakura trees even during normal hours that will still result in a great experience. Prepare for crowds, bring water and snacks, use Uber/Lyft or Metro (get off at Smithsonian Station) to get to the Tidal Basin, and be patient. Weekdays are going to be better than weekends, and early is still best. If you’re coming in from out of town stay at the The Washington Hilton to experience some true D.C. history (and be in a prime location for experiencing the city).
Skip the Tidal Basin. You may be thoroughly confused as to why we would suggest this, but you can still get amazing views and great pictures by skipping the Tidal Basin, and heading directly to Hains Point. We recommend renting a bike from Capital Bikeshare and biking around East Potomac Park for a truly unforgettable (and less crowded) blossom experience. Book a staycation at The Darcy and enjoy some extra cool amenities for kids (and boozy ice cream sandwiches for adults).
The Night Owl
It’s a long held local secret that the monuments in D.C. are best experienced at night. However, slightly lesser known (so much so that you will probably be only one of a handful of tourists), is that the blossoms are also beautiful in the dark. Bring your flash, and finish off your walk with one of the best nighttime views in D.C. at the Jefferson Memorial. Stay at the DoubleTree in Crystal City and finish off the night with more great views at the Iwo Jima memorial, and appreciate the D.C. skyline from the revolving restaurant on the roof.
As more events pop up we’ll be adding them to this piece.