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When the Washington DC cherry blossoms arrive, DMV residents (DMV=DC, Maryland, and Virginia) look forward to the mid-Atlantic explosion of cherry petals. While Washington DC is the center of mayhem for blossom viewing, surrounding neighborhoods offer similar amazing cherry trees but smaller crowds and traffic.
Charles Kuralt said that Spring time in the Washington DC area is one of the best time/place combinations in America and perhaps the world. The most popular Spring time activity in Washington DC is the National Cherry Blossom Festival, marking the anniversary of 3,000 cherry trees being given to the city by the Mayor of Tokyo, Japan. The first cherry trees were planted in Washington DC on 27 March 1912.
Find more wonderful sites, tips, and info in the Complete Guide to Cherry Blossoms in DC, Maryland, and Virginia on our DC region site, Fun in Fairfax VA.
Washington DC Cherry Blossoms – An Alternative!
Seeing the blooming cherry trees is an incredible sight. If you are a bucket list person, add viewing the DC Cherry trees to it.
Most of the Washington DC cherry trees are located around the Tidal Basin. On a gorgeous Spring day, visitors from around the world pack the Tidal Basin area. Adding to the Spring Break mob scene are visitors to monuments like the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.
For a different viewpoint from the masses walking around the Tidal Basin (which you should do anyway) I highly recommend viewing the Washington DC cherry blossoms from a paddleboat. You will avoid the crowds, get better photos, and can even make advance reservations.
Since I live in the metro Washington DC area, I am fortunate to see cherry trees blooming in my neighborhood. Nearby business parks look like mini Tidal Basins with their cherry trees and ponds (and no traffic!).
Another neighborhood, however, rivals the Tidal Basin for quantity and quality of cherry trees. I love it as an alternative to the madhouse of visiting DC.
Washington DC Cherry Blossoms – in Kenwood Maryland
Kenwood is a neighborhood in Bethesda, Maryland, located near Chevy Chase Village and less than a mile from NW DC.
There are many old brick houses, some with converted carriage houses; others houses are reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel cottages. A few houses were for sale; asking price for one was almost $3 million.
Cherry trees are the main draw, of course.
Many of the Kenwood streets have a canopy of cherry trees.
Here is an obligatory close up cherry blossom photo.
In the below picture, the street discoloration is actually cherry petals. How cool is that?
The oldest Kenwood cherry tree is estimated to be 90 years old.
Many cherry trees are tempting to climb or hang on. Don’t!
Brightly colorful forsythia are also in bloom.
In the midst of Kenwood is a brookside park. Most people gather here. I saw picnickers, artists, tour groups, and an ice cream truck. Most of the tour groups were Japanese visitors, lending to the credibility of this alternative underground destination.
Washington DC cherry blossoms: McCool Travel tips
I took these pictures of Kenwood on a brilliant Spring day with the temperature in the 70s and a clear blue sky. Although Kenwood is our little secret, somehow hundreds of other people were there. Still there was no trouble parking or dealing with massive crowds.
It is best to drive to Kenwood although there are guided tours. The nearest Metro stop is Friendship Heights.
Kenwood can also be easily biked to on the Capital Crescent Trail. Although I saw a couple of bicycles on the streets of Kenwood, almost everyone was walking.
Kenwood is a fantastic walking neighborhood any time of the year. Check out the bamboo patches (cool to see, especially if you never have) and some majestic magnolias.
By the way, all photos in this article were taken by Charles McCool with an iPhone.
Where do you like to view Washington DC cherry blossoms? Can you suggest any other alternatives to popular tourist destinations?