The National Park Service officially announced last week that they expect Washington D.C.'s cherry blossom peak bloom to happen between March 17 and 20 this year, which is practically two weeks before they usually bloom in the first week of April.
Before you plan a pilgrimage to the nation's capital to see the famed cherry blossom trees this spring, be sure to check out a few of our favorite ideas for making the most of your trip.
How to See the Cherry Blossoms
If you magically time your trip perfectly for peak bloom — which can last up to 14 days some years — escape the crowds by heading to the Tidal Basin at sunrise. Not only will you capture that dreamy golden hour light in your photos, but also you won't have hundreds of tourists in your shot. Head to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial for some of the best views of the Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial from across the pond.
While the Tidal Basin is the most iconic site to see the cherry blossoms, the United States National Arboretum, the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks and Hains Point in East Potomac Park also have beautiful trees and fewer crowds.
What to Do
Beyond the cherry blossoms and the historical monuments, D.C. is best known for its museums. If you've been to the Smithsonian's Natural History and Air and Space Museums before, plan ahead to visit a few of the newer and unexpected ones this time around.
The Obamas' official portraits were just added to the National Portrait Gallery in February this year and can be seen for free from 11:30 am-7 pm each day.
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture is so popular you need to book your free timed-entry passes months in advance. However, if you want to try to go when you're in town for the Cherry Blossom Festival, there are two ways you can try to see this brand new museum with short notice. Same-day timed entry passes are released at 6:30 a.m. online daily and a small number of walk-up passes are available starting at 1 p.m. on weekdays.
Where to Eat and Drink
The Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar is back for the second year from March 1-April 29. Order from their themed cocktail menu — like a Cherry Blossom G&T; or the Beana Colada, served in the cute cat mug seen above. Aim to get there around the 5 p.m. opening time to beat the crowds.
Head over to Georgetown's Baked and Wired for a vanilla cupcake packed with maraschino cherries and topped with maraschino cherry frosting. You'll probably have to wait in line, but it's worth it.
If you want something cherry-themed for breakfast, Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken has a cherry blossom doughnut on their menu starting March 17 with a pretty cherry blossom design on top and a tart cherry jam on the inside.
Where to Stay
While many of the city's top-rated hotels are offering special packages for travelers coming to the cherry blossom festival, most only include one or two perks beyond complimentary breakfast and parking. If you're going to splurge on a weekend getaway, the two-night Cherry Blossom Package at Georgetown's Rosewood Washington D.C. includes both of those, plus seasonal cocktails served in their Rye Bar, a Segway tour for two and use of the hotel's bikes and a picnic lunch.