I absolutely love the flowers in DC! From the popular cherry blossoms to the fragrant magnolias to the stunning tulip fields and the wild bluebells; there's something for everyone to enjoy! Below are 10 types of flowers, where to see them in the DC area, and when they are expected to be in bloom. (And a couple of ideas for parking specifically for the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms.)
Table of Contents
- Magnolias (Mid to Late March)
- Cherry Blossoms (2022 Peak March 22-26)
- Tulips (Early to Mid April)
- Bluebells (Early March to Mid April)
- Azaleas (Late April to Mid May)
- Lilacs (April)
- Hydrangeas (June)
- Roses (June to August)
- Lotus and Waterlilies (July/August)
- Sunflowers (July - Sept)
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Magnolias (Mid to late March)
The saucer magnolias are in my top 2 favorites each Spring! They are huge, fragrant and just a joy to behold! The best place to see them is the Enid Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. They bloom about 2 weeks prior to cherry blossoms. For 2022, the prediction would be around March 10. The Smithsonian Gardeners do a great job updating their Instagram.
Cherry Blossoms and Where to Park for the Tidal Basin
Peal bloom for the cherry blossoms is predicted for March 22 - 26. Much earlier than 2021.
Where to See the Cherry Blossoms
- The Tidal Basin around the Jefferson and MLK Memorials is the most popular. See below for parking tips.
- My #1 absolute favorite place to see cherry blossoms is the Congressional Cemetery. It is free to enter dawn to dusk. And the pictures don't even do it justice! (see below.) Address: 1801 E St SE, Washington, DC 20003.
- Another great spot to see the Cherry Blossoms and park for the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms is Hains Point. Recommend taking Exit 2 if coming from Virginia on 395 into East Potomac Park. Lots of parking along the island!
- The National Arboretum also has a lot of cherry blossoms and its free with a parking lot!
- Dumbarton Oaks is a beautiful garden in Georgetown. Their gardens are open via advanced tickets only in the afternoons Tuesday - Sundays. Cost is $7 per person.
- In Virginia, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is beautiful and has lots of Cherry Blossoms without the DC crowds! Don't miss the Korean Peace and Children's Garden. Cost is $7 per person.
- In Maryland, Brookside Gardens also has a lot of cherry blossoms and flowers always in bloom. It's free to enter and no reservation necessary. (And check out Wheaton Regional Park's adventure playground next door!)
And check out these cute kids' Cherry Blossom-themed items from Amazon!
Cherry Blossoms Say Spring (National Geographic Kids Book)
Toddler & Baby Organic Cotton Cherry Blossom Short-Sleeve Dresses
Where to Park Near the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin and is it Stroller-Friendly?
We've been to the Tidal Basin 3 times now and parked in 3 different spots, mostly by luck! I am not an expert by any means but here are my suggestions:
- The Tidal Basin Parking Lot near the Paddle Boats is not available this year again.
- There is street parking sometimes available on Independence, Jefferson and Madison Drive but please read all the signs as I read that 6,000 parking tickets are given each week during cherry blossom season!
- Years ago we parked on East Potomac Park and then walked a few minutes to the Tidal Basin. However, in 2021 they did not allow parking there due to covid. I cannot find out if they will allow parking in 2022 and will update this when I hear.
- If driving, I would highly recommend finding a lot close to a DC Circulator Bus stop ($1) and then ride that to the Tidal Basin. Spots would include Union Station with a large parking lot.
- Parking is free on weekends at metro parking lots!
- Take public transportation if possible. The closest metro would be Smithsonian Metro 0.6 miles on the Blue, Silver and Orange lines. There are 37 metro stations with parking and parking is free on weekends at metro parking lots. L'Enfant is 0.9 miles away.
Stroller-Friendly? The Tidal Basin is technically paved but due to low branches and LOTS of tourists, I would suggest a baby carrier. The Haupt Gardens would be more stroller-friendly or Le Droit Park.
Tulips in DC and Virginia
My favorite tradition in Virginia is to visit Burnside Farms in Nokesville. They plant 2 million tulips with 30 different varieties! Check out more on this blog post. On February 28, they reported sprouts which means about 4 weeks until they open their Festival. They will announce tickets on their Facebook and the festival is only a couple of weeks long so I suggest getting tickets before they sell out.
Closer to DC, the Floral Library has 10,000 bulbs at the Tidal Basin at Maine and Independence Avenues, SW. It is maintained by the National Park Service. There is also a small patch of tulips near the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington overlooking the National Mall.
Wild Bluebells in Virginia
Have you ever been in a field of bluebells? They are tiny and grow near calm rivers. We had a beautiful walk at Bull Run Regional Park last April. Located in Centreville. Put Atlantis Water Park into your maps app to go directly to the parking lot closest to the Bluebell Trail. It is a very large park so you want to be right there! Last year they had 2 portable restrooms in the parking lot. It's a 2-mile loop trail but some parts of the walk are on the road so we just went to bluebells at River and then back on the boardwalk. Went at 3 pm and was not too busy but heard it can get a little busy in the morning. Not stroller-friendly. See a reel of our time here!
Riverbend Park also has a Bluebell Festival Saturday, April, 9th. "Celebrate the Virginia Bluebells that carpet the early spring forest! Enjoy wildflower walks, live animals, exhibitors, live music, crafts, and food trucks. $8 online until 4/9, $10 at the door."
Azaleas Late April to Mid-May
You can see these everywhere from in front of homes to the side of the road BUT they are extra special at the Franciscan Monastery in NE DC. Tons of colors are all put together in a peaceful and contemplative space. Also known for their roses later in the year. I wrote more about t
The National Arboretum also has a specialAzalea Collection that is not to be missed!
Lilacs of Georgetown - Beautiful April Flowers in DC
I've been completely influenced by Instagram with the lilac walls of Georgetown! An insta-famous wall is at Dumbarton Oaks and other homes have beautiful vines of these fragrant flowers! Hope to update you with a photo soon.
Hydrangeas at the Yards Park, SE Flowers in DC
I was stunned by these last year in June at the Yards Park! Nothing fancy but gorgeous and so many different colors of hydrangeas!
Roses from June to August - Flowers in DC
Lotus and Waterlilies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
How lucky are we to have the only national park dedicated to aquatic flowers! They bloom mostly in July and August. We only saw a few when we visited in June.
Sunflowers - Flowers in DC and Virginia
Haven't been yet but will update soon! I know Burnside Gardens has a Sunflower Field in Virginia and there are many great ones in Maryland that my friend Sara wrote about here.