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  • Writer's pictureLisa

The Best Hidden Places to See Spring Flowers in DC

Love cherry blossoms but hate crowds? Dread the inevitable traffic and left-side-standing tourists who descend on the DC area every April? I think we can agree that it's one thing that can bring all Washingtonians together.

I also love the cherry blossoms and have some good news to share. If you love taking portrait-mode pictures of flowers on spring days, don't go to the Tidal Basin--check out Northeast DC.

The National Arboretum

This is seriously a HUGE hidden gem of DC. While the Botanic Garden often gets all the attention because of its central location, the National Arboretum is 4675938 times bigger with so much more. Unfortunately, they are only open from 8am-5pm so many visitors have to wait until the weekend to visit. And, it's tough to get there via public transportation, so you'll either want to Uber/Lyft or drive and park (for free in their massive parking lots!).

However, once you get there, there's a ton to do and see. There are lots of paved roads and paths if you want to run, bike, or walk a dog--or a child. There are trails through different sections of the Arboretum. There's an awesome bonsai collection with tiny, pruned bonsai trees as old as 400+ years. And, there are cherry blossom trees! We went here for peak bloom for the first time this year and it was so much less crowded than the Tidal Basin and the Arboretum. They have a great interactive app that led you through a 3-mile walk through different types of cherry blossom trees (who knew there were different types?).

Interactive cherry tree map for the National Arboretum

The Franciscan Monastery

When you come to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, you won't believe you're still in DC city limits. The monks and volunteers there have cultivated acres of beautiful gardens that are a quiet place for a stroll, prayer, or meditation. The Monastery also hosts a number of free tours that are a fun introduction to the planning behind the gardens. Make sure to check out the sanctuary inside while you're there, too--lots of beautiful, indoor art to see. The monks even have a gift shop where they sell homemade granola, made with the honey from the beehives they keep there.

The National Basilica, AKA The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

While you're in Brookland, walk over to the biggest thing on the horizon: the National Basilica. The Basilica has its own collection of cherry blossom trees. But again, you really have to go inside the building to get the complete picture. Lots of beautiful mosaics and architecture right in your backyard--no flight to Europe necessary. The Basilica also offers free tours and it's objectively beautiful, even if you're not Catholic. Keep an eye out for free events and concerts, too!

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