There’s no better time to visit Washington, D.C., than during the city’s famous National Cherry Blossom Festival. Held from March 17 to April 15, the annual celebration of spring sees the streets burst to life with beautiful pink-hued blooms and winter-weary natives ready to come out of hibernation.
The National Park Service has predicted that the city’s much-loved cherry blossoms will reach peak bloom as early as March 27 and will run through approximately April 3, meaning that the most Instagrammable moments will occur during this brief window.
Viewing the blossoms is free — most trees are near national monuments, memorials and the Tidal Basin, just an easy Metro ride from the city center. If you’re not sure how to plan your stay, we’ve rounded up five luxe ways to maximize your cherry blossom experience.
Pick a Parade or Party
Washingtonians take their cherry blossoms seriously. On March 25, the opening ceremony for the Cherry Blossom Festival will happen at Warner Theater, where you’ll see performances highlighting Japanese culture — the trees themselves were originally a gift celebrating the United States’ friendship with the nation. After the festivities, rest your head at The Hay-Adams, a historic Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel on Lafayette Square, just around the corner from the venue.
Two weeks later, on April 14, enjoy a 10-block-long festival and parade dedicated to the blossoms, helmed by Top Chef alumna Carla Hall as grand marshal. Please visit the festival’s website for other events taking place during the short period that the city’s signature flowers are in bloom.
Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown
Perched at the very top of Georgetown, this stylish West End stay occupies an ideal spot from which to explore all that D.C. has to offer — there are even cherry trees right in the hotel’s courtyard.
Get a taste of the festivities with Cherry Blossom Tea in the Loggia Lounge, featuring a special Fairmont Cherry Almond tea blend served alongside florally inspired nibbles and treats.
If you want to stay longer, book the Very Cherry Experience overnight package to enjoy the commemorative tea, champagne for two and extra-plush accommodations.
The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.
Just minutes from downtown, Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, this sophisticated Four-Star spot is paying homage to the cherry blossom’s Japanese roots with an offering that combines high-end overnight accommodations with a historical twist.
The hotel’s Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. package includes an in-room Sakura Tea experience (served in traditional Japanese teapots and cups), a cherry and lychee bento box dessert, an appetizer at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Westend Bistro, daily breakfast for two and valet parking, providing a tasty way to maximize your blossom viewing experience.
Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C.
For more than 150 years, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended downtown hotel has embraced its rich history during cherry blossom season. In 1860, the first Japanese delegation to the U.S. visited the property, meeting with then-president James Buchanan to sign a Treaty of Friendship. Today, the hotel adorns its lobby and central hall, known as Peacock Alley, with more than 1,200 pounds of Yoshino cherry blossom “trees,” each of which is crafted using real branches.
Throughout the spring festival, try specialty sips at various places: a Japanese-European fusion cherry blossom tea available each weekend, the annual Rosé Romp wine party on April 7 and creative cocktails at the hotel’s beloved Round Robin bar.
Should you visit the latter, don’t miss the Kyoto Crush, a tasty tipple made with cherry bitters and sake. Regular programming can also be viewed at the hotel throughout the season to honor Japanese culture.
MGM National Harbor
Just outside of the city proper is one of D.C.’s most exciting luxury hotels, and the area’s first casino resort, MGM National Harbor. Before a performance at the onsite theater or a night spent at the tables, sip a Blossom 1912, a signature cocktail made with cherry blossom syrup and Ivy City Gin that’s at all of the property’s myriad dining outlets.
If it’s relaxation you crave, hit up The Spa and Salon at MGM National Harbor for a Vichy Rain Bundle (a body polish with Cherry Blossom Sugar Scrub and a rubdown with shea butter). Book the treatment and get a full-size scrub so you can relive your sweet-scented escape at home.