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D.C.’s cherry blossoms just hit peak. Here’s where to go and see them

Southern California’s super bloom may chug along through the end of April. Now Washington, D.C., is following suit. Cherry blossoms in the nation’s capital hit their peak Monday, with thousands of trees bringing shades of pink and white to the district that could last as long as 10 more days.

Favorable weather conditions — not too hot by day, and not too cold by night — are expected to continue, meaning visitors will be lucky enough to see blossoms from the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial to Capitol Hill.

Peak Bloom Hits During National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC
Cherry trees in the nation's capital hit peak bloom on Monday.
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)
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The peak period means that at least 70% of blossoms at the Tidal Basin’s Yoshino cherry trees have opened, the National Park Service’s website says. Last year peak bloom was April 5.

There are about 3,800 trees in the area, mostly Yoshinos, which have tight white blooms. Other varieties such as Kwanzan (pink) and Takesimensis (white).

The trees have a long history in D.C., starting with 1912 when the mayor of Tokyo made a gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the U.S. Unfortunately, they arrived with an insect infestation and had to be destroyed. More trees were sent from Japan, and, over the years, different species and replacement trees have been added.

Where to go

The best ways to see the blossoms are on foot.

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The Tidal Basin Loop, about two miles, takes you around the basin on a flat, easy to follow route. Look for puffy white Yoshino cherry tree blossoms. The Hains Point Loop doubles the distance to four miles and takes visitors to several different types of cherry trees as well as the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.

The Memorial Loop connects some of the district’s most famous tourist spots (Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, etc.) in an almost three-mile walk. You’ll see four different kinds of cherry trees, including the Japanese weeping variety with pink flowers.

Wander around other parts of the D.C. area to see cherry trees blooming, including the lawns of the U.S. Capitol, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which has 182 cherry trees on the grounds, and Arlington National Cemetery in nearby northern Virginia.

What to do

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is visible as cherry blossom trees bloom on the West Lawn, Sat
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building, as seen Saturday through cherry blossoms from trees on the West Lawn.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

The Park Service and National Cherry Blossom Festival offer many free activities during bloom time that are open to the public.

►Learn about the history of Japan’s gift of cherry trees at daily ranger talks noon and 4 p.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and 2 and 6 p.m. at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Talks are offered through April 9 as well as April 13 and 14.

►Take a guided lantern walk under the cherry blossoms in the district’s Tidal Basin area at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and April 13 and 14.

►Dog lovers can bring their pooches on a two-hour walk under the trees at 4 p.m. Saturday and April 13, starting at the Roosevelt Memorial (bring a leash, waste bags and water).

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►Bicycle around the blossom area on a guided cycle tour with the Park Service. Meet 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the back side of the Jefferson Memorial. Participants need to bring their own bikes, helmets and water.

►Live entertainment and an evening fireworks show are part of Petalpalooza from noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the District Wharf, a waterfront area about a 10-minute walk from the National Mall.

The Cherry Blossom Festival Parade from 10 a.m. to noon on April 13 runs on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets. “Blackish” actor Anthony Anderson will serve as honorary grand marshal of the parade that features marching bands, giant balloons and entertainers.

Info: National Cherry Blossom Festival, National Park Service’s cherry blossom activities

travel@latimes.com

@latimestravel


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