Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where to See Cherry Blossoms: Dumbarton Oaks

Where did winter go?  Somehow March is already nearing an end, which means that cherry blossom fever has hit our fair city full force.  Residents of D.C. know it well- the sudden arrival of the delicate petals, the ten mile race, the parade, and above all else, the unrelenting crowds.  

Sometimes a gal just doesn’t feel like jabbing her elbows into the sides of tourists to get a glimpse of the pale pink beauties lining the Tidal Basin.  But not to worry, there are other, substantially more peaceful spots to view them, if you know where to go.  

Chief among those spots are the gardens of Dumbarton Oaks, a research library and museum located in Georgetown.  Here you will find stunning views of D.C.’s signature blossoms with a mere fraction of the crowds.  


In addition to the cherry blossoms, these next few weeks are also the perfect time to see the rows and rows of lovely yellow forsythia that Dumbarton Oaks also features.  


Robert Frost famously alluded to the brief beauty of the spring in his poem Nothing Gold Can Stay, and it’s true -- both the forsythia and cherry blossoms will be in bloom for only a few short weeks, so plan accordingly (you can check out expected bloom dates here).    

In addition to the expansive, beautiful gardens, you can also tour the museum, but to be honest, I’ve never done that and can’t offer any insight.  I usually get so caught up in “oohing” and “ahhing” at the gardens that I forget that there is much more to see.

IF YOU GO: Dumbarton Oaks is open daily from 2:00-6:00 pm except on Monday, when it is closed.  

ADMISSION: The museum is free.  General admission to the gardens is $5 for children, seniors, and students and $8 for everyone else except Harvard students, faculty and staff, for whom it’s free.  Good for you, nerds!  

ADDITIONAL SERVICES: Brief introductory tours of the gardens are offered at 2:10 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.   

A guided 30 minute special tour of the first floor non-public historic rooms of Dumbarton Oaks --including the hall, Founders' Room, Study and Oval Room -- is offered on most Saturdays at 3:00 pm.

90 minute docent-led tours of the museum are offered the mornings of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday by advance reservation.

GETTING THERE:  There is ample street parking near the museum (the same cannot be said of the parking near the blossoms downtown, at least with a straight face).  Dumbarton Oaks is also easily accessible by bus or metro, and you can use the WMATA trip planner to tell you exactly how to get there- just enter your start point and your end point and you’ll be set.    

AFTERWARD: Who doesn’t love a good excuse to drink?  Continue the fun by treating  yourself to a cherry blossom-themed cocktail or two!  

Through April 27th, 100 restaurants in the D.C. area will feature cherry blossom inspired cuisine and cocktails on their menus. From triple cherry cheesecake at Georgia Brown's to the cherry blossom cocktail at DC Coast, only true cherry-haters will be disappointed by this vast offering of treats (you can see the entire set of "Cherry Picks" here).  T
ried some of the specials already? Let us know what you thought!


  1. You are awesome for sharing this place! I've been whining to my bf that I want to go see the cherry blossoms, but he's understandably not enthused about the idea of hanging out with a bajillion tourists. Definitely going to check this out! Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Maggie! I hope you guys enjoy it! :)

  3. Indeed this place is gorgeous. Two years ago, I took the kids there to see the cherry blossoms. As a bonus, the forsythias were also in bloom. The manicured grounds and gorgeous flowers transported me back to a Jane Austen novel. In her days, I probably could only sweep the grounds of a such a place. Yet there I was with my kids. They were running around, annoying the caretakers, and making everyone wish the riffraff was barred from entering. It was a glorious day. We have the best pictures to prove it too. Good recommendation.

  4. I worked here for 4.5 years and can't say enough about it. It is truly a hidden gem of DC. Thanks for your post.