Beautiful pink cherry blossoms near the famous memorial in Washington DC during a pink sunset

Cherry Blossoms and Outdoor Festivals: Why We Love Springtime in Washington DC

Published by Pat Dorri on March 7 2024

There aren't many cities that welcome spring as vibrantly as Washington DC does with its beautiful pink and white cherry blossoms. The city wakes up from its winter slumber as it gears up for a season packed with everything from outdoor festivals to leisurely walks around the world-famous monuments.

Visiting Washington DC in spring, you will get all the beauty and the buzz without the summer crowds, making it easier to wander the museums, explore the National Mall, or catch a street festival. It's the golden window when the weather's just right.

So, why not make this the year you dive into everything DC has to offer in spring? It's time to pack your bags (and don't forget those walking shoes) for an adventure in the nation's capital that you won't soon forget. Below, you will find what to expect weather-wise, and events that'll make your trip unforgettable.

Visiting Washington DC in spring

Washington DC in spring is something of a local secret for the best time to visit. Sure, the capital is stunning all year round, with its iconic landmarks and rich history at every turn. But there's something extra magical about DC when the city bursts into color with spring flowers.

Once March comes, you can see the city shake off the cobwebs of winter, especially around the Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossom trees put on a show that draws visitors from all corners of the globe.

Capitol building in the background with close-up of colorful tulips on a sunny day
Nation's capital comes to life in spring with beautiful flowers adorning the city's easily recognizable landmarks.
Orhan Cam/

It's the perfect time to wander through the city's historic streets, lounge in its vast parks under the sun, or dive into the multitude of festivals that pop up, celebrating everything from food to art.

Spring is also when the events in Washington DC start to ramp up, taking advantage of the milder weather. The star of the season is undoubtedly the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which is a particularly picturesque time to visit the nation's capital.

Plus, the weather is just right – not too hot, not too cold – ideal for exploring the grandeur of the National Mall or enjoying a boat ride on the Potomac River.

Outdoor enthusiasts, you're in for a treat. Spring in DC means the city's parks and trails, like the scenic paths of Rock Creek Park or the pretty waterfront of Georgetown, are calling your name for biking, hiking, or a leisurely stroll.

Of course, spring showers are a thing, but that's just your cue to check out DC's indoor attractions. The city boasts an impressive lineup of museums (many of which are free!), from the vast Smithsonian collection to the fascinating narratives at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It's the perfect plan B for those rainy days.

Spring weather in Washington DC

Average temperature highs and precipitation
Data sourced from US NOAA Climate Data
March56.4 °F / 13.6 °C
3.72 in / 94 mm
April67.5 °F / 19.7 °C
3.51 in / 89 mm
May76.7 °F / 24.8 °C
4.28 in / 109 mm

As Washington DC waves goodbye to winter, March ushers in the first whispers of spring. This transitional month can be a mixed bag, starting off with a cool touch that might still see the occasional flurry of snow and ice.

Don't let that deter you, though, as the city quickly warms up, with daily highs breaking the 60 degrees Fahrenheit mark as the month progresses. Nighttime can still be brisk, with lows averaging at 36.0 degrees, so packing a warm layer for evenings is wise.

By the time April rolls in, spring truly takes hold in Washington DC. It's rare to see temperatures dip below freezing. Rainfall sticks around, so pack an umbrella. With an overall average temperature of 56 degrees, April is the perfect month for exploring the city's outdoor beauty and historical landmarks without the summer heat.

Even though it is the wettest month, May can surprise you with a few hot days, occasionally breaking the 90-degree mark as summer approaches. The average temperature comfortably sits at 66 degrees, making it an ideal time for both outdoor adventures and cooling off in the city's numerous museums and galleries.

Visitors enjoying the museum, with old planes hanging from the ceiling
Washington DC might see some spring showers, but not to worry - the city is home to tens of museums where you can take refuge and learn about fascinating things while also keeping dry!
Sean Pavone/

Spring festivals and live events in Washington DC

Whether you're a movie aficionado, a lover of the arts, or someone who enjoys basking in the beauty of nature, spring in Washington DC has a spring event that caters to every interest. You can find some of our favorite festivals and events below.

March events in Washington DC

  • DC Independent Film Festival: This festival in Washington DC highlights the creativity and innovation of independent filmmakers from around the globe, offering screenings, workshops, and discussions to foster the indie film community.
  • St. Patrick's Parade: A vibrant celebration of Irish heritage in Washington DC, featuring marching bands, dance performances, and cultural floats that bring the spirit of Ireland to the capital city's streets.
  • Rock 'n Roll USA Marathon: Combining fitness and live music, this Washington DC marathon offers participants a unique experience with live bands playing throughout the course, culminating in a celebratory post-race concert.
  • National Cherry Blossom Festival (March/April): This iconic Washington, DC event celebrates the gift of cherry blossom trees from Japan. It features stunning floral displays, cultural performances, and family activities around the Tidal Basin.
Marching band dressed in green uniforms getting ready to perform at St Patrick's Parade
You can expect to see a sea of green marching through Washington DC's streets during St. Patrick's Parade.

April events in Washington DC

  • White House Easter Egg Roll: A cherished tradition in Washington DC where children gather on the White House lawn to roll Easter eggs and partake in festivities including storytelling, games, and appearances by the Easter Bunny.
  • Filmfest DC: Washington DC's premiere international film festival presents a diverse selection of films from around the world, offering movie enthusiasts a chance to explore global stories and cinematic excellence.
  • Smithsonian Craft Show: Held at the National Building Museum in Washington DC, this prestigious show features the finest in American crafts and design, with artists exhibiting works in various mediums.

May events in Washington DC

  • Passport DC: This unique Washington DC event opens the doors of the world's embassies to the public, offering cultural performances, cuisine, and art from various countries in a city-wide celebration of international friendship.
  • Memorial Day Parade and Weekend: To honor America's veterans and active military, Washington DC's Memorial Day events include a patriotic parade, concerts, and ceremonies dedicated to the men and women who have served the United States.
  • National Cathedral Flower Mart: A festive spring event at Washington DC's National Cathedral, offering beautiful floral arrangements, garden accessories, and family-friendly activities amidst the stunning Gothic architecture.

Visiting Washington DC during the National Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an exceptional time to visit the capital. During this time, you can explore the famous landmarks of the capital against a backdrop of gorgeous pink and white petals. The beauty of over 3,000 cherry trees blooming in synchrony creates a magical landscape.

This iconic event marks a period of celebration that honors the gift of Japanese cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.

Dawn at the Jefferson Memorial during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Washington, DC
Washington DC becomes a magical place during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and you can expect to see crowds during this time.
EastVillage Images/

From traditional Japanese performances, such as tea ceremonies and kimono fashion shows, during the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival to contemporary arts and music, the festival bridges cultures and generations.

Special events like the Blossom Kite Festival, where the sky above the National Mall becomes a canvas for colorful kites, add a unique touch to the festivities, making this period a memorable time for all who participate.

Free performances, parades, and fireworks displays bring the city to life, while paddle boats on the Tidal Basin offer a leisurely way to enjoy the stunning views of cherry blossoms. Food stalls and pop-up markets provide tastes of both local and international cuisine.

Keep in mind that the cherry blossoms can appear at slightly different times each year, and keep an eye on the "Blossom Watch" calendar for the peak blossom times.

Spring break in Washington DC

For those who revel in the wonders of nature and history, spring break is your golden ticket to exploring the city's famed monuments and museums without the chill of winter.

The warmer weather invites leisurely walks through the National Mall, where the cherry blossoms are likely in full bloom, offering a spectacular backdrop for your adventures. So, grab your calendar and start making plans!

Not to be missed is the unique buzz in the neighborhoods of Georgetown, U Street, and the Wharf, where the dining and nightlife scene comes alive with people looking to enjoy the balmy afternoons.

However, it's wise to remember that spring break can also mean in increase in visitor numbers, leading to busier attractions and possibly higher accommodation rates.

Planning is key—consider booking your stay and any must-see events or tours well in advance to ensure you make the most of your spring break in Washington DC.

Washington, DC, USA taken at dawn over Washington with three iconic monuments illuminated at sunrise: Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.
Washington DC is the perfect place to visit on spring break, especially for history buffs!

Things to see in Washington DC in spring

Washington DC is home to an endless array of attractions, both indoors and out, making it a perfect destination to explore during the somewhat unpredictable spring season. The city is packed with landmarks, museums, and hidden gems that are great to visit no matter the weather.

Outdoor places to visit in Washington DC in spring

  1. Lincoln Memorial - The Lincoln Memorial, with its imposing statue of Abraham Lincoln, offers a majestic view of the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument. It's a place of reflection and history, especially beautiful in the early morning or late afternoon light of spring.
  2. Washington Monument - Rising majestically over the National Mall, the Washington Monument is a striking tribute to the nation's first president. Visitors in spring can enjoy its reflective beauty against a backdrop of cherry blossoms or take an elevator ride up to its observation deck for panoramic city views.
  3. The White House - Viewing the White House from its surrounding grounds is a quintessential Washington DC experience, with the best exterior views from the north side on Pennsylvania Avenue or the south side from the Ellipse, especially picturesque when the gardens begin to bloom in spring.
  4. Tidal Basin - The Tidal Basin is a springtime wonderland, best known for the breathtaking cherry blossoms that frame iconic views of the Jefferson Memorial and other nearby monuments. It's a prime spot for a leisurely walk or paddle boat ride, offering some of the most memorable vistas of the city.
  5. Smithsonian National Zoological Park - Home to thousands of animals, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park is a favorite for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Spring visitors can enjoy the zoo's lush landscapes and active animals, making it a lively and educational outdoor experience.
The White House of the United States-USA
The White House is a must-visit in Washington DC, especially if you catch a sunny day!
Sagittarius Pro/

Indoor places to visit in Washington DC in spring

  1. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum - This museum is a must-visit for aviation and space enthusiasts, featuring an awe-inspiring collection that includes the Wright brothers' plane, the Apollo 11 command module, and a real lunar rock you can touch.
  2. United States Capitol and Capitol Visitor Center - The iconic home of the United States Congress, the Capitol is not only a working legislative building but also a museum of American democracy.
  3. National Gallery of Art - Housing an extensive collection of European and American art from the Middle Ages to the present, the National Gallery of Art is a sanctuary for art lovers. The museum's highlights include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock.
  4. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - From the Hope Diamond to the towering dinosaur skeletons, the National Museum of Natural History brings the natural world to life through its vast and varied exhibits.
  5. The Library of Congress - The largest library in the world, the Library of Congress boasts a breathtaking collection of more than 170 million items, including books, recordings, photographs, maps, and manuscripts.
Exterior of the museum, a few visitors looking at oil paintings
You can marvel at the masterpieces that are exhibited at the National Gallery of Art if you are looking to spend a day indoors.

Things you'll miss out on if you visit Washington DC in spring

While Washington DC in spring is undeniably beautiful, there are unique experiences exclusive to other times of the year that you'll miss by focusing solely on a spring visit. The capital city offers a wealth of attractions throughout the year, each season bringing its own charm and set of events.

Visiting in summer opens up a whole new array of outdoor activities and festivals. The Fourth of July in Washington DC is a spectacular celebration, featuring one of the country's most impressive fireworks displays against the backdrop of the National Mall.

Summer also sees the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which celebrates cultures from around the world through music, food, and art, taking full advantage of the warm weather.

Washington DC is also beautiful in the fall. The city is a riot of color as the leaves change, offering stunning views in parks and along the city streets. Fall also brings unique events like the DC Bike Ride and the DC Jazz Festival.

The city becomes a winter wonderland during the holiday season when the city lights up with Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, and festive decorations. The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a highlight, along with countless holiday performances at the Kennedy Center.

If you'd like to learn more about what you can enjoy during the other seasons, here is our detailed guide on the best time to visit Washington DC.

Tips for making the most of your spring trip to Washington DC

If you are planning to visit Washington DC in the spring, a few preparations beforehand will make your trip as enjoyable and smooth as possible. Spring in the capital brings a mix of weather, blossoms, and bustling activity, so here's how to make the most of it:

  • Washington DC's spring weather can be a great mix of warm days and cooler evenings. Packing a versatile wardrobe that includes light jackets or sweaters, comfortable walking shoes, and perhaps a scarf for breezier days will keep you comfortable whether you're admiring the cherry blossoms or exploring museums.
  • The spring sun in DC can be stronger than you think, especially when you're spending hours outdoors. Remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect against sunburn.
Sun filtering through the branches of a tree with the US Capitol in the background
It does get sunny in Washington DC, so make sure to bring sunscreen to avoid getting sunburnt without noticing.
  • Carrying a compact umbrella or a waterproof jacket can save the day, ensuring that a little rain doesn't dampen your exploration of the city.
  • Consider using public transportation once in the city, like the Metro, to avoid parking hassles and traffic. The capital's bike share program is also a great way to get around while enjoying the beautiful weather.
  • Spring is a popular season for visiting Washington DC, thanks to the mild weather and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. To avoid disappointment, book your tours, event tickets, and accommodations well ahead of time. Popular attractions like the US Capitol and the White House require advance planning.
  • While you are in DC, you can extend your vacation and visit some of the fantastic places nearby. Myrtle Beach is a particularly popular spring location with beautiful weather (it is said that April and May usually only get 5 days of rain annually!) and 60 miles of stunning coastline. Given how popular Myrtle Beach is during spring break, you will want to book where to stay a few months in advance, though! If you'd like to learn more about this drive, check out our guide on the road trip from Washington DC to Myrtle Beach.