This Is When Peak Cherry Blossom Season Is Happening

Mark your calendars!

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The National Park Service last week that they expect Washington D.C.'s cherry blossom peak bloom to happen between March 17 and 20 this year, which is practically two weeks before they usually bloom in the first week of April.

Before you plan a pilgrimage to the nation's capital to see the famed cherry blossom trees this spring, be sure to check out a few of our favorite ideas for making the most of your trip.

How to See the Cherry Blossoms

If you magically time your trip perfectly for peak bloom — which can last up to 14 days some years — escape the crowds by heading to the Tidal Basin at sunrise. Not only will you capture that dreamy golden hour light in your photos, but also you won't have hundreds of tourists in your shot. Head to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial for some of the best views of the Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial from across the pond.

While the Tidal Basin is the most iconic site to see the cherry blossoms, the , the gardens at and in East Potomac Park also have beautiful trees and fewer crowds.

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What to Do

Beyond the cherry blossoms and the historical monuments, D.C. is best known for its museums. If you've been to the Smithsonian's Natural History and Air and Space Museums before, plan ahead to visit a few of the newer and unexpected ones this time around.

The were just added to the in February this year and can be seen for free from 11:30 am-7 pm each day.

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The is so popular you need to book your free timed-entry passes months in advance. However, if you want to try to go when you're in town for the Cherry Blossom Festival, there are two ways you can try to see this brand new museum with short notice. are released at 6:30 a.m. online daily and a small number of walk-up passes are available starting at 1 p.m. on weekdays.

Where to Eat and Drink

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is back for the second year from March 1-April 29. Order from their themed cocktail menu — like a Cherry Blossom G&T; or the Beana Colada, served in the cute cat mug seen above. Aim to get there around the 5 p.m. opening time to beat the crowds.

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Travis Vaughn

Head over to Georgetown's for a vanilla cupcake packed with maraschino cherries and topped with maraschino cherry frosting. You'll probably have to wait in line, but it's worth it.

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Scott Suchman

If you want something cherry-themed for breakfast, has a cherry blossom doughnut on their menu starting March 17 with a pretty cherry blossom design on top and a tart cherry jam on the inside.

Where to Stay

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While many of the city's top-rated hotels are offering special packages for travelers coming to the cherry blossom festival, most only include one or two perks beyond complimentary breakfast and parking. If you're going to splurge on a weekend getaway, the two-night at Georgetown's includes both of those, seasonal cocktails served in their Rye Bar, a for two and use of the hotel's bikes and a picnic lunch.

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